Designed for the best British international schools worldwide, COBIS is proud to introduce the new COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and the new COBIS Compliance scheme which will be in operation from 1 April 2017.

This is a brand new external validation system, on a five-year cycle, which has school improvement at its core. This new process is rooted in self-evaluation with professional validation from expertly trained and informed peer school improvement partners and peer accreditors. Based upon high standards, rigorous scrutiny and the best British and international practice, it supports schools in their development journey. The scheme is designed and run by COBIS.

COBIS, as the largest educational association for international British schools overseas, exists to serve member schools of quality worldwide. Access to this mark of high quality assurance is open to the best British schools overseas and we are proud to share its unique philosophy and professional characteristics.

These pages illustrate the:

  • consultation process leading to its development
  • rigorous professional quality assurance standards
  • management of this 'fit for purpose' external validation process
  • model of delivery, frequency, cost and associated timelines
  • positive implications for current and prospective COBIS school members




WHY HAS COBIS INTRODUCED THE PATRON'S ACCREDITATION AND COMPLIANCE?


From its foundation more than 35 years ago, COBIS has grown significantly in terms of size, global influence, expertise, and its authority and confidence to represent and set standards for the international education sector. The value and influence of COBIS is recognised by external agencies and many national governments around the world.

COBIS has long advocated the importance of rigorous quality assurance within the international education sector. This view is supported by the best British international schools. However, in this growing and flourishing sector, evidence and consultation suggest that to fully meet a diverse range of needs, many British schools feel that there is space for an alternative quality assurance system which can run in parallel with and complement the current BSO inspection system.

By developing the new COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system, COBIS has designed a British international accreditation system which actively supports whole school improvement, and ensures the best possible educational environments for children and young people worldwide.

CONSULTATION AND RESEARCH


All COBIS services and strategic development initiatives are designed to better represent and serve the association's growing number of members and the international British schools overseas sector as a whole.

The COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system has wide support and approval, including positive input from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Council, and follows helpful consultation with the UK Department for International Trade as well as the Department for Education. Consultation with government education departments in the Middle East, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe has met with strong interest or approval. This new school improvement and quality assurance system also has the keen support of our Royal Patron, whose title it bears.

The new COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system has been introduced in direct response to our school members' views. Detailed consultation relating to existing inspection and accreditation systems has been undertaken and analysed. This research has not been limited to COBIS members. The evidence is clear that while existing inspection and accreditation systems provide positive attributes, there is room for improvement. Research results concluded that improvements could be made in the following areas:

  • inspection and accreditation standards
  • international understanding
  • elements of operation
  • frequency
  • consistency
  • value for money and cost

In response, COBIS has designed a fit for purpose school improvement and quality assurance system. This draws on the very best of international British education.

Research

Thorough analysis of the views of all COBIS member schools, and also all the responses of schools and organisations to the DfE's recent consultation, clearly revealed what British Schools Overseas seek: a reliable mark of quality; a more developmental model that supports school improvement; compliance with safety and safeguarding; greater cultural sensitivity; and valuing both British and also international experience. The large majority seek professional standards in plain English and a 5-year cycle, and greater emphasis upon good governance and leadership. A significant minority look for more reliable quality in inspection and reporting. COBIS has listened carefully to these views.

WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT?

COBIS believes that the goal of an effective accreditation system is both to assure quality and also to support long term school improvement. Effective accreditation needs to be more than just an inspection snapshot.

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system is designed to be a

rigorous but supportive and non-judgemental process supporting schools with their development journey. The brand new 5-year school development, improvement and review cycle has been developed following extensive research and consultation.

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system is distinct from other accreditation and inspection systems, with elements of autonomy for schools to select areas to evaluate which fit with their identified development objectives. COBIS recognises that schools are highly diverse, existing in complex contexts. Therefore a one-size approach to a professional accreditation process is not in the best interests of schools, the communities they serve and the unique ministerial jurisdictions in which they operate worldwide.

The system is a globally recognised quality mark and is available to both COBIS members and all other British schools overseas. It is offered alongside the current 'BSO inspection' and other inspection and accreditation systems which are currently recognised by COBIS.

Consultation evidence indicated that inspection, whilst often used for accountability, can be immensely disruptive. Is this the most effective way to pursue a school improvement agenda?

COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance offers a very different perspective on compliance and accreditation which guarantees the quality of COBIS membership and merges:

  • rigorous COBIS membership requirements
  • continuing improvement
  • a supportive dialogue with schools
  • the importance of compliance standards

This is in keeping with the COBIS aim of being an accepted mark of quality worldwide for British schools overseas.

From 1 April 2017, the COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance will be the primary route to COBIS membership.

PROFESSIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SCHEME

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system is innovative and offers some unique features compared to other school accreditation or inspection systems. One key characteristic is that the model incorporates high professional standards inspired by the best practice of:

  • The British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection arrangements
  • OfSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills)
  • the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • the British Council
  • PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment)

The model also:

  • encompasses British values with sensitivity to local cultural context
  • sets high expectations and standards of accountability
  • values education for international understanding
  • is based on a realistic 5-year cycle, preferred by most schools
  • provides value for money and is at a competitive cost
  • is far removed from a 'snapshot inspection of condition'
  • is designed to reflect self-evaluation and support school improvement
  • has a strong emphasis on scrutinising the effectiveness of safeguarding practices
  • challenges the principles and effectiveness of school leadership and governance
  • harnesses digital power to reduce time and cost

In addition, another powerful element of the system is the strength of the long term relationships which are built with highly experienced and trained COBIS Lead Improvement Partners and COBIS Peer Accreditors

TIMELINE AND PILOT TO SCHOOLS

Like all successful new initiatives and after significant research, preparation and planning, the new COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system will be piloted. Work with distinguished 'BSO' pilot schools in Asia, Europe and the Middle East will take place during the 2017 spring term. Prospective and current members will be able to access the system from 1 April 2017.

INTRODUCING THE COBIS DIRECTOR OF ACCREDITATION

COBIS is proud to introduce Peter Simpson as the newly appointed COBIS Director of Accreditation

Peter brings immense experience of British international education and of quality assurance. He is a graduate of Oxford University and was a visiting Schoolmaster Fellow of Cambridge University for six years. He has 24 years of experience of teaching in schools both in the UK and internationally. Peter was a school Head for 13 years in the UK and the Netherlands, looking after students from the ages of three to eighteen.

Peter has had a long-term interest in leadership development. He was member of a national body looking at professional development for schools and has worked over the last five years with the National College for School Leadership on international programmes for middle leadership, and subsequently on the COBIS 'CPML' programme which sprang from this work. Recently, Peter has also taught on the University of Nottingham’s International Leadership Programme in China. He has extensive experience of a number of inspection and accreditation regimes, both UK and international.

Peter was a COBIS Board member from 2010 until September 2016 and Head of the COBIS Professional Development and Research Committee. Previously he also served on the COBIS Accreditation Committee.

Peter is a school governor of the Geneva English School and in addition has served two three-year terms for the Ministry of Justice in the UK as a lay review body member for cases of judicial discipline.

Since September 2016 Peter has been working for COBIS, leading a number of global education projects in the areas of professional development for leaders and school accountability.

Contact Peter Simpson




Under this new system, by 1 September 2022, all COBIS schools will be either a COBIS Patron’s Accredited School, COBIS Accredited Member School or a COBIS Member School.

From 1 April 2017, the new COBIS School membership categories will be:

  • COBIS Patron’s Accredited School
    Completed COBIS Patron’s Accreditation

    COBIS Accredited Member School
    Completed BSO inspection

    COBIS Member School
    Completed COBIS Compliance

All other schools that are in the application stage for pre-COBIS Compliance check, pre-COBIS Patron's Accreditation or pre-BSO inspection will be known as COBIS Applicant School

Validity Period of COBIS and External Quality Assurance

1. The COBIS Compliance check is valid on a 5-year cycle

2. The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation, which includes a COBIS Compliance check, is valid on a 5-year cycle

3. As it currently operates, COBIS continues to recognise a successful 'BSO' inspection for a 5-year period from date of report

4. As it currently operates, COBIS recognises the validity of CIS Accreditation on a 5-year cycle

5. A CIS Accredited school is required to be COBIS Compliant

In addition

1. Once a COBIS Compliance check is completed, COBIS Member School status is awarded for 5-years

2. After 4.5 years COBIS Member Schools will be given 6 months to prepare for their next COBIS Compliance, BSO inspection or COBIS Patron’s Accreditation quality assurance cycle.

3. All COBIS Member Schools will need to complete COBIS Compliance to retain membership - this is a minimum requirement

4. COBIS Member Schools are encouraged to work towards either COBIS Patron’s Accredited School status (or COBIS Accredited School status)

5. Once awarded, Accredited status is valid on a 5-year cycle

6. After 4.5 years, COBIS Accredited Schools will be given 6 months to prepare for their next COBIS Patron’s Accreditation (or a BSO inspection)



INTRODUCTION TO THE PROCESS

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance process has been designed to harness digital technology, to be user friendly, logical, value for money and secure.

Schools manage their own profiles via the COBIS digital workbook. This online platform is also used to provide or update evidence around positively phrased and aspirational standards.

