The Importance to School Communities of Accreditation Award Ceremonies
by Graham Ranger, Director of School Support & Evaluation, Council of International Schools
We often say, in accreditation circles, that the process is as important, if not more so, than the accreditation award. Of course, there are many reasons why a school chooses CIS International Accreditation but the most important drivers are those which help the school provide a better international education for its students. We achieve this by asking the school to engage with its community in consultation, through the CIS Community Survey, as part of the Self-Study process through which all constituents are represented and all groups (students; faculty; support staff; Board members; leadership; parents; and sometimes alumni) are involved. It is a community endeavour. However, the accreditation award matters.
Accreditation is hard-earned, through a searching self-examination of all aspects of school life, a gathering of diverse sources of evidence to support self-evaluation, and an evaluation against globally-agreed and rigorous standards. Then, this self-evaluation is considered and appraised by a team of volunteer peer evaluators, drawn from CIS’ diverse membership. Above all, accreditation is for the students. It safeguards their quality of education, their learning, as well as, for the older students, providing recognition of the quality of their education to universities worldwide.
At Oshwal Academy, Nairobi, this process started about a decade before accreditation was awarded in 2016. CIS was honoured to be present at the school to present the award and recognise the achievements of the Academy in attaining CIS Accreditation for the first time. Of course, this is the culmination of a journey and the beginning of another one: our expectation is that the school commits to continuous improvement through the accreditation cycle. When describing why Oshwal Academy engaged with the accreditation process, Peter Barton, Director of Education for the Oshwal Academies, reinforced the the purpose of CIS International Accreditation:
- a desire to provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to pursue their lives as global citizens; and
- a commitment to high quality international education.
The award ceremony culminated in a celebratory evening of music, dance and meaningful speeches.
"I was touched by what the accreditation process and award meant to the community, humbled by the involvement and engagement of the support staff who received awards for the contributions to the Self-Study and, as ever, moved by the students who spoke, performed and coordinated the evening’s proceedings. In accreditation terms, this is a rite of passage and I would like to encourage all school communities to use the award of accreditation as an opportunity to honour the work of their communities and celebrate together."
At Oshwal, I was impressed with the attitude that this is a significant step in the Academy’s history, and yet the school is striving to serve its community even more richly as it continues its journey of self-improvement with support from CIS.
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