Distance Learning to be Inspected and Rated

"Developed", "Partly Developed" or "Not Developed", the three ratings that will be given to UAE schools following inspections to begin this month. The aim of the inspections is to reduce variability between schools, and to raise the learning experience, and wellbeing, of all students.
Distance Learning to be Inspected and Rated
By David Westley
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UAE schools are set to receive inspections and evaluations of their distance learning initiatives, with a new framework for the inspections outlined by Dubai's education regulator, the KHDA. The overall aim of the process is "to improve the learning experiences and wellbeing of all students using distance learning in special circumstances".

Distance learning has been put in place for the current term as one of the ways to address the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been no announcement, as yet, for how schools will be expected to deliver education come September 2020, a decision that will clearly be dependent on the threat of the Coronavirus, Covid-19, at that point. That inspections are being put in place for distance learning does however suggest there is at least the possibility that it, in some form, may be extended past the current term.

Inspections are in recognition that, currently, considerable "variability" exists between schools.

Following the result of the inspection a school's distance learning programme will be defined as either "Developed", "Partly Developed" or "Not Developed".

Variation in the quality of distance learning exists, the KHDA says, "between the experience of staff and students in using distance learning techniques or materials, the available resources in school or in homes, and the level of support which parents are able to provide..."

In the new inspections there are three primary "zones": "Student Wellbeing", "Teaching and Monitoring of Students", and "Leading and Managing Students Learning". Under these zones are a total of 19 themes. A school's overall rating will be dependent on the number of themes inspector deems a school to be succeeding at.

Students, teachers, school leaders and parents will be consulted as part of a process that will include virtual lesson visits, virtual discussions, stakeholder questionnaires, and samples of key documents and student work.

“Each school evaluation will be conducted remotely and is expected to take approximately five hours. It will include online meetings with the principal and senior leadership team, as well as remote observation of lessons. Schools will be given prior notice of an evaluation,” according to the KHDA.

According to Shaun Robison, CEO of BBD Education, "the formal evaluation and review of distance learning offered by schools, should give parents comfort in that regulators are now monitoring the quality of distance learning... Planned evaluations should provide parents with insight into the quality being offered by their school, much like the DSIB inspection reports did for traditional brick and mortar schooling.”

"The distance learning tool will also validate the teachers’ efforts and provide each school with a clear focus.”

Results of the evaluations will initially be shared with the schools, and at a later stage be published.

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