Amanda Collins, Pearson’s Director of School Services in the Middle East, believes professional development for teachers is essential to raising standard of UAE schools.

August 30th, 2016
Dubai, United Arab Emirates:  A recent article in the UAE’s National newspaper reported that over 20,000 students in Abu Dhabi are currently enrolled in schools deemed as weak or very weak by school inspectors.
The figure was released by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) following the first round of school inspections that have been conducted as part of the new UAE School Inspection Framework. So far in 2016, 41 schools across Abu Dhabi have been inspected, with 19 schools being categorised by the new reporting structure as either “weak” or “very weak”. The good news is

that two schools have fallen into the “outstanding” category and eight schools classed as either “good” or “very” good.

The UAE Ministry of Education launched the new School Inspection Framework in 2015 to unify the various school standard systems that had previously been in place across the seven Emirates. Under the Framework, schools are assessed against a number of criteria, including student achievement, personal and social development of students, teaching and assessment, curriculum, protection, care, guidance and support of students, and leadership and management. Schools are ranked into six categories: outstanding, very good, good, acceptable, weak and very weak.
A school’s performance against the Framework is linked to whether ADEC grants permission for that school to increase its fees. ADEC recently released figures showing that out of the 90 schools requesting a fee increase for the 2016-2017 academic year, 39 applications were rejected, suggesting a significant percentage of schools were not meeting basic Framework criteria.
The launch of the new system is no doubt a step in the right direction when it comes to understanding the quality of teaching and learning taking place in the UAE, with identification of issues the first step in building a strong, future-proof education system.
The real question is what do we do with this information? How can we use the valuable data collected from school inspections to shape positive reforms that will have a positive impact on both teachers and their students?
The report ADEC released following the first round of inspections noted that of the 19 schools falling into the “weak” or “very weak” category, 14 have failed to improve over the past three inspections. This is troublesome, as it suggests that despite the deficiencies being identified in schools, little progress is being made in redressing these issues.
The inspections in Abu Dhabi have shown that many of the greatest challenges facing our schools relate to the quantity and quality of available teaching staff. ADEC reported that September to December 2016 saw a turnover rate of teachers of 20% in Abu Dhabi schools. Absenteeism has been cited as a major issue, with the National newspaper also reporting a high number of teachers failing to turn up to class.  Anecdotal evidence suggests several reasons for high rates of absenteeism amongst teachers, including unsustainable workloads and a lack of knowledge about new reporting and compliance obligations. Recent media articles have suggested that as well as long work hours, high levels of stress are leading to “scores” of teachers in the UAE resigning.
Ongoing training and professional development for educators must therefore be at the heart of any solution to the main challenges being experienced within our schools. Those schools that rate highly on the new School Inspection Framework all enjoy strong and effective leadership – but the strong leadership exhibited in these high performing schools is no accident. Effective school leadership requires an ongoing commitment to professional learning and development on behalf of school principals and others within the school leadership team. Senior educators in our schools need to be constantly updated with the skills, knowledge and confidence necessary to deal with the complex challenges impacting modern school environments. Importantly, they must also be well equipped to guide the wider school community through changes to curriculum, assessment and reporting.
As already mentioned, absenteeism and high turnover of teachers can be, at least in part, explained by teachers feeling overwhelmed by new regulations and ill-equipped to deal with the multitude of other complex challenges facing today’s educators. Professional Development that specifically helps teachers and school leaders to implement reforms that will help improve their school’s performance during inspections is essential – with emphasis on improving learner outcomes all important. Schools need to be supported in their efforts to keep good staff. Increased pay for teachers as an incentive to stay is not always a sustainable option, but increased and improved Professional Development is. And while many school leaders are reluctant to invest in staff training for fear that if teachers leave it will be a waste of money, these leaders need to realise that it is often this investment in teachers that encourages them to stay, and give their best to a school.
Many weak schools are unaware of how to effectively use data to improve school performance and classroom instruction. Technology is often heralded as a panacea to fixing major education issues. But too often technology is unfortunately viewed by teachers as more of a hindrance than a help – largely due to technology being implemented without the training and support necessary to ensure it is used effectively. The result is teachers feeling burdened rather than empowered by technology – resenting its introduction and failing to exploit its potential as a way of making the teaching, assessment and reporting process more efficient and effective. We need to take steps to ensure data and technology are used optimally, benefitting school performance rather than hindering it. One of the easiest ways of achieving this is making the relevant training more effective and accessible.

So, in short, there are some important lessons that we can take from the findings of the first round of school inspections conducted under the new Framework. Giving educators and school leaders the tools, confidence and capabilities to address the issues being picked up will help us to build a robust school system. This is essential for ensuring each and every learner in the UAE is being given the best chance of meeting their potential in a schools that comply with the Ministry of Education’s new standards. 

