The quality of private and public schools across the emirate will undergo close scrutiny and will be rated following an inspection that would assess their efficiency over a set of standards. At the launch of the Irtiqaa (escalating performance) programme on Tuesday, Salem Al Sayari, Executive Director, Support Services Sector of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), underscored the need to bridge the “gap” between the best performing schools and others. “The purpose of this programme is to develop the school education system, evaluate schools, identify their strengths and weak points, and help them enhance their performance,” explained Al Sayari. Schools will be evaluated based on the Adec’s annual inspection criteria used to assess private school performance. They include the students’ achievement and progress; personal development of students; teaching quality; meeting students’ needs through the curriculum; the protection, care, guidance and support of students; quality of accommodation and facilities; resources that help a school achieve its objectives; and competence of leadership and management of the school. “Private schools will have the priority for inspection,” said Al Sayari, adding that government schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region will also undergo inspection for the first time starting with 12 schools. The schedule of inspection for each school will be announced by the council on September 1. According to Mariam Saqer, Inspection Programme Manager at the Adec, at the end of the inspection period, schools will receive the performance and technical reports and they will be rated based on these results. Schools will be ranked in one of the eight performance standards ranging from ‘excellent’ to ‘poor’, and their overall effectiveness will be graded as either Band A (high performing), Band B (secure) and Band C (In need of significant improvement). “High-performing schools will receive the Iqraa award which will allow them to apply for academic accreditation and get special privileges,” said Saqer. Workshops and lectures will be held to educate schools on the process of the programme and how to improve performance to be in line with the Irtiqaa standards. Speaking on the sidelines of the Irtiqaa announcement, Paul Andrews, Manager of Private Schools at the Adec, said the inspection of the government schools is intended for independent auditors to point out possible areas of improvement both in the facility and academic. “It is to ensure that every child’s entitlement is met,” he pointed out. A notable part of the programme is the training of Emirati educators to become future auditors. They will be joining the inspection teams as they carry out field inspections. “This is to build a pool of fully trained inspectors locally,” Andrews said.