Indian School Inspection Results – Look Beyond the KHDA Rating
With the first ratings for the Indian and Pakistani schools to be issued on Thursday of this week, SchoolsCompared.com has looked what the inspectors have concentrated on this year and why it is vital for parents to look beyond the overall school rating.
Introduced in 2008, the aim of the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau inspections has been to raise the standard of education within the Emirate’s schools using a common framework across all schools and curricula. Schools are rated on a scale of 6 results from Outstanding, Very Good, Good, Acceptable, Weak to Very Weak.
The KHDA’s target is for all schools to be rated a minimum of Good.
In the 2016/17 academic year, provided that they participated in the Abundance Project which was aimed at enabling schools in need of support and improvement to be mentored by the top schools, those rated Outstanding (including the Indian High School and GEMS Modern Academy) or Very Good were exempted from the inspection process,. This year, it will be back to the annual inspection process for all schools and it will be interesting to see the outcome.
Each year the KHDA issues a School Inspection supplement in which it outlines the key areas of focus. Essentially, the goal posts may well have moved. Not only will the school have been rated in terms of their performance in the 6 key performance areas of Students’ achievement, Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, Teaching and assessment, Curriculum, The protection, care, guidance and support of students, and, Leadership and management, but the Inspectors have focused on some very specific additional areas.
For 2017/18, in support of Vision 2020 and the Golden Jubilee Year of the Union in 2021, there were some very clear pointers as to the areas upon which the inspectors would be concentrating.
The UAE National Agenda Parameter – Schools are required to participate in international benchmarking tests and use the results to evaluate their progress towards meeting their National Agenda targets. This measure ensures that Dubai’s private schools are making progress towards achieving their individual TIMSS and PISA1 assessment targets as set out in the Parameter. The next PISA tests will be in 2018 and in 2021. The next TIMSS tests will be in 2019, the last before 2021.
Emirati Students – The UAE Vision for 2021 states that at least 90% of Emirati students will complete their high school education, with an increasing proportion of students going on to study at university. With a significant Emirati student population attending private schools in Dubai, in 2017-2018, irrespective of the number of Emirati students attending the school, there will be a specific focus on the aspirations and achievements of Emirati students.
UAE Moral Education – implemented as part of the mandatory core curriculum in all schools for the first time in 2017/18, schools are required to guide the development of morally mature citizens. Irrespective of curriculum or levels of achievement, the UAE moral education programme is designed to unite schools by setting clear expectations for students’ behaviour and moral values and as viewed as a key part of students’ personal and social development.
UAE Social Studies – also implemented as part of the mandatory core curriculum in all schools in 2016/17, schools in Dubai are required to incorporate the Ministry of Education UAE social studies curriculum into their programmes of study. In assessing the UAE Social Studies delivery and progress by students, inspectors will focus on four key components: curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment methods.
Special education needs and disabilities – This is an area on which the KHDA has placed significant focus since the start of the current academic year, with the launch of a new Inclusive Education framework towards which all schools must work. In order to comply with existing and forthcoming legislation, schools must introduce a range of specialist leadership roles and specialist staff, and ensure that they are establishing and implementing an Inclusive Education Improvement. Inspectors will have reviewed what progress schools are making towards providing an inclusive environment for Children of Determination.
Innovation – The UAE National Innovation Strategy aims to promote innovation in the education sector by introducing creative teaching methods and techniques, as well as designing and developing innovative curricula that equip students with the 21st century skills and knowledge. Schools must deliver a curriculum for innovation that focuses on enterprise, enquiry research, critical thinking and the use of learning technologies.
Reading Literacy – Much focus has been placed on the development of Reading skills, including the entering into law of the UAE Reading Law in October 2016. Its purpose is to consolidate reading in society. H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, stated: “Our goal is to make reading a daily habit that is deeply ingrained…. It is the duty of relevant institutions to make this law a reality”. A direct measure of the success of the law and its implementation in schools will the PISA 2018 standardized tests which will focus on Reading Literacy. Inspectors will have paid close attention to students’ acquisition of higher order reading skills, including inference, interpretation and integration of information”.
SchoolsCompared.com supports the need for educators to focus on these additional learning areas – however, the implications in relation to assessment in many schools will potentially be demanding in relation to resources and teaching. It will be very interesting to see how schools have performed in these key areas and what impact the additional focus on them has had on the overall school ratings.