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Five City Study Identifies Paths to Excellence for Urban Schools

Leading international education charity, CfBT Education Trust, in its latest report is calling on cities across the world to follow the successful lead of others and adopt reform approaches proven in five key global cities including Dubai.

CfBT’s call comes on the release of their new report Interesting Cities: five approaches to urban reform, a pioneering comparison of the approaches used to improve schools standards in five diverse global cities across the world: Dubai, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Ho Chi Minh City).

The report was launched at Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government on Monday. In the first study of its kind, Interesting Cities found key ways to improving education standards include:

  • Consistent government policy over many years
  • Forging strong coalitions between parents, teachers and the government
  • Increasing both accountability and support for teachers
  • Ensuring school-to-school collaboration

One striking lesson stands out from the report above others. The need to create an educational culture which combines high expectations, transparency and good opportunities for professional development.

Steve Munby, chief executive at CfBT Education Trust has urged city leaders and education experts in cities across the world to apply the lessons contained in this report.

“Improving learning outcomes is a huge challenge – especially in big urban areas where the population is diverse and often transient. That’s why the positive findings from these five global cities are so exciting.”

In every one of the cities there was an emphasis on increasing the accountability of education professionals. At the same time there was also a recognition that accountability alone is not enough to drive reform. Teachers and school leaders also need access to first rate professional development and the best people to provide this are excellent current practitioners.”

The report singles out the international significance of the work undertaken by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, the body responsible for the development and regulation of private education in the Emirate.

KHDA’s Director General, Dr Abdulla Al Karam, explained how collaboration and good governance have contributed in the provision of good education for students in Dubai.

“In the past seven years, we’ve engaged with local schools, teachers, parents and partners to provide meaningful information which has helped improve the quality of teaching and learning significantly in Dubai. The Interesting Cities report allows us to look outwards – to share the best of what we do and to learn the best of what others are doing. We are happy to be part of a global community and work with local and international partners to improve the quality of education for students not just in Dubai, but around the world.”

Munby added, “Schools benefit from competition but the study also shows how schools also need collaboration. I have been particularly impressed in Dubai by the What Works movement through which the education community regularly come together to learn from each other and share good practice.”

“Another theme that emerges powerfully from the case studies is the importance of leadership. In every city we found high level commitment to school reform often sustained over several years.

“People we interviewed in the cities consistently described the importance of ambitious, energetic and optimistic leadership at all levels, including leadership of the city-wide school system. The senior leaders, without exception, had a distinct reform philosophy and in each case went about implementation of this philosophy in a relentless, persistent way.

“The lessons in this report must not be left to sit on a shelf. We want to give leaders in other cities around the world the opportunity to learn from them, replicate them, and raise standards for their students too.

“These cities give us grounds for optimism. Why shouldn’t Cairo, or Manila or Mexico City fail to fulfil their potential in the same way as our case study cities?

“This study explains success. We are urging city leaders around the world to read these findings and act now.”