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Inspection: A Retrospect

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The Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) was created by the Government of Dubai to set-up quality standards that would be used as an evaluation and development systems for schools to be measured against. Fatma Belrehif, the CEO at DSIB, talks to Education UAE about the organisation’s accomplishments, what inspectors look for, how inspections have helped parents, and how the schools themselves view the inspections.

“Dubai private schools have made significant improvements since inspections started in 2008,” Fatma says. “Over the past 11 years, the percentage of students that are in schools that have achieved an inspection rating of ‘good’ or better has risen from 30% to 70%. Furthermore, the capacity of school leaders to review and improve their schools has improved significantly over the years, with 68% of schools achieving a ‘good’ or better rating in self-evaluations in 2019, compared to just 32% in 2008.”

The role of school inspectors is to help DSIB ensure that:

  • School governors, leaders, and staff remain accountable for performance and improvement
  • Interactions with school leaders and staff facilitate the improvement of schools, particularly the outcomes for all students attending
  • Students receive their entitlement and are ensured access to a good quality education

In order to achieve this, inspectors evaluate each school’s performance against the standards found in the ‘UAE School Inspection Framework’, helping to assess the quality of:

  • Students’ academic, personal, and social development outcomes
  • Teaching and the use of students’ assessments
  • The implementation of the curriculum and how well it is adapted to meet the needs of different groups of students
  • The health, safety, care, and support of all students
  • The schools’ inclusive approach and practices
  • The quality of leadership and governance, including how well the school realistically evaluates its own strengths and strategically plans and carries out actions for improvement, and the school’s relationship with parents and the community.

“DSIB inspection reports offer parents comprehensive information regarding the quality of education provided by these schools,” Fatma continues. “Whether looking for a new school that fits their child’s needs and interests, or learning how the present school compares with similar schools, the inspection report can be a valuable resource for parents.

“The inspection process also takes the views of parents, gathered from meetings and surveys, into account when making inspection judgments. This inclusion of parents in the process has helped build a level of trust and transparency between the KHDA and the community.”

Initially, some schools were not that keen on the idea of inspections, but all that has now changed, as Fatma explains: “DSIB shares the same overarching objective, that of improving outcomes for students with all of the schools it inspects. Over the years, almost all schools have come to appreciate the benefits of the inspection process, in particular the opportunity for the school to benefit from an external and objective appraisal of the quality of provision in the school, intentional developmental conversations between inspectors and staff, and a validation of the school’s internal self-evaluation.”

Fatma Belrehif is the Chief Executive Officer at Dubai School Inspection Bureau, which is a part of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.