School leaders, including licensed owners and principals from each of the 185 private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi were invited to attend a governance policy forum to help highlight key governance policies contained in ADEC’s new Private Schools Policies and Guidelines (PSPG) Manual and the Private Schools Regulations issued last year.
During the forum held at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Hotel, on November 23rd 2014, school leaders had the opportunity to listen to international governance experts speak about the value of establishing effective governance systems in private schools.
Commenting on the forum organised and delivered by ADEC’s Private Schools and Quality Assurance (PSQA) sector, Engineer Hamad Al Dhaheri, PSQA’s Executive Director, said: “It is crucial to establish effective governance in private schools to ensure that strategic decisions affecting the school are made collectively at the Board of Trustees level, in consultation with various stakeholders and in line with best practices.”
The new policies and regulations require all Abu Dhabi private schools to establish boards of trustees that include teacher and parent representatives. The selection method of trustees must be clear, transparent, and organised to maintain the Board’s continuity and institutional knowledge.
Speaking about the content shared with school leaders during the forum, Dr. Maryam Al Ali, Policy and Planning Section Manager explained that attendees were informed that the schools’ boards are to remain focused on strategic governance matters including staying accountable to ADEC and to the school’s community of stakeholders for the definition, regular reviews, and successful fulfilment of the school’s mission and aims, responding to ADEC’s directives and requirements, and holding the Principal accountable for his/her implementation of the Board’s approved policies and plans.
The forum hosted two highly recognised international speakers, known for their expertise in governance. Prof. Dr. (Em.) Paul Strebel, of the Institute for Management Development, Switzerland, and Ms. Adele Hodgson, Head of Consultancy at the European Council of International Schools.
“I feel very honoured to be part of this important ADEC initiative as school governance is not something that is put in place and then left. Ensuring its effectiveness depends on understanding the educational needs of our evolving society, regular reviews of governance strategic performance, and appropriate and meaningful investment,” said Ms. Hodgson.
Speaking about the importance of introducing key governance policies, Professor Strebel said: “To develop the right vision and avoid pitfalls, private schools need good governance.”
The forum concluded with a panel discussion with governance experts and representatives from the American Community School and Emirates National School, both from Abu Dhabi; the panelists discussed and addressed questions from the audience on effective school governance in practice.
Given the importance that effective governance has on the successful operations of schools, PSQA has made strengthening school governance and accountability one of its key initiatives in the Sector’s Strategic Plan 2013/2017.
PSQA is also supporting private schools in implementing policies and regulations through a series of training workshops across a time span of three years, which now stands in its second year.