MATUNGA-MUMBAI, NOVEMBER 10, 2012 : The times they are a-changing…so goes an old song. Technology has evolved – and is evolving – and so is education. A reluctant step forward, you are not in sync; a false step, you lose the race; and, a missed step, you have lost it altogether. The growing demands for excellence, accountability and consistency necessitated an audit from an external agency in the four Salesian schools of Mumbai: Don Bosco, Matunga, St. Joseph’s, Wadala, Dominic Savio, Andheri and Don Bosco, Borivili.
A chance meeting with the team leading Adhyayan Quality Education Services set in motion a process for a qualitative review of the four schools. The Adhyayan School Self-Review and Evaluation (SSRE) diagnostic has been developed around internationally recognized standards of schooling and is rooted in years of experience of conducting school audits globally. The diagnostic assesses schools on 6 Key Performance Areas (KPAs):
- Leadership and Management
- Teaching and Learning
- The Child
- The Curriculum
- The Community and Partnerships
- Infrastructure and Resources
The Adhyayan School Self-Review and Evaluation (SSRE) is an important component of the Qualitative assessment. It is a structured practical reflection by the school community, based on the Adhyayan Quality Standard (AQS). It is the belief that there is an equal importance and value of the school self-review sitting alongside external verification and inspection. ‘Know thyself’ is the key to any school’s journey to achieving high quality, internationally accredited education standards. Hence the Adhyayan SSRE model deliberately has two complementary elements: school self-review and external evaluation.
The AQS has 4 tiers for evaluation: International, National (the 4 Salesian schools opted for this), State and Local. In all cases, the schools are evaluated with the same rigor as the international standard and use the same criteria.
To begin with, a time-table of the description of activity to undertake the SSRE for the 4 schools was sent to the respective Principals. The time period: Oct 29 to Nov. 9, 2012. This activity included:
- The Orientation session for the School’s SSRE team (10-12 leaders identified from the Management, staff –teaching and non teaching, parents, students, alumni) led by Adhyayan Lead Assessors. They introduced the SSRE Model and Diagnostic to the leaders.
- The schools SSRE team undertakes its own review (with no intervention by the Adhyayan).
- External Evaluation by Adhyayan Lead Assessors.
- Award (Platinum, Gold, Silver or Star) followed by Quality Dialogue and Action Plan for School Improvement with the school SSRE team.
- Joint Conference (Adhyayan Lead Assessors and the 4 Principals) to have a shared understanding of their success stories and challenges.
The activity generated enthusiasm and a tremendous interest in the entire process of evaluation. Parents and students worked alongside the management and the staff for long hours of the day that always stretched beyond the schedule time, while the Adhyayan Lead Assessors led by the strapping and erudite Irishman, Mr. Spokey Wheeler, and curricula management guru, Ms. Kavita Anand provided the impetus for the animated discussions at the training sessions and meetings. The self-review was an exercise in introspection and honest dialogues, class observations and interactions, Learning Walks and Book Looks.
The quality dialogues that followed the evaluation by the Adhyayan Lead Assessors, were engaging – at times negotiations bordering on parleys (after all the leaders representing the school were passionate about their institution)-perky and riveting. It was time for action plans and targets, and the enthusiastic school band seemed equal to the task.
The joint conference of the Adhyayan lead assessors and the Principals was a forum to exchange the success stories, evaluate procedures, strategize and carry the action plan forward. The Adhyayan team has indeed left behind in their wake a string of success stories to celebrate, yet many other areas that need an honest reflection for change and excellence.