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School Accreditation

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by RUS1, May 8, 2019.

  1. RUS1

    RUS1 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I am beginning to think about looking for a new school next academic year. I am familiar with the CIS accreditation process and have looked at NEASC accreditation in some depth. I am also aware that IB schools tend to be better than other schools. My questions are:
    1. Out of the range of school accreditation programmes, which ones do you feel are the closest indicator that the school will be one that would be nice to work in?
    2. Which accreditations are harder to achieve than others e.g. is CIS harder than WASC?
    3. What level of COBIS accreditation indicates that it could be a good British school to work in?
    4. I have heard that some schools have financially lubricated their path to becoming IB World Schools? Anyone have first-hand experience of this?
    5. If a British school has a DfE number is it as horrible as working in many English state schools?
    I am open to IB, American and British curriculum schools or none of the above. I am just curious about people's experiences of the different types of accreditation.

  2. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    The new NEASC protocol is probably the toughest to pursue, followed by WASC and CIS, but they're all pretty tough, and none of them guarantee a good fit for any one person, though hopefully they guarantee the school at least tries to do things that help kids learn, things that maintain a safe environment, and things that keep the school organized and running smoothly.
    RUS1 likes this.
  3. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    i have only seen them done in combination. all the schools i know of have been CIS plus one of the others.
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Like my old friend gulfers, I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to accreditation. When I was teaching in Shenzhen, my school made a big huff and puff about CIS accreditation. On the whole, I thought that the whole thing was an expensive waste of time. People who enjoy going to lots of boring meetings will LOVE CIS accreditation.

    Does accreditation mean that you will paid well and enjoy teaching at this or that school? Not really. But the accreditation process guarantees lots of meetings. And more meetings.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
    towncryer likes this.
  5. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    while i do understand the problem with the paperwork and meetings involved with accreditation, and re accreditation (this process is much easier), would i pick a school with accreditation over a school without...... a MILLION times yes. schools without anything are best avoided.
  6. RUS1

    RUS1 New commenter

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. My last school was CIS only accredited and my current school has no accreditation; it was meant to be COBIS accredited but failed. I agree that new NEASC criteria looks challenging. Having been in both accredited and unaccredited schools and having been through a CIS re-accreditation process I find that it does provide some piece of mind as a potential employee. But then again I can see how some of them can be easy to fudge your way through - my last CIS accredited school had 4 Principals in 3 years!

    Does anyone have experience with COBIS schools or schools with BSO style inspections?
  7. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Well those of you that have read my ramblings on here for a while will know that I am very very cynical about most forms of accreditation and I am about to rant once more, so for the faint hearted look away now!

    Yes, it used to be a sign that a school was better if it had some form of accreditation and CIS was the go to organisation back in the day. Though these days the various visits can be bundled together.

    The IB of course does not accredit and their process is not called accreditation, schools are approved to deliver their progarmme/programmes of choice. It used to be that a school could start teaching the DP programme and be a ‘candidate school’ without any visit and simply pay the fee. If a school wants to become an IB world school and use the logo it has to have its programme ‘approved’ following the visit by an IB team.

    I have been through all three of these accreditation processes on multiple occasions and while they all include the preparation of lots of paperwork, they are not that onerous for your average teacher, though they can be for managers/leaders, especially if their documentation and policy docs are not up to date.

    My argument with them is that they are not particularly rigorous, the teams only come for three or four days and they seem to me to take a great deal of the paperwork (the evidence that a school is doing what it says it is!) at face value.

    But most importantly where there are issues, especially to do with governance and finance, they never seem to have their accreditation taken away. I worked at one school that had been through the process and the ensuing five year reviews on two occasions, the school had serious governance and financial issues (it was a for-profit school owned by one of the crazy property developer owners that posters on here regularly rail against) the problems were flagged up as ‘issues to be addressed’, on all each occasion, nothing was done and the school is still accredited, and the various logos are still on all the school documents, its website and its job adverts.

    Why? - well again the cynic in me would like to suggest that its all about the money, particularly in the case of the IBO.

    So my final piece of advice is yes, it may be that a school with the accreditation is possibly better than one without, it ain’t necessarily so! You still need to do you your due diligence.
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    while i can understand why you would think this, but your actual view of the whole process is very limited from what you have written. the actual school visit is last part of a complex and indepth process, and there are many schools that dont make it even to the visit stage. they may get there eventually, but they have to satisfy a lot of criteria before they do.

    i would still say the CIS accreditation though is more detailed.
  9. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Thanks dumbell, although as a DP Coordinator doing a 5 year review, as Deputy Head of Secondary going through a CIS accreditation and as a Vice Principal going thorough a CIS and IB (PYP, MYP, and DP) 5 year review in three different schools I am not sure that my view is limited.

    I was simply trying to avoid a very long post by making a few brief points with one clear example. I am happy for you to explain in detail what the 'complex and in depth process" entails in a personal message.

