The Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) latest school inspections report showed 36 percent of Dubai’s schools improved since inspections started in 2008 according to an article in The National. Of the 143 schools inspected, 14 were ranked outstanding, 59 good and 61 acceptable. At least half of pupils were receiving good or outstanding education compared to just 35 percent in 2008. The annual report rates schools based on their overall performance and quality of education.

In the report, KHDA expressed concerns over some of the challenges at Dubai’s private schools. One of the main concerns highlighted in the report was the level of Arabic as a first language taught at Dubai’s private schools.  “The quality of teaching in Arabic as a first language in the majority of schools is only acceptable,” the report said, revealing that just a quarter of Arabic teachers were qualified to teach the subject. KHDA urged schools to attract better qualified teachers and retain them, said The National.

For the first time since inspections started, the report assessed schools’ special needs education levels, exposing a shortage in this area: only a minority of pupils with disabilities had access to good or outstanding education in Dubai.

[Related: Special needs education: Finding a school in the UAESpecial Education in the UAE: A teacher’s perspective]

The report also pinpointed a gap in some Dubai schools’ level of US-curriculum education with only a third of the schools providing a diploma recognized in the US.

On the positive side, KHDA said it witnessed significant improvements in the quality of education at Dubai’s schools over the last seven years with the efforts of schools, teachers, parents and pupils resulting in major developments. Of the improvements highlighted in the report were that 60 percent of all schools had “good” or “better” leadership, a rise of 14 percent since 2008. Additionally, only 2 percent of schools were found to have “unsatisfactory” leadership this year.

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The annual KHDA ratings are based on factors such as students’ personal and social development and the school’s leadership and management. They benchmark all schools regardless of which of the 15 curricula – from UK to US, international baccalaureate to Indian CISCE or CBSE – is followed.

Table: Summary of schools ranked

KHDA rating No. schools ranked (2014-15) No. schools ranked (2013-14) Change
Outstanding 14 12
Good 59 57
Acceptable 61 64