Other main characteristics of this formative process are that it is:

  • contextually sensitive and relevant to the diverse COBIS membership
  • transparent and in plain language
  • utilising international education expertise and peer involvement
  • embracing new technology
  • value for money and at a competitive cost
  • supported and validated by respected regulatory bodies and Ministries of Education
  • based on the best of British practice and international standards
  • a 5-year cycle as opposed to a 3-year BSO cycle
  • a continuous process as part of an ongoing professional dialogue about school improvement
  • an opportunity for public as well as confidential reporting to satisfy accountability
  • a way to receive next step suggestions to support individual school improvement agendas
  • rigorous and challenging, but non-judgemental

Process Management

Online School Profile - 'The COBIS Digital Workbook' (DWB)

From 1 April 2017, all prospective and existing member schools will be required to develop their individual profile on the new COBIS DWB. This will be a phased process. Schools will be able to supply crucial information to define their unique profile and context. This will become a 'living' document updated as necessary by individual schools. Details recorded by schools on the DWB will be held securely and must be updated on an ongoing basis and from one 5-year quality assurance cycle to the next. The online DWB profile accommodates evidence and files in any format, to be added by schools to help define themselves. DWB profiles are password protected documents confidential between COBIS and individual schools.

Online DWB profiles contain features for schools to complete in depth self-evaluation. Completion is compulsory for schools seeking the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance rather than just COBIS Compliance. All new COBIS Applicant schools and approved COBIS Member schools are able to use this self-evaluation tool to support and inform their own school improvement.

COBIS COMPLIANCE AND STANDARDS

COBIS Compliance standards form the backbone of COBIS membership requirements for all schools. To satisfy the rigour and strict COBIS membership criteria as a minimum, COBIS Compliance must be attained. This will be a phased process. Evidence is uploaded via the COBIS DWP. COBIS Compliance is a vital aspect of the COBIS 5-year quality assurance cycle and supports COBIS as a brand for internationally recognised global quality in British schools overseas.

The COBIS Compliance process is based around five compliance standards. A sixth standard is evaluated for boarding schools. This takes into account their special nature. The COBIS Compliance standards are as follows:

Recruitment

Student Welfare

Facilities

Governance

Ethos and values

Boarding


The standards are further subdivided into sections but the overarching standard is framed in a positive manner that celebrates the good practice that resides in COBIS schools.

Download
The Complete Guide to the Standards and Criteria for The Patron's Accreditation and Compliance

The responsibility and autonomy in meeting these standards rests with individual schools. COBIS will provide quality assurance and confirmation that standards are met. Scheduled school visits and interactions with appointed COBIS Lead Improvement Partners (LIPs) confirm and validate supplied evidence. COBIS provides guidance as to suitable evidence and schools have the freedom to provide alternative evidence as appropriate. Dialogue with LIPs provides support as schools work towards COBIS Compliance standards. LIPs provide timely feedback prior to a confirmatory Compliance visit which the schools can use to address issues or provide additional evidence.

For simplicity a colour coded system is used in the online DWB to illustrate best practice and the evaluation of Compliance standards.

As part of the 5-year cycle, COBIS will remind schools 12 months before another COBIS Compliance evaluation is required. In its current form, COBIS Compliance can also be achieved by current members by the successful completion of a BSO inspection. For new COBIS Applicant schools, meeting COBIS Compliance will be a required component of the membership application process.

A LIP is appointed to an individual school six months before a compliance visit. At this point a professional dialogue begins about the information in the online DWB school profile. LIPs and schools also fix a COBIS compliance visit date. These visits are one working day in length plus travel and preparation time for the purpose of validating and confirming the evidence supplied by the school. If a school opts for the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation as well as the COBIS Compliance process, then a full COBIS Patron's Accreditation will happen at the same time and, depending on the needs of the school additional days and COBIS Peer Accreditors may be required.

The initial colour coding of COBIS Compliance standards will begin soon after the appointment of a LIP and contact with the school. Therefore, it is expected that there will be a process of revision and review in the light of both the dialogue with the school and the addition of new sources of evidence by the school to support the relevant standard. This interaction and revision would cease two weeks before the compliance visit and the visit itself would aim to confirm and validate as appropriate the colour coding that has taken place.

The issuing of a COBIS Certificate of Compliance as well as COBIS Patron’s Accreditation certification enables individual best practices to be highlighted and celebrated. Against every COBIS Compliance standard a school can achieve COBIS Compliance as a minimum standard, or be recognised for its excellence in going well beyond what is required. Excellence throughout all components of a Compliance standard will be recognised in the COBIS Compliance certificate. Once a COBIS Compliance evaluation is complete, a LIP will provide 'next steps' suggestions to identify where schools might consider improving their practice.

