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?

Apply via the portal on our website or contact the Accreditation Officer directly on quality@cobis.org.uk. Registration is open now, with the first schools undertaking the process from April 2017 and in greater numbers from September 2017. 

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 contact the COBIS Accreditation Officer (quality@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.