29 May 2019

ESF Withdrawal from CIS/WASC Accreditation

ESF and Sha Tin College are fully committed to ensuring that we have a proper, structured and fit-for-purpose accountability framework. We need to know that what we are doing is working, that we are providing the very best for our students, and that we are well-equipped to capture and implement best practice from around the world.

Over the course of the past few years, ESF Principals, School Council Chairs and ESF SMT have been looking at our membership of CIS/WASC and asking what it delivers to us. As you know, maintaining IB accreditation involves a very high level of external scrutiny and a rigorous commitment to IB Principals into Practice. This is something that we welcome and value.

The more the Principals and ESF SMT looked at the services being provided by CIS/WASC, and the more feedback was gathered from School Council Chairs, the more we became convinced that we were not getting a worthwhile return on our significant investment. Purely in financial terms, membership of CIS/WASC costs us several million dollars each year. We also have the additional costs associated with our own staff being absent from their schools when they are part of CIS evaluation teams in other parts of the world.

The decision to withdraw however was not taken solely on finances. The Principals and the School Council Chairs did not feel that the quality of the reports to the various schools was sufficiently high, that the recommendations were consistently sound and relevant, or that there was a consistency of evaluation taking place across the ESF schools.

The view of the Principals and ESF SMT therefore was that CIS/WASC were not regularly and consistently contributing to the school improvement agenda. It was on this basis that it was decided not to renew our CIS/WASC membership.

As we design our own new accountability framework, ESF will continue to work with the IB and their cycle of evaluation. We will continue to have a robust system of internal audit looking at our systems and processes, and of course, we will have external auditors looking at our finances and policies. The new Director of Strategic Performance and Quality Assurance will be leading on designing the new framework, but he will not be doing this alone. He will be working closely with the leadership teams in the various schools to ensure that we have the robust evaluation process we require, and have the ability to look around the world for new and innovative practices.

There will be no negative impact on our students’ university recognition as a result of our withdrawal from CIS/WASC. We do not have an ESF Diploma. We have internationally recognised qualifications in the IB that do not stand or fall depending on any input from CIS/WASC. Universities around the world recognise these qualifications currently and this will not change when we are no longer members of CIS/WASC.