A school's relationship with a LIP continues. One year after the initial COBIS Compliance visit, schools are required to complete an online document that, in relation to Compliance standards, addresses the suggested 'next steps' and any other developments the school has embarked upon. LIPs are expected to follow this with a telephone or online synchronous contact to make contextually sound comments and to offer their assigned school relevant advice on their journey to whole school improvement.

As part of the 5-year cycle, an identical process will take place four years after the first Compliance visit. The process will begin again with the appointment of a new COBIS LIP, who would not be the same person in order to ensure quality assurance.

COBIS PATRON'S ACCREDITATION AND STANDARDS

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation is not available by itself as it is an extension of the COBIS Compliance process. The COBIS Patron's Accreditation process is the primary route to gain the coveted COBIS Patron’s Accreditation status.

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation process is conceived to dovetail with the COBIS Compliance process but also to give autonomy to schools in guiding elements of their own improvement agenda.

Please Note: (COBIS will continue to recognise a 'BSO' inspection, where it continues to exist in its current form, for Accredited Member status)

Some schools wanting COBIS membership may choose to stop at a COBIS Compliance check, for various reasons such as the maturity of the school. However, the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation is designed to be a challenging, non-judgemental process to support schools with their school improvement development journey.

The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation process provides a rigorous diagnostic on core elements, focusing on learning and teaching and leadership in the school. A report for Heads and Governors provides a detailed assessment with 'next step' suggestions. The report does not provide labelling or grading, which in itself allows a rigorous and detailed series of observations. Therefore, COBIS Patron’s Accreditation reports are not public documents but are part of the dialogue between schools - Heads and Governors - and COBIS. As such, COBIS Patron’s Accreditation reports are very different from the current structure and format of many inspection and accreditation reports and are designed to feed into the school’s improvement dialogue. A separate summary accreditation report, along with certification - without 'next steps' suggestions and not identifying individual members of staff or departments - is provided for public usage/accountability or for schools to use as a template for school communication. Successful accreditation celebrates and distinguishes the best in British schools overseas.

In addition, schools may request the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation in non-core/optional aspects such as communication and extra-curricular/community activities. This enables COBIS to utilise experts in these areas, including trained non-teaching professionals working in COBIS member and non-COBIS member schools, to supplement a COBIS accreditation team. COBIS believes that it is important for schools and governors also to be able to celebrate success and progress and have external benchmarked validation in these optional areas.

DOWNLOAD
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE STANDARDS AND CRITERIA FOR THE PATRON'S ACCREDITATION AND COMPLIANCE

Self-reflection is implicit in the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system. There is a chance for schools to highlight their own areas of strength and of concern, thus helping to shape the process of accreditation. Self-evaluation is a key aspect of this process and is much valued by schools. It is accessed through the online COBIS Digital Workbook (DWB) which allows schools to upload supplementary evidence and information. As per the online DWB system, this platform is confidential, password protected and secure.

Core COBIS Patron’s Accreditation areas

Learning and Teaching

Leadership


Optional areas for COBIS Patron’s Accreditation

Communication

Extra-curricular activities and community life


The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system differs from other accreditation and inspection systems in, allowing the school some autonomy to choose the elements that fit with their own development objectives. COBIS recognises that schools are highly diverse, existing in complex contexts and therefore a one-size approach to the accreditation process is not in the best interests of schools and the local, regional and international communities which they represent and serve.

The accreditation of learning and teaching is based on validation, in that it tests the judgments being made by the school. It remains rigorous in that it requires validation in the teaching areas of Science, Mathematics and English and one other area chosen by the school. Validation requires a lighter touch, and therefore less time and/or a smaller team, than would occur in a traditional inspection. Schools makes their own judgments about the quality of an area and appointed LIPs substantiate or comment on an individual school's judgement followed by 'next steps' suggestions which relate to specific school improvements. LIPs are there to provide meaningful and useful insights. If the school wants to expand this review of learning and teaching then it is part of the dialogue in relation to the duration of the school visit and the size of the Peer Accreditor team.

Given the enormous capacity, self-knowledge and effective monitoring that takes place within international British schools overseas, the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system is designed to support school development and improvement and to celebrate excellence.

COBIS ACCREDITATION - BSO INSPECTION

In its current form, COBIS will continue to recognise the merits of a BSO inspection. COBIS schools that prefer to continue with the process of BSO inspection and would like to opt out of both COBIS Compliance and the COBIS Patron's Accreditation will remain as valued COBIS Accredited Members on a 5-year cycle. This is subject to submission of a satisfactory action plan.




What does this mean for current COBIS schools?

