What is accreditation? What is affiliation? What is the difference?
In order to gain affiliation all that is necessary is to fill in an application form, pay an annual fee per student to the affiliating body, and perhaps submit the qualifications of staff working in the pre-school. Whether the staff are really working in the pre-school and whether qualified staff are replaced with qualified staff when they leave is never seriously checked. There is no visit to the school, neither is there any compulsion for such an inspection to be carried out in the future.
Pre-schools that are affiliated usually receive a periodic magazine from the affiliated body. There are hundreds of such bodies. Parents seeing the advertising of a pre-school that is affiliated are misled if they feel that this infers higher standards or independent quality control.
Accreditation is altogether different and does provide parents with a large degree of quality assurance. Preparing a pre-school for an accreditation inspection takes most schools about a year. All aspects of the schools operation are audited by the accrediting organisation. A comprehensive written submission is necessary detailing the school’s curriculum, its safety precautions, management principles, and the qualifications and experience of all staff and management. Additionally a full set of operating manuals must be submitted. This paper inspection is conducted in liaison with parents.
Proformas are sent to parents at the beginning and end of the accreditation process and the results are examined by the accreditation body. Following the preparatory phase a physical inspection by an inspector of the accreditation body takes place. Usually an inspection takes a full working day. Staff, parents and school management are interviewed as part of the process. A report is compiled and submitted to the accrediting body and a board of review is held.
If the inspection is successful an accreditation certificate is awarded. Periodic additional inspections take place as may be necessary. Our affiliation and accreditation certificates are proudly displayed in all the Woodland Group schools. Our traditional schools are accredited by the 'Pre-School Learning Alliance' (London), and our Montessori schools are accredited by the 'Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board' (MEAB).
Woodland Montessori Pre-Schools have been re-accredited for the period of June 2014 to May 2017. Woodland Pre-Schools was first accredited back in 1999 and we are the only group of pre-schools accredited by MEAB in the Greater China region.
The MEAB scheme aims to ensure that all schools using the Montessori name offer high quality education and care to children. The accreditation process looks at how a setting delivers Montessori principles through its daily practice. The role of the assessor is to conduct a peer review of the Montessori practice in our Montessori Pre-Schools. The assessors visit our schools twice, evaluate practice following the MEAB criteria at both visits, feed back to our General Manager and the staff, make recommendations to the setting and prepare a written report of each accreditation visit.
Below are some of the accreditors' comments:
“The quality of the prepared environment is excellent; the children play and learn in an outstandingly equipped enabling environment, giving them the tools to develop excellent skills for the future.”
“The environment is prepared with attention to detail and benefits from a full range of Montessori equipment and other activities.”
“The experienced staff offers well considered and organised learning opportunities for all the children.”
“The staff create a safe and effective prepared environment, which gives children the freedom to explore and learn at their own pace during the Montessori work cycle.”
“The school fosters effective partnership between all the staff and the parents… they value the calm, well organised and ordered environment in which their children are able to learn.”
“The schools offer children rich learning opportunities that are organized and structured.”
“‘All the children in the school have very good opportunities to develop their language and numeracy skills.”
“One of the major strengths of the school is that the staff are Montessori trained and their qualifications come from a number of colleges in many different countries…reflecting the Hong Kong international community.”
“The Stepping Stone classes provide an excellent transition into the Pre-school.”
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