In modern society, it is current practice for state governments to have the major responsibility for the development of education and the promotion of educational outcomes through clear and binding laws and regulations. These laws also specify the nature of the relationship between social organisations and companies with schools and the educational sector. In some countries, there have been successful joint ventures of public schools working in partnership with successful private companies.

In order to achieve the best possible learning environment and outcomes for students, all stakeholders – officials, community members, parents, and students, need to be aware of the value of teachers, education and knowledge for their children’s and society’s future. Nations often use an education campaign, run through the media, to support this aim and motivate the people involved in the process of educational reform.

One of the reasons behind the failure of education systems worldwide are the weak policies and practices in educational accreditation and evaluation. In the school assessment process it is usual for the school to complete a self-evaluation study first, and thereafter a team of independent educators examines the results of the self-evaluation in light of a site-based inspection. This team should be knowledgeable of and well-trained in the scientific evaluation of educational standards, so that the inspection is a rigorous and relevant process. In order to achieve more accurate evaluation we advise a process that compares the academic levels of students with their peers worldwide and also the participation of students in internationally-recognised examinations.

One of the most crucial factors affecting the process of educational reform is the quality of the teaching workforce. Personnel systems such as recruitment, induction, professional development and appraisal should be effectively tied to school goals related to raising student achievement, and should operate in such a way that they are understandable, objective and equitable. Continuous professional development developed from a needs assessment and individual development plans as essential as teachers and administrators strive to meet the learning needs of students.

Once a society acknowledges and promotes the importance of education for its citizens, status will be attached to the profession and this should spur financial resources into the sector. Raising the economic standards of education employees is a necessity in order to attract and retain educators of the highest caliber.

In terms of curriculum development, successful education systems implement programmes that support the improvement of literacy, numeracy and ICT, cater for students who are both more able and less able, teach thinking skills and critical analysis, and reinforce positive behaviour. Students should be given opportunities to work cooperatively and independently within a curriculum that is relevant to their interests and needs.

Educational reform also needs to address the issues associated with buildings, infrastructure and resources. Student and staff health, safety and security must be paramount so that conditions are set for the best learning to take place. For example, this would entail policies and procedures for risk management, the use of the internet and electronic devices and child protection. The school library could become a multimedia resource centre and science laboratories, art and music rooms should be equipped to support practical learning activities.

Below is a list of the services we offer that support school reform initiatives on a national or local scale.

 

  • School Evaluation

    The purpose of school evaluation is to determine strengths and areas which need development so that schools can further improve to be educational institutions of high quality for the young people they serve. If a school has a current annual improvement plan, the company will evaluate the school’s performance against the targets in this plan. If no such plan exists, we will evaluate against predetermined performance criteria.

    To carry out the evaluation, EDUGATES® delegates a number of its educational experts depending on the school size. These experts perform specified tasks according to a schedule agreed upon with the school administration.

 

  • Organizational Design

    EDUGATES® provides this service based on its successful experience in school organisation and reorganisation.  With the current high rate of change in all areas of the education field, it is highly recommended that each private school review its organisation chart design every few years in order to check how it can streamline the flow of work and enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.

    The work would also suit new schools for which organisation design is needed.  We liaise with the school’s most senior people to draft the needed policies and procedures, finalize the organization chart, clarify the reporting channels with the administration and staff, prepare job descriptions, and train staff about the new structure.

 

  • Strategy

    Determining the mission, vision and values of a school are important to define its core purpose and reason for operation. In the case of a new school, this can be achieved at board level with the inclusion of one or a few members of the school leadership team. The mission, vision and values of a school should be the guiding documents which steer all aspects of an educational institution’s behaviours. Widely espoused, lived and shared, they have power to motivate and link all stakeholders in one common purpose.

    EDUGATES® can work with school boards and leaders to conduct facilitated strategic planning sessions which will result in the agreement of the mission, vision and values of the new school. This would take a one-day workshop.

    Existing schools that are being restructured, or that have not recently completed strategic reviews, may also need to complete this process. EDUGATES® can likewise offer consultancy services to these institutions.

    In the course of the operation of the plan, it is important to keep its targets in mind and to monitor progress towards the end of the cycle.

    EDUGATES® can assist in school evaluation and school improvement planning as detailed in the following sections.

 

  • Financial Planning and Management

    Adhering to sound principles of financial planning will ensure that all finances are directed to meeting school aims and purposes. This entails correlating the investment with the vision and the objectives of the school and having very clear policies regarding financial decision-making. EDUGATES® will work with schools to ensure that they have a clear idea about fund allocation and scheduling, have a feasible plan regarding the breakeven point and/or the profit-making point, and are able to prepare an annual budget and/or a balance sheet outlining the income and the expenses in detail.

  • Resource Management

    The company works with schools to identify and manage the resources needed for effective school operation, with the aim of optimising the utilisation of resources. This entails a thorough checking of the current resources including staffing, facilities, curriculum, and technological equipment, learning material, lab equipment, library resources, etc. and then advising schools regarding the necessary re-arrangement and/or upgrading. We help schools devise procedures to channel resource utilization towards enhancing performance and achieving set goals and objectives.

  • School Leadership

    What is it that we expect from private sector schools?  Direct beneficiaries of the educational system at different levels each have their set of expectations.  Children expect vibrant, challenging, motivating, learning environments. Parents expect good world class education for their children. Education authorities expect standards to be met. National authorities expect educated communities of global standing. Universities require highly qualified students. And then you have the expectations of the indirect beneficiaries of the education sector.  Media agencies, employment agencies, government agencies, technology firms, publishers, etc., everyone has their expectations of schools. Yet what is being done for schools to meet these expectations?

