Prepared and Evaluated

Prepared and Evaluated

October 26, 2018

t the end of September, as Hong Kong began the clean-up following Typhoon Mangkhut, The ISF Academy hosted an important event in our journey towards reaccreditation with the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The Preparatory Evaluation (PE) is the first formal step towards accreditation taken by schools in a five-year cycle. The essential purpose of the PE is to use the 65 accreditation standards to gauge the preparedness of a school to undergo a full international accreditation evaluation visit – the Team Evaluation (TE) – scheduled for December 2019.

The timing of the PE visit was perhaps unfortunate. The weather intervened in an unexpectedly dramatic fashion. One of the CIS accreditors spent an uncomfortable Sunday experiencing the typhoon first-hand from his hotel room; another accreditor had to be replaced at short-notice, due to the cancellation of flights into Hong Kong. The Education Bureau also closed all schools in Hong Kong on the first day of the PE visit, which forced a hasty re-arrangement of the meetings and observations that had been scheduled for that first day. In the end, we were able to modify the PE schedule, ensuring that the delegation was able to observe our school in full operation and meet with key governors, teachers, parents, and students.

At the time of writing, the PE report has not yet been received, although a verbal debriefing at the conclusion of the visit itself provided some insights from the visitors into those aspects of our school that were seen as commendable and those that required further scrutiny and effort. The success of our bilingual and bicultural approach to learning was highly commended, as was our genuine commitment to international understanding and engagement. The home-school collaborative relationship at ISF was seen as very strong. One striking feature of ISF, as seen from the visitors’ perspective, was the strongly shared understanding and commitment to the core values of the ISF: the Eight Virtues + One. The pervasive influence of the Eight Virtues + One within all key ISF stakeholder groups was seen as unusual in a school.

As often happens in an in-depth and school-wide evaluation of this type, we became aware of aspects of our school that can be improved. We were encouraged to continue the work already started this year on refining and reinforcing physical access controls through the smartcard system now in the final stages of development. We were also encouraged to draft an ISF-unique definition of ‘high quality learning’, which is a new accreditation standard.

The next formal step in the reaccreditation process is the on-line school community survey. This survey, delivered bilingually, offers an opportunity to all members of the ISF community to comment on their perceptions of the school. It is an important information gathering exercise involving parents, teachers and staff, governors, and students. It has the potential to provide timely feedback that would enable school governors and leaders to consider immediate steps to improve teaching and learning at ISF. The survey also provides more strategic information that may be useful in formulating development plans for the future. A key part of our preparation for the full Team Evaluation in 2019 is a thorough analysis of the findings of the community survey. As such, we are hoping for a level of community engagement in this survey that matches the very high benchmark achieved in the past; in particular, we need to hear from parents.

One of the enduring virtues of school accreditation is the unambiguous statement it sends to our families and the wider community: we are prepared to be evaluated.

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