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11 September 2023

Accreditation, Embedding the Curriculum and Moving Towards Mastery

Keeping your teachers and students engaged right up until the end of the school year is often a consideration for many school leaders. What can you do to ensure that the whole school is working in harmony together to improve learning?

Judy Dawson from Greengate’s school in Mexico shares her solution and the process of Accreditation for them.

Entry Point:

At the beginning of the school year, in August, our curriculum coordinator announced that in June we would be considered for Accreditation. He shared a beautifully colour-coordinated Teaching and Learning policy in preparation, however, it still seemed such a long time away. There were students to settle, displays to mount, and Brainwave units to delve into.

Knowledge Harvest:

What followed was a series of staff meetings to gauge where we were as a staff. We reviewed our practices; the school’s vision and definitions for learning, international mindedness, and teachers’ understanding of the process to facilitate learning. After a long day of teaching, we were faced with a match the definitions activity where the answers were presented in a lightly veiled manner. “You just put most of this on your classroom walls last month,” he encouraged, sighing as someone spilled coffee over the carefully collated posters and another stuck a Post-it on their forehead. Still, with eight months to go, he was confident we could get there.

Explaining the theme:

And onto the action plan. In science, we would be consolidating planning, teaching, differentiation, and interventions. In English, we would be learning how to free up time by embedding the language goals into our unit lessons. In Geography, we would learn how to negotiate the best spaces around the school for the most effective entry and exit points and how to collaborate with our collogues. In Health and Wellbeing, we would, of course, carry out an investigation into which parents provided the best-themed snacks and when the laminator might be free.

Research and record:

The curriculum coordinator provided us with bite-size pieces of information during weekly staff meetings and working parties throughout the year. By this point all the students could recite the school’s vision, ‘CHILI: characterful, independent learners who are internationally minded’, but the teachers still struggled to name all eight Personal Learning Goals without a hint. We continued to be resilient but what we really needed was a nap!

We struggled with cohesive answers to questions such as, ‘How can we plan for and use a variety of classroom approaches? How do you know what your students are learning?’, even though we were sure we were doing it. We unpacked the assessment policy and revisited the latest research on progressive pedagogy. ‘How internationally minded are we?’ our school leader asked. ‘Does eating samosas at the international fair count?’ someone countered. ‘Yes, yes, but maybe we can go deeper,’ he suggested. The worry in his eyes was palpable. It was already February.


Reflection is a deep-seated part of our student journey. Children in the IEYC learn to think about their learning and successes. Students throughout the school reflect on classes using a traffic light system and exit tickets. Children’s reflections serve to make teaching better. If the exit point from a lesson on Darwin reads, “I learned about the theory of revolution,” there is a good chance something needs to be clarified. More and more we find that children are natural at metacognition, while adults find it much harder.  During the final stages of preparation for accreditation, we had walk-throughs and a variety of adults observed our process. When a student asked how they reflect on their learning in class answers, “zero,” this is a win, not a loss. After all, we have been using Harvard’s Project Zero to encourage reflection and they are referring to the Thinking Routine used for that unit.

Exit Point:

The accreditors viewed the school virtually. It was strange to be observed from a computer. The work and enthusiasm sparkled. The children congregated around introducing themselves but then were quick to forget that the computer was there. The week whizzed by, and the students were used to seeing management carrying around a laptop with an accreditor staring out. Meetings were fulfilled and lists were completed, the curriculum coordinator breathed a sigh of relief. We, his ‘class’ of errant adults, managed to shine. In retrospect that is because while we were busy complaining and trying to dodge staff meetings, he was sharing best practices and embedding practice throughout the years to reach this point. It was an interesting and challenging school year. But the process never stops and although the report clearly recognizes the knowledge, skills, and understanding of learners, teachers, leaders, and the community this will also drive a new action plan with innovations and exciting directions. As an old foot soldier, this is what keeps me going, we never stop learning and we can always get better. Thank you to Anthony Crewdson for helping us through the accreditation process. After a summer of reflection, I will now be stepping into his big shoes and taking on the IPC curriculum lead at school. I look forward to seeing some of you at the IPC conference in October where I will be sharing our journey, and ways to embed the IPC in a whole school approach and offer practical tips.

Through conducting a thorough Accreditation self-review Greengates School was able to gain a deeper understanding of their own implementation of the International Primary Curriculum, unique to their school’s context, that will guide the process for continuous improvement.

Accredited schools are invited to participate in International Curriculum Steering Groups and Advisory Boards to help steer the direction of the International Curriculum, ensuring the International Curriculum continues to be for schools, by schools for the future.

Learn more about the International Primary Curriculum

Learn more about Accreditation