Immanuel Christian School (ICS) in Aylmer is one of seven schools accredited by the Canadian Hallmarks Institute (CHI). Principal Jeremy Van Duyvendyk says the review process required in order to achieve accreditation has been beneficial on a number of fronts.
The School Quality Assurance Program (SQAP) of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) must be completed in order to apply for CHI accreditation.
SQAP examines five domains of the school: school identity, school management, academic performance, school culture and community relations.
One primary benefit of SQAP for ICS is that a range of stakeholders, including parents and community-members were involved to provide their input, according to Van Duyvendyk.
“There was a real sense of everyone having been brought into the discussion to review policies, procedures, the vision and mission statements,” he says.
“And there was as real sense of a buy-in from the community in that we’re all looking at this school that we love and cherish and we’re all a part of this thing.”
The review process has also boosted transparency and accountability, says the principal.
Each committee of the board of trustees is now required to draw up an annual set of achievable outcomes, which are referenced in each monthly report to the board.
As a result, all committees are aware of one other’s objectives and activities throughout the school year.
In June the board completes a self-evaluation exercise for which original goals are examined and the status of achievement reviewed.
The SQAP review process has also resulted in a much greater appreciation by the board of the value of seeking continuous measurable improvement, according to Van Duyvendyk.
“It’s easy to talk about how we should improve things,” but that talk can easily become nothing more than “pie in the sky,” he notes.
Now, however, the concept of activity that is “measurable and achievable” has become a part of the language at ICS and outcomes must be developed with those concepts in mind.
“(The board) now sees it as being much more natural to set visionary aims but couched in achievable targets.”
ICS was accredited by CHI in 2006.
For more information about ICS, visit the website. For more on the Canadian Hallmarks Institute, visit www.hallmarksinstitute.ca.