Melbourne-based Mentone Girls’ Grammar has become the world’s first school to achieve International Certification through the Council of International Schools (CIS), headquartered in The Netherlands.
Mentone Girls’ Grammar was one of only 10 pilot schools chosen around the world to embark on the program that culminated in a CIS evaluation.
The school’s Principal, Mrs Fran Reddan, said the long journey originally started as a vision to be an Australian school with an international outlook that prepared global citizens, and it had already been doing work to bring the importance of being internationally-minded to the school community.
“What we wanted with the CIS [evaluation] was to really have a look at how we could measure whether we were developing global citizens and the degree to which the program in the school curriculum, and generally, was helping our students become international and intercultural,” Reddan told Education Matters magazine.
“The actual process took about nine or 10 months or so and the CIS provided us with a framework of reflection and analysis,” Reddan said. “We engaged our staff, our students, and the parents, along with hosting a serious of community workshops, and we finished with an intensive two-day evaluation from the CIS as part of this new accreditation process.
“One of the assets that really helped us achieve it was that we had a culture in the school of working in project teams, the staff really embraced the process and it was natural for us to set up projects to look at various aspects of our programs and curriculum as part of that assessment.”
Mentone Girls’ Grammar had already been providing opportunities for students internationally. The school strengthened its languages program by introducing Mandarin Chinese and extending its Japanese program from prep to year 12. It also established sister school partnerships formally with Japan and a relationship with a university in Japan, along with a sister school partnership with a Beijing girls’ school.
“We really challenged ourselves intellectually on committing to and developing a school-wide definition of global citizenship, and we’ve also developed some reporting against that for our school reports that look at how we measure those elements of that definition,” Reddan said. “We also have some really innovative curriculum mapping that we did to look at our existing curriculum, we have a deeper understanding of providing evidence of learning, a new system of recording processes, collaborative uses of ICT, and the staff, student and community engagement was really valuable.
“To learn that we were the first school to achieve International Certification, there was such a sense of community pride here, because people had worked very hard. It was challenging intellectually and it was challenging as a project management exercise. But in terms of school improvement and validation of what we’ve been working on strategically for quite a number of years, we feel that we’re on the right path, what we’re doing is important, that we’ve got an obligation to do it for students and we’re going to keep going. We’re very pleased, it was such an affirming process.”
The Council of International Schools (CIS) is now embarking on the second year of the pilot with a group of schools including, one in mainland China, working in partnership with an international school in Hong Kong, a bilingual (French/English) school in Toronto, some in the United States, others in Australia, one in England, and a bilingual (Spanish/English) school in Buenos Aires.