x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai education barely makes the grade for private students

Schools' assessment finds that only six private schools in the Emirate provide an 'outstanding' education.

DUBAI // Parents of almost 10,000 children will learn today that the private education they are paying for is rated unsatisfactory.

School-by-school results of the third annual inspections are being released at 6am, covering 136 private schools in Dubai with more than 187,900 pupils.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) commissioned inspections at all private schools between October 2010 and April 2011 to place them into one of four categories: outstanding, good, acceptable and unsatisfactory.

The Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), an arm of KHDA, carried out the inspections, and provided an overview of the results yesterday.

Most schools – including 65 deemed acceptable and 16 unsatisfactory – needed to improve their grade. The report found that only six private schools were outstanding, and another 49 provided what was regarded as a good education.

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Schools' inspection results due today

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While 51 per cent of pupils were receiving only an “acceptable” education, Dr Abdulla al Karam, director general of the KHDA, said there had been a 10 per cent increase in the number of pupils attending good schools since the previous year’s inspection.

“We are dealing with many years of low standards, with schools not being accountable to anyone,” Dr al Karam said. “In the past three years there have been positive signs with many schools improving.”

According to the assessors, all six top-ranking schools displayed “excellent teaching and learning practices”, and followed the English National Curriculum. They are Dubai College, Jumeirah College, Jumeirah English Speaking School, Jumeirah Primary School, Gems Wellington School and Kings Dubai School.

All 15 private schools following the Ministry of Education curriculum have consistently underperformed, according to the report, which noted “little improvement in the performance of students since the first year of inspections”.

A total of 95,562 pupils attend schools meeting only the minimum level of standards required.

DSIB said private schools still need to work on the provision for pupils with special education needs. Jameela al Muhairi, chief of DSIB said: “Very few schools have the expertise and qualified staff to tailor programmes for students with moderate to severe disabilities.”

On a positive note, almost all private schools now comply with government requirements in Arabic and Islamic studies, a major issue that caused the grades of many schools to slide last year.

However, the report found that pupils’ Arabic was still below expectation in most schools, restricting their ability to progress in other language skills.

“Heads of the schools need to retrain the Arabic teachers to adopt a teaching style that makes Arabic fun to learn,” it said.

Jumeirah College, which slipped from outstanding to good last year because of pupils’ low attainment and progress in Arabic, has regained its status after implementing a new programme.

“We applied a whole new approach to teaching the language and creating an awareness about the culture,” said Fiona Cottam, the principal.

“We improved the quality of teaching through training and recruiting staff who brought method.”

Schools were making progress in areas of child protection and leadership, and more than two thirds of schools ranked either “good” or “outstanding” in these fields.

Seven schools have failed to show signs of significant improvement since the first inspection three years ago.

The authority will continue inspecting these schools every three months. “They have not yet fully addressed the recommendations given to them,” Ms al Muhairi said. “Teaching practices are still not effective and leaders have not put a strong action plan in place to solve the problems.”

Dr al Karam said the growth of failing schools had been restricted as pupils left them. “We have also limited their expansion plans to prevent further damage.”

Clive Pierrepont of the leading schools operator Taaleem said while all the schools in their group had maintained a good performance rating, he hoped the DSIB would consider spacing out inspections.

“We look forward to a time when there is a longer interval, perhaps three years, between inspections,” he said. “This will allow the inspectorate to target resources where they are most needed.”

Dr al Karam said a change in the frequency would be decided once the trend analysis is complete later this year.

aahmed@thenational.ae

For the full results of the DSIB inspections, go to www.khda.gov.ae

 

This online article has been corrected since original publication. We originally said more than 6,000 pupils attended schools rated 'not acceptable', when in fact the figure is almost 10,000.