Formed in 2018, SPEA was formed to take on the regulatory responsibility of Sharjah’s private schools, nurseries and training centres from the Ministry of Education. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke to Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Director General of SPEA, and Mr Ziad Shatat, Manager of Continuous Improvement, to find out more.
This is the first full inspection cycle to be carried out by SPEA, providing the first school gradings in Sharjah since 2018-19. The authority is currently progressing through the second half of the current inspection cycle of 111 private schools (16 schools are exempt due to their newness), with ten different curricula currently in use.
Dr Al Hashimi explained that although SPEA is a regulatory authority, its ethos is unique:
“We do not refer to inspections, we have ‘reviews’; our focus is on continuous improvement. We believe that you have to work on this culture of continuous improvement, that is what is going to create better schools.”
Dr Al Hashimi went on to explain that unlike other regulators, SPEA outsources specialists for its review activities to independent consultants, in order to avoid any conflict of interest and ensure schools are assessed and evaluated in an entirely objective manner. This allows SPEA to ensure its focus is on coaching and advising schools to develop and improve.
In his role as Manager of Continuous Improvement, Mr Shatat works with this team of outsourced specialists. This team of seven is made up of four international education advisors and experts, as well as specialist advisors in the areas of wellbeing, early childhood education and Arabic language. These three specific areas, Mr Shatat explained, are considered key focus areas for improvement in Sharjah’s private schools.
Mr Shatat explained that each school inspection takes place over a four-day period and aims to gain an in-depth and comprehensive picture of the how the school is performing. He explained:
“We observe lessons, we interview the stakeholders, teachers, parents, governing boards, and students. We also meet with and survey the parents, we review the students’ attainment data, we look at the school previous inspection reports, we look at the school’s self-evaluation forms, the school improvement plan.”
“The bottom line here is the quality of education that our children receive. We all want to make sure that the school we choose for our children is doing very well, that our children are in safe hands. The review is a tool we use to gather data and evaluate the schools. This will make parents’ lives easier and will motivate the schools to do better.”
SPEA uses the UAE’s unified inspection framework, also utilized by KHDA, ADEK and the Ministry of Education. The framework is structured around six performance standards, with seventeen performance indicators.
|UAE Unified School Inspection Framework|
|Performance Standards||Performance Indicators|
|Students’ Personal and Social Development, and their Innovation Skills||Personal Development|
|Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures|
|Social responsibility and innovation skills|
|Teaching and Assessment||Teaching for effective learning|
|Curriculum||Curriculum design and implementation|
|The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of Students||Health and safety, including arrangements for child protection / safeguarding|
|Care and support|
|Leadership and Management.||The effectiveness of leadership|
|Self-evaluation and improvement planning|
|Partnerships with parents and the community|
|Management, staffing, facilities and resources|
Sharjah schools will be graded according to the same six-level scale used across the other emirates:
|Outstanding||Quality of performance substantially exceeds the expectation of the UAE|
|Very Good||Quality of performance exceeds the expectation of the UAE|
|Good||Quality of performance exceeds the expectation of the UAE|
|Acceptable||Quality of performance meets the minimum level of quality required in the UAE (This is the minimum level for every school in the UAE)|
|Weak||Quality of performance is below the expectation of the UAE|
|Very Weak||Quality of performance is significantly below the expectation of the UAE|
Find out which schools in Sharjah are highly rated by parents here.