It’s one thing to think you’re great. It’s another thing entirely for someone else to think you’re great; and what’s more, for them to tell you so. The process of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) is a bit like that. Instead of us simply telling people how wonderful our education and experience is here at Sacred Heart School of Halifax, we have an outside accrediting body attest to it. Which is, of course, much better because we tend to be a bit biased!
CAIS is not just any outside body though. They are the most respected independent school accrediting organization in Canada. It’s their job to evaluate private schools across the country according to a very detailed set of criteria, which they call standards, and determine if those schools make the grade. They assess areas like the academic program, school leadership, governance, student programming, and facilities. Once accredited, schools must submit to re-accreditation every seven years, ensuring a process of ongoing improvement.
SHSH last undertook CAIS accreditation in 2011-12 and was successful in meeting the high standards required. As part of that process, the School was provided with a number of recommendations to help us improve even further. As our accreditation renewal approached in 2018, we welcomed the opportunity to work on a comprehensive self-study to articulate ways we had improved over the years based on those recommendations. And frankly, it was also an opportunity to discover where we needed to do more.
After that review was submitted, a nine-person Visiting Committee made up of independent school professionals from across the country came to Halifax in November 2018. For three days they watched and analyzed our programs; they met with and interviewed various members of our School community; and they measured our numbers and reports. After preliminary feedback in March 2019, and the submission of additional information, the Executive Director of CAIS, Patti MacDonald, informed us in August of the Evaluation Committee’s commendations and recommendations, and confirmed that SHSH has been granted CAIS re-accreditation for another seven years.
Earning the CAIS seal of approval means students and parents can expect the best in academics, student programming, leadership, and governance, among many other factors. In other words, it’s a guarantee of excellence. For more detail, including a list of the key commendations and recommendations from the Report, take a look here. We are very proud of this accreditation. But, it’s not the end of the process. The recommendations give us a road map for continuous school improvement, and we intend to follow it closely.
For now, we are thrilled to share the news that we “made the grade”! And, we’ll keep working hard on behalf of our students so they too can earn an A+.