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UAE School Inspection season is here! But this year there’s a twist. Dubai parents: This is your chance to have your say to the KHDA

UAE school inspection season is upon us! This means that one day soon, an official inspector will be turning up at your child’s school and sitting in on classes, examining the facilities, and talking to staff and students to assess the school’s quality and performance across key indicators.

But this year there’s a twist.

While usually the inspector’s findings would be written up into a report that assesses schools from an academic’s perspective, this year the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) – which regulates schools in Dubai – is preparing individual school reports that will be customized especially for what parents want to know and care about.

And in order to make reports that are meaningful for Dubai mums and dads, they want to know what aspects of a school really matter to you.

Do you want to know which schools are most inclusive for students of determination? Do you think schools should be more transparent about bullying, or that they should publicly state whether they offer scholarships or bursaries? Is demographic spread and diversity important to you? Or the provision of school lunches, vegetarian options and how healthy they are? Is sustainability something you think schools should be judged by? Or perhaps you’d like to see how schools rate in terms of parking facilities and average time taken at school drop-off and pick-up? Do you think schools should have a one line sentence from the KHDA summarising what they are very best at for children?

Whatever matters most to you, this is your chance to have unprecedented influence on how Dubai schools are judged and rated by the official regulatory body. They really want to know what would help you most.

How to have your say about UAE school inspections

To share your opinion and influence how the KHDA will be shaping its inspection reports for parents this year, you can fill in a simple two-minute questionnaire.

In it you will be asked to choose which school profile information is most important to you out of the following choices:


  • Number of students or teachers
  • How the school compares with others in terms of performance
  • Number of students of determination
  • Number of Emirati students
  • Information about the Principal
  • The school’s overall performance rating
  • Other

You will then be asked to share which aspect of school quality interest you the most:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Pastoral care
  • Assessment
  • Academic achievement in core subjects
  • Progress students are making in core subjects
  • Wellbeing
  • Inclusion
  • Leadership and management
  • Other

But, crucially, there is then an empty space in which you can add what other information about your child’s current or future school you would like to know more about. This is the place where you can share what really matters to you – whether that be related to school lunches, bursaries, or health and safety precautions.

To fill in the questionnaire, click here.

About UAE school inspections   

Every year, official inspectors from the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), in collaboration with the KHDA, visit schools to rate their quality, and then publish the results in an individual report for each school, giving each one a performance judgement at the same time. These performance judgements are the ‘Outstanding’, ‘Very Good’, ‘Good’ etc ratings that you will often see mentioned on a school’s website or marketing materials.

Over the past few years, UAE school inspections have been on hold for most schools due to the Covid pandemic, since it wasn’t possible for inspectors to go into school in person.

This means that many schools’ performance ratings could be several years old, and a lot of things could have changed since the schools were last inspected.

There is therefore even more emphasis on the school inspections this year than there is usually – although they are always a nerve-wracking time for school staff!

The KHDA rating – rightly or wrongly – can heavily influence a parents’ perception of a school’s quality and often acts as one of the first filters that families use when choosing their school shortlist. They can also have an impact on the school’s ability to raise fees or not.

However, the criteria against which the KHDA judges a school may not always include what matters most to every parent; for example, some aspects of the inspection framework are dedicated to the school’s ability to teach Arabic to a high standard, or to provide a moral education programme that instructs students in the values and culture of the UAE.

The additional KHDA parents’ report that is being introduced this year will add another layer that should make the inspection outcomes even more useful as a guide for all parents when choosing a school for their child.

What do UAE school inspection ratings mean?  

The school inspector makes use of an Inspection Framework, which is based on comprehensive performance standards that are believed to define the core of a quality education.

The inspections are structured around six performance standards and conclude with an overall performance judgement.

Performance standards

  1. Students’ achievement
  2. Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills
  3. Teaching and assessment
  4. Curriculum
  5. The protection, care, guidance and support of students
  6. Leadership and management

Overall performance judgement

The UAE School Inspection Framework concludes with an overall judgement of school performance.

The six levels of quality on the scale are defined as follows:


This means that quality of performance substantially exceeds the expectation of the UAE

Very Good

This means the quality of performance exceeds the expectation of the UAE


This means the quality of performance meets the expectation of the UAE (This is the expected level for every school in the UAE)


The quality of performance meets the minimum level of quality required in the UAE (This is the minimum level for every school in the UAE)


The quality of performance is below the expectation of the UAE

Very Weak

The quality of performance is significantly below the expectation of the UAE.

See the KHDA Inspection Results for Dubai schools 2019-2020.

© A Which Media Group publication. All rights reserved. 2020.

About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and's The School's Report - the global weekly round up of what matters in education for parents which is published every Friday, reviewing schools across the UAE - and features on issues that really matter. You can often find Tabitha on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

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