COBIS ACCREDITED MEMBERS


Under the current COBIS school membership framework, COBIS Accredited Member Schools have successfully completed a BSO inspection and have had their action plan approved by COBIS

  • From 1 September 2017, all COBIS Accredited Schools, will be given 5 years from the last date of their previous BSO inspection to retain COBIS Accredited Member School status either via the COBIS Patron's Accreditation or via BSO. COBIS Accredited Membership for BSO inspected schools is still subject to an action plan being approved by COBIS
  • As an example, schools which already have a BSO inspection planned for 2017, will remain a COBIS Accredited Member until 2022
  • Alternatively, COBIS Accredited Member Schools may complete the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation which will secure COBIS Patron’s Accredited School status
  • Alternatively, a school can opt to complete COBIS Compliance. This will lead to COBIS Member School status which will be valid on a 5-year cycle
  • Once awarded, COBIS Accredited Member School status is valid on a 5-year cycle

COBIS MEMBERS

  • Under the current COBIS school membership framework, COBIS Member Schools are subject to a 3-year COBIS quality assurance cycle. From 1 September 2017, all COBIS Member Schools, will be given 5 years from the last date of their previous 3-year COBIS quality assurance cycle to retain COBIS Member School status

  • COBIS will inform all member schools of the date by which they need to have completed a COBIS Compliance check.

  • As a minimum, retaining COBIS Member School status will be achieved by completing a COBIS Compliance check

  • Alternatively, COBIS Member Schools may complete the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation which will secure COBIS Patron’s Accredited School status (or COBIS Accredited School status via a BSO inspection and approved action plan)

  • Once awarded, COBIS Member School status is valid on a 5-year cycle

COBIS CANDIDATE SCHOOLS


Under the current COBIS school membership framework, COBIS Candidate Schools are newly established schools which have been in operation for 2 years or less

Currently, COBIS Candidate Schools have a maximum period of 24 months to provide evidence to move from Candidate School status to COBIS Member School status

  • From 1 April 2017, COBIS Candidate School membership will no longer be available for new applicants
  • From 1 April 2017, all current COBIS Candidate Schools will have until 1 September 2018 to complete their membership process by completing the COBIS Compliance check
  • COBIS Candidate Schools which successfully complete a COBIS Compliance check will be awarded COBIS Member status, valid on a 5-year cycle. Alternatively, they may seek accreditation

SCHOOLS CURRENTLY GOING THROUGH THE MEMBERSHIP PROCESS (PROSPECTIVE)

From 1 April 2017, a new online COBIS membership application portal will be in operation

  • Prospective school members that do not complete a successful membership application by 1 April 2017, will be required to start a new application via the new system

  • In this instance, a school will be subject to a second application fee if a current pending application has not been completed by 1 April 2017 and the school still intends to join COBIS. Payment of this application fee enables schools to access the new online system to record their school profile

  • Schools which apply to be COBIS Members after 1 April 2017 will be required to go through a COBIS Compliance check or they can choose to go through the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation or a BSO inspection

  • From 1 April 2017, new school applications will need to be completed and a COBIS Compliance check or COBIS Patron’s Accreditation visit will need to be arranged within 6 months of starting an application

  • Schools that successfully complete the COBIS Compliance check will be awarded COBIS Member School status
  • Schools that successfully complete the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system, which includes the COBIS Compliance check, will receive the COBIS Patron’s Accredited Member School status
  • Schools which successfully complete a BSO inspection and have had a post BSO inspection action plan reviewed and approved by COBIS will be awarded COBIS Accredited Member status
  • Schools which are due to open but which are not yet operational are welcome to start their application to become a COBIS Member School. However, the COBIS Compliance check can only take place after the school has been operational for at least 1 full term.

SCHOOLS THAT APPLY TO JOIN COBIS AFTER 1 APRIL 2017


To be known as COBIS Applicant Schools

  • Schools that apply to be COBIS members after 1 April 2017 will be required to go through a COBIS Compliance check or they can choose to go through the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation (or a BSO inspection)

  • For schools already in operation, school applications will need to be completed and a COBIS Compliance check or COBIS Patron’s Accreditation visit will need to be arranged within 6 months of starting an application
  • Schools that are due to open but which are not yet operational are welcome to start their application to become a COBIS Member School. However, the COBIS Compliance check can only take place after the school has been operational for at least 1 full term
  • Schools that successfully complete the COBIS Compliance check will be awarded COBIS Member School status
  • Schools that successfully complete the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system, which includes the COBIS Compliance check, will receive the COBIS Patron’s Accredited Member School status
  • Schools that successfully complete a BSO inspection and have had a post BSO inspection action plan reviewed and approved by COBIS will be awarded COBIS Accredited Member status



