For the past three years, the KHDA has placed a firm emphasis on improving the provision of special education needs (SEN) across Dubai’s schools. In fact, the agency has placed SEN provision at the very core of its framework and notes the aim is to make Dubai, “an inclusive, barrier-free society that promotes, protects, and ensures the success of people with disabilities and special educational needs (SEN).”
To date, the KHDA has incorporated five integral elements to its SEN provision inspection analysis. These are:
The analysis of ALL student performance
To analyse the quality of SEN provision based on international standards
To develop a uniform definition for SEN and disabilities in the Emirate
To implement internationally aligned categories for SEN and disability
To organise pre-inspection visits to inform and create professional dialogue on SEN provision
The SEN Inspection Process
Since 2012, the KHDA has increased its focus on inspection methodology and the reporting process for SEN provision. Today, many KHDA inspectors are now specially-trained and appropriately-experienced in SEN and the inspection process includes parent-group interviews together with in depth analysis of a wide range of progress indicators for both groups and individual students.
The 2015 Reports
For the first time, 2014/15 saw KHDA inspection reports include a judgment on overall effectiveness of each school’s SEN provision. This comprises of five evaluative statements about the strengths and weaknesses of the key aspects of SEN provision plus a SEN summary evaluation in the new parent’s section of the inspection report.
Currently, only a minority of students have access to SEN provision which is rated either ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding.’
Responsibility for overall effectiveness of SEN provision is the responsibility of school senior leaders and governors.
While 40 percent of SEN students in Dubai schools are making ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ progress in learning, almost one in five are not.
The report reiterates that parents of children with SEN are key partners in their child’s educational journey. In 63% of schools the KHDA witnessed ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ parent partnerships, while seven percent of schools were rated ‘Unsatisfactory.’
The report identified the weakest aspect of SEN provision in schools is the poor quality of curriculum modification. In this cycle of inspections, only 35 percent of schools were identified as doing this successfully, while 24 percent were rated ‘Unsatisfactory’ in their levels of modification and support for SEN students.
The report notes that providing consistent, appropriate modification and support for students with SEN still remains a major challenge for many schools, and improving these two aspects of provision remains the agency’s focus.