The Patron's Accreditation and Compliance

What is the COBIS Compliance and Patron’s Accreditation?

  • The primary route to COBIS membership 
  • An external validation scheme on a 5-year cycle
  • A tailored approach, based on rigorous standards and self-evaluation
  • Recognises strengths while providing next steps for schools to improve and grow
  • A professional partnership with each of our schools

How is it different, and what are the benefits?

  • COBIS Compliance and Patron’s Accreditation is based on validation of evidence provided by our schools. It is not an inspection regime, nor do we form judgements
  • With our high compliance standards, we work with our schools to help them to be as safe and secure as they can be
  • We recognise and appreciate the context in which our schools sit
  • An interactive process over a five-year cycle; not a one-off snapshot
  • Supportive dialogue with our Lead Improvement Partners (LIPs) and Accreditation Team builds solid professional relationships and lasting partnerships
  • Patron’s Accreditation involves central observation of learning and teaching with feedback for each teacher during a visit
  • Choice for schools to extend the range of Patron’s Accreditation with larger teams and two optional elements: Communication and Extra-Curricular

What is the difference between Compliance and Patron’s Accreditation (PA)?

  • For Compliance, standards 1-5 are mandatory (plus standard 6 for boarding)
  • Standards 7-10 are only available with Patron's Accreditation 
  • Compliance is the minimum requirement for COBIS membership and features a 2.5-day LIP visit
  • Patron's Accreditation validates learning and teaching and leadership with a three-day team visit along with areas of compliance against our standards
  • Compliance leads to Member status, PA to Patron’s Accredited Member status

How can schools apply?

  • Each school chooses their preferred scheme (Compliance or PA), applies and pays online or by invoice
  • Visits are scheduled around six months to a year in advance by mutual agreement
  • A Lead Improvement Partner (LIP) is allocated to the school 4-6 months before their visit
  • The school uploads evidence to the Digital Workbook (DWB) to be reviewed by their LIP
  • Schools and LIPs have ongoing dialogue before each visit to ensure schools are well-prepared and have sufficient evidence for a successful visit
  • The LIP produces a report, which is quality assured and reviewed by the COBIS Accreditation Team and the COBIS Membership and Accreditation Committee, then ratified by the COBIS Board
  • A written report, based on the verbal feedback given at the end of the school visit and membership documents are provided to the school approximately six weeks after successful visits
  • Should a school be non-compliant in one or more areas, COBIS and the LIP work with them to formulate an action plan to lead to compliance as soon as possible

APPLY FOR compliance or

COBIS Chairman and CEO present Hartland International School with their Patron's Accreditation

Doha College receive their Patron's Accreditation certificate

More information


Download the Patron's Accreditation and Compliance Standards

Apply for Compliance or Accreditation


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.

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

It gives a successful school external validation: a detailed certificate which declares both the school's compliance with these high standards and a statement of quality. It also gives a detailed quality report - to support the school’s internal work, and ongoing development and improvement.

How is this different from the DfE BSO inspections?

This is very different from 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.

Is the DfE BSO inspection still recognised?

Since its introduction in 2011, the DfE’s BSO Inspection has attracted a number of 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 five-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.

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, not-for-profit body, it is not a commercial organisation.

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 five-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 and recognition by major British and international agencies and organisations. Former BSO inspection meets the needs of a minority of schools and COBIS members. This meets the needs of more of the best.

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 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.

Schools wishing to achieve Accredited status will also present a self-assessment and further detailed evidence, for example, 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 five-year cycle. While specifically aimed at supporting work internally, the school may publicise the report in whole or part to its communities.

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.

How good is the process?

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.

How do I register?

Apply via our secure portal here:

What will it cost?

The cost of Compliance is £3,869 and for Patron's Accreditation it is £8,943, which includes validation visits conducted by peer Lead Improvement Partners and Peer Accreditors.

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.

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

The COBIS Handbook for Schools provides guidance. The most significant tasks are to complete and update the online School Profile and Digital Work Book. These do not require new work, but rather the assembling of evidence, data and information already in professional use by good schools.

How can staff of our school become COBIS Peer Accreditors?

Please complete complete this form. Peer Accreditors will include experienced, specialist teachers, and also some staff experienced as TAs or in marketing, financial and resource management, IT and communication.

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.

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. COBIS provides the International Standard for the best international British schools overseas and for its membership.

Are schools required to undertake The COBIS Patron's Accreditation?

Accreditation remains voluntary for British schools overseas; and COBIS will, at present, continue to accept a successful inspection in its current form against former BSO standards for accreditation, and for part membership validation by some other organisations. However, COBIS Compliance is a requirement for COBIS membership and as schools come to value the nature of the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation process and its five-year cycle, it will for many become the British international norm.

Register your interest in becoming a COBIS Peer Accreditor or Lead Improvement Partner

Interested in training to become a COBIS Peer Accreditor or Lead Improvement Partner?

If you are a highly skilled school-based professional your registration of interest is most welcomed. Please note that all potential Lead Improvement Partners need to undertake Peer Accreditor training in the first instance.

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.

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 (and Lead Improvement Partners) of the highest calibre, there are two stages of the selection process, selection and training.

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.

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

 Please note that due to the popularity of this scheme, we currently have a large pool of   trained Peer Accreditors and are therefore NOT taking any more applications at this time.

Contact us

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