  • From 1 April 2017, the COBIS Patron’s Accredited School will be a new category of COBIS school membership
  • From 1 April 2017, BSO inspections will continue to be recognised by COBIS. As an alternative, COBIS schools will have the option to work towards the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation which will secure COBIS Patron’s Accredited School status
  • From 1 September 2017, all COBIS Accredited Schools, under the current framework, will be given 5 years from the last date of their previous BSO inspection to retain COBIS Accredited Member School status or to work towards the COBIS Patron’s Accredited School status
  • Schools which complete the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system will be awarded the COBIS Patron’s Accredited School status
  • The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system includes the COBIS Compliance check
  • Once awarded, COBIS Patron’s Accredited Member School status is valid on a 5-year cycle
  • As an example, a COBIS Accredited School which was BSO inspected in 2015, will have until 2020 to go through the new COBIS Patron’s Accreditation or another BSO inspection
  • Alternatively, schools can opt for a COBIS Compliance check or a BSO inspection. Respectively, this will secure COBIS Member School status or COBIS Accredited Member School status



The cost of the COBIS Patron's Accreditation which includes the COBIS Compliance check will be significantly lower than current non-COBIS models of inspection and accreditation and highly competitive. The factors which COBIS uses to control and drive down operational costs include that COBIS:

  • has no commercial motive
  • is a not-for-profit professional association
  • is committed to delivering high quality services to its members at best value
  • utilises modern, professional digital technology to streamline the process
  • accreditation is on a 5- (not 3-) year cycle, spreading cost to schools

Also, the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system includes validation visits, conducted by peer Lead Improvement Partners and Peer Accreditors. Their careful focus also drives down operational costs.

In addition to the cost of the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system itself, the cost of travel, accommodation, and subsistence for Lead Improvement Partners and Peer Accreditors will need to be covered by individual schools but with the number of days and Accreditors carefully limited.



REGISTER INTEREST TO ACCESS THE COBIS PATRON'S ACCREDITATION AND COMPLIANCE PROCESS

REGISTER INTEREST TO BECOME A COBIS PEER ACCREDITOR

Interested in training to become a COBIS Peer Accreditor?

If you are a highly skilled school based professional your registration of interest is most welcomed.

In addition to COBIS Lead Improvement Partners, COBIS Peer Accreditors play a crucial part in the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance process.The philosophy behind the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance is that it is a collaborative process of helping and supporting schools to substantiate and celebrate judgements in key areas that the school has already made.

COBIS Peer Accreditors will work in a team supported by a COBIS Lead Improvement Partner who is responsible for the final Accreditation or Compliance report. COBIS Peer Accreditors contribute to final Accreditation and Compliance reports by recognising what has been evidenced on school visits and by providing next step suggestions to the COBIS Lead Improvement Partner who is the appointed leader of their Accreditation or Compliance team.

COBIS Peer Accreditation is a powerful opportunity for COBIS staff to access and enhance their own professional development and help the COBIS family of schools as they work towards ensuring global quality. Opportunities also exist for professionals from non-COBIS member schools who meet the COBIS Peer Accreditor criteria. Agreed travel and accommodation costs for school visits are reimbursed. and an honorarium paid per visit.

COBIS has the support of pilot schools which are based in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Pilot visits for the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation will take place in the spring of 2017. As a result, a small number of COBIS Peer Accreditors will initially be required.

COBIS recognises that there is great value in COBIS schools in non-teacher specialists, for example from colleagues who are leaders and experts in marketing, computing or finance. Undoubtedly, these colleagues can contribute to this COBIS whole school improvement agenda. Therefore, COBIS welcomes both teaching and non-teaching applicants to be considered to train as COBIS Peer Accreditors.

Registration and Selection Process for Leaders, Teachers and Non-Teachers

In order to attract and secure COBIS Peer Accreditors of the highest calibre, there are two stages of the selection process.

Training of Peer Accreditors is a rolling process and those interested can register at any point.

The next training session will be in September 2017.

Trainee COBIS Peer Accreditors are required to engage and follow the training programme in order to complete the course.

After training, trainees will be informed if COBIS will register them as a COBIS Peer Accreditors. In the first instance, this will be for a period of three years. Of course, this is dependent on satisfactory performance prior to, during and after school visits.

All COBIS Peer Accreditors are required to sign up to the code of ethics and conduct produced by COBIS and they will be required to undergo safeguarding criminal background checks, for example the DBS or ICPC. If selected to visit a school applicants are able to decline these invitations in relation to availability or conflicts of interests.


CODE OF CONDUCT/ETHICS FOR PEER ACCREDITORS

Peer Accreditors need to understand and represent the principles of the COBIS Accreditation system: that is a non-judgemental approach based on school improvement.

COBIS expects Peer Accreditors to uphold the highest professional standards and respect the environment in which they are operating, treating those they meet with courtesy and sensitivity.

