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KHDA school inspections paused for 2024/25 – but what will it mean for Dubai school fees?
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The 2023/24 KHDA inspection results have been officially announced today 21 June 2024, confirming the latest Dubai school ratings, which were published on SchoolsCompared earlier this year. However, in a surprising move, the KHDA has announced that private schools in Dubai will not be subjected to full inspections during the 2024-25 academic year – an interesting change to the norm of schools receiving updated ratings based on new inspections every year. While this will come as welcome news to schools – for whom the annual inspections can cause a disproportionate amount of stress – it has raised a question mark for parents over what this will mean for Dubai school fees. The eligibility for Dubai schools to raise their fees has traditionally been linked to whether their annual inspection rating improves, falls, or stays the same. With KHDA inspections paused, will Dubai school fees be frozen for 2024/25, or will schools be allowed to raise them regardless?

Why are Dubai school inspections paused for 2024/25?

The KHDA has announced that private schools in Dubai will not be subjected to full inspections during the 2024-25 academic year, with the exception of new schools that will complete their third year of operation during the next academic year.

Dubai schools have traditionally been inspected and given a new rating annually, aside from years over the pandemic when inspections were not possible. The ratings range from Outstanding to Weak and use a defined set of criteria to give parents a broad brush indication of the quality of a school.

The KHDA says the decision to pause inspections for the next academic year aims to support the teaching and learning process for students and gives schools the opportunity to implement changes to support their development and improvement plans.

Following the appointment of Her Excellency Aisha Abdulla Miran as the new Director General of the KHDA earlier this year, Dubai school leaders were invited to the KHDA offices to give their feedback on the Dubai education landscape. Sources in Dubai schools told SchoolsCompared that many leaders cited the annual inspections as a source of difficulty, comparing them to similar programs around the world where inspections are less frequent. While it is not clear whether this feedback informed the decision to pause the inspections for next academic year, the break is sure to be welcomed by many Dubai school leaders.

The KHDA says the DSIB team – which undertakes the school inspections – will instead conduct quality assurance visits that target specific focus areas to monitor schools’ progress on improvement plans during the next academic year.

Schools that wish to undergo a full inspection may submit a request to the inspection team, which will be subject to review and approval upon KHDA’s discretion.

While there is no official word on whether inspections will resume for 2025/26, the current announcement about the KHDA inspection pause only applies to academic year 2024/25.

GEMS_INARTICLE  

How will this affect Dubai school fees?

Under the KHDA’s School Fees Framework, the amount by which schools can adjust their fees has always been tied to each school’s most recent inspection rating, which ranges from Outstanding at the top end to Weak at the bottom end.

This can make a palpable difference to Dubai school fees for parents, with some schools raising fees by thousands of dirhams every year. For example, in 2024, private schools that maintained the same inspection rating as the previous year have been allowed to increase their fees by up to 2.6 per cent. Schools dropping down in their annual inspection rating were not eligible to apply for any fee increase, while schools that improved their rating from Weak to Acceptable or from Acceptable to Good were eligible to increase their fees by up to 5.2%.

How will Dubai schools’ eligibility for school fee rises be calculated without a fresh KHDA inspection?

2023/24 KHDA inspection ratings

A total of 23 schools were rated Outstanding in the 2023/24 school inspections, 48 were rated Very Good, 85 Good and 51 Acceptable, while two were rated Weak with no schools rated as Very Weak. Overall ratings improved for 26 schools while three schools saw a decline in their ratings. You can see a full rundown of the Outstanding, Very Good and Good schools in Dubai – along with details on fees – here.

Key statistics:
• 209 private schools in Dubai were inspected during the academic year 2023-24.
• 10 schools were inspected for the first time this academic year.
• 19,782 classroom visits carried out by inspectors.
• 4,407 hours of dialogue and discussion with students, parents, and school leaders.
• 81% of students receive an education rated Good or higher.
• 83% of schools offer well-being provision rated Good or higher.

Read original full Landmark Report on Inspections, School Fees and Delayed Inspections here.

What do you think about Dubai schools not being inspected for the 2024/25 academic year? Does it make any difference, or do you think Dubai school fees should be frozen as a results? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section. 

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