The experience of having gone through the PYP authorisation in 2008 was one filled with self reflection and learning. Little did I know then, that it would hold me in good stead when I, along with Neeraja and Cathy were given the responsibility of overseeing the school’s accreditation to the CIS. I still remember the workshop that was conducted by Mr. Walter Plotkin, Superintendent, American International School, Dhaka and Mr. Gerry Percy, Director of Accreditation Services, CIS and how most of us were still groping in the dark about the intricate and complex self examination process that is required for successful accreditation!
However, over the last ten months, I, rather I can say this on baehalf of all involved in the process, we have all learned a lot! The CIS process is designed in such a way that it forces a close and authentic self examination, which is targeted at making the school a better place, for all stakeholders.
Areas of accreditation
CIS requires the members of the school community, including academic and administrative staff, students, parents and board members, to closely self examine the existing ethos, systems and practices of the school and identify areas of improvement. The broad categories are Philosophy and Objective, Curriculum, Governance and Management, Staff, Student Support Services, Resources, and Student and Community Life. Different teams of teachers were created to form committees that would look into the self study for these respective areas.
Planning the work
Planning out a schedule and pattern of organising the working of these self study groups was a mammoth task, as the members of Curriculum were spread across the other groups too. Moreover, the group working with reviewing the school’s Philosophy and Objective, needed to accomplish their task first. We also amidst all of this had to conduct an online survey that would reveal to us what different stakeholders of the school felt regarding the standards of each of these committees. Eventually, we had our timeline set and targets identified.
Revelations and Jubilations
The heads and team members of each of these seven committees, ranged from all sections of the school, with varied experiences. Guiding them with the work assigned as part of the self study was exciting to say the least. We learnt together as a team, as we brainstormed on ideas, reviewed existing practices and commended the school for its achievements so far. Pathways, being an ever growing, organic school has its own strengths and weaknesses and as we discovered and recognised both sides of the coin, it was inspiring to see an increasing sense of connect between the staff and the school and a growing sense of belongingness. Some teams had a lot to work towards, from collecting evidences and documents, to reviewing existing practices and systems. Others had a lot of their documentation already organised and thus had a more relaxed timeline. The survey results also came in by November and generated renewed observations regarding the differences in perspectives of the different stakeholders of the school. Above all, the most welcome result of all these discussions was the mutual understanding that grew out of all the meetings. Staff from different sections of the school and different departments, having pored through the Standards and Indicators document together, realised, how within the same school, the indicators could have different implications and how in spite of the hair splitting nuances, a lot of them applied universally across all sections of the school. The best part of the self study according to me has been this aspect of the process, wherein as a large extended family, working towards the same goal, we realised the importance of being united in our aspirations, both personally and professionally, and yet, appreciated how our individual experiences, characters and attitudes, added so much colour and richness to the fabric of Pathways!
Our dates for the Authorisation visit have been finalised for early next year and thus, solidified our sense of purpose with the self study. As we emerge wiser and smarter out of the ongoing self study process, bringing about necessary changes within the school, I am sure that as a team of committed professionals we will be able to make Pathways even better and achieve even higher standards in delivering quality education! So here is wishing all of us an extremely successful and smooth transition into being recognised by the Council of International Schools!
Abhimanyu Das Gupta,
Member, CAN team (Steering Committee)
6th March, 2010