School completes SQAP, receives accreditation through Canadian Hallmarks Institute
Completing the School Quality Assurance Program (SQAP) and receiving accreditation through the Canadian Hallmarks Institute (CHI) has been a positive experience for Listowel Christian School according to principal Garth Bierma.
The process affirmed that the school is on track in many areas as well as served to propel it forward in others.
“It was a real boost for our community and our board,” says Bierma.
Listowel completed SQAP, which is offered through the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) in late 2007 and received public accreditation through CHI in early 2008.
Bierma notes that the program was a key factor in the school’s work around reviewing and updating its policies.
SQAP also affirmed a number of the school’s existing strengths and practices, according to Bierma.
“It was an affirmation of some of the things that we had been doing through the years that were noted as being well done,” he says. “So in that sense it was encouraging.”
Listowel’s safety practices as well as its strong curriculum were two elements highlighted through the program.
Bierma adds that while SQAP was affirming in its review of the curriculum, it was also the fact that the school was going through the quality assurance process that stimulated the further development of the curriculum and pushed it to the next level.
The school leadership also found that the elements on which SQAP focuses dovetailed well with parts of the school’s strategic plan, which was begun three years ago.
“So we were able to have a co-ordinated effort between the (program and our strategic plan),” says Bierma.
As the school moves forward, maintaining the CHI standards will continue to be a key driving factor, he adds.
In light of the fact that Listowel is a small, rural school, completing the quality assurance program did prove to be a challenge at times. This was particularly the case because four of the school’s seven teachers were moving on, for retirement and other reasons, during the completion of the program.
However, all four teachers committed extra time to ensuring the most important of the SQAP requirements were completed.
“I think this speaks to the fact that while (the program) can be a challenging process for a rural school, it’s also very rewarding,” says Bierma.
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