Greenfield Community School has been successfully accredited by the Council for International Schools and re-authorised by the International Baccalaureate.
We have received both the Council for International Schools and International Baccalaureate reports from the Synchronised visit that took place last term. It is with great pride that I can inform you that we were successful and may now publish the fact that the Greenfield Community School has been accredited by the Council of International Schools. Our International Baccalaureate five yearly re-authorisation was part of this and was successful. We await the New England Association of Schools and College’s report, but, given that it was a synchronised visit, we expect it to be in step with CIS’s. The process was a very rigorous one that examined every aspect of the school’s operation, health and safety, standards of teaching and learning, leadership and governance. Evidence was gathered from a variety of sources and systematically triangulated. These successes are an external validation of the high standards that we set at Greenfield. As always, there are things to celebrate and things to work on. The letter informing the school of this decision described a number of the school’s strengths:
- Our strong school climate and sense of community.
- Our commitment to student well-being and safeguarding.
- Our inclusive philosophy and commitment to providing support for student learning. This extends to our admission policy.
- Our commitment to internationalism.
- The Principal for recruiting qualified, experienced, international staff.
- The Student Council for initiating responsible environmental practices
Looking ahead the Visiting team identified these areas which will require attention.
- We need to develop a systematic process for assessing the success in achieving the aims of the Guiding Statements.
- We need to develop a comprehensive policies manual. We need to define which policies are Taaleem-wide and which are school specific.
- To review the teacher/student ratio and class size, to ensure the continuous quality delivery of the curriculum.
- We were encouraged to make effective use of community health initiatives to promote and model healthy lifestyles.
- The school’s SLT need to provide more timely information regarding the allocation of resources to the school departments.
The International Baccalaureate team focussed on philosophy, organisation and the curriculum. They made commendations and recommendations and identified one ‘matter to be addressed’.
The major commendations were :
- The school community for their understanding of, commitment to, and appreciation for the principles of an IB education.
- The school for fostering international mindedness and the attributes of an IB learner.
- The school community for promoting a strong community culture and responsible action within and beyond the school.
- The school for being active in the IB world community.
- The school for supporting initiatives to develop innovative learning spaces.
- The library teams for their creative and committed approach to developing the library as a learning hub in the school.
- The school for its commitment to an inclusive environment and the Student Support team for the extensive work that has resulted in an elaborate structure in place for support and documentation.
- Explicitly documenting the IB learner profile through the written curriculum.
- Teachers for providing students with regular and authentic opportunities to develop their understanding of language.
- Teachers for encouraging students to initiate authentic action based on the community’s needs and demonstrate a sense of responsibility and respect for self, others and the environment.
- The school for the range of opportunities students have to reflect on the development of their skills, attitudes, understanding and action.
- The school for using a range of strategies and tools to assess student learning and making these evident through student work samples and unit planners.
- Students and teachers for providing regular and timely feedback that helps students improve the development of skills, knowledge, attitudes and conceptual understandings.
- The school for using strategies, such as the ‘WWW’ and ‘EBI’ approach, to encourage students to reflect on the assessment of their work.
- The extended essay and DP coordinators for their extensive work on ensuring that students and supervisors are supported through the extended essay process.
Key recommendations included:
- The school extends its use of the PYP as the framework for all planning, teaching and learning across the curriculum and throughout the school.
- The school reviews the language policy.
- The staff reviews the academic honesty policy.
- The school leadership team establishes a structured approach to developing and articulating the school’s K-12 continuum.
- The school develops a professional learning plan based on guidance that IB will provide in 2017.
- The school reviews the timetable schedule to optimize time for in-depth inquiry into the disciplinary and transdisciplinary dimensions of the programme.
- The school ensures the programme of inquiry and all corresponding unit planners are the product of sustained collaborative work involving all the appropriate staff.
- The school develop scope and sequence documents for all of the subject areas to create a common understanding of overall expectations for student learning.
- The school develops a system for the regular review and refinement of the programme of inquiry and the subject-specific scope and sequence documents.
- The school reviews how it uses portfolios to provide evidence of student learning and progress over time and across the curriculum.
- The school further develops procedures to analyse evidence of student learning to identify trends that inform teaching and learning.
- The MYP coordinator together with the staff prioritise time in collaborative planning meetings for interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and formalise planning to include clear purpose and assessable outcomes for the students.
- The senior education team work together with the teachers to share effective practice and experience of a range of differentiated teaching and learning strategies.
- The SLT provides more formal opportunities to allow for interdisciplinary collaborative planning and reflection.
- The senior education team reviews the schedule, and fosters the development of teaching strategies such that students are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning choices.
- The DP teaching team, led by the heads of departments and the DP coordinator, reviews the calendar of assessment deadlines to ensure terminology is consistent, that there is equity in terms of draft and final assessments scheduled, and that student workload is balanced.
The matter to be addressed, the important issue that we need to attend to before November of this year, concerns our Diploma Programme timetable. We are required to teach 240 hours for each Higher Level subject and 150 hours for each Standard Level subject. At present HL subjects receive 276 hours of instruction, and SL receives 236 hours over both years of the programme. We teach too many hours, particularly for the SL subjects.
The visiting team were concerned that the Theory of Knowledge course is taught in the last lesson of the day. They we also concerned that some Career Programme students were not able to choose the English A course. Finally, they were concerned that assemblies impacted teaching time.
Overall this is a very positive outcome for our school. The reports affirm the high standards of curriculum planning and delivery, our commitment to the educational philosophy and rigour of the International Baccalaureate, the support given to all students and our inclusive, welcoming school climate. As our graduating students apply to universities abroad these accreditations will assure the admissions staff that our standards at GCS meet those of the most rigorous external quality assurance bodies such as CIS and the IB. The recommendations are all things that we can and will address.
I would like to thank all of our staff, student and parents who were involved in the self-study and visit. My particular thanks go to Neil Bunting and Gary Mallon who took the lead on the CIS/NEASC self-study and to Dianne Vella, Chris Cooke and Jill Shadbolt who led the IB self-study. There were many other members of the parent and staff community who led self-study committees, analysed the survey data or took part in focus group interviews: thank you to you all.
This has been a very rigorous process and one that affirms the high standards at Greenfield. We have a school of which we can be truly proud.