The Road to Accreditation

The Road to Accreditation
The Road to Accreditation

Recently, BCIS finished the journey towards receiving accreditation once again from the Council of International Schools (CIS) and The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This long and arduous road was taken by not just one person, but the entire BCIS community. We would like to share some words regarding this monumental task from two of our school's leaders.

Julie Lawton, Head of School:

We should congratulate ourselves for all we have done in a relatively short time in our history, before only focusing on the things we still need to do and continue with our plans for the future. It is worth spending time being thankful for what we have, and who we are right now. To share some of the comments received during the accreditation process, we were called a community full of great people, which we have always known to be one of our strengths. We are, of course, delighted others see and recognize this. Our students were also described as reflective, understanding how our mission develops them as learners and people. In addition, our parents were commended for their unwavering support. Overall, the teamwork shown across our whole community during this entire process was incredible.

Stuart Mcdonald, Secondary School Deputy Principal:

BCIS is a humble place. We don't boast about being a great school and we often question whether we could be better. We feel that BCIS is a vibrant school with a positive sense of community and family atmosphere. We believe that we challenge and empower students to be compassionate and inspired people who act for the good of all. Now, thanks to the recently completed re-accreditation process, we know those things for sure.

BCIS has been accredited by The Council of International Schools (CIS) and The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 2009. These respected organizations have high standards, which means that the BCIS diploma is accepted by universities all over the world. In addition, the International Baccalaureate (IB) authorizes BCIS to offer three programmes (PYP, MYP, and DP). These organizations visit the school every five years to ensure that we are meeting their standards. We recently hosted a team of 14 educators representing all three organizations to complete a five-year cycle. They toured our school and met with parents, students, teachers, administrators, and board members. They examined documents, read reports, and gathered evidence of our performance. They wrote hundreds of pages of observations, commendations, and recommendations. We will receive their final report in January 2019, but they did provide us with verbal feedback before they left. They were all impressed with the positive, family atmosphere and feel that we have much of which to be proud. They commended us on our sense of community and saw lots of evidence of our mission in action. They recognized how humble we are and suggested we take some time to celebrate our success.

It takes about 18 months to prepare for this regular visit. It began in March of 2017 as the leadership team examined life at BCIS through the domains of governance, leadership, curriculum, learning, wellness, safety, facilities, staffing, and community. We prepared a brief report and hosted a preparatory visit in September of 2017. The small team that visited then helped us prepare for a year-long self-study. During this year, we collected feedback from a community survey, met in committees, examined our practices, gathered documents, and collectively reflected on every aspect of BCIS. We also identified areas of growth and possible next steps. At the end of this self-study we submitted a report in September of 2018 that the visiting team used to prepare for their recent visit in November. When we receive the team's final report in January, we will use it to help create our next strategic plan.

The accreditation experience is rigorous. The whole community participated in the self-examination as we asked ourselves some difficult questions and grappled with big ideas. After such a long process, it is very satisfying to hear our accrediting bodies confirm what we have always felt: We are a great school that has a positive impact on children. We don't like to brag, so don't take our word for it. Just ask CIS, WASC, and IB.