In early May, the KHDA released a report reflecting on the improvements made by Dubai private schools over the last decade. It is evident that the quality of education now offered by private schools across the city has significantly improved and the landscape is certainly very different 10 years on. In this blog, we share the highlights from the report and what your family needs to know.
Qualities of good, very good and outstanding Dubai private schools
The KHDA now reports that 66% of all students attend good or better schools across Dubai, representing an increase of 36 percentage points in the last 10 years. An increase of 36% is huge and schools across the city should be delighted with the progress made.
It is clear that this increase has stemmed from the rigorous focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning across Dubai and it is fantastic that we are seeing this impact and improved outcomes for so many of our children and young people.
The report states that in good or better schools, students are put first and treated as individuals. Staff ensure they are engaged in their learning by creating opportunities for them to be challenged and take advantage of the opportunities available to them. But this is not done by accident, behind each great school is exceptional leadership where careful planning, monitoring and evaluating lead to school improvement.
Qualities of acceptable or weak Dubai private schools
There are still 57 private schools across Dubai that are weak or acceptable. It is worth noting that this may be because they are relatively new schools which are still in their infancy. Therefore, we could see rapid improvement in these institutions in the next few years.
Three common factors that resulted in schools being judged weak or acceptable were:
- Leadership – leaders didn’t understand the principles of good practice or didn’t effectively utilise internal and external assessment to inform improvements and evaluate teaching and learning
- Teaching and learning – staff don’t effectively adapt the curriculum, don’t encourage deeper thinking or independent learning or support students to conduct research
- Governance – governors don’t appropriately monitor the schools progress, don’t hold leadership to account for school performance and don’t seek stakeholder views
However, despite 57 schools remaining weak or acceptable, the number of students attending weak or acceptable schools is down overall.
Impact of different curricula
There are 17 different curricula available to families across Dubai’s 194 private schools, which makes for a very diverse landscape of schools!
French schools are the highest performing with 100% good or better in 2017-18 and US schools were the lowest with 57% good or better. IB schools also did well, with 94% of these schools good or better and the UK had 77%.
Areas of improvement tended to be quite consistent across the different curricula, perhaps not surprisingly focused in on school leadership.
In UK curriculum schools, the quality of leadership was the most significant factor affecting improvement. Whilst many schools have made good progress in their ability to self-evaluate and plan for improvement, there is still work to be done to ensure better quality assurance.
In US curriculum acceptable schools it was found that leaders simply didn’t know their schools well enough and only 48% of them knew how to evaluate the quality of their work and plan for improvement effectively.
Inclusion remains a key priority
The report stresses that inclusion must remain a priority for Dubai schools. It is fantastic to see significant improvements in both the quality of provision for people of determination (up to 66% good or better from 39% in 2014) and the progress of students of determination (up to 65% good or better from 34% in 2014).
The new Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework released last year has placed increased pressure on schools to ensure their provision supports all types of need. Read what we think of this new framework here.
What’s clear from the inspection reports is that the commitment and investment from school leaders and governors is vital in order to provide high-quality provision for students with determination. Once leadership is engaged, these schools:
- Have accurate procedures for early identification
- Deliver impactful interventions
- Work closely with parents
- Achieve high quality support for pupils and families
- Equip teachers with knowledge to adapt their teaching strategies to meet need
There has been reasonable progress on the National Agenda
The report highlighted progress made in the other areas of the National Agenda and next steps for private schools across Dubai.
Whilst the report does showcase that some good practice is happening in this area it is clear that more needs to be done, particularly around developing skills that support innovative thinking in students and opportunities to work collaboratively to support this.
Most schools are delivering moral education in English and for one hour a week. Whilst the report does highlight that students often engage in discussion, debates and undertake research as part of the Moral Education Programme, the inspection cycle found that many lessons are not well personalised or challenging enough and that assessment is often inconsistent.
As with Moral Education, whilst there are good examples of Social Studies delivery across Dubai, improvements can be made within schools to ensure that assessment is consistent and that opportunities to inform the next steps of learning are capitalised on.
You can find the full report on the KHDA website here.