x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Hundreds of teachers exchange ideas on how to improve education in Dubai

Private school teachers gathered in Dubai to share their experiences and participate workshops a the What Works 2013-2014 event, organised by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

Marion Sinclair, the principal of Horizon School, is one of the educators to attend the What Works seminars that seeks to enhance sharing and collaborations of schools to improve education. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Marion Sinclair, the principal of Horizon School, is one of the educators to attend the What Works seminars that seeks to enhance sharing and collaborations of schools to improve education. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // More than 400 teachers from private schools with 15 different curriculums gathered on Monday to share experiences and ways to improve the education system.

For the first time, parents were also involved in the 27 workshops at the What Works 2013-2014 event, organised by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority to boost the quality of schools.

“The plan is to share the best of education with schools that may be struggling,” said Pom Mullan, from Which School Advisor, an independent guide to the best private schools across the UAE.

“The objective is to bring up standards all around and to make Dubai a fantastic city for children to be educated in.”

But there are hurdles to overcome.

“Every school has their own rules and their own regulations,” said Zakir Unnisa, a leadership coordinator at the City School International.

“They all follow their own curriculums in the way they want to. They rectify and amend it to their circumstances.

“But with the KHDA there’s a proper systematic intervention where all the schools are speaking the same language.”

Mrs Unnisa said she hoped to learn more about good leadership.

Lesry Cameron, a primary school teacher at Star International School in Mirdif, was interested in meeting representatives from schools ranked higher than hers to see what improvements could be made.

“I’d like to find out how and what good or outstanding schools do that I can learn from and take back with me,” said Ms Cameron, whose school was ranked acceptable.

“I find this type of training really good because we know the inspectors went to their schools and what worked for them.”

Antoinette Brown, principal of elementary at Al Ittihad School, said she hoped to discover new ideas.

“I’m here to see what we can plough back into our schools to help our students and teachers to teach the curriculum to the best of their ability,” Ms Brown said. “That’s what we’d like to achieve in the UAE to benefit our students.”

Even experienced teachers attended the workshops to find out how their colleagues approached, tackled and improved specific topics.

“There’s something for everybody who works in schools here,” said Marion Sinclair, principal at Horizons School, which was ranked outstanding.

“I’m interested in curriculum innovation and design in new schools for secondary because I’m involved in the development of a new secondary school.

“There’s something of value for everybody coming here as it’s so diverse and it’s a great opportunity for sharing.”

There was a consensus among educators that more emphasis would be placed on improving the level of teaching languages.

“We need to improve the quality of our teaching in Arabic,” said Chris McDermott, chief executive at Gems Jumeirah Primary School. “That would be fairly common across Dubai in terms of various schools.”

Efforts in improving Arabic lessons will not show results overnight.

“It’s a variety of issues, one of them being the experience that some of the teachers have had in the way that they’ve been trained,” Mr McDermott said.

“We have inspirational teachers in that department but it takes a long time to move everybody. We’re working on it but it takes time.”

Students at the school have Arabic classes daily if they hold an Arab passport, and four times a week otherwise.

He said the gathering of teachers would help the school to improve.

“The biggest experts on teaching are teachers because they’re the ones that do it,” Mr McDermott said. “So you have to create situations where those teachers learn from one another.”

cmalek@thenational.ae