The Abu Dhabi Education Marathon kicks off at Yas Marina Circuit with 3,000 students participating.

Abu Dhabi, February 28, 2015: In the presence of H.E. Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and Mr. Aref Al Awani Abu Dhabi Sport Council General Secretary, over 3,000 students from Cycle 1 and Cycle 3 schools took part in the Abu Dhabi Education Marathon, as part of ADEC’s Champions of Tomorrow campaign.

The marathon, which was hosted at the Yas Marina Circuit, aims to instill a culture of sports among students and develop a pool of top athletes capable of representing and honoring the UAE in regional and international athletic tournaments.

Her Excellency said: “The marathon is an important event that will help drive the success of the ‘Champions of Tomorrow’ campaign since it represents ADEC’s commitment to providing national teams with talented athletes who will help raise the UAE flag in regional and international sport forums. The wide turnout of the marathon reflects the confidence schools have in the education reform, which continues to add quality initiatives that help support development and competitiveness.”

Mr. Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, ADEC’s School Operations Executive Director, added: “The Abu Dhabi Education Marathon is an important addition to our tireless efforts to foster a favorable environment for sports in schools which can help identify and encourage promising talents that can support our national Olympic teams. The broad participation of students and parents along with the educational and social community reflects the effectiveness of this initiative in creating a positive impact in the development of sports across schools in accordance with the highest standards of excellence and professionalism.”
“We are proud of what has been achieved by students who participated in the Abu Dhabi Education Marathon. In line with the vision and directives of our leadership, we are committed to provide the necessary support for the outstanding talents and pave their way to attain the highest quality achievements in the local and the international sporting arenas in the future,” concluded Mr. Al Dhaheri.

The marathon featured a highly competitive field of students aged eight to ten years old for the 1 km run. The second race spanned a distance of 3 km, while students enthusiastically completed the third segment’s 5-km length.
Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit said: “We are delighted to welcome so many budding young athletes to the circuit today.  We work very closely with the local community encouraging all to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle and it is particularly important to see the next generation taking part in sports with such enthusiasm.  Our partnership with ADEC to host this inaugural ADEC Schools Marathon is a great honor for us and we are pleased to be supporting the UAE Government¹s initiative to build a generation of talented athletes.”
Salem Al Odd and Hamda Khaled won first place in the 1K race, while Hazaah Souud and Taif Al Jesmi topped the marathon’s 3K race and Khalif Al Nasri headed the 5K run.
The marathon was not limited to students of Abu Dhabi schools only, but also included an ‘Open Race’ comprising parents, administrative faculty, staff members, and employees from ADEC along with the local community. Moreover, there were other activities conducted within the marathon, including a free art stand, heritage village, challenging games,  walking  the circuit, and Jiu-Jitsu.
ADEC continues to launch quality initiatives under the umbrella of the Champions of Tomorrow campaign, which aims to promote awareness about the importance of sports among schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region. It also seeks to encourage schools to be more responsible in nurturing sports talents and in establishing it internationally.
The campaign includes a series of sports competitions which will be held in four categories, namely, Mandatory Games (football and athletics), Individual Games (swimming, gymnastics, fencing and judo), Complementary Games (handball, basketball and volleyball), and Competitions and Special events such as racing, cycling, and a beach festival.
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About Abu Dhabi Education Council:
Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) was established in accordance with law No. 24 of 2005, issued by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The Chairman of ADEC is H.H. Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and the Vice-Chairman is H.H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs. The Council seeks to develop education and educational institutions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, implement innovative educational policies, plans and programs that aim to improve education, and support educational institutions and staff to achieve the objectives of national development in accordance with the highest international standards.
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For more information about ADEC please call its headquarters at +971 (2) 6150 000 or visit our website:
About Yas Marina Circuit:
Yas Marina Circuit is the United Arab Emirates’ most exciting sporting and entertainment multi-purpose venue.  Located on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, the circuit is home to the annual FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX and much more.  In addition to the extensive year-round program of professional and grassroots motorsport events and experiences including Dragand Yas Track Nights, the circuit has emerged as a thriving hub for entertainment and community events in the UAE. As the region’s most technologically advanced facility, the circuit is also a leading MICEvenue, regularly hosting a diverse range of corporate meetings, conferences and events.  Whether you want to experience the thrill of karting at our Kartzone, driving an Aston Martin GT4 at over 200km/hour on an F1 circuit, work towards your racing license at the Yas Racing School, get fit at TrainYasor GoYas, participate in one of our many sporting events, or simply catch up with friends at Yas Central, Yas Marina Circuit truly is The Meeting Place of Champions.