School planning, organization and management is directly related to human and physical resources. The foundation behind it is that schools should be capable of utilizing the entire resources in a way that help them in performing their obligations successfully.
All schools need their students to succeed and prosper. But schools can simply create a lifelong change when they have emphasis on specific goals and strategies for change. School improvement planning (SIP) is a process through which schools set goals for improvement, and make decisions about how and when these goals will be attained. The definitive purpose of the process is to promote student achievement by improving the way curriculum is provided, by building an advantageous environment for learning, and by increasing the parental involvement in their children’s learning at school and in the home.
In this assignment, the investigator will develop SIP focusing on the common problem affecting the private and public schools in the United Arab Emirates. An action plan will be developed to help in improving schools and consequently increasing student achievement.
What is a school improvement plan?
A SIP is a road map that undertakes the changes required by a school to increase student achievement, and indicates how and when these changes will be constructed.
SIPsare selective: they help principals, teachers, and school councils answer the questions “What will we focus on now?” and “What will we leave until later?” They boost staff and parents to follow on student achievement and other issues, such as the school environment,that are known to impact student success. schools will able to respond to the needs of students, teachers, and parents when updated and trustworthy information are provided on student performance.
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Moreover, a SIP is a mechanism by which the community can hold schools responsible for student success and through which it can evaluateprogress. One of the first steps-a critical one-in establishing an improvement plan includes teachers, school councils, parents, and other community members working together to collect and examine data concerning the school and its students, therefore they can decide what needs to be enhanced in their school. As the strategy is implemented, schools keep ongathering this type of information. By comparing the novelinformation to the primarydata on which the plan was grounded, they- and the public-can assess the accomplishment of their improvement plans.
Authentic change takes time. It is essentialto keep all partners involved in theSIPinformed. Gradual improvements are significant, and they should be distinguished, but they do not comprisepermanent change. Therefore,SIPs are best designed over three years:
â€¢ Year 1 – the planning process
â€¢ Year 2 – the implementation
â€¢ Year 3 -continue the implementation.
During initial discussions, or as time goes on, schools may need to expand their plan for additional years to make sure that they maintain their focus and attain their targets. Anyway,SIPs should beconsidered working documents that can beutilized tocheck their development over time andto make revisions when necessary to ensure that the plans stay on course.
In developing SIP, the principal, staff, school council, parents, and other community members actthrough a diversity of activitiesconcentrated uponthreedomains of priority: curriculum delivery, school environment, and parental involvement. For all these areas, schools set up the following:
â€¢ A goal statement
â€¢ Performance targets
â€¢ Areas of focus
â€¢ Implementation strategies
â€¢ Indicators of success
â€¢ Time lines
â€¢ Responsibility for implementing strategies
â€¢ Checkpoints for status updates
â€¢ Opportunities for revisions.
Appendix B contains a sample school improvement plan.
All school partners must be involved in the SIP to guarantee its success. Schools represent the whole school community. The principal, who has the responsibility of school administration and delivering instructional leadership, is ultimately accountable for SIP. However,all school community should be actively engaged in all stages of the process: planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating progress.
To identify effective strategies for developing school improvement plans that lead to enhanced student achievement and increased parental involvement in education
According to KHDA (2009), there are 220 schools in Dubai; 189 schools were inspected between 2008 and 2009. The remaining 31 schools – which use the Indian, Pakistani and Iranian curricula – will be evaluated later. These 189 schools are composed of 109 private schools and 80 public schools. Among the private schools ; 49 schools follow the UK National Curriculum, 30 offering a US curriculum, 16 schools using the Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum, 6 schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IB), 4 schools follow the French curriculum and a further 4schools provide unique curricula (German, Russian, Japanese and Philippine).
All public schools in Dubai were checked, including Madares Al Ghad (MAG) schools and Model schools. The purpose of schools evacuation was to improve the delivery of education to students in Dubai and to help parents know that their children are being learned and are in safe, skillful, and caring hands.
The overall findings of schools performance in Dubai were shocking as there are around 20,000 students in Dubai receives unsatisfactory quality of education, more than half the schools are presently delivering an education that is not yet of the good quality anticipated of all schools in Dubai.Additionally,9 out of 10 schools provide acceptable quality of education. None of the public schools got outstanding but 50% of them achieved good.As for the private section, 4 schools offering the UK curriculum attained outstanding, 50% of private schools achieved 50% while 75% were unsatisfactory.
