This week we have the next stage in the renewal of our CIS and WASC accreditations. At this point that means we have two visitors in school for a week who will look at absolutely everything we do. They will have meetings with a range of teachers on a huge range of topics. They will ask us about our curriculum and how we ensure high standards in that. Well, of course they do, we’re a school and that’s what we do. However, they will also ask about admissions and how we make sure there is a good fit between the school and our students, the safety of the students is a prime concern, they will also look at how we recruit people, the finances, what the board does; in fact everything that we do. They will not only speak to teachers and TAs, but a group of parents, the Board, and students… After all, they are the ones who know!
All being well, the next stage of accreditation is an 18 month self-study. We, as a school community will look in depth and in detail at everything we do. We will use the report generated this week as the basis for our study. It is simply not possible to reach perfection in a school. Things can always be better! By taking the time to look critically at everything we can find those little things that could be done better. In the hurly-burly of a school it is too easy to do things purely because ‘that is how we do them’ without thinking how could they be done better? This desire to continuously be better and better, to improve the learning journeys that our students are on, is the driving force behind all schools who seek CIS and, in our case, WASC accreditation.
The other side of the coin is that there is an incredible amount of excellence going on in the school and it is really important that we recognise and celebrate that. Tthis gives us a chance to prove what we all know to be true: That we are a really good school. All of those students who are working hard, the teachers that plan exciting lessons that develop curiosity, creativity and critical thinking and then deliver those lessons with passion and empathy. The teacher that gives up their lunchtime so that two excited students can look at a topic in more depth. The extra time and support given to a student that is still developing their English skills, the basketball tournament on a Saturday, the trips that are safe and well organised. The admin and maintenance staff that make sure it runs smoothly and safely. All of these things that allow all the students to succeed and, most importantly, develop their passions, opinions and individual identity.
The standards set for this are the standards that we set for ourselves. We are judged against what it is we say we do. If you have been into a classroom, you cannot help but see the posters with the School’s learner Outcomes on in each room. These are the personification of the goals we have set ourselves and it is against those standards we will be judged. One of our School outcomes is for students to be socially responsible. Therefore, one of the key things we will be asked about this week is that: How do ensure our students are respectful of different cultures? How do we measure our success in doing that? (Always a tricky one to answer!) How could we do it even better?
Finally, in around 18 months time, we will have a team of teachers from a variety of international schools stay with us for a week and go through our report and the school with a fine tooth comb to make sure we have an accurate impression of ourselves. They will produce a report outlining and commending all the myriad things we do well and suggestions for what we need to do to be even better yet. This report will then form the basis for school development over the next 18 months to 2 years… Just about in time for us to start the whole process again. It’s not called continuous improvement for nothing. If we want to be better and give our students the best opportunities and experiences possible then we need to be honest with ourselves and not sit back on our laurels and admire the things we are good at. We need to say ‘that’s good but how can it be absolutely world class?’ How can we push the boundaries on this area? And that is why we bother with CIS and WASC accreditation?
The aim of this is to give you more than just a flavour of what is happening in different aspects of Secondary section life at Charter International School. We will go into more detail about what is going on in different subjects and all those cross curricula events that make the school such a great place to work and learn. Students will have a voice and explain what they have learnt, how they have learnt it and why they think it was useful or fun or interesting. Hopefully, this will give an idea as to what life is like in the school on a day-to-day basis, what we think a good school should aspire to be and the never ending journey to becoming that school.