How challenging global standards for school improvement led to Al TARBIYEH
by Chris Durbin, Associate Director for School Support and Evaluation, Council of International Schools
HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, on behalf of the ABS Board of Trustees, welcomes the IB/CIS Evaluation Team to ABS
How A school community embraced school improvement and committed to child protection training in Arabic to meet the needs of its community.
Amman, Jordan provides a fitting location for the first CIS International Accreditation Team Evaluation using our new truly international protocol. This is a nation that is committed to global citizenship, committed to helping out its neighbouring peoples who are racked by conflict. Jordanians are exposed to dilemmas of global citizenship in their daily lives. Amman Baccalaureate School (ABS) is a school that is striving to enhance its local citizenship alongside its global outlook. Stuart Bryan, the Principal and Head of School of ABS takes up the story: “When we were introduced to the new CIS International Accreditation Framework in 2015, we knew it was exactly what we needed as a school. We were a well-established school with the IB programmes serving the school well but it was time to review our purpose and direction for the Jordanian international context. CIS provides a rigorous international framework, and the CIS process has always encouraged schools to consider deeply their own context, purpose and direction.”
With an eye on these standards, there was recognition that the school’s guiding statements were in need of review by the community, therefore after a process of reflection at ABS and Al Tarbiyeh emerged from discussions. Waseem Zurub, member of the ABS Executive Committee explains, “In Arabic, Al Tarbiyeh means nurturing, and a proper upbringing through education, all rolled into one, and it makes us very proud to support and steer this school.” AL TARBIYEH, which is an acrostic used to frame the purpose and direction of the school in the students’ and community’s hearts and minds. Waseem adds, “It provides students, teachers and parents with an accessible and clearer statement of what happens inside the walls of the school. It has made the school more transparent, less of a mystery to parents.”
Russell Peagram, the Accreditation Coordinator and Director of Student Wellbeing and Achievement continues, “We were very proud of AL TARBIYEH. To meet CIS standards we were aware we needed to refine this guiding statement of our identity as a school. However, when it came to the self-study the standards of Domain A really pushed us.” Under CIS International Accreditation, the Domain A Committee has to reflect on CIS international standards, which reference the CIS Code of Ethics, the UN Rights of the Child, a contextual statement of intercultural learning, a statement of high quality teaching and learning – all providing the school with clearer purpose and direction.
Bassma Marji Nimri, a long-serving Jordanian Vice Principal agrees that this process really tested ABS against international benchmarks but also enhanced community understanding. “The CIS International Accreditation framework really brought us together as a community, our accountant now understands our mission, our doctor has an insight into our curriculum and numerous parents and students were able to systematically contribute to the self-study.” Maryan, a student in Grade 12 on the Domain G Committee asserts, “More students are appreciative of the support staff and more support staff appreciate the teachers.” Bassma also concludes that, “This mutual understanding enhances well-being in the school community in itself.”
Wellbeing is a new and more explicit driver under the new CIS International Accreditation framework, we believe that student wellbeing is critical foundation to learning. It manifests itself in all domains, and now has its own, Domain E. This domain addresses safeguarding and is also focused on happiness, energy and motivation that result from the education in any school. Challenge and continual school improvement are also a fundamental aspect of being a CIS member school. Stuart Bryan maintains that schools often face debate in the community about difficult things. “The standards of Domain E set an international benchmark related to child protection. We were anxious about parents’ views and concerned about staff willingness to really embrace safeguarding, let alone meet the challenge of how we would train our Arabic speaking support staff.” There was an imperative to meet a core standard in Domain E. ABS acted to research safeguarding training and found a certificated provider for all their staff. The Leadership Team at ABS recognised the importance of this training. However, for it to truly make an impact, the leaders felt language should not be a barrier. Bassma continues, “our Arabic staff and support staff would also need to be comfortable to discuss such training in their own language. So we worked with the provider to develop what we believe is the first-ever certified safeguarding training in Arabic. We are very proud of that.” This is a valuable service to so many schools across the Arabic-speaking world that resulted from one school addressing standards for CIS International Accreditation.
The enhanced CIS International Accreditation protocol has therefore led to many positive changes and impacts at Amman Baccalaureate School. All the Board of Trustees, leaders and staff recognised the galvanising effect, the resolve to improve, and Amman Baccalaureate was awarded the first ever worldwide CIS International Accreditation in November 2017.
With special thanks to the Board of Trustees, Stuart Bryan, Bassma Marji Nimri, Russell Peagram and the students and staff of Amman Baccalaureate School.
Details of the on-line safeguarding training in English and Arabic can be found at: www.safecic.co.uk
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