The Client’s Need

The “Hamdan Bin Mohammed Order of Merit for Educational and Sports Schools” award was born out of the UAE’s Sports Innovation Lab, under the theme of happiness, health & community, and was overseen by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council.

The programme aims to motivate and encourage government and private schools in Dubai to attain excellence and positive results in physical education, health and wellbeing, and make healthy living a lifestyle choice for the community and wider society.

Dubai Sports Council required a contractor to develop assessment criteria and measure both government and private schools in Dubai against a range of standards and criteria categorised under four headings:

  • Infrastructure: Specifications and quality of sports facilities: (swimming pools, sports indoor halls & pitches …etc).
  • Health Programmes: Programmes, initiatives, workshops, awareness campaigns, which enhance the culture of sports and health within the school.
  • Sport Activities: Competitions, championships and sports results attained in schools in the local, regional, continental and international levels.
  • Efficiency & Competence of School Management:  Leadership’s willingness to implement physical activity, sports & healthy programmes and initiatives, as well as their approach to attracting suitably well-qualified staff.

The purpose of the programme is to determine Dubai schools’ proficiency in:

  • Boosting students’ health and well-being and ensuring that participation in sport is considered a lifestyle choice;
  • Enabling the school community to acquire healthy behaviours;
  • Creating a safe and healthy sporting environment;
  • Developing inclusive physical education programmes, infrastructure and services; and
  • Creating a nurturing atmosphere that encourages participation for all and further develops talented and promising athletes.

Cognition Education’s Solution

To evaluate this, Cognition Education developed a robust assessment criteria process, without being onerous on the participating schools. The process involved:

  • Development of the programme materials, including the standards, assessment criteria, metrics and reporting templates;
  • An orientation session to explain the programme and resulting processes to the schools invited to participate;
  • A two-stage application process to secure engagement from the schools and gather valuable data to inform evaluation visits;
  • Evaluation visits to assess the schools against the four key standards of infrastructure, health education, sports practice and school leadership and management;
  • Assessment of the schools, including moderating the process and providing outcomes to Dubai Sports Council; and
  • Provision of brief but succinct feedback reports to the schools, detailing areas that each school can be particularly proud of, as well as areas that could be improved to further enhance their provision in sport, physical education, health and wellbeing.

During the visits, the evaluators met with the school principal and staff and toured the facility. At the end of each visit, interviews were conducted with student representatives to gather their views and insight. This was a key element of the evaluation, providing triangulation and validation of the information provided by the school and observed by the evaluators.

Impact and Beneficial Outcomes

The programme has been a fantastic success. Whilst two winning schools (one Government and one private) were identified, all schools demonstrated a high minimum standard and the process highlighted some of the superb practice that is already happening in schools in Dubai in the key areas of health, wellbeing, sport and physical education.

All the schools were welcoming and proud. Physical education staff were delighted at the focus on their subject area and how the visit and the programme overall were raising the profile of health, wellbeing, sport and physical education and affording them the importance these areas deserve.

Due to the positive results, Dubai Sports Council decided to expand the programme in the next academic year and the Education Minister invited the Cognition Education team to share the results of their findings with the Ministry of Education and advise how curriculum changes could support the enhancement of sporting activity and health and wellbeing.


Read about more of the programmes and projects we have delivered!