Gender and Child Advancement Intl (GCA)
156 White Hart Lane, Romford, RM7 8LU, England, UK
+ (44) 7798 – 723423
Company number: 9150553
About St. Christopher’s
St Christopher’s School is a private, international, co-educational, day and boarding school in Nairobi that gives its students opportunities to follow the British curriculum. It is situated in the residential suburb of Karen. During this review approximately 500 students were on the school’s roll and most of them as well as staff were from Kenyan heritage. The school is guided by Christian principles. From pre-school to pre-university the education of students is organised into three phases ~ Kindergarten, Preparatory and Secondary. Almost half of students in the Secondary are boarders. About a tenth of students in the Primary have been identified as having special education needs. Almost all students and staff speak English as an additional language (EAL) and a few students are at the early stages of learning English.
Prior to the review, the Headteacher communicated his wish and that of the proprietor and Board of St Christopher’s, for St. Christopher’s School to obtain UK accreditation in the future. Consequently, the aim of GCA’s review was to measure how well St Christopher’s School could demonstrate that they provided a British education that had similar benefits to an education in an independent school in the UK.
What GCA did
A team of GCA reviewers spent three days in St Christopher’s School (October 2014) and looked in detail at the areas highlighted below:
- Safeguarding arrangements
- Pastoral Care
- Quality of teaching
- Curriculum and Assessments
- Leadership and Management
The team also scrutinised the school’s evaluation of itself against British Overseas Schools (BSO) standards.
At the end of the three days the school received a detailed, comprehensive report which covered all aspects of the review.
Benefits of the GCA review
The review supported the school in its journey to improving areas for development and this helped the school clarify its direction and set out future plans.
The outcome of the review was captured by the proprietor of St. Christopher’s School in her speech to the delegates to the GCA Conference held in St Christopher’s School on the 22nd October 2014 (see below).
Six months on (15th April 2015), the Headteacher shared the continued impact of the GCA Review. Read this and other feedback from school staff in the section on testimonies that follow.
Experiencing a GCA Review – by Mrs. L. Ngini 22nd October 2014
My name is Mrs. Leah Ngini. I am the Proprietor and the current Chairperson of the Board of Directors of St. Christopher’s Schools. Also present here are two other Directors, Jean Kamau and Carolla Ohaga.
I am very pleased to see you here today and let me extend a warm welcome to you. This is the day that The Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad in it for the joy of The Lord is our strength.
St. Christopher’s Schools have experienced a GCA Review of the British Curriculum that we are following. Some of us, local proprietors, chose to follow the British Curriculum because it was more stable, at the time, and not subject to the whims of any top politician as 8:4:4 ended up becoming.
I must admit, when I first heard of the GCA Review I was a little apprehensive. We were used to people coming out of the UK and looking to stamp schools in Kenya as mini UKs. There was a definite ignoring of our identity as Africans. There seemed to be a definite wanting to make mini Brits of the students (no offence intended to any Brits present). I was very pleasantly surprised when I was informed that that was not the purpose of GCA audit. Their interest is not only helping the schools to raise their teaching standards to those required of the British curriculum but also to raise awareness of the teachers as concerns the expectations that these standards would require of them. All this, while still respecting the identity of each school. Marvellous!
It means they are coming here as educators. They want to meet us as fellow educators to guide us forward to achieve the best results possible of educating the future generations. They are here, then, to sharpen us as Prov. 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. A meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires discussion partners who can challenge each other and stimulate thought — people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussions; people who know how to attack the thought and not the thinker. Two friends who bring ideas together can help each other become sharper. This, in my opinion, is who GCA Team is (are)?
When the GCA Team came to St. Christopher’s last week:
- They spent valuable time communicating to the staff about their purpose and set them at ease.
- They involved all stakeholders – the Proprietor, Directors, Headteachers, Middle and lower level Management, Teachers, Students, Parents and the supporting staff.
- They visited classes in the Kindergarten, the Prep-School and the Secondary School. They scrutinized the Curriculum, Schemes of Work, Lesson Plans and their progression, Marking of Books and comments teachers make or don’t make.
- They were thorough in their observation. Their comments were clear and to the point. If a lesson was good, they specified what was good. If not good, they said what was not good leaving no doubt as to what was expected.
5. They assessed classes with students with mixed abilities and gave suggestions.
- They emphasized the need for structured Learning Support.
- They acquainted themselves with the policies of the Schools.
- The feedback to the staff members was largely very clear and addressed observations made.
As an educationist, I concur generally with your comments and happy that you are willing to walk with us so we can move forward to achieve goals which are acceptable to us, the examining bodies and the parents. I welcome your comments and appreciate the fact that you are looking at our strong areas and commending us and also our weak areas and guiding us so we can improve. Positive criticism is welcome.
Every school has a soul and its own identity. It is our love for Private Education growth in this country which brings us together. It is a blessing to have the GCA Team with us for I believe they understand Africa and Kenya better than those who do not know Africa as much. They show a genuine concern for the advancement of education in this country, and they have a passion for what they do (something that is important to me). Our gratitude goes to this team for their insights and generosity in sharing knowledge and direction.
Thank you all for coming, for listening and for caring. God bless you all.
Mrs L. Ngini ~ Proprietor, St Christopher’s School
Six months later, on 15th April 2015, the Headteacher, David Dunn, had this to say about the review:
I once again would like thank you for all your work with St Christopher’s School. It really has helped the school move forward.