As for the students’ performance, the results were generally disappointed. Students’ progress in the key subjects, are not yet making sufficient progress in speaking and writing Arabic and English.
In public schools, where English is taught as a second language, students’ English language skills are insufficient and expectations, chiefly in connection with writing and speaking, are not satisfactorily high. The students’ capability of using mathematics to solve problems is poor.
In private schools, students’ skills in Arabic need improvement. Nearly 20% of students make unacceptable progress. In Islamic Studies, students’ progress in the public schools is better than the private schools.
The majority of the students have good attitudes to learning. They are motivated, attentive and hard worker. Economic and environmental understanding is developing in most schools. Students are often unattended except in class. Different forms of bullying are noticed.
The teaching and learning methods were not useful for the students as the majority of the teachers dominate the lesson discussion in the public schools and poorly performing private schools. Assessment in more 25% of all schools is unsatisfactory. Consequently, many students are not aware of their strengths and weaknesses. In schools delivering the MOE curriculum, and US curriculum, students are not prepared well for higher education or employment. Leadership and management are unsatisfactory in nearby 20% of private schools and in a similar proportion of boys’ public schools. Almost all schools do not have self-appraisal system to assess their own work.
Finally, many schools have comprehensive connections with parents but they are unsatisfactory to some parents.
What Areas Should Be Considered for Improvement?
The main goal of SIP is to increase the level of student achievement. To achievegenuine change, nevertheless, the process needs to focus on specific priorities.
Student performance becomes better when teachers use curriculum-delivery strategies that purposely address the students’needs, when the school environment is supportive, and when parents are effectively involved in the education of their children. To improve the process of planning, therefore, schools should institute one priority in each of these three components-curriculum delivery, school environment, and parental involvement. Basically, the planning process involves answering the crucial questions: “What will we focus on now?” and “What will we leave until later?”
Curriculum delivery in the United Arab Emirates
Curriculum is considered the foundation of the educational system. It incorporates the principles, underlying educational philosophy, goals, content and actual operation of the “instructional program” in the class, besides the written and other materials required to reinforce the educational system (Farah.S. Ridge.N. 2009).There are two new approaches presently being executed on a trial foundation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-a new standards-based curriculum in Abu Dhabi schools and a new English-medium curriculum in particular governmental schools, the “Madares Al Ghad”, over the UAE. Curriculum as a concept can be divided into three main components: intended curriculum, implemented curriculum and attained curriculum. The intended curriculum typically embraces the directorial documents shaped by the UAE-Ministry of Education (MOE) or other education authorities which command how much, how frequent and what should be taught in schools. The implemented curriculum is what really occurs in the class, how successfully teachers offer the material, how long they pass on a topic and what resources they need to deliver the content. Lastly, the attained curriculum is what students practically learn in the class, what skillsand values they grasp, and what content they assimilate and retain (Table 1).
The focus of the MOE curriculum upon the buildup of factual knowledge rather than critical thinking limits students’ learning. Facts are learned in isolation and students are incapable of applying their knowledge in real life situations. This is proved evidently in the findings of the 2007 TIMSS survey, which examined students’ performance in the application of mathematics and science in many countries. The MOE curricula in mathematics and science give slight attention to practical investigation and the use of mathematical and scientific knowledge to solving problems (KHDA 2009). Consequently, students are not well equipped for the courses and careers they will study. Public school students have to choose either a scientific or literary arts for their last two years of school-based study. Both of these options have narrow scope, heavy content and do not prepare students for university.
Curriculum Policy brief:
The MOE (2008) has issued curriculum policy documents that set out standards, activities, strategies, expected outcomes and tools for teaching and assessment for student learning in all grades and subject areas. The policy documents also encompass achievement charts that assist teachers in assessingstudents’ achievement in respect to the expectations. Assessment strategies must focus on how the students integrate theory into practice to encourage independent thinking and enhance problem solving abilities.
To set a goal for improving the delivery of the curriculum, principals, teachers, school councils, parents, and other community members participating in the SIP must understand the expectations emerged by the MOE and how well the those expectations are going to be achieved by the students.
Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau Annual Report(DSIB) will be used as groundwork for this investigation. According to DSIB(2009), the majority of the schools achieved an acceptable level in meeting the students’ educational needs in relation to their curriculum. Yet, in schools delivering curriculum of the MOE, and in many schools providing a USA curriculum, students are not equipped well to vie globally. Moreover,in these schools, wherethe mainstream of students are native Arabicspeakers, have limited selection of subjects and their physical, creative and analytical skills are developing. These curricula are not operated effectively to satisfy the prerequisites of students, including those with learning difficulties as well as the potentially highest achiever. Furthermore, curricular weaknesses in public schools hinder the progress of many students and limit their achievement.
