We look at some of the noteworthy achievements in this year’s DSIB inspection results particularly the three schools rated ‘good’ in their very first inspection.
A staggering 93% of GEMS Education schools across Dubai achieved a rating of ‘Good’ and above in the recently announced Knowledge & Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) 2018-2019 Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) results. Furthermore, 26 out of 28 GEMS Education Dubai based schools that were inspected maintained their current rating while three new schools to be inspected for the first time – GEMS Al Barsha National School for Girls (NGS), GEMS Founders School — Al Barsha (GFS), and GEMS Heritage Indian School (GHS) — each received a ‘Good’ rating.
PREPARING FOR THAT FIRST INSPECTION
New schools have their first inspection after their first three years in operation and the inspection is underpinned by a framework which has six performance standards: student achievements; student personal development, social development, and their innovation skills; teaching and assessment; curriculum; protection, care, guidance and support; and leadership and management.
According to Darryl Bloud, Executive Principal — GEMS Heritage Indian School (GHS), the leadership of the school had to build trust among the teachers and middle leaders, 50% of whom were new to the school. Team building and professional development, without the fear of being judged, made a huge difference to the morale of the teachers, who have remained committed ever since.
“We have support from GEMS School Support Centre, and we’ve gone through internal reviews. In terms of looking towards the inspection, most of the senior leadership had been through the DSIB process, we had a good idea of what the inspectors were coming to look for,” said Janet Foley, Vice Principal of GFS.
For GFS the priority was to ensure that the students were making progress because many of them had come from other schools where the style of teaching was quite different, and they had to adapt to a new way of working.
Many of the school’s teachers are either newly qualified teachers coming from the UK, or qualified teachers coming from a non-UK background. “We must ensure that we have consistency in teaching, and in order to do that we have a teaching and learning team who go into lessons to monitor the standards of teaching, and make sure that the students are making progress in their lessons,” added Janet.
GFS has a strong focus on quality-first teaching and making sure that teachers are trained, via internal and external training, and sharing best practice within the school. Bespoke training is offered within the school and teachers can sign up for what they are interested in and what they think they need to improve.
“We want our teachers to grow and flourish as well. In order to go on to greater success, they must put the time and the work in and they must keep a log of how many hours of continuous professional development (CPD) they do. There is a minimum expectation, and that can be delivering training or participating in it. Rather than having to top-down and make them do it, it’s more driven by the teachers and we have their buy-in,” said Janet.
Michelle Forbes, Principal of NSG agreed: “As the minimum, we wanted to achieve ‘Good’ so to prepare for it, effectively the most important thing is to make sure we’re delivering a high-quality education where children are happy and safe.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PARENTS?
“Dr Abdulla Al Karam from KHDA has sent an email to all our parents to say that they’ve chosen well for their daughters because there’s obviously a commitment to ensure that Emirati students are not in a school that isn’t at least ‘Good’,” said Michelle.
But ratings aren’t the only things that matter. Michelle added that whenever parents select a school for their child, they want to be confident that their children are safe and are learning and making really good progress. They want to know that their children are happy.
“We believe in our offering and we’ve never swayed from that. We decided what kind of school we wanted to be from the beginning and we’re almost there. I think parents like that reassurance that we’re not suddenly going to switch. They know what they’re getting,” said Janet.
Darryl added that all parents while seeking admission for their children, look for an exceptional school; a school which brings out the best in their children, in and beyond the classroom. “Parents who visit us, almost always see our school’s unique infrastructure, designed to meet all their children’s holistic needs. All parents are now well informed about our knowledge of their children. Our periodic meetings are designed to share and make parents and students know how teachers use their children’s international and internal assessment scores, to learn more about their children’s learning styles. These scores go beyond just being academic in nature.”
A progressive school goes beyond just preparing for inspections and the philosophy at GHS is simple. All its teachers have a desire to prepare children for the world they will step into. “It is therefore our mission to develop our teachers, through regular and continuous professional development, keeping their well-being at the heart, in our drive for excellence,” said Darryl.
When GFS opened three years ago, it only offered up to year 9. Now, the school has its years 10 and 12 cohorts, so GCSEs and A-levels are now priorities. In 12 months’ time when the management team looks what the result indicators are likely to be, they will be a yardstick for the school’s level of success.
Michelle said NSG will work towards what they need to do to get a rating of ‘Very Good.’ “But in order to do that, we need to continue to increase the consistency of the high-quality teaching in our school. Our focus is on continuing to provide at least ‘Good’ teaching and learning. We need to get as many teachers to be outstanding as we can. To move to the next level the most important things are the learning and the outcomes, so the quality of the teaching is the driver. As a new school, we’re on a leadership journey. We wanted to achieve ‘Good’ in our first inspection and then build towards ‘Outstanding’ year on year from that point.”
We want our teachers to grow and flourish as well. In
order to go on to greater success, they must put the time and
the work in and they must keep a log of how many hours of
continuous professional development (CPD) they do.
– Janet Foley
GEMS EDUCATION’S 6 ‘OUTSTANDING’ SCHOOLS:
- GEMS Dubai American Academy (DAA)
- GEMS Modern Academy (MHS)
- GEMS Royal Dubai School (RDS)
- GEMS Wellington International School (WIS)
- Jumeirah College — Dubai (JCD)
- Jumeirah Primary School (JPS)
GEMS EDUCATION’S 6 ‘VERY GOOD’ SCHOOLS:
- GEMS Our Own English High School (OOD)
- GEMS Wellington Academy — Silicon Oasis (WSO)
- GEMS Wellington Primary School (WPS)
- GEMS Worlds Academy (GWA)
- The Millennium School (TMS)
- The Winchester School (WIN)
THE ONLY OUTSTANDING AMERICAN AND INDIAN CURRICULUM SCHOOLS
GEMS Dubai American Academy and GEMS Dubai Modern Academy are currently the only American and Indian curricula schools in Dubai to have an ‘Outstanding’ rating. Dubai American Academy offers both an enriched American curriculum and the IB Diploma to its students while GEMS Modern Academy offers the CISCE curriculum for Pre- Kindergarten to Grade 12, and the IB Diploma Programme option for Grade 11 and Grade 12.
“DAA is proud to be recognised as the only American School rated Outstanding for the last eight years. This is a testament to our exceptional students, teachers and parent community,” said Tammy Murphy, Superintendent/CEO, DAA.
10 STRAIGHT YEARS ‘OUTSTANDING’
WIS achieved ‘Outstanding’ status for the 10th consecutive year. “We are delighted that the overall quality of education at GEMS Wellington International School, for the tenth consecutive year, has been graded as outstanding and recognises the commitment and hard work of not just those in the WIS team, but the entire school community. We are pleased that the KHDA report acknowledges the impact of the work of the leadership team in accurate self-evaluation, linked to our more focused improvement planning process,” said, Maryssa O’Connor, Principal of GEMS Wellington International School.
She added that this has led to a rise in the rating for school self-evaluation and improvement planning from last year. This is hugely significant and exemplified in how key recommendations refer to areas which the school has already identified and is working to improve on tangible positive outcomes.