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Perceptions of School Effectiveness and School Improvement in Abu Dhabi


Al Ahbabi, N and Townsend, T, Perceptions of School Effectiveness and School Improvement in Abu Dhabi, International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, 6-9 January 2016, Glasgow, pp. 137-138. (2016) [Conference Extract]

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Statement of the Problem
After nearly 15 years of educational reform in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) there is concern that schools are not as effective as they should be to bring the country in line with other countries when it comes to student achievement. Although schools are provided with modern human and physical resources in an effort to achieve the officially desired objectives, inspection reports highlight various dysfunctions and areas of under-performance, including weak school leadership and limited academic outcomes. These shortcomings have guided education policy of the Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) as identified in its 2020 vision that seeks to revamp current practices and choices in schools.
Purpose of the Study
This study considers the perceptions of principals, teachers, students and parents about how to define an "effective school", what characteristics are associated with effective schools in Abu Dhabi, and what schools might do to improve ‘school effectiveness’.
The study uses a sequential exploratory mixed study strategy that combines and cross-validates quantitative and qualitative data involving 46 school principals, 136 teachers, 142 students and 138 parents.
Research Questions
The following research questions guide the study:
1. What is the perceived meaning of school effectiveness held by stakeholders in secondary schools in Abu Dhabi, UAE?
2. What factors are perceived by stakeholders as being important elements of school effectiveness?
3. What strategies might be implemented to improve school effectiveness in the UAE?
Summary of Findings
A major perception of stakeholders in Abu Dhabi was that effective schools should focus on the development of Islamic culture
• There was an incomplete understanding of the meaning of ‘school effectiveness’
• There was an absence of a clear vision for schools and a framework to help schools achieve effectiveness
• There was an absence of accountability systems needed to promote schooling effectiveness.
• There was a tendency to lead schools in a managerial transactional way without the effective involvement of parents or the local community
• There was a reticence on the part of the school principals to collaborate with the teaching staff.

With the perception that a major role of an effective school in the UAE is to "support the development of an understanding of Islamic principles", there exists a clear need among public school communities in UAE to raise awareness of the other issues associated with ‘school effectiveness’ and the conditions necessary to implement improved teaching and learning. School principals saw themselves and were seen as managers rather than leaders, thus flagging the need for consideration of providing them with the training necessary to become proactive decision-makers as a means of improving school effectiveness. This will help push public education in UAE forward in a parallel direction to international best practices, which will ultimately promote enhanced school performance among UAE’s future citizens and lead to the realization of UAE’s 2020 Vision.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Educational administration, management and leadership
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Management, resources and leadership
UTAS Author:Townsend, T (Professor Tony Townsend)
ID Code:107253
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Faculty of Education
Deposited On:2016-03-08
Last Modified:2016-04-21

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