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Ensuring wellbeing in international schools

25 Jan 2023, by Amy Sarcevic

Despite having historical roots, the concept of student wellbeing has only achieved buzzword status in the last few decades, after being thrust into the spotlight by various education researchers.

During the pandemic, however, its prominence exploded. In 2021, 63 percent of international teachers claimed their students were facing more mental health issues and an increased number of parents began looking for schools with structured well-being provisions.

Since then, demand has persisted, with many now recognising wellbeing as, not just an ethical priority, but a key driver for student and teacher success.

But while most schools now understand the value of wellbeing, fewer are clear about how it looks in practice. As such, many have sought leadership and governance support to develop wellbeing standards in their quest for accreditation.

Chris Green of the Council of International Schools says well-being standards benefit the whole school community and ensure schools are aligned with international best practice.

In the last few years, her agency has been developing its accreditation process in response to member feedback and now allows eligible schools to deep dive into wellbeing.

“Much like the way schools are continuously striving for self-improvement, so too is the accreditation sector,” said Chris ahead of the International Schools Asia Conference, hosted by Informa Connect.

“We want to help schools by differentiating the pathways available to define and measure their progress. Eligible schools can now choose to focus on the driver of wellbeing.

“This is an important step, as wellbeing is a foundation for both learning and teaching. Even schools that may have had wellbeing measures in place before the pandemic are now deepening their provision, because the wellbeing needs of students and staff have increased.”

What does a differentiated pathway to accreditation involve?

Much like the traditional process, an accreditation focused on wellbeing starts with the school outlining the action steps they plan to take towards their goals.

This might include the provision of a wellbeing curriculum, support for students who are gender transitioning, or measures surrounding diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ).

An accreditation officer will then walk beside them, see how well the school aligns with standards of international best practice, and provide guidance for the school to engage in self-study.

“We look for any gaps and points of overlap, provide feedback, and an opportunity for the school to report on their progress. We then conduct an evaluation to measure the quality of their project outcomes, giving further advice to guide improvement,” Chris said.

Specialised accreditation pathways are particularly valuable for more mature schools that have already been through the accreditation process several times.

“It’s a way for them to further hone the quality of their education and student experience and differentiate from other schools,” Chris added.

Other pathways available

As an alternative to wellbeing, CIS also offers eligible schools the option to take a deep dive into learning and teaching, or global citizenship.
“These involve project-based support and, in that way, vary greatly from the more traditional curriculum-based accreditation pathways,” Chris said.

So far, interest in these new accreditation pathways to accreditation has been strong. Around 15 eligible schools piloted the new pathway last semester and 25 are now ready for evaluation visits.

“There is definitely demand for it. Many of the schools we work with have already achieved excellence in more traditional accreditation processes.

Now, they want to take that further through innovative, best practice that contributes to the highest quality learning and teaching.”

To learn more about what is in store for accreditation in 2023 and beyond, register now for the International Schools Asia Conference.

Chris Green is among a stellar line up of speakers, including Chief Executive of the Federation of British International Schools in Asia, John Gwyn Jones MBE, and Head of School at Lanna International School, Rob Stewart.

Alongside accreditation, the conference will explore the latest legislative changes, progressive teaching practices, and recruitment trends.

The event will be held 14-15 March at the Holiday Inn Bangkok.

Learn more and register your place here.


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