By Kay McCullough, Senior Vice Principal

In an increasingly interconnected world, today’s young generation needs to develop the skills of leadership, intercultural competency and multilingualism to engage in a global world. Young people need to learn to appreciate the incredible opportunities that are created by diversity and the richness of cultures that exist both within and beyond Australia. We, as educators, support their development as global citizens who are able to rise to the challenges of their times. This is an important element of our mission as a School.

At Mentone Girls' Grammar, the global education we provide is conceived to empower our students to think globally and critically, responding ethically and with empathy to the issues that they encounter. In 2012, our global curriculum and practices were recognised by the Council of International Schools (CIS), when we became the first school in the world to achieve their highly esteemed CIS International Certificate. The process of working towards International Certification challenged us to develop our globally oriented curriculum. Achieving certification subsequently affirmed the world-class status of our curriculum. It demonstrated our strong international outlook and constituted a remarkable milestone for our School.

The process has resulted in many positive outcomes. We have developed a school-wide definition of Global Citizenship, the Future Global Leaders program, innovative curriculum mapping, a deeper understanding of providing evidence of learning, new assessment and reporting processes, collaborative uses of IT, a broad offering of global experiences and excellent staff, student and community engagement.

For those unfamiliar with CIS, it is a membership organisation that works collaboratively to shape international education through professional services to schools, higher education institutions, and individuals. CIS offers educational recruitment services, school support and evaluation services and international university admissions and guidance services. The CIS community consists of 670 schools and 475 universities and colleges, representing 110 countries.  

This year, as part of our strategic review and preparation for developing our next Strategic Plan, we have decided to make use of the expert services provided to us by CIS to embark on a new journey of reflection and analysis with the aim of becoming an Accredited CIS School. Accreditation recognises the full gamut of school operations, including global education, as world-class, and a school holding CIS Accreditation is, without doubt, a world-class school.  

So, why are we pursuing CIS Accreditation?

The benefits of CIS Accreditation are abundant and will provide greater opportunities for our students who, increasingly wish to embark on international study. Because the CIS is accredited under the high standards of the United States National Association of Independent Schools’ Commission on Accreditation (NAIS-COA), a student graduating from a CIS-accredited school can apply and be more readily accepted into US universities, such as Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown, as well as other universities around the world who recognise graduates from CIS-accredited schools. I am confident that the prospect of more streamlined entry into overseas universities will interest many of our ambitious Mentone Girls! 

The CIS accreditation process is based upon the school demonstrating that it meets or exceeds rigorous CIS standards and has undergone a detailed and reflective ‘Self-Study’ about future directions and how it can improve.  Because of these two elements, the process challenges us to improve our practices and engage in strategy formation.  

As the accreditation process needs to involve our whole community, parents, students and staff will receive CIS stakeholder surveys. Small groups of parents and students will also be asked, from time to time, to participate in meetings and provide their perspectives on current practice and future directions. Staff are currently developing their understanding of the process, with several workshops and meetings already taking place. At the beginning of Term 2, two CIS representatives will observe our operations, analysing how our School successfully integrates three driving principles into our global curriculum and school practices: 1) Mission-driven and Vision-led; 2) Students’ Learning and Wellbeing; and 3) Internationalism/Interculturalism. After their visit, they will prepare a Preliminary/Preparatory Visitors’ Report that will help us steer our ‘Self-Study’.

A set of committees will drive the process and each will engage in open dialogue and constructive self-criticism - seeking to identify solutions and improvements to our operations and practices. Our Self Study Committees will also evaluate our performance in relation to the nine domains of the CIS standards:

1. Purpose and Direction

2. Governance, Leadership and Ownership

3. The Curriculum

4. Teaching and Assessing for Learning

5. The Students’ Learning and Wellbeing

6. Staffing

7. Premises and Physical Accommodation

8. Community and Home Partnerships

9. Boarding/Homestay/Residential

When we succeed in achieving CIS Accreditation, you can be further assured of what we hope you already believe, that a Mentone Girls’ Grammar School education is without doubt world-class and of the highest quality. 

For more information on the CIS Accreditation Process, please feel welcome to contact me at kmccullough@mentonegirls.vic.edu.au.   

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