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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Northern emirates schools branded 'weak' by Ministry of Education say they are in the dark over failings

Schools unsure of why they have been classed as poor performers

Schools in the northern emirates are waiting for answers over why they have been rated weak by the Ministry of Education. Sarah Dea / The National
Schools in the northern emirates are waiting for answers over why they have been rated weak by the Ministry of Education. Sarah Dea / The National

Principals of schools in the northern emirates named as weak performers by the Ministry of Education say they don't know why they have been judged as not up to the mark.

A total of 47 poorly performing schools have been suspended from accepting Emirati pupils after being rated "weak" or "very weak" by government education chiefs.

Sarah Sahin, vice principal at Al Resalah American International School in Sharjah which was included in the list, said: “We don’t know why the school was rated weak. When they named the school weak they did not give any report detailing why. They just had an official meeting with the schools and said the school’s rank is weak and you will find details in the report. Until this time there is no report, so we don’t know.

“Every school has an action plan for improvement. It would have been very helpful if we received the report. It would have been more helpful if they give us a year to work on improvement,” said Ms Sahin.

“The challenges ahead of us are that they want Emirati pupils to score like American pupils in MAP in a very short time. I don’t know how. It will take some time,” she said.

MAP, or the Measure of Academic Progress, is an adaptive test that helps teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for pupils and make informed decisions to promote a child's academic growth.

More than 90 per cent of the pupils at the school are Emirati.

“Where will the Emirati pupils go?” asked the educator.

Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, has since gone on local radio to reassure the schools that did not perform well that they will receive the support they need to improve.

Regarding the decision to suspend admissions of Emirati pupils, the school is waiting for a final confirmation from the Sharjah Education Zone.

A principal in Ras Al Khaimah whose school has been listed as weak, said it was a punishment for the schools but parents would also suffer.

“Many parents of Emirati pupils have refused to transfer them to other schools due to the high fees in other schools. A parent told me they are not willing to pay Dh40,000 more in another school. Parents will suffer because of the high expenses,” he said.

The educator believes that there are areas that could be improved such as teaching and learning strategies, embedding technology in schools and the use of smart learning techniques.

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Read more:

Weak private schools in northern emirates prevented from accepting Emirati pupils

Weak schools need support to improve

Unified inspection framework will standardise UAE schools ratings

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“These are areas that we can still improve upon. Improving active learning and recruiting well-experienced teachers is another area that would help better the quality of learning,” he said.

Wasfieh Al Sheikh, principal at Al Mawahib Private School in Sharjah, has worked in Dubai in the past.

She said that during evaluation periods she would get feedback on a daily basis.

“When I was in Dubai, we used to get feedback at the end of the day on what we should take care of. They used to give us the recommendation in detail. We would know which area we were lagging behind in. Until now we haven’t received the report. When will the schools get time to work on that?” asked Ms Al Sheikh.

“They should give the schools the chance to develop. I am with evaluation and with development. I want them to help me, the school, the parents. If we know the areas of development, we can work on it."

About 40 per cent of the school’s student population is Emirati.

“Most of the parents are travelling at this time. They are not replying. Some parents transferred their children to schools and they have left, knowing their children are registered at school. If parents and schools were informed earlier, parents would be able choose. If they give the report now, schools are closed for holidays and we will have only one week before pupils arrive,” added Ms Al Sheikh.

Yesterday, Rabaa Al Sumaiti, assistant under-secretary for quality and development at the Ministry of Education, told The National that each school will also receive a report with recommendations on its strengths and weaknesses.

“These will provide information on what they can do to improve. We met with all the schools before the evaluation and told them what to prepare for,” said Ms Al Sumaiti.

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