UAE: How training, upskilling teachers improve school ratings

Programmes that are gaining traction are targeting areas such as curriculum development, leadership, and behaviour management for educators

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Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 6:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 10:51 PM

Schools in the UAE are intensifying their focus on enhancing teacher training by investing in upskilling programmes. These initiatives are playing a crucial role in rapidly elevating the overall ratings of these educational institutions.

Several headteachers emphasised the significance of upskilling teachers to support innovation and adaptation. They explained that as educators acquiring new skills can introduce new ideas and strategies to the classroom and school.

These training programmes that are gaining traction are specifically targeting areas such as curriculum development, leadership, and behaviour management for teachers.

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Pramod Mahajan, Principal, Sharjah Indian School, said, “Our school has experienced improved ratings attributed to teacher training and upskilling programmes. Commencing the training programme in 2021 has certainly helped the school’s ratings, with the school now rated as ‘Good’ from ‘Acceptable’.

"There’s a shift in curriculum and teaching methodologies these days. This involves significant unlearning, relearning, upskilling, and scaffolding efforts. Therefore, the emphasis on training and development is crucial."

While students are off in Sharjah on Friday, teachers undergo a weekly upskilling programme from 7 to 10 am. Around 450 teachers at the school participate every week in these training sessions led by six trainers. Among them, there's a CBSE master as well as a SPEA-approved trainer.

Mahajan added, "Our research delves into pedagogical topics from Finland, the UK, and the UAE. The focus of learning has shifted to competency-based approaches. Topics covering, cooperative learning, thinking classroom, high-performance learning (HPL), the art of posing fertile questions, design thinking, crafting open-ended or closed-ended questions, and determining the ideal ‘waiting time’ for answers are some of the subjects that are widely discussed.”

Pramod Mahajan
Pramod Mahajan

Many schools have even forged significant collaborations with global entities for teachers' upskilling and training purposes.

Ghadeer Abu-Shamat, Senior Vice President – Education, GEMS Education and Superintendent/CEO, GEMS Al Khaleej International School, said, “It’s important to meet the evolving demands of the education sector. At GEMS Education, we have a three-year education strategy, where one of the objectives around career professional development is to ensure that each member of the education team has a personalised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) pathway in place for 2025. To that end, we have developed meaningful partnerships with international bodies such as Queen Rania Teaching Academy, BlueSky, IBO and HPL”.

The school's approach incorporates best practices and engages eminent authors and experts. These individuals share insights on models such as high-impact teaching strategies, fostering reflective teaching, making learning enjoyable, ensuring effective planning for optimal learning, promoting critical thinking, and teaching passionately.

Larissa Milne
Larissa Milne

Larissa Milne, Head of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, Dwight School Dubai, said, “We had author and expert Kath Murdoch visit our school and deliver workshops on inquiry-based learning to promote critical thinking. In addition, we had author and expert Dr Ric Sims also deliver workshops on the Theory of Knowledge and how we can use this to enhance critical thinking across the curriculum.”

Pedagogical leaders highlight that such projects have played a pivotal role in fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth among educators and non-educators across school clusters.

Matthew Burfield, Senior Vice President – Education, GEMS Education and Executive Principal/CEO, GEMS Founders School – Dubai, said, “What sets Cluster Professional Development Leader (CPDL) apart is its inclusive approach, supporting not only teachers but also teaching assistants, Learning Support Assistant (LSAs), receptionists, and all front-of-house and administration teams within a school. This comprehensive strategy ensures tailored support and development opportunities for every member of the educational community, from frontline staff to principals.”

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