School aims for greater accountability, marketability through accreditation
Completing the School Quality Assurance Program (SQAP) last year confirmed that John Knox Christian School (JKCS) in Brampton offers excellent education, says principal Ed Boelens.
“(The program) was a confirmation that the day-to-day education we offer is quality education,” says Boelens, noting as an example that there were few recommendations for change to the school’s textbook selection and overall curriculum.
Most of the SQAP recommendations focused on the school’s business components, such as continuing with solid communication and documentation.
Boelens says the program identified two key areas requiring change at JKCS; the principal’s job description and a number of the school’s health and safety policies and practices.
The role of principal was redefined to be more closely aligned with that of Chief Operating Officer, a change currently being promoted through the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).
JKCS also did some work on its lockdown, anaphylactic, and fire safety policies and practices, among others.
While completing SQAP, which is offered through OACS, was a significant investment of time and energy, Boelens says hearing from others who’ve gone through it before was very helpful.
“We were able to communicate with some other people who had gone through the process … and hear how (they) had risen to the challenge of the intensity of the program,” he says, adding the JKCS leadership applied the advice that was relevant to their situation.
JKCS is now aiming for accreditation with the Canadian Hallmarks Institute (CHI).
The school is working through a set of recommendations provided by external auditors. A mentor has been provided to support them through this process.
The plan is to apply for accreditation shortly, with review by the CHI auditors likely taking place in the spring.
Boelens says the goal is to increase the school’s transparency and ongoing accountability through the accreditation process.
“We can always say we’re being held to the standards of CHI, so on a year-to-year basis there’s someone reviewing us,” he says.
There is also the benefit of being able to boost the school’s marketability.
“For us to say we’re a good quality school is one thing, but to have that external source give us a stamp of approval is another.”