Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Teachers from certain countries to be fast-tracked through UAE’s new education licensing scheme

Licensed teachers, cluster managers, vice principals and principals from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa will be allowed to apply for a waiver from TELS UAE.
Dr Naji Al Mahdi, chief of qualifications and awards at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, said the teacher licensing system has been matched to international standards. Antonie Robertson / The National
Dr Naji Al Mahdi, chief of qualifications and awards at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, said the teacher licensing system has been matched to international standards. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // Teachers with a professional licence from some English-speaking countries will be fast-tracked through the new licensing system.

Licensed teachers, managers and principals from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, the US and South Africa can apply for a waiver from the Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards and Licensing programme.

They will not have to sit three of the exams, jumping straight to the final stage of licensing.

“We know these teachers are competent. They have already passed their licences in a country that we know has a lot of integrity,” said Dr Naji Al Mahdi, of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

“We know exactly their system and we already matched their standards to ours,” said Dr Al Mahdi, the authority’s director of qualifications.

The licensing system will be rolled out across the country simultaneously.

But the Abu Dhabi Education Council, which runs public schools and regulates private schools in the emirate, and the Ministry of Education, which oversees public schools in Dubai and all schools in the Northern Emirates, have yet to announce how it will be applied.

Teachers with qualifications from the selected countries will be given a provisional teaching licence that will be valid for between 12 and 18 months.

In that time they will have to pass one examination on professional and ethical conduct to qualify for a permanent licence. The multiple-choice test also measures the teachers’ knowledge of, and ability to teach, UAE culture, heritage and Islamic values.

Teachers from all other countries, including the UAE, must also apply for a provisional teaching licence but will have to pass four exams covering professional and ethical conduct, knowledge, practice and development before being given the permanent licence.

Tests focused on other standards for school leadership were also developed.

The four professional standards are based on studies and practices already tested in several countries, including Australia, Canada, the US, England and New Zealand, according to the National Qualifications Authority.

“The benchmark helped to establish clear and measurable competencies that define teachers’ work,” said Dr Thani Al Mehairi, the authority’s director general, who leads the national steering committee overseeing the licensing system.

Under each professional standard, there are 14 elements and 42 performance criteria in which teachers must show proficiency.

During the pilot phase of the licensing system, which recently concluded in Dubai, the four tests covering the four professional standards comprised 198 multiple-choice questions that participants were given 325 minutes to complete.

Those with a provisional licence will be given a mock examination first to prepare them for the real tests.

The results of Dubai’s version of the pilot phase are expected to be announced next month. It is not clear whether pilots launched by Abu Dhabi’s authority and the ministry have concluded, or how similar they are to the Dubai trial.

Those who pass the final exams will be given “competent teacher status”, a government document that will serve as their legal permission to work.

The status is linked to their school, so each time a teacher changes schools it must be revised by the authorities.

Non-native English speakers must also score a band six or higher on the international English standards test. Arabic and Islamic studies teachers will also have their skills tested.

“It is actually weeding out a lot of the problems because even when we did the pilot we found quite a number of teachers who didn’t attain this [level of English proficiency],” Dr Al Mahdi said.

rpennington@thenational.ae

Updated: April 11, 2017 04:00 AM

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