Good teachers, better schools in Abu Dhabi

Good teachers, better schools in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi schools make steady improvement, show Adec inspections


Olivia Olarte-Ulherr

Published: Thu 11 Sep 2014, 1:22 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:51 PM

The number of schools in Band A has increased to 16% and those in Band B to 40%. — KT file photo

Having qualified teachers is a major factor in scoring points at school inspections.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s Private School Forum, Edward Murtagh, head of inspection and monitoring division at the council, said the quality of teaching and learning is among the common features shared by high-performing schools.

“It seems that in the inspection report, high-performing schools (differ from others in) finding the right teachers,” Murtagh said.

“Private schools are also investing in the professional development of teachers both on their own initiative and through the Adec and these are ingredients to their success,” he added.

In the first round of cycle three (2013-2015) Irtiqaa inspection carried out in 2013-2014, only 44 per cent of the 118 schools assessed were found to be in need of improvement, a good drop from the previous cycle (2011-2013) at 66 per cent.

The number of schools in Band A has also increased to 16 per cent (from 15 per cent) while those in Band B went up to 40 per cent (from 19 per cent).

“The improvement that we’ve seen is slow and steady rather than spectacular but it does show, I think, a very promising trend in the performance of schools,” said Murtagh, noting that 80 more inspections will be carried out this year.

In the overall effectiveness, 39 schools have improved while 15 declined in their grades. In the Band for overall effectiveness, meanwhile, 21 schools showed improvement while eight schools went down.

The Irtiqaa (aspiration) programme assesses the school’s performance against eight standards. These include students’ achievement and progress; personal development of students; teaching quality; meeting students’ needs through curriculum; protection, care, guidance and support of students; quality of accommodation and facilities; resources that help a school achieve its objectives; and competence of leadership and management of the school.

The evaluation measures follow an eight-point scale (outstanding to poor), which determines the ranking Band A (1-3), Band B (4-5) and Band C (6-8).

Comparing the performance standards across the three cycles of inspection, the schools inspected at the current round showed improvement in students attainment and progress (from 32 per cent in 2009-2011 to 57 per cent), teaching and learning (from 31 per cent to 60 per cent), meeting students’ needs through the curriculum (from 29 per cent to 63 per cent), and leadership and management (from 31 per cent to 62 per cent).

Based on the latest findings from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), there has also been significant improvement in student performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science among 1,364 students across 59 schools.

Areas of improvement

On the areas of improvement, a number of schools need to strengthen their curriculum of subjects taught in Arabic.

“We found that six schools that are in Band A, Grade 2 this year — and we found this mostly in every case — the reason that they didn’t reach Band A, Grade 1 Outstanding was because of weaknesses in the provision of curriculum in Arabic,” Murtagh pointed out.

Hamad Al Dhaheri, executive director of Private Schools and Quality Assurance (PSQA), stressed the importance placed by the Adec on enhancing the national identity in students.

“There are 15 different curricula in private schools, so it’s important that we care about the national identity. We hope that private schools work hand in hand in enhancing this concept with students,” he stated.


Speaking to about 389 school leaders on Tuesday, Adec Director-General Dr Amal Al Qubaisi underscored the importance of partnership between the council and private schools and urged them to share their experiences with the council. Adec officials also spoke about enhancing school partnerships with parents and engaging them in their child’s learning and in school activities.

Complaint systemand fee increase

An initiative this academic year is the introduction of a complaint system.

“We are developing a complaint system that would start at the school and ends at the school and doesn’t bounce back to the Adec,” said George Nader, head of licensing and accreditation at the Adec.

According to the new system, complaints will be sent to a dedicated school e-mail and this will have a registration number. The Adec’s role will primarily be to monitor these complaints and will only step in when the issue is not resolved between the school and the complainant.

The criteria for increasing fees were also highlighted, which will be the Adec’s basis in granting requests, provided schools have no violation and have not applied for an increase the previous year.

These included improvement within or between bands; the fee increase will be used for training and professional development, new recruits and salary increments; for learning resources, building and equipment; percentage of students and staff; when integrating special needs students provided there is an increase in the number of specialised staff for them; and the percentage of complaints that have been solved by the school which have not raised to the Adec.

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