Examining the Impact of School Inspection on Teaching and Learning; Dubai Private Schools as a Case Study

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
School inspection is one of the most challenging aspects in education; it represents an approach of accountability in teaching and learning. Moreover, school inspection provides policy and decision makers with accurate information about the current state of education in their respective institutions. The main purpose of this study is to examine and determine the impact of school inspection on teaching and learning in Dubai-based private schools, and to give some recommendations into how to conduct effective school inspection that would positively influence teaching and learning. The methodology that used here is largely qualitative, with some elements of a quantitative approach. Questionnaires, interviews, a focus discussion group and documentaries are the main research instruments of this study. This research included 37 participants; 2 inspectors, 4 head-teachers and 31 teachers, from 4 private schools, who follow different types of curricula, from all grades of performance according to inspection reports conducted in the 2014/2015 academic year. The findings show that school inspection has a significant role in school improvement, especially in teaching and learning. Teachers acknowledge the feedback that inspectors give to them. However, school inspection also has a negative impact on teaching and learning; for instance, it forces some schools to show activities they have never done before. Moreover, the school inspection reports and recommendations, in some cases, are superficial and are not related to the school context; moreover, they often do not show teachers how they can respond to criticism in the reality of their teaching practice. Nevertheless, the relationship between inspectors and teachers is not that positive, especially in some subjects, such as Arabic language and Islamic Studies. This piece of research suggests some areas for the betterment in school inspection, such as giving more importance for SSE School-Self evaluations, shortening the notice period, visiting schools at different times throughout the academic year, making such visits every three years, as well as ensuring that school inspectors have a high degree in education and in the subject they inspect. Nevertheless, it recommends establishing an independent school inspection system. On the other hand, this study suggests further research on the accountability of teaching and learning in Dubai in specific subjects, such as Arabic and Islamic studies, because reality shows that the recent intervention and policy have not been as fruitful as expected.
teaching and learning, accountability, school inspection, school self-evaluation, United Arab Emirates (UAE)