A partnership focused on improvement
Although there were some areas for improvement identified early on by the COBIS accreditation team, Robert recognises that it’s been a very positive journey for the school, ultimately leading to COBIS Patron’s Accreditation status in January 2020.
Our COBIS quality assurance scheme has school improvement at its core, achieved through a close partnership between the school and the Lead Improvement Partner (LIP).
‘I think in hindsight I would have looked much more closely at governance in the leading up to the visit. But with a great deal of support from both COBIS and our LIP particularly, we’ve come through that very well in the end, and we learned a lot from the process’ says Robert.
The new Advisory Board, which was set up in September 2019 in response to the process, is now a fully functioning body, and has since provided a valuable forum for representatives of the wider community to share their opinions and contribute to the school’s development and decision-making.
‘The ongoing process and relationship with COBIS has enabled conversations and views to be aired and has strengthened and developed the professional focus between the Head and the owners.
Weekly meetings with agreed actions are now a regular and worthwhile part of the leadership team’s shared agenda. As a result, our improvement plan has become much more realistic, it’s a lot more focused on outcomes, in line with the school’s mission and aims’.
The new model has also helped to give more confidence to parents.
‘Although there’s always been a great deal of trust in the owners, parents do feel that there’s more guidance, review, and that the Advisory Board has added trust and transparency’ he states.
A seal of approval
Once IPS received the positive news that they had achieved Patron’s Accreditation member status, parents expressed their approval.
‘It helps with the sense of pride which already existed. Although parents already knew it’s a great school, this gains us a stamp of approval, that we have been looked at independently in every aspect of the school’.
This recognition, tells Robert, also helps the school stand out from the many international schools opening in Portugal.
‘Portugal has had an absolute boom of international families moving in, and there are not enough schools for families, so many are opening. For us to have COBIS Accreditation, it certainly helps us at the moment with the local context.
It gives that sense of ‘we’re a well-established successful school’, and with other schools now trying to stamp their mark on the local community, this couldn’t have come at a better time’ says Robert.
Recognising excellent practice
The Patron’s Accreditation programme, which incorporates COBIS Compliance standards, focuses, in addition, on the provision of quality teaching and students’ wellbeing.
COBIS’ approach, while suggesting “Next Steps”, also highlights the strengths and achievements of the school.
‘I looked back at the report in the last few days, and started to pick out those positives, those celebrations and the language was really delightful’ says Robert.
He remembers particularly the remarks regarding the pastoral care and teaching and learning. ‘Students feel positive about the school, staff feel included and encouraged, parents are welcomed, the atmosphere is open and friendly’.
The report recognises excellence whilst also clearly setting out what needs to be done next to continue the school’s development journey.
‘It’s a celebration of our aims and philosophy and it beautifully balances the sense of ‘next steps’’.
The International Preparatory School is a well-established primary school in Portugal, which gained COBIS Patron’s Accreditation status in January 2020.
For more information about our accreditation programme and how to apply click here.