The ill prepared English curriculum and the reduced demands of the text books fail to sufficiently meet the requirements of students for English proficiency.The students are learning English as a second language where opportunities for using it in conversation are limited. Additionally, the curriculumprepares the students to use only a few vocabularies. The range of students’ reading and writing is alsoimperfect. Extended writing is rarely a feature in most public and poorly performing private schools. Students are customarilyneeded to give only short written answers to questions present in textbooks and English teaching is miserable. As a result, non-native speakers are often unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas confidently even in Grade 12. These limitationsalter thestudents’preparation for university.
The curricula in mathematics and science dedicateminimal attention to implementing mathematical and scientific knowledge in investigating and solving problems of daily life. In private schools, a high number of the older students fail or do not complete courses, particularly in mathematics and science subjects a situation not helped by the lack of independent information, advice and guidance for students prior to their admission to courses. The ICT curriculum focuses barely on performing skills. In addition,it is taught in English and many students do not get it adequately.
All schools physical education, art and music have low status in MOE curriculum anda plenty of the ill performing private schools. The time allocated to these subjects to beneficially effect students’ physical and cultural growth is not sufficient. Music and art is taught to only a few students after Grade6 and 9 respectively. These restrictions hamper thestudents’ opportunities to develop their capabilities for independent learning through such activities as team working.
All schools provision for students with exceptional educational needs is poor overall.The governmental schools offer some support, mainly in separate classes, in Grades 1 to 3
Environmental factors are the most influential on students’achievement and success.Creating a well-fit school environment calls the involvement of, principals, teachers, school councils, parents, and other community members to make effective and relaxing placesfor learning.
WHO defines a health-promoting school as “one that constantly strengthens its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working.”The American Academy of Pediatrics (1993) defines a “healthful school environment” as “one that protects students and staff against immediate injury or disease and promotes prevention activities and attitudes against known risk factors that might lead to future disease or disability.”
A school’s environment is the thread that linkstremendous activities on a campus. In many situations this thread is nearly invisible; however each person experiences its effect. Positive social relations and attitudes about school are as significant to the environment as are safe and well-maintained buildings and grounds. The quality of the school-good or bad is reflected by the environment of the school. A safe, clean, and well-Kept school with a positive psychosocial setting and culture can nurture school connectedness, which in turn improves student and staff well-being as well as students’ educational achievement.
A school’s physical environment includes the school building and the surrounding grounds, such as noise, temperature, and lighting as well as physical, biological, or chemical agents. The disturbing increase in the number of asthmatic students is a unique problem that can, in part, be influenced by negative physical conditions in schools. The psychosocial school environment incorporates the attitudes, feelings, and values of students and staff. Physical and psychological safety, positive interpersonal relationships, recognition of the needs and success of the individual, and provision for learning are all part of the psychosocial environment. Other factors encompass: the economy; social, cultural, and religious influences; geography; socioeconomic status of students’ families; tax bases; and legal, political, and social institutions.
The quality of health care is good or outstanding in a majority both public and private schools. School nurses, doctors and social workers presentobviously in the schools to support the students and their families.
Medical records are arranged properly and routine follow-up are difficult. The role of the social worker is to have positive relations with families and monitor students attendance carefully. In the majority of the public schools, however, social workers work in isolation and do not communicate properly with other staff in the school to provide a rounded view of students’ performance. Comparatively little healthy food is sold in school canteens in most public schools; students in these schools often eat crisps and sweets throughout the day.
Safety issues including transport measures, fire safety procedures, supervision and security, affect some public and private schools. Students are frequently unsupervised except when in class. School transport is occasionally organized with few considerations for the safety of students in pedestrian areas and on board buses, where working seat belts are not always provided. In a minority of schools there are events of unsuitableusage of physical punishment in response to negative behavior.
Different forms of bullying range from kicking, spitting, malicious teasing, taunting, making threats to spreading rumors, engaging in social exclusion, extortion and intimidation. Generalizations cannot be made to understand why bullying occurs; but it should be recognized in all its forms and not tolerated.