    However, my final point is moot, not all schools that gain accreditation are good schools and teachers looking for jobs should not assume a school with the logos on its website and its letterhead are better than those that do not and vice versa.
    blueskydreaming and towncryer like this.
  10. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    There appears to be some misunderstanding of the role of accreditation and what it means.

    When a school is accredited, it means that it has passed an external checklist that signifies that its academic program is what it says it is - within reason - and that the support structure of that academic programme is in place. Some accreditation protocols go beyond this but not all.

    When an accreditation protocol looks at salaries, it makes a decision on whether or not the salary paid is appropriate for the context that the school is in. It does not prescribe nor compare one school to another. It makes this decision based on documentary evidence supplied by a school and, during the team visit, by talking to a cross section of teachers.

    A school can pay teachers 1 dollar a day, but if that is what the teachers contractully agreed to, and it is being paid as stated in the contract, then there is no problem. If teachers are not being paid, then it is quite likely that the accreditation process will be curtailed far in advance of the team visit.

    When schools do not pay teachers an appropriate salary, there is a high attrition rate and this could lead to an academic programme not being adequately supported. In such cases, schools are strongly advised to withdraw from the reaccreditation process until such a time as their finances are stabilised. What happens is that schools get their act together (usually) and get reaccredited. If they do not, then goodbye accreditation.

    The purpose of accreditation, from the point of view of CIS, NEASC, MSA etc. is to improve schools. Unless there are serious financial issues or any child safeguarding issue, a school will probably (not guaranteed though) be awarded accredited status.
  11. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Perhaps then mahknovite you want to make it sound a little more than, you pay your dollars, and then bang, you get a school vist and you are in the IB. if you do know the process, you will understand that it is a lot more complex than that, and can take a number of years to even get to your first evaluation visit.
  12. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    No, Karvol, I cannot agree with you. The purpose of accrediatation is to give schools some extra letters to put on the website and to give those on the gravytrain an excuse for their inflated expenses. My experiences (in China and elsewhere) lead me to think that the whole process is dishonest and worthless.

    Do parents really care about accreditation? Or the students? Or the teachers? Is accreditation a cast-iron guarantee of educational quality? No, I do not think so. But I might be wrong.

    Meetings. Do they really achieve anything? So many teachers have e-mails to write, reports that need to be proof-read, teaching resources that should be prepared and so on. So what is the point of yet another meeting about accreditation?
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  13. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Karvol makes some good points, but my reference to finances was not about pay but about the schools annual budget, departmental capitation, other budget lines throughout the school, who are the budget holders and of course transparency, which can often be missing in many for-profit schools. This is linked to the governance part of the process as many of these new kinds of owners want to make sure that the SMT/SLT (choose your own favourite) does exactly as the owner wants rather than what is best for the students (parents) and staff

    'What happens is that schools get their act together (usually) and get reaccredited. If they do not, then goodbye accreditation.'

    While I am sure it has happened somewhere on the planet I must say I have never heard of it and my example in my original post was/is a particularly glaring example of a school 'not getting its act together', and not suffering any form of penalty over 12 years.

    And yes dumbells I do understand that the process is somewhat more complicated than my original post may suggest, but my points still hold good:
    • Some schools that have some form of accreditation do not always do it for the right reasons.
    • Those that do not fulfil the tick box protocols or fail to address the issues mentioned in their review don't have their accreditation/approval taken away
    • A school that has accreditation is not necessarily better than one that does not.
  14. 576

    576 Established commenter

    My last school is COBIS and was inspected by ISI (or is it SIS?)when I was there.
    It's comparable to Ofsted in that they observe lessons, do a marking scrutiny. Our inspectors were 3 lovely OAPs.
    Teachallover likes this.
  15. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Its like a school joining the RAC/AA, they pay a yearly subscription and you get a free badge to hang on the wall in Reception!

    The only one I take note of is HMC!
  16. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    Too true from 576, in an ideal fluffy world, we would all love to hand in our notice only once we have a new signed contract in our hand. However, depending on your contract, some schools require your resignation as early as November in order to leave legitimately for the next academic year. Failure to do this can incur several costs, not limited to; forfeiting bonuses, visa repayment costs, loss of exit flight, housing allowances...and much more...
    576 likes this.
  17. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    I apologise. Somehow my message crossed over into the wrong thread!
  18. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    It does happen that schools lose accreditation now and again. My most recent time as an accreditation visitor, our team recommended not to reaccredit, and the agency followed through. The school has the chance to make things right and get it back, but for the moment, they are without, after having it previously for yonks and yonks.
  19. RUS1

    RUS1 New commenter

    Thanks everyone for your insights. I was under then impression to steer clear of unaccredited schools but clearly this is not always the case. I always find looking for a new international job daunting, it can be so hard to get an accurate view of what a school is really like. Thanks for your time sharing your thoughts.
  20. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    you are a lot braver than me then @RUS1. best of luck

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