The LAHC School Review by HC121109021215

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									LATIN AMERICAN HEADS CONFERENCE

       of schools reflecting British practice


       MEMBERS’ HANDBOOK of
       INFORMATION, POLICIES
          and PROCEDURES




          6. SERVICES
                                   LAHC Members’ Handbook

Updated 28/02/06

6.1 The LAHC School Review

1 Nature and procedure

1.1 The Genesis of the Review

The LAHC School Review was born out of the first conference, held in São Paulo in 1997, the
subject of which was 'School Improvement.' In the course of that conference, various models of
school inspection/accreditation were examined and discussed, and the feeling was expressed that
LAHC needed an instrument of evaluation for schools whose Heads were members. Since none of
the models examined appeared to fit the particular reality of the schools in question, the Executive
Committee was given the brief of designing a procedure that would be applicable.

Immediately prior to the 1998 conference, a training course geared to the instrument produced was
conducted at St George's College, Quilmes by Geoff Goodall and Vivian Anthony, of HMC. The
instrument in question had been produced by the Executive Committee and modified in the light of
suggestions made by members. The training course was attended by the members of the Executive
Committee and selected other people from different areas of the educational spectrum. During the
conference, the opinion was expressed that the instrument had to put to the test, in order to test its
viability.

Bill Baker, Warden of Markham College, which had recently undergone an HMC Inspection,
offered the Upper School at Markham for the trial of the instrument. This was undertaken by a
team of five, under the leadership of Derek Turner, during the month of September 1998,
immediately prior to which, Mr Turner conducted a second training course for prospective Review
team members at Hiram Bingham School in Lima, and after which he conducted another at
Santiago College, in Chile.

Mr Baker was sufficiently satisfied by the work done by the Review trial team in the Upper School,
that he requested a full Review of the Lower School the following year. Thus it was that the LAHC
Review was launched, and, in 2000, further Reviews were undertaken of St George's College,
Quilmes (June) and of the Grange Primary School in Santiago (September-October).

The Review and its application were discussed at the conference held at the Grange in 2000, and the
decision was taken to make the Review an essential aspect of the activities of LAHC. An
extraordinary General Meeting held immediately after the conference gave the green light to a
substantial increase in fees, in order to fund the resources to make this possible.

To date, seven Reviews have been undertaken. In addition to those mentioned, the Senior School of
the British Schools, Montevideo was reviewed in September 2001 and St Paul’s College,
Hurlingham in October of the same year. In 2002, the Review was carried out in Hiram Bigham
(June) and the Junior School, The British Schools, Montevideo (September).

It is worth mentioning also that, in February 2003, the first training courses geared exclusively and
entirely to the LAHC Review were carried out in Newton College, Lima. Further training courses
were held during that year in Peru, Brazil and Colombia. Thus, the Review may now be said to be
fully owned by LAHC.



                                                                       6.1 The School Review        1
                                     LAHC Members’ Handbook

1.2 The Nature of the Review

The LAHC Review is seen essentially as a service to the schools whose Heads are members of
LAHC. It seeks to lay down no laws, nor to oblige schools to conform to any set of pre-established
principles. Its starting point is the schools own assessment of itself and its performance in the areas
in which it desires to be submitted to scrutiny. In this context, it is worth mentioning that the
flexibility of the Review allows it to be applied in as complete or as partial a manner as is desired.
The self-assessment documents are used as the basis for the examination carried out by the team
during a week on site, during which time the team observes and compares the perceived reality with
the school's assessment. At the end of the operation, verbal reports are presented to the Heads of
Departments and the Senior Management Team. Subsequently, a full written report, consisting of
perceptions, points for commendation and recommendations, is delivered to the Head of the School,
who uses this as a basis for a future action plan.

1.3 Procedure

Since preparation of the school for a Review can be a lengthy process, and also because the
schedule of Reviews requires careful planning, it is a good idea to take the decision with at least a
year in hand before the requested dates. The schedule of operations is the following:

1. Consult the Review Handbook as to the timescale, or contact the Executive Officer, David
   Bamford, (david.bamford@lahc.net) for advice on the subject.

2. Dates are agreed between the Review Coordinator and the school, a date is fixed for a
   preliminary visit1 and the composition of the team is defined.

3. The Review Coordinator draws up a suggested team and consults the Head of the School to
   undergo the Review as to its suitability.

4. Once the suggested team is agreed, the Review Coordinator contacts the Heads of the schools in
   which the people concerned are employed, in order to request permission to use them. Once
   such permission is given, the team members are contacted.

5. In the meantime, the Head puts into action the completion of paperwork relating to the self-
   assessment, and any other documentation required as part of the Review.

6. Once the definitive team is agreed the schedule follows the details given in the Review
   Handbook, with regular contact being maintained between the school and the Team Leader, and
   between the Leader and the Team.

At the end of the operation, the written report is completed in its constituent parts by the team,
proofread, corrected and handed to the team leader on diskettes. The team leader uses the following
day, Sunday, if necessary, to go through the sections of the report, carrying out a final check. The
report is then printed, the sections put in order, and the complete report is handed to the Head of the
school, both on paper and on diskettes.


