x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Northern Emirates schools under evaluation

A total of 40 schools are to be involved in second phase of Ministry of Education's accreditation programme.

SHARJAH // Forty schools in the Northern Emirates will be evaluated in the second phase of the Ministry of Education's accreditation programme.

Starting this month, private and public schools in Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al Khaimah, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah will be evaluated according to six criteria developed by the ministry in cooperation with the Centre for British Teachers Education Trust.

Areas of evaluation include the school's leadership, community involvement, approach to learning, the classroom environment, academic performance and the personal development of students.

The ministry plans to accredit all schools in the Northern Emirates by 2013.

Parents of students attending schools in the Northern Emirates said the ministry's intervention to improve quality was overdue.

Hamdi Ayoub, whose children study at a national curriculum school in Ajman, said the evaluations had put pressure on schools to make changes.

"It puts a fear in them to perform and take responsibility rather than blame the government for low standards," he said.

Another parent, Kazim Mirza from Sharjah, said he would prefer regular and unannounced checks in schools.

"There is a possibility the school puts on a good show just for the ministry visit," he said.

Schools need to achieve a rating of 'Highly Effective' or 'Effective' in all areas to be accredited, and a school can hold its accreditation for up to three years.

"During those three years we will continue visiting the school to ensure they maintain the standards," said Shaikha al Shamsi, the director of the School Approval and Accreditation department at the ministry.

Those who receive a 'Not Yet Effective' rating will be re-evaluated in the next phase. Six schools that fell into this category in 2009 will be re-evaluated this year.

The centre has also been involved in creating inspection models for Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority and the Abu Dhabi Education Council. Both emirates follow a yearly evaluation programme, but the Northern Emirates will follow a three-yearly cycle.

The assessments will be carried out by two evaluators - one local and one from overseas - who will spend 60 per cent of their time monitoring classroom lessons.

"Self-evaluation is essential to the process," said Ms al Shamsi. "All school administrators and principals are being trained to apply the framework.

The ministry began the accreditation process last year as a pilot programme, and released a more comprehensive framework for school administrators this year, said Eileen Owens, a senior consultant at the centre.