Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

Dubai's short notice school inspections to give a 'clearer picture' of standards

Schools will be given five days' notice ahead of visits instead of three weeks

Kamal Kalwani, chief executive officer of Ambassador Education in Dubai, a private school operator. Pawan Singh / The National 
Kamal Kalwani, chief executive officer of Ambassador Education in Dubai, a private school operator. Pawan Singh / The National 

Dubai headteachers have said a decision to shorten the notice period for inspections will give a more realistic picture of classroom standards.

Principals from private schools across the emirate said the move would ensure a greater transparency.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s private school regulator, said notice periods would be cut from three weeks to five days.

By reducing the amount of time staff have to react to an inspection, officials said they hoped to achieve a greater accuracy of how well a school is performing.

You can’t change who you are in a week's time and a five-day window to prepare will not disturb a school for a long period

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Delhi Private School Dubai

“Giving shorter notice periods will give the correct picture of what the school is doing," said Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal of Delhi Private School Dubai.

“You can’t change who you are in a week's time and a five-day window to prepare will not disturb a school for a long period.”

More than 185 school leaders and principals were informed of the new changes at an event hosted by the KHDA on Sunday.

Officials said inspections would have a renewed focus on social studies, the national agenda, inclusion, moral education, innovation and reading.

Schools rated ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Good’ in previous inspection cycles would receive review-visits to ensure they were still providing quality teaching.

Pre-inspection visits will still take place at new schools until their third year of operation, when they become eligible for full inspections.

Jeff Evans, from Learning Key Education Consultancy, a UAE consultancy firm, said the change brought private schools in the Emirates closer in line with UK schools.

He said in Britain, schools regulator Ofsted was only required to give two days’ notice to most schools before making inspections. Schools rated weak received no notice.

“Giving a shorter notice time is more accurate as it limits levels of manipulation schools can introduce," said Mr Evans.

"This is a positive move because it means inspectors get a clearer picture and see a typical week or day at a school.

"A longer notice period before inspections can lead to a minority of schools attempting to manipulate the process or presenting an overly polished view of their provisions.

"Inspections should see a typical week in the school. If they see a false picture then the inspection framework is not working as it is giving false information to the community."

Kamal Kalwani, chief executive officer of Ambassador Education in Dubai, a private school operator, also welcomed the move as a step forward.

But he urged authorities to go further, calling for entirely unannounced inspections to better help spot failing schools.

"I wish we would have more unannounced inspections, and I am sure we will get there," said Mr Kalwani.

“We are in a process of continuous self-evaluation and improvement. We keep adjusting and modifying curriculum.”

Sheela Menon, principal of Ambassador School in Dubai, said a reduced notice period would have little impact on their staff and procedures.

"The schools that are prepared do not need to make any changes just for inspection,” she said. "It is just a notification and does not change anything for us."

KHDA said in a statement: “After 11 years of inspection, our schools have a deeper understanding of self-evaluation and inspection processes, and are able to engage with the inspection process with a shorter notification period.”

Updated: September 23, 2019 06:59 PM

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