COBIS speaks to Simon Crane, Headmaster, Brighton College Dubai, about their experience of COBIS Compliance as a relatively new school and being one of the first to go through the virtual visit process.
How did you hear about COBIS’ Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance scheme?
COBIS is well known in the international market. It is talked about in regional networks and global networks. It is known amongst leading schools and we wanted to be part of it.
I learnt more about [Patron’s Accreditation & Compliance] when I was at Brighton Abu Dhabi, I went through it when I was there in 2015. We used it initially there to do our checks and balances and to see where we were on our journey. I [wanted] Dubai to do that relatively early in our journey - as a young school – which I think was quite ambitious, but it did help us to move ahead.
Why did you want to pursue COBIS Compliance? Why did you choose COBIS?
What attracted me to COBIS is the focus on collaboration in terms of the review process, that came out in the literature and [..] completely in the process. [There is] value that comes with working with the Lead Improvement Partner [ …] and that approach had maximum benefits for the school.
The challenges of doing it early as a school (although I think the benefits outweigh the challenges) are that with any new school, your focus can be [on] growing admissions and the operational challenges of a new school, and what I wanted to do is increase the focus on education and compliance. Refocussing on the strategic details - COBIS helped us with that.
How did you find the process?
I think the process was user-friendly. The online platform is intuitive. The whole process for us I felt was flexible and we could work with COBIS at every level. From the logistical side of the visit, through to the meetings, even down to the detail and the questions […]. And that was evidenced quite clearly in the feedback session where the LIP could talk very articulately about the school – it sounded like Brighton Dubai, our school.
Did the preparation take sufficient account of the local context and challenges for the school?
I thought so. It was refreshing to log onto the COBIS portal. It is good to have a development process which is smart.
COBIS pivoted to virtual visits relatively quickly, and it was learning process for us too. In terms of your experience of the virtual visit, as a pilot, what were your impressions of the process?
It really helped for me to speak to another professional who had gone through it before. I really appreciated that connection [and opportunity] to brainstorm the realities of the process. […] So what helped us is that we did a test run with [our LIPs] and that was critical – it enabled us to feedback into the process, and what it also enabled us to do was to do a dry run where we recorded it and watched it on the screen as a team and were able to talk about it as though we were the reviewers coming in, so it made it even more reflective that we had perhaps anticipated.
Moving on to impact, what impact has the scheme had on the college? In which areas have you seen specific impact?
If I was going to sum it up in one word, the impact of the scheme – it would be ‘sharpness’. Sharpness of practice. I have used it strategically to develop areas that I knew were not good enough. […] So it was useful as a CPD exercise to see where we could make improvements to balance and checks. […] But what it also did was validate for my senior leadership team, the good practice that they were offering. […] That was really powerful.
What would you say is your biggest takeaway from the process?
I think what has improved enormously is the self-confidence of the leadership team and the fact that we can timestamp our journey and have clearly mapped our next steps.
Brighton College Dubai successfully went through COBIS Compliance in November 2020 to become COBIS Members and join the COBIS network. The school was commended in a number of areas including pastoral care and raising the profile of safeguarding in the community.
To see the full COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance standards, please click here.
For more information about the COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance process, please contact email@example.com.