A survey conducted by ADEC in 2009 involving 1728 students (grades 3 to 6). The findings revealed that young children have various concerns about bullying in the schools; more than 47% considered that students at the school are often endangered or bullied; and more than 63% favor remaining at home because it is more safer than the school.
The procedures for student safety are feeble in most private schools excluding those categorized as the best performing. According to KHDA (2009) most private schools have effectual policies to handle bullying and other kinds of upsetting behavior, and students report such events as uncommon. Moreover, whilst the best performing private schools have well-defined procedures for bullying, in many others do not.
Students in the schools that were identified to be lacking bullying policy have no person to tell to if there is mistreatment inside or outside the school putting them at risk.
Sana, A. A., MOE psychology advisor in Dubai, states that the ministry admits bullying in schools and is trying to overcome it. Some students don’t have sufficient information and competency to recognize and contend with the behavior of aggressors (Khaleej, T 2010).
According to the head of KHDA, an attention should be given to new forms of bullying, such as cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying has clearly increased in recent years and it can be more harmful and risky than other forms of bullying, (Samineh I. Undated). She cautioned of increasing incidence bullycide where children accustomed to escape to their homes to protect themselves from being intimidated at school, yet, through cyber-bullying there is no escape which give rise to many cases of bullycide ( bully associated suicides), Shaheem said (Gulf,N 2010).
When the bully feels they can’t express out their hostility on the school grounds, they will yell at either on the way home, on the bus or through text messages, chat rooms or Facebook.”
“Speaking of one of the cases that came to Dubai Psychologist Dr. Singh, D., said that the plight of a small girl came to light only after her friend found her petrified at the sight of an older student and reported the incident. Her friend said that she was literally shaking at the sight of the older student, which led to an investigation that brought to light how the child was being bullied using social networking sites”.
Research found that parental involvement is one of the essential factorsleading to student’s success in school. Keeping the parents informed and involved in their children’s education will increase student achievement. Students attend school more frequently, finished more homework in a reliable manner, and exhibit more positive attitudes towards school. They also are more likely to complete high school.
Parental involvement helps a child succeed in school and later in life. To ensure parents are informed about and involved in their children’s education, schools must foster partnerships with parents. Because parental involvement is one of the most significant factors in a child’s success, it is crucial that all schools set a goal in their SIP for increasing it.
Links with parents
Many schools have comprehensive connections with parents but they are not continuously as effective as they want to be and some parents are unsatisfied withthe information givenabout their child’s progress by the school. However,links with parents are usually good or outstanding in the best performing private schools. A small number of public schools have very good links with the local community and local businesses, which lead to enhanced outcomes for students. This is particularly true of schools in low economic status areas.
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The ADEC (2009) survey 1429 teachers in public schools and asked them about the number of times they met the parent personally and the degree of parents support to teachers .The result showed 6.9% have never met parents, 28.9% have met them once or twice a semester, 36.7% have met them once or twice a month, while 27.4% meet parents once a week. Regarding parents supporting the teachers teaching efforts, 55.5%feels some; while 13.5% feel never. More than 56.1% of teachers believe that only “some” parents make considerable effort to help their children learn; while only 5.6% do not at all. As for trust and confidence in parents as being partners in the teachers’ mission of educating the children, 19.3 % said no.
Who Are the Partners in School Improvement Planning?
Everybody involved in or interested in the operation of schools has a role to play in the SIP. District school boards and superintendents of education play vital roles in setting guidelines and in supporting and monitoring SIP. The most significantoperation, nevertheless, occurs within the school community itself. An effective SIParises when principals, teachers, school councils, parents, and other community participants’ work as a team to identify priorities, set goals for enhancement, apply strategies to reach those aims, and evaluate progress.Generally, principals’ responsibilities in SIP fall into three main categories:Communication, Leadership, Professional development.
How Do We Begin?
The first step of the SIP process is:
Creating a SIP team; collecting and assessing data about student achievement, the school environment, and parental participation; and setting priorities for improvement through a sequence of activities.
Principals play a fundamental role in these early platforms. They ease the creation of a planning team, which will be accountable for establishing priorities, and they ensure that the information needed for effective planning-such as report card marks, the results of assessments.
Forming a school improvement planning team
Principals should enlighten teachers, school council members, parents, and other community partners about the progressof SIP in a manner that appreciates their participation.
