The Wellness Census: What You Need To Know

The KHDA is collaborating with Southern Australia's Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) on a new student wellness census. looks at why this is really is good news for Dubai’s students…
The Wellness Census: What You Need To Know
By C Hoppe
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The KHDA is to partner with Southern Australia’s Department of Education and Child Development (DECD), to roll-out a customised Wellness survey across all private schools in Dubai. The survey questions children on well-being, health and academic achievement and results are used to highlight where improvements in education services can be made.

The DECD has been running successful 'Wellness' surveys in Southern Australia since 2013 and to date has surveyed more than 35,000 children.


Why survey our children?
Research has shown the Middle Years can be tough and that success in school involves social and emotional wellbeing, physical health, time management and support from family and the community.

The survey results will highlight exactly where each school needs to improve.

David Engelhardt, director of DECD said: "our experience with schools in South Australia and abroad has shown that well-being works for schools and children.

"We will work together with Dubai’s schools to develop a census adapted to the context and needs of Dubai and its students, the results of which will be shared with schools."


Who will be surveyed?
It’s well known that the transition to secondary can be tough for many children. For this reason, the census will focus on around 70,000 students in Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 (equivalent to Year 6, 7, 8 and 9) across all private schools in Dubai. The survey will then continue annually for a five-year period.


Tailored for Dubai
The team from the DECD together with the KHDA will start by tailoring the survey via a cultural adaption process. This will involve both the KHDA and local schools deciding which topics are relevant, together with what is both culturally appropriate and applicable to Dubai.

Sample surveys will then be performed to assess if any further adaptions are required. According to David Engelhardt, director of DECD, already 98 percent of schools have offered to ‘participate un-coerced’ in the sample process alone.

The final, ‘bespoke’ Dubai census is understood to ‘roll-out’ sometime in October 2017 and reports based on the findings can be expected in early 2018.


How the findings will be used
Each school will then receive a unique set of data, based on their students. These findings will give policymakers and school leaders a detailed understanding of their students’ well-being across curriculum, nationality, and grade level.

This will then enable each school to make evidence-based changes to services which will in turn,  have a long-term positive impact on their student and wider school community.

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director general of KHDA, said: “many schools in Dubai already view teaching and learning through the lens of student wellbeing, and we’ve seen great improvement in both academic results and sense of happiness and purpose.

"This project marks the next step in Dubai’s journey towards a sector-wide approach to positive education, and will give schools the data they need to fully integrate wellbeing and positivity into their culture as well as their teaching and learning practices.


What the wellness census means for YOUR child
Using the proven DECD methodology, yet adapting the survey content where applicable to suit the UAE context, expects a robust methodology and resulting set of data to be created for each Dubai school.

The main issue, will be how each school chooses to use their individual and annual 'survey findings.'

However, as the KHDA has stated every private school MUST participate in the survey for a five year period, we think, highlights the likelihood that the agency could also monitor if and how each school is actively 'improving the lot' for the crucial Middle Years. 


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