Dubai school inspections: movers and shakersMay 17, 2017, 9:15 am GMT
The latest round of school inspections revealed that 10 schools in Dubai have improved their ratings, while four schools noted a decline.
Additionally, 11 new schools were inspected for the first time, including Sunmarke School, which opted to undergo inspections in its first year of operation.
While no new schools were rated Outstanding this year, Taaleem's Uptown School was the only school to make the leap from Good to Very Good.
It should be noted, however, that all 16 schools rated Outstanding in 2015/16 opted to participate in the Abundance Group initiative, which means they were not inspected by DSIB during 2016/17, and only submitted a self-evaluation report.
While details are unclear about the future of the project, KHDA director general Dr Abdulla Al Karam said that schools that participated were keen to continue the project in the future.
"Most of [the participating schools] said the value add they get – not just the schools that get the assistance but those who provide it – was a lot. We will be releasing a full report before the end of the year to see how we can widen this experience," he said.
There was significant movement among schools rated Good during the 2016/17 cycle. The majority of students (39%) in Dubai attend schools rated Good.
Eight schools made the jump from Acceptable to Good this year. These include: Dubai International School, Queen International School, International School of Arts & Sciences, The Sheffield Private School, Bradenton Preparatory Academy, Apple International School, GEMS International School - Al Khail, and International Concept Education.
The Islamic School for Training and Education, which was previously rated Weak improved its rating to Acceptable.
Four schools declined in their overall ratings during the 2016/17 inspection cycle. These include Emirates English Speaking School, The Philippine School, and English Language Private School, which slipped from Acceptable to Weak this year.
Additionally, Springdales School, which which was rated Good in its first inspection cycle last year, was rated Acceptable in 2016/17.
In a statement to Education Journal Middle East, Springdales School said: "Naturally, any downgrade within less than a year after achieving a 'Good' rating in the school's first inspection is a bitter disappointment. The more so since continuous and sustained improvements to the quality of teaching and learning and the commitment to staff professional development were on-going. The work on enhancing the school's facilities, including laboratories, the indoor swimming pool and sports track and field had been completed. The inspection focused upon the outcomes of benchmark tests which the KHDA had called for and which the school had rushed to implement. The results were interpreted negatively, although we have shown that students' progress in all core subjects tested was 'good' as measured by the KHDA's own inspection framework."
New schools that do not receive a "Good" rating or better during inspections are not allowed to add new year groups during the subsequent year, which would mean that Springdales would not have been allowed to expand to Grade 10 during the 2017/18 academic year.
Given the importance of Grade 10 (which is also a board exam year) for CBSE schools, Springdales was allowed to move Grade 9 students (from 2016/17) to Grade 10 for the 2017/18 academic year that began in April. However, parents of students enrolled in Grade 8 during the 2016/17 academic year were asked to enroll their children in a different school for Grade 9 (2017/18 academic year), essentially restricting entry to Grade 10 at Springdales during the 2018/19 academic year.
Whether Springdales will be allowed to reintroduce Grade 9 during the 2018/19 academic year will depend on its inspection results for 2017/18.
Springdales School added: "Our primary concern was to appeal this decision rather than the presumed outcome of the inspection. There is no clear procedure for appealing the ratings. Furthermore, the school is resolved to continue its improvement journey regardless of the inspection outcomes. We are rated 'Outstanding' and 'Very Good' is some areas, but we are certainly not complacent. It is important to stress that we welcome the inspection process as a validation of how we approach our responsibilities to our students and parent community. We reflect on criticism positively and we are already implementing the action plan that followed the inspection."
A statement from KHDA was not available.
Six of the 11 new schools that were inspected for the first time were rated Good. These include: GEMS FirstPoint School, Kings' School Al Barsha, Kings' School Nad Al Sheba, Nord Anglia International School, Safa Community School, and Sunmarke School - which opted for inspections in its first year of operation.
Four new schools facing their first year of inspections - Capital School, Credence High School, GEMS Metropole School, and Ontario International Canadian School - were rated Acceptable.
Bilva Indian School was the only one to be rated Weak in its first inspection.
British curriculum schools continue to be the strongest performing schools. The majority of schools are rated Good or better - 10 schools are rated Outstanding, nine Very Good, and 27 Good. Eleven schools are rated Acceptable, while only one is rated Weak.
One IB curriculum school - Dubai International Academy - is rated Outstanding, while Uptown School is rated Very Good. Eight IB schools were rated Good. No schools offering the IB curriculum were rated Acceptable or weaker.
There is an equal split between the number of Indian curriculum schools that offer a Good or better education and those that don't. Two schools - GEMS Modern Academy and The Indian High School - are rated Outstanding; three are rated Very Good, and 10 are rated Good. Eleven Indian curriculum schools are rated Acceptable and four Weak.
American curriculum schools have shown some improvement compared to the 2015/16 results. US curriculum schools have been some of the weakest performing schools in Dubai. To combat this, KHDA put into effect a series of initiatives to improve standards at American schools, including synchronised inspection and accreditation visits with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
While no American curriculum schools declined in ratings this year, three schools did improve - Dubai International School, International School of Arts and Sciences, and Bradenton Preparatory Academy - all went from Acceptable to Good.
Commenting on the improvement, KHDA director general Dr Abdulla Al Karam noted: "We have noticed that the American curriculum schools that went for the accreditation and obtained it or are close to obtaining it have seen an improvement in their quality, and have shown significant improvement in their rating."
All in all, there is now almost an equal split between the number of US curriculum schools that offer a Good or better education, and those that don't. Dubai American Academy is rated Outstanding, while 13 schools are rated Good. Twelve American schools are rated Acceptable and three Weak.
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