In elementary schools, all the participants in the SIPconstitute a part ofthe planning process. Secondary schools, which usually comprise large teaching personnel, should guarantee that at least one representative from each section is part of the planning team, with the school council, parents, and other community affiliates who wish to share. In addition to expressing their preciousviewpoints and skills, teachers will alsofacilitate understanding ofinformation on students’ achievement as well as the expected value of and challenges implicated in a range of improvement suggestionsto other teammembers.
It is imperative that the team be representative of the school’s community. Principals should make hard effort to convince parents who correspond to a range of the school community’s demographic profile to play a part in the planning work out. Other communitymembers may offer worthinsights and perspectives, and their input should also be encouraged and vigorously sought out. Principals in the French-language systems will want to include leaders from the local francophone community.
Finally, secondary school students should also contribute in the planning team. Principals should give confidenceto their involvement in the process, and possiblylook for those who are student leaders, motivating them to play a role. Principals in elementary schools may desire to engage interested Grade 7 and 8 with the team’s work.
All participants should have a positive attitude towards the process and realize that they have toact as a team.
Scheduling meeting times for the planning team that are suitable to both staff and parents may be challenging. This issue can be solved by arranging parallel processes, whereby staff meets during school time whereas parents meet in the evening. The benefit of this organization is that it allows maximumparents participation. To insure consistency regarding decision makingbetween both groups, selected teachers could volunteer or be delegated to join both meetings.
The SIPteam holds the role of analyzing data on student achievement in the school, the efficiency of the school environment, and parental involvement in their children’s education. Established on the results, team limbs make decisions about subjects that must be improved in priority.
As figure 1 indicates, the planning work should take place between September and January of year 1.
Understanding the context
Before beginning a SIP, the planning team, together with parents, must be aware of and be familiar with particular types of information that school boards pass to staff and the public such as board’s vision statement, national tests, and board’s strategic plan, which includes short- and long-term goals for the district.
In addition, members of the planning team should understand the nature and characteristics of the school and its community. Many schools create a school “profile” that sets out these characteristics in a simple way. Reviewing the school profile and debating each topic facilitate understanding of the school, and it places a context for the improvement strategy.
A school profile could include information about the following:
Languages spoken in the home
The school’s mission statement
The school’s program priorities
Programs and services offered by the school (for example, guidance and library services)
Rate of student turnover or transfer
Other relevant information.
Schools in all systems should have “other relevant information” that will guide the readers of the profile obtain a realistic and full picture of their school.
After acquiring an understanding of the board’s targets and the school’s characteristics, the planning team is prepared to start setting priorities for a SIP.
SIPs are structured around three components: curriculum delivery, school environment, and parental involvement. The planning team must set up one priority in each of these three domains. The following activities will facilitate planning teams create these priorities:
Priority for Enhancing Curriculum Delivery
The principal need to make sure that the planning team has the required data to identify which curriculum component (for instance, mathematics, science, reading, or writing) has the highest priority for improvement. Principal must also verify that the gathered information is reliable-that is, that it was collected according to the expectations and achievement outlined by the MOE. All teachers have to understand the MOE’s policy obligations.
The principal should therefore collect the following information for the planning team:
Results of the annual assessments of students.
Report card marks.
Results of board-administered, national, and international tests.
Discussing the information
An open discussion, utilizing all the data collected about student achievement, allows all associates on the planning team to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in providing the curriculum, and identifies a priority for improvement in this regard.
Deciding on a priority
The facilitator distributes red dot stickers to the team members. Each associate obtains a number of dots equal to one third the number of weaknesses. All team members vote, using the stickers, for the subject of curriculum weakness that they think should be called first. Members must use all their dots, but they may not use more than one dot per weakness.
The weakness with the most dots becomes the priority for enhancing curriculum delivery.
Priority for Improving the School Environment
The principal need to collect information that will help the planning team define a priority subject for improving the school environment, such as school layout, students behavior and health condition.
Discussing the information
Before the meeting starts, the facilitator should collect the responses to the parent survey, transcribe the strengths and weaknesses of the school as sensed by parents
Deciding on a priority
The facilitator allots red dot stickers to team members. Each person receives a number of dots equal to one third the number of weaknesses.
All members vote, using the stickers, for the ranges of weakness that they suppose should be handled first. Participants must get through all their dots, but they may not use more than one dot per weakness.
The weakness rank high dots becomes the priority for enhancing the school environment.
Priority for Increasing Parental Involvement
To help the planning team arrive at an endorsed priority for improving parental involvement, the principal should supply them with duplicates of: the school profile, a summary of the information collected in the parent survey.
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