How it all started
‘My experience with international schools started in 2003 when I went to work for the International British school in Bucharest and I became the Head of the School in 2009. At the time, I was a young head of school with a young management team. We had our first ISI inspection in 2009, and it was a very good experience, and we became a COBIS Accredited member.
In 2010 I started to go to COBIS conferences. The speakers, the seminars, the exhibition, and the opportunity to connect and share experiences with other heads of other schools - the whole experience was incredible. It was here that I heard about COBIS’ quality assurance programme: Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance.
I then helped another school in Bucharest to go through the COBIS Compliance process, and they felt it was a very valuable experience, and that it helped them to develop.
So, when I moved to Timisoara to start a new school, I knew that I had to go for COBIS Compliance.
It now helps to say that we’re a COBIS school. Teachers working internationally, many of them know about COBIS, and know that it gives the school a certain standard.’
Understanding our challenges as a new school
‘The preparation before the visit was extremely helpful – it helped me put together everything I needed to start the school.
Where I had some difficulty, our Lead Improvement Partner (LIP) was always prompt at clarifying. For example, the ICPC check was new to me when I started, but she was very helpful in explaining all the checks our teachers needed.
When the visit was due, I was concerned by the fact that certain areas [of the school] and rooms were not yet finished. But after explaining the situation and showing the evidence to the LIP that everything was going to be finalised in a matter of weeks, she was very understanding and encouraged us to go ahead with the visit as planned.
During the visit, we all noticed that [the LIP] was very well-prepared; she had read everything and knew exactly what we had to do.
The staff were a little concerned, but she was really good at making them feel comfortable. She knew how to ask the right questions, in a way that doesn’t put on pressure.
We really felt the support, and that’s what you want. Obviously, you want to know that you’re being checked with what you’re doing, but everything, from the preparation to the visit, was very constructive.’
A recognition for our student-centred approach
‘We felt that our COBIS Lead Improvement Partner acknowledged our strengths, and that is something we are very proud of.
Since we started the school, which is the first international school with a British curriculum in Timisoara, it became very important to us that we focused on developing children holistically. Many parents tend to focus on the academics, but we want to do our best to develop students at all levels – socially, morally, culturally and spiritually.
Together with my colleagues, we’ve taken a modern approach, where teachers are passionate about teaching inside and outside the classroom, and foster an environment where pupils feel welcome and safe, where it’s alright to make mistakes. We’ve also put together assemblies, shows, United Nation days celebrations, house games and a students’ council for students to get involved in.
For a new school these things are important, and the local community and our LIP picked up on this.’
COBIS membership: a wealth of opportunities
‘As a COBIS school we can now get our students involved in international events. We started already with the ECO Film Awards and the COBIS Student Art competition, and we aim to get involved in more competitions, debates and events.
Our teachers are able take part in COBIS training sessions. Many of our teachers are from the UK so they have international experience. However, the teaching assistants and some local teachers need some training, as they’re new to an international school system.
We’re now part of COBIS family, and we will start taking advantage of all the opportunities available’.
The British International School of Timisoara is the first school with a British curriculum
established in the western part of Romania. The school gained COBIS Compliance in January 2020.
For more information on COBIS’ Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance and becoming a COBIS school, please contact our Accreditation Officer Sharon Gallagher on Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org.