KHDA responds to parents’ inspection concerns

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KHDA responds to parents’ inspection concerns

Dubai: Many parents have objected to the education authority’s decision to inform schools in advance about the annual inspection dates.

Parents believe that the annual inspections should be a surprise move as advance notice gives schools an opportunity to hide any problems that could reduce their rankings.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has responded to parents’ concerns regarding giving schools three weeks’ notice before annual inspections. The KHDA has explained that the notice period is necessary as it ensures a fair and rigorous inspection.

“Why does the KHDA even have to inform the schools three weeks before about the inspection? Don’t they know that it just gives schools the opportunity of putting on a show for the sake of a good ranking?” a comment by Abu Dhabi resident S. Mathew, Indian, read.

Fee increases allowed by the KHDA are determined by inspection outcomes and the ranking that schools receive; the higher the ranking the more the fee increase allowed. This in Dubai resident Ahmad’s opinion is a motive for schools to cover up some of their issues during last-minute preparations.

“Schools know when KHDA inspectors are coming and accordingly prepare to show that they are following guidelines to earn outstanding or good ratings only to benefit from the increase of school fees,” he said.

Dubai resident Laxmi Nair, on the other hand, is concerned his children are being taught the wrong values during inspections.

“My children are told to behave themselves while the KHDA inspectors are around. Why aren’t they told to behave themselves at all times? What values are we inculcating in these children? The KHDA’s announcement of their arrival in advance gives schools enough time to put the icing over their erroneous ways.”

As the annual school inspections are starting, Jameela Al Muhairi, Chief of the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) at the KHDA, explained the importance of the three-week notice period.

“We provide notice to schools for a number of reasons. Firstly, we need key documents before the inspection to make sure that the inspection is well-organised, fair and rigorous.”

She also added that not providing notice can cause students or parents to not be present during class visits and special events which are important day-to-day features of school life.

“We want to work with schools and parents as much as possible to gain an accurate and fair view of the typical work of each school,” she said.

Jameela added that although the DSIB does not carry out surprise inspections it has gradually reduced the notice period over the past five years.

“Many parents have asked for no notice or short notice inspections and we are keen to listen to them. However, we urge schools to view inspections as a tool for school improvement and plan both short- and long-term changes to help enhance students’ achievement.”

Gulf News spoke to schools to learn more about the preparations they undertake for KHDA visits.

Mark Ford, principal of Dubai British School (DSB) — which received a ‘good’ ranking from last year’s inspections — said that although the inspection process is stressful schools should operate as usual.

“During the inspection the school operates as usual whether there is an inspection or not. In my opinion schools should not need to put on a show. We try to maintain the same standards throughout the year.”

Ashok Kumar, CEO of the Indian High School in Dubai, which has an outstanding ranking from previous inspections said that it is not stressful because the school is already on a par with international best practices.

“Only new key points identified by the KHDA have to be studied and prepared for,” he added.

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