Safeguarding. Meetings have taken place at board level and all doors and floors are being changed in the secondary school to come into line with safeguarding standards and to provide aesthetic continuity from the Preparatory School. 90 % of all doors will have been changed over the Easter Break. Tiling for the floors is currently being sourced and investigated.
Monitoring progress. Formative assessment policy was finalised last term. All planning has Learning objectives are in place. These objectives are assessed between a score of 1 to 4. These are recorded in the student work and online. Visual analysis is now extremely transparent. The same is now in place for homework but is colour coded. Students cannot now escape through the gaps unless of course teachers are not on point. However all assessment can be viewed by senior staff so staff accountability is effective.
Of course there are currently holes in our system but it is early days and we plan this to be fully in place by September 2015. There is a lot of work involved.
Phonic training took place at the beginning of this term. We invited the Head Teacher from Braeside School who is very experienced with Phonics. The program has been extremely successful and parents have praised the work been done.
The 20 minute registration time has been formalised. Different days for different activities. We also have slotted in time for teacher feedback during Monday meetings twice per term. The deputies are continually monitoring this and student feedback has been promising. Although it is also recognised that some teachers are better than others.
Teaching styles is also an area which allows critical thinking is also being addressed within out professional development program. This is an ongoing process with medium to longer term vision and is recognised cannot be introduced overnight.
D.M.M. Dunn, Headteacher
GCA Review (13-15 October 2014)
Urgent!!!!—clear assessment policy, marking policy, data development linked to teaching. Clear and professional criticism which was very respectful
~D.M.M. Dunn, Headteacher
The review was informative and critical of many areas of the school. I had an opportunity to see from an outsider’s point of view of where the school is at. The team is (was) very experienced and friendly in their approach. Everything was clear. I look forward to working with you.
~ A. Khaimia, Headteacher, Prep School
Emphasis on teacher as well as student-driven learning to get a balanced feedback. Use of progress report between and within the three levels of learning. The sessions were quite resourceful and (I) look forward for more.
~ J. Michomba, Deputy Headteacher
The review to me was like an eye opener about the things that I can do better and others that I can change completely. I also learnt that there are things we need to do as a school e.g. I need to include an achievement column in the IEPs to make it easier to review; I need to use a systematic program to teach reading; I need more training on phonics; the school needs to have a clear assessment program for students with special education needs. The review was enlightening. However, I feel that this is not all. The school needs to organise for training sessions for teachers. This will help equip the teachers with the skills needed to teach the British Curriculum.
~ E.W. Kariuki, Special Education Needs teacher
How to run a pastoral department. Expectations: careers guidance, tutor time and scripture reflections, prep-Year 6 transition to secondary orientation, SMSC. It is clear that a lot of professional development is needed for all the teachers for clear progress in the right direction.
~ P. Kabii, Pastoral Head Prep School
The pastoral docket in the Prep School: how to conduct tutor time in the morning—SMSC; set targets for teachers; how to manage incident reports; how to guide Year 6 students in their careers. Every part was clear that it left me wanting more information on how to develop a stronger pastoral docket. I personally need professional development to enable develop pastoral docket professionally. Very ready to walk this journey with you.
(Kamau, Pastoral Head Secondary)
First GCA Conference in Kenya 22nd October 2014
More information on Ofsted standards. Concrete examples of good practice. Networking with colleagues on issues of inspection.
~ E. Kironde, Teacher, Nairobi Academy
The introduction: what are standards and how to achieve them? The 9 broad areas of the BSO standards. Practical examples from experience. Good thinking—makes one reflect and makes one committed to continuing the process of school improvement. Thank you.
~ P. Echessa-Kariuki, Headteacher Rusinga Schools
Information pertinent to criteria and required standards from international accreditation. User friendly pointers were very helpful. Glad to know that GCA is at hand for assistance.
~ N. Rebeiro, Headteacher, Nairobi Academy
Different perspective to achieving quality education for our learners. Thank you for a job well done and making a difference in education sector.
~ E. Marima, Principal, NCP
That we can be involved even if we are not following an international system. Thank you.
~ J. Murago, School leader, Kianda School
This has been very rewarding for me who has been looking into bringing the change we need in education in Africa whether international or local. The adaptability of the programs and suitability to all programs. All was well explained.
~ N. Omino, School Leader, Rusinga Schools
Affirmation that it is what the teacher does with the learners that counts especially when doe consistently. Good work. Is it possible to work with GCA with necessarily looking at accreditation? Yes!!!!
~ P. Teyie, Head Senior School, Rusinga Schools
It gave me a better perspective on lesson observation. We use the Ofsted model. The focus on teacher support as opposed to simply stating unsatisfactory is admirable. On the whole everything was straight forward. Some areas not audible as I was sitting on the flank and at ties behind the speaker. I would have expected more focus on the Ofsted framework and lesson observation guidelines.
~ E. Gitonga, Russinga Schools, Head Kindergarten)
I have benefited immensely from the realisation that developing to an exceptional school will not just take conferences and passing guidelines but by going further to spend time with working progressively with teachers. Great passion and clarity.
~ M.J. Nyamori, Senior Leader Primary, Rusinga Schools
Development of policies and procedures. The type of auditing by GCA seems clear and specific also dynamic. Will like to receive more information via –email for higher discussion to co-opt the same (GCA) so that we meet accreditation standards.
~ D. Muliro, Head Kitengela International School