There has definitely been a Spring-like feel to the past two weeks, with copious sunshine and the neighbourhood erupting in a blaze of pale pink; I have admired since my arrival in Waterloo the lovely tree lined streets and residential areas around the school, but what I hadn’t appreciated until recently was that these were all ornamental cherry trees so in early spring, we have a beautiful show of colour to enjoy. Add to this the glorious pink/purple magnolias, spring bulbs and occasional pop of yellow forsythia to get a full technicolour picture of Waterloo in late March!
In School, we have had an equally colourful time with our students in and out of school taking part in a huge variety of activities, from participating in Ted-X talks at our Inspired sister school in Sotogrande to participating in the neighbourhood litter-picking initiative and students busily preparing for the Spring Concert, Dance Show and Annie.
We have also been super-busy with a double delight of accreditation visits – on Monday, we were delighted to receive our MYP accreditation certificate – a small piece of paper to signify a really important milestone for St John‘s. This now means that St John’s is the only school in Brussels and Wallonia to be offering the full IB programme. The IB is widely acclaimed as one of the premiere curricula worldwide – a really important factor for our mobile, outward-looking and future-savvy families.
Throughout the week, we welcomed in a full team of educational experts for our CIS (Council of International Schools) and MSA (Middle States Association) accreditation visit. The team of seven had flown and travelled in from all corners of the world and were here to review and assess the school in every aspect of its educational journey. The CIS/MSA team spoke to students, staff, parents, Council members and Inspired, building a full picture of life at St John’s. They spent much of the week out and about around school, observing lessons, having informal conversations, taking in the wide programme of activities and enjoying our food (a fringe benefit to coming to Belgium and St John’s in particular!). Having been on several school ‘inspections’ as an educational inspector myself in the UK, I was struck by the length of the visit (well over double the length of UK inspections) and the amount of time given over to meetings with stakeholders. The process is also designed to be a consultative process of peer review, feeding into the on-going school development in a very practical way. This can only be a good thing, I believe. We await the final reports once they have gone through their long process of checking and sign-off and then sharing the headlines with the wider community. All in all, it was a very enriching and stimulating week!