In addition, COBIS expects Peer Accreditors to:

  • Offer the school through the Lead Improvement Partner impartial and objective suggestions as regards next steps
  • Both give and receive feedback as regards the Accreditation of a school to both strengthen their own professional expertise and the COBIS process of Accreditation
  • Use their expertise and operate within the Accreditation standards as stated by COBIS in the documentation and the advice offered to schools through the Schools’ Handbook
  • Declare all actual or perceived conflicts of interest to ensure the integrity of the COBIS process
  • Take every opportunity to help schools and the people in them to avoid undue stress or anxiety from Accreditation
  • Ensure the evidence they gather and pass on to the Lead Improvement Partner is robust and contextually aware
  • Act in such a way at all times that recognises the COBIS commitment to the safeguarding of children and students
  • Respect the confidentiality of information they receive or handle before, during and after the Accreditation visit
  • Support the Lead Improvement Partner as their team leader, offering both advice and responding to those tasks that support the COBIS Accreditation process
  • Be observant and respectful of the laws and customs of the country in which they are operating

FAQS

1. What are the The COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance Standards?

They are a detailed and rigorous set of standards for compliance and for quality accreditation. Based upon current British and international best practice, they draw upon the best of BSO standards, but also go further in drawing on Ofsted guidance, the British Council International Schools Award, the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), the OECD PISA Reports, and where appropriate the National Minimum Standards for boarding. They have been carefully crafted to express the very best expectations of a British School Overseas wishing to develop from good to world class.

Download the Standards for The Patron's Accreditation and Compliance here.

2. What is the value of the COBIS Patron's Accreditation and the COBIS Compliance process?

It gives a successful school two things:

External validation: a detailed Certificate which declares both the school's compliance with these high standards and a statement of quality.

A detailed quality Report - to support the school’s internal work, and ongoing development and improvement.

3. How is this different from the DfE BSO inspections in their current form?

This is very different from, and a significant development of, former 'inspection'. Inspection was an 'event' which traditionally reported a periodic 'snapshot' of condition and performance, valuable at the time but without significant support for development and improvement. International best practice has moved on. The COBIS Patron's Accreditation both engages the school in self-evaluation and also continues to support it in its process of improvement, against a benchmark of high standards. The COBIS Patron's Accreditation and Compliance Standards give greater emphasis not only to a British ethos valued around the world, but also to education for international understanding. They also give greater attention and emphasis to child safeguarding and 'wellbeing' and good governance and leadership than previous standards - addressing what many have seen as earlier weaknesses.

4. Will the DfE BSO inspection continue to be recognised?

Since its introduction in 2011, the DfE’s BSO Inspection has in five years attracted around 130 (out of more than 3,800) British schools, and its future is uncertain. For some schools (for example those operating in western Europe or areas where there is no conflict with local law) this may remain their choice, and will continue to be valued and recognised by COBIS. For others, including those that value the 5-year cycle, support for school improvement, and greater emphasis upon international practice, safeguarding, wellbeing, governance and leadership, the COBIS Patron's Accreditation and Compliance may be the preferred choice. The Patron's Accreditation offers a positive opportunity to meet the needs of more of the best, and to support areas of the world with strong educational growth.

5. Why accredit your school with COBIS?

COBIS is the premier global association for international British schools overseas. As a world-renowned organisation, its reputation for high standards is globally recognised - by hundreds of schools, thousands of staff, students and parents, and by governments and organisations around the world. Accreditation by COBIS is recognised as an international mark of quality for BSOs. COBIS is an independent and “not-for-profit” body; it is not a commercial organisation.

6. What are the advantages of the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation process?

There are many: an internationally valued and public mark of quality; a process both British and international in its outlook; benchmarking against high British and international standards; ongoing support for school improvement in a continuing relationship; reasonable and competitive cost; a 5-year cycle which meets the wishes of the large majority of schools; judgement by professionals experienced in British international education; opportunity for high-quality staff professional development in training as lead or team accreditors; recognition by major British and international agencies and organisations – and the cachet of keen support by our distinguished Royal Patron, whose title it bears. Former BSO inspection meets the needs of a minority of schools and COBIS members. This meets the needs of more of the best.

7. How does the process work?

Having registered, a school will present detailed evidence that it meets the COBIS Patron's Accreditation and COBIS Compliance Standards - by completing electronically an online School Profile and COBIS Digital Workbook (DWB), which can and should be continually updated. Once completed, these will be scrutinised by the COBIS Director of Accreditation or a COBIS Lead Improvement Partner (LIP), who will then visit the school to validate them. Successful meeting of all the standards will result in the award of a public Certificate of Compliance, which indicates either Good, or in the case of some standards an Outstanding international level. This will be a requirement for COBIS membership. Schools wishing to achieve Accredited status will also present a self-assessment and further detailed evidence for example, of Learning and Teaching, community communication, leadership, and co-curricular activities. Following scrutiny, and a validation visit by the LIP accompanied where required by specialist team accreditors, the school will receive a Report - a detailed professional commentary on the school’s success with advice on further improvement. This will form the basis of a continuing relationship of support over the 5-year cycle. While specifically aimed at supporting work internally, the school may publicise it in whole or in part to its communities.

