(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) It's that time of year again for private schools in Dubai, as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) started the 10th cycle of the school inspections last week. This year, 166 campuses will be under the spotlight - including seven schools, which will undergo inspections for the first time.
At present, 64 per cent of students in Dubai schools now attend good or better schools, compared to 30 per cent of students when inspections started in 2008-2009.
But although the quality of education in Dubai private schools is improving, key challenges still remain for schools that provide less than 'good' education.
This year, the school inspections will place a special emphasis on UAE National Agenda, social studies, innovation, Emirati students, moral education and special education needs.
Schools will also be evaluated on the following five key performance indicators: learning skills; social responsibility and enterprise; teaching; curriculum adaptation; and leadership.
With seven new schools up for inspection this year, the total number of campuses inspected will sit at 166, compared to last year's 159.
Of the 159 schools inspected in 2016/17, 16 schools were rated 'outstanding'; 14 schools 'very good'; 69 schools 'good'; and the remaining 60 schools were rated 'acceptable' or 'weak'.
Of the new schools being inspected this time around, one is an Indian curriculum school, one an IB, and five focus on the UK curriculum.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem (which runs one of the newly-inspected schools - Dubai British School Jumeirah Park) said the inspection teams are school improvement partners and critical friends.
"The inspection process should simply be confirming what the school already knows about itself and is working on through its own self-improvement and development plans."
When asked how Taaleem schools have been working towards the provision of moral education within the curriculum, Pierrepont said staff training has been a key player here.
"All Taaleem teachers have attended full-day training either in Abu Dhabi or Dubai over the last week. The training covered all areas of Moral Education, looking at the units and requirements per government regulations, how to assess, parent involvement and how to implement the subject into the schools. The teacher who attended the national training will scaffold the information back in their schools."
And he added that students, staff and parents are "very interested and excited" about moral education.
Grades in focus In 2015-2016, the KHDA introduced the UAE National Agenda Parameter as a way of measuring the progress that Dubai's private schools are making towards achieving their individual TIMSS and PISA assessment targets.
Given that the next TIMSS tests will be in 2019 (the last before 2021), schools this year have been urged to focus particularly on Grade 3 and Grade 7 students because they will be taking TIMSS in 2019.
Speaking about the inspections, Fatma Belrehif, CEO of DSIB, said they are an important tool that allow schools to improve the quality of education they offer.
"After nine years of inspections in Dubai, we have seen an increase in the number of students attending schools that are judged to be good or better. The adoption of UAE School Inspection Framework has allowed us to unify our efforts towards achieving UAE National Agenda goals."
Kelly Clarke Originally from the UK, Kelly Clarke joined Khaleej Times in November 2012. She has a keen interest in humanitarian issues and took over as the dedicated Education Reporter in August 2016. In her spare time she loves to travel off the beaten track, and often write about her quirky experiences of pastures new. Kelly received her BA Honours in Journalism from Middlesex University, UK in 2008. Before joining Khaleej Times she worked as a Supervising Editor for three Healthcare titles in London. @KellyAnn_Clarke