1
 The aim of the preliminary visit is for the Team Leader to assess the physical geography of the school, to
meet the Senior Management Team and the staff. During the visit, a presentation is given to the staff on the
LAHC and the Review, and apprehensions are allayed. It is important that the visit be conducted is as low-
key and relaxed a manner as possible, and that the human face of the review be appreciated.
                                                                           6.1 The School Review          2
                                   LAHC Members’ Handbook

6.1.2 A Guide to the Review

Virtues of the Review

Among the virtues of the Review are the fact that the Review teams are composed of Heads, senior
staff and teachers of all levels, all working in Latin America, therefore conversant with the reality
with which they are dealing; they are all trained to the application of the instrument, and they are all
committed educators with a strong sense of vocation; in addition, there is the flexibility of the
Review instrument. As has been indicated, it may be applied to a whole school or to a section of a
school. It may also be applied to a single level or to a department, if a school so wished. It may also
examine with particular care a single aspect of a school, and, to this end, a team will be put together
with this in mind.

The previous paragraph outlines as aspect in which the LAHC School Review is perhaps unique
among instruments of its kind. It is, therefore perhaps worth enlarging on this point. The Review is
not necessarily a blanket operation which lays down hard and fast parameters of evaluation. The
combination of academic areas and the ten Whole School Aspects (Mission, Philosophy and Aims,
Ethos, Organisation, Planning with Finance, Curriculum, Classroom Practice, Staff, Pupils,
Accommodation & Resources, Health & Safety) may be treated in as flexible a manner as the
school desires. For example, should the school wish a certain academic area, such as Special Needs
or Curriculum articulation in certain subjects, or an overall aspect such as resourcing to be the
subject of specific focus, this may be communicated to the Review co-ordinator, and will be borne
in mind when the team is chosen. Conversely, if it is felt that there is no need for a certain area to
be reviewed, this may be omitted from scrutiny

Another important factor for consideration is the relatively light amount of paperwork. There are
clear guidelines as to the documentation which must be sent to the Review team in advance of the
operation and what must be available for examination on site. Indications are also provided as to
the timescale for submission of the former. The preparation of such paperwork is of benefit in
itself, since a school is obliged by the requesting of such paperwork to ensure that it has in place, or
is putting in place, documents and procedures which are a necessary aspect of the workings of any
complex organisation.

What the Review IS and what it IS NOT
With practice and through input and feedback both from members of Review teams and schools, the
instrument has become increasingly streamlined and efficient. The concept is particular to the
LAHC model and there is a very clear definition of what the Review does and does not set out to be
and to accomplish.

In particular, it does not set out to:
    - Inspect, dictate or prescribe
    - Impose parameters
    - Identify weaknesses in individuals
    - Make comparisons between or among schools
    - Generate rank orders of quality

It does set out to:
    - Examine and evaluate
    - Compare a perceived reality with a school’s self-evaluation
    - Commend and recommend
    - Assist and advise, and to offer these services continuously
                                                                        6.1 The School Review         3
                                   LAHC Members’ Handbook

    -   Generate possibilities of cross-fertilisation between and among schools
    -   Provide schools with tools for improvement

It goes without saying that the prospect of a Review always causes apprehension in the minds of the
staff of a school in which it is to be applied. Nevertheless, the Review is an essentially sympathetic
operation, and, during a preliminary visit paid by the team leader, the whole process is explained
and the staff have the opportunity to ask questions. During the Review itself, once staff are used to
the presence of outsiders, everyone in the school gets on with their work while the Review team
accomplishes its task in a manner which is discreet, tactful and non-threatening.

Mechanics and costs
A school may apply for a Review as far in advance as is desired; in practice, this is about a year.
This allows for the inclusion of the cost within the annual budget. Since no fees are payable to any
member of a Review team, expenditure is limited to the costs of the operation itself: the preparation
of the necessary paperwork, the provision of work space and materials for the team: - a suite of
computers and necessary equipment and stationery, all detailed in the LAHC Review Handbook, -
the cost of travel and board and lodging for the leader’s preliminary visit and for the Review team.
It is calculated that a Review will cost a school between US$11.500 and US$23.000, depending
upon the size of the team, the distance to be travelled and the cost of hotel accommodation. A more
precise idea of the cost may be obtained from schools in which the Review has been applied.

Opinions
Since client satisfaction is one of the most reliable indicators of quality, there follow some
observations made by Heads of schools in which the Review has been applied:

“(The Review provided) independent confirmation of the things that we thought were going well or
not so well, and a clear direction through the recommendations of the way forward. In short,
positive evolution. There was also a much greater sense of self-esteem and achievement after the
ordeal of the review.”

“The Review has a number of very positive elements. It is carried out by experienced professionals,
who work in the same style of British schools in Latin America. This means that they are well
aware of the continental cultural realities, which would not be the case with a team brought from the
United Kingdom. the assessment is objective, since they are outsiders. Moreover, none of the team
work in the (same city as) the school that is being reviewed, hence there are no problems of
information being given to potential competitor schools. Since no fees are charged by the team and
they all come from Latin America, the exercise is much cheaper than it would be if a team were
coming from the United Kingdom. Most important of all, the Review will enable us to further
improve the education we offer to all our students."

“(Advantages are seen in) the unity that it gives to staff prior to, during and after the Review, the
genuine interest in them as to how they had measured up, a renewed pride in the college and a
noticeably positive approach to tackling the recommendations that were in the report.”


N.B. Full details of the Review are contained in the Review Handbook, which is available in both
English and Spanish, and may be obtained from the Executive Secretary.

Prior to every Review, the team members are issued with a guidance manual, which is specific to
each particular Review.


                                                                       6.1 The School Review        4
                                 LAHC Members’ Handbook

During the preliminary visit, a ‘pack’ is given to the Head of the school. This pack consists of a
manual of procedure and a diskette for the recording and transmission of information to the Team
Leader.




                                                                    6.1 The School Review       5

								
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