8. What recognition is achieved, and what is the term of validation?

The school achieves public recognition against published standards for a period of five years, after which the process can be renewed. COBIS Compliance and Accreditation Standards are recognised by major agencies and organisations, and recognised or required by government departments in some countries or regions. With the support of COBIS, schools are advised to check within their region.

9. How do I know this will be a process of first class quality?

The quality of this process lies in several things: the strength of the COBIS Patron's Accreditation and Compliance Standards, the reputation of COBIS for quality, the scrutiny and validation of LIPs and COBIS Peer Accreditors experienced in British international schools and education; the recognition of established bodies; the experience of pilot and other participant schools of high reputation; and the ongoing support that it gives to school improvement.

10. How do I go about registering?

Complete this form now or contact the Director of Accreditation directly at accreditation@cobis.org.uk. Registration is open now, with the first schools undertaking the process from April and in greater numbers from September 2017. Three schools of high reputation have already registered to take part in launching the process during January-March.

11. What will it cost?

The cost of the COBIS Patron's Accreditation which includes the COBIS Compliance check will be significantly lower than current non-COBIS models of inspection and accreditation and highly competitive. Factors which COBIS uses to control and drive down operational costs include that COBIS has no commercial motive, is a not-for-profit professional association, is committed to delivering high quality services to its members at best value, accreditation is on a 5- (not 3-) year cycle, spreading cost to schools and that the system utilises modern, professional digital technology to streamline the process.

Also, the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and COBIS Compliance system includes validation visits, conducted by peer Lead Improvement Partners and Peer Accreditors. Their careful focus also drives down operational costs.

In addition to the cost of the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation system itself, the cost of travel, accommodation, and subsistence for Lead Improvement Partners and Peer Accreditors will need to be covered by individual schools but with the number of days and Accreditors carefully limited.

12. What will the certificate and report look like?

Samples of certificates and reports will be available for a fictional school in April 2017 after the delivery and evaluation of the formal pilot.

13. How should my school prepare for The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation or COBIS Compliance?

From April 2017, after the delivery and evaluation of the formal pilot, further guidance will be available to schools. This will be in the format of the COBIS 'Handbook for Schools'. Schools are requested to study this carefully, and where appropriate seek further advice or guidance from the COBIS Director of Accreditation. The most significant tasks are to complete and update the online School Profile and DWB. These do not require new work, but rather the assembling of evidence, data and information already in professional use by good schools.

14. How can staff of our school become COBIS Peer Accreditors?

Please complete this form or contact the COBIS Director of Accreditation (accreditation@cobis.org.uk). Online and some face-to-face training will be given to those selected. Peer Accreditors will include experienced, specialist teachers, and also some staff experienced as TAs or in marketing, financial and resource management, IT and communication.

15. How does this affect NQT induction?

COBIS took a leading role in negotiating the change in UK legislation, which permits qualifying British Schools Overseas (BSO inspected) to access NQT induction. This can be achieved via the Independent Schools Teacher Induction Panel, Buckinghamshire Learning Trust or through other Appropriate Bodies. Schools should note, however, that it is anticipated that there will be changes in UK government recognition of and the expectations of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). For example, QTS is no longer a requirement in UK independent schools, or the academies and free schools which make up the majority of maintained schools.

16. How does COBIS benefit from this process?

COBIS does not benefit financially: it is a not-for-profit organisation and aims simply to cover its costs. It benefits in providing standards and recognition for the best international BSOs which are not Anglo-centric but which encapsulate the very best in current British international educational practice, which are sensitive to a diverse international context, and which both judge and support schools in their quest for improvement. Thus COBIS provides the International Standard for the best international British schools overseas and for its membership.

17. Will schools be required to undertake The COBIS Patron's Accreditation?

Accreditation remains voluntary for British schools overseas; and COBIS will for the present, continue to accept for accredited membership a successful inspection in its current form against former BSO standards, and for part membership validation by some other organisations. However, COBIS Compliance will be a requirement for COBIS membership (see section on Transition for current members above); and as schools come to value the nature of the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation process and its 5-year cycle, it will for many become the British international norm.

CONTACT US

For any questions, queries or comments on The Patron's Accreditation and Compliance scheme, please contact:

Peter Simpson
COBIS Director of Accreditation
accreditation@cobis.org.uk

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