School Inspections: Changes and Preparation

As we head towards the 48th National Day of the UAE it is easy to forget how rapidly this country has grown and the unrivalled pace at which sectors and areas have flourished and expanded. This pace of evolution has been equally matched across the educational system of Dubai, as more and more schools, teachers and learning methodologies emerge every year to expand the horizons of our students. With such an on-going trajectory, the government have made it a priority to ensure that students, and teachers, are studying and working within facilities that fulfil their exacting standards, so that everyone gets the best. That is what is at the hearts of the school inspections conducted by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and why many teachers and school leaders strive to perform at their best.

2019-2020 Inspection Cycle: A New Frontier

Recently, KHDA hosted a gathering for over 185 school principals and school leaders to inform them of a series of changes that would be made to the upcoming cycle of private school inspections for this academic year. The revisions to the KHDA process are the result of intense community engagement, feedback and a desire to ensure that under-performance can be improved or removed.

CEO of the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB), Fatma Belrehif highlighted the reasons for the changes, “After 11 years of inspection, our schools have a deeper understanding of self-evaluation and inspection processes, and are able to engage with the inspection process with a shorter notification period. We have listened to useful feedback from parents, students, teachers, principals and school operators about our school inspections and made some changes to the way we inspect schools. Our inspectors will be spending more time in schools that need more development

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General of the KHDA, also shared his enthusiasm for this year’s improvements, “Private school inspections began in Dubai 11 years ago and this year is very special to us because the graduating class represents a full cohort that has benefited from our policies with substantial improvements in our schools. Our reports have given parents clear and helpful information that reassures them of the quality of education, as well as informs them of their children’s future education choices.”

You can visit the KHDA website to find out more about the changes in full, but here are a few of the revisions that might impact your school:

  • The inspection notice period will be reduced from three weeks to five working days
  • ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Good’ schools will now receive review-visits aimed at ensuring they continue to provide high-quality education
  • Schools will be evaluated on the efforts they take to foster and cultivate Emirati students’ talents and skills
  • The sustainability credentials of a school will also be assessed, in particular their shift towards a more paperless environment
  • New schools will have pre-inspection visits prior to full inspections in their third year of operation
  • Priority areas will also include: National Agenda, Moral Education, Inclusion, Reading, Innovation and UAE Social Studies

How to Keep Calm Under Pressure

Many teachers and school leaders can become incredibly overwhelmed during inspection times. For those whose passion is deeply rooted in education and the welfare of their students it is natural to want to show your institution in the best light, as well as to want the best results for your school. Many educators worry about things going wrong, KHDA inspectors not seeing the good work that gets done and the amount of preparation that seems necessary. There are a few things you should try to remember though that might help you keep your cool:

  • Don’t over think: Thanks to a reduction in notice periods, you won’t have as long to stress and plan before your school’s inspection occurs, which might be a good thing. The reality is that the inspectors aren’t wishing for the worst, good teachers will shine through, no matter what happens.
  • Do be yourself: We can understand why you might decide to clean your classroom up or wear your smartest outfit, but when it comes to teaching just be yourself. Your natural rapport and passion will be much more appealing to inspectors, and will show them how much you are able to engage your kids.
  • One size doesn’t fit all: Whilst the standard of education needs to be of a certain level to be useful for the children, the way in which we teach doesn’t have to be uniform. Learning and teaching methodologies are constantly evolving and innovative new concepts that embrace inclusivity, differences and take into account retention patterns, should be welcome additions to our educational sector. Don’t be afraid to show that you can adapt to the needs of your students so that they have a better experience overall.
  • Keep calm: Plan and tweak the bits you need to, but remember in the end, you can only do your best. Don’t get so stressed and worried that get freaked out or exhausted, neither of those things will make you a better teacher.

Have you had your 2019/2020 KHDA inspection yet? How did it go? Was it very different? Are you preparing for one now? What do you worry most about when it comes to KHDA inspections? Join the conversation via one of our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

Shanti Clements
Head of Leadership Academy
School Inspections: Changes and Preparation
With more than 24 years of experience in the field of education, personal development and leadership research, Shanti joined TELLAL from her post as Principal at Beauty Point Public School, which she transformed into one of the highest performing schools in Australia.
School Inspections: Changes and Preparation
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