    Looking at how schools operate, all the expectations mentioned in the first paragraph, pass through a single layer: The School Leadership Team. Whether that follows a single leader approach or a more distributed collaborative leadership framework, it is this leadership structure that enables a school to survive, develop and improve.

    As an educational consultancy firm, EDUGATES® views that school leadership development is a determining factor for the success of any academic institution.  As Burnham states it:

    “Leadership is the most significant of a range of complex variables that determine the success of schools. Many variables cannot be controlled directly; of those that can, leadership is easily the most controllable and the one with greatest potential impact and leverage. It is therefore essential to differentiate leadership from management and to recognize that, although they have to be in a symbiotic relationship, it is leadership that makes the difference.” Burnham, 2009

    Our work in leadership aims at the cultivation of leadership in schools. It goes beyond the delivery of courses and training modules. We work to develop leadership and quality cultures. Close follow-up, high levels of communication, networking, reflection and continuous education are at the heart of our work. We adopt a systems-thinking approach which is based on enabling and empowering leaders to develop and sustain their institution according to local, national, regional and global standards.

    In addressing leadership development in schools, the EDUGATES® team works in LAPs – Leadership Assessment Plan, Leadership Action Plan and Leadership Adjustment Plan. Each LAP represents a cycle of activities leading to the next stage, with all stages guided by the school leader’s professional standards.

    This work is also characterized by the development of a leader’s various managerial skills for better efficiency, adopting the themes of the Balanced Score Card approach in education.  (Karathanos and Karathanos, 2005)

    Evaluation of School Leaders

    A school leader utilising sound leadership and management skills is a prerequisite for school improvement. Identifying and evaluating these skills occurs through a process known as performance management. In terms of school improvement, Pollard et al (2009) state that performance management flows from it and feeds into it. Whilst planning for school improvement, areas may be identified that should be the focus for professional development. On the other hand, development needs should become part of the school development plan. Performance management enables a school owner or board to be specific about what they want from their leader and the priorities they want to set. It also encourages all parties to consider development of the school leader’s management and leadership skills. These issues need to be discussed and decided together. Clear direction and agreed actions will lead to a stronger partnership between a board and their school leaders and ultimately to improved student achievement.

    One part of the performance management cycle entails evaluation but in order to evaluate properly, we work with schools first to ensure all parts of the performance management system are in place.

    Our evaluation service begins with the collection of information from a range of sources, including people such as the school leader, board, staff, students, parents and the community, and school documents such as reports, accreditation results, and student assessment results.

 

  • Teachers

    Ensuring that teachers are properly equipped for their work with students is integral to the functioning of an effective school. “A good school supports its employees by close follow-up and evaluates their effectiveness and provides guidance and training” (Abou Chakra, 2005). Some education researchers assert that teachers are the active agents of school improvement (Frost et al, 2000 and Fullan, 1991) as they make the real difference to student engagement and learning.
    Evaluation of Teachers
    EDUGATES® International’s process for the evaluation of teachers occurs along similar lines as that for the evaluation of school leaders. Namely, we work with principals and the school leadership team first to ensure all parts of the performance management system are in place. Specifically, these are the job description, teacher professional standards, and annual appraisal system.
    We strongly believe that it is in a school’s best interest to be empowered to undertake evaluation of their own teachers.

 

  • Curriculum and Assessment

    Curriculum and learning material development
    It is essential that educators are well informed about successful regional and global trends in school curricula development and aware of the importance of continuous curriculum evaluation and review for providing quality education. They need to adopt curriculum assessment and development as an indispensable part of professional educational practice. EDUGATES® International has a successful record of accomplishment in school curriculum assessment and development. We provide two services in this area, evaluation and development of existing curricula, and designing and developing curricula for new schools.

    EDUGATES® International has produced and published about twenty different science and mathematics textbooks that correspond to the curriculum that they have developed and is currently implemented in three schools in the UAE and Oman.

    Our consultants closely monitor the implementation of newly-developed curricula and learning material, provide the necessary training, and perform the needed fine-tuning.
    Pedagogy and student assessment design
    The deep understanding of learning processes according to contemporary studies and research currently being conducted around the world, such as in cognitive neuroscience, will change many of the existing, accepted pedagogical concepts and will certainly influence the calibre of teachers that schools will seek in the future. So it goes without saying that developing and updating teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and techniques has become an urgent need that all educational institutions have to address through systematic training and professional development.

    Pedagogy, which refers to the strategies and styles of instruction, is a major factor in optimizing students’ learning and maximizing teachers’ effectiveness in curriculum delivery.

    EDUGATES® International has devised its own teaching methodology called ‘focus/ICDL’ which is a coherent set of procedures based on ensuring that students have learnt each unit of knowledge before continuing to the next.

    The introduction of ever-emerging new technologies and research in the field necessitates that teachers undergo continuous professional development in order to update their pedagogy; thus sharpening their skills and competencies to create a learning-conducive environment where students can excel academically and personally. EDUGATES® International can work collaboratively with schools to raise teachers’ awareness of the new technologies that are being integrated into today’s pedagogical techniques, provide teachers with good opportunities to reflect on their teaching practices and enable them to cope with the changes that are being brought about in the domain.

    The introduction of information technology, computers, interactive smart boards and many other technologies into teaching and learning has revolutionarily changed the conventional pedagogies that may still be used in many schools. EDUGATES® can help in upgrading teachers’ competences with integrating and utilizing such tools in their everyday work.

    Assessment systems which primarily aim at optimizing student learning should provide precise and reliable information about whether students have achieved the set learning objectives and about the progress of every single student. They should be objective, systematic, fair and consistent with the set curriculum and learning objectives. EDUGATES® International can help schools create and develop their assessment systems that best enhance student achievement, progress and opportunities.