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Preparing for accreditation

December 07, 2007

Hello again,

When a school decides it is ready for official recognition a lot is at stake. The process will involve investment in bringing the school up to standard...

... and in paying for the process itself. Clearly no school wishes to fail. But how can you improve your chances of success? I would say that careful preparation is the key.

First obtain the documentation from the accrediting body so that you know exactly what criteria you have to meet. Standards will apply across all the school’s operations so a thorough audit of your practices is needed. It is vital to involve everyone in this project so that everyone feels involved and responsible. And such involvement will require motivation and enthusiasm so you need to ensure that everyone understands the value of accreditation, not just for the school as an entity but for themselves as individuals. As employees of a recognised school, your staff enhance their own professional standing and, if they are properly involved in the preparation, can share the pride of success. Needless to say the students are beneficiaries in that they can be confident that the services you offer meet the standards accepted as correct for the industry.

It would be a good idea for each department or section to prepare its own report on how far they already meet the required criteria and where the shortfalls are. They could also draw up an action plan and a budget for bringing their department up to standard. Remember that the inspection process will leave no stones unturned. Your marketing department, for example, will need to review all your promotional materials and heck that no information out of date, or missing or misleading. It really is an opportunity to do a real “spring clean” of your entire service.

Set a timetable and milestones for each department so that you can monitor progress and have a senior staff member as project manager to monitor all sections and keep people on target. When you think everything is ready, try running a mock inspection day . You could use to peer observation and have a general debriefing session to assess how you stand. I think that by involving everybody, instilling confidence in your school’s professionalism and making sure that everyone is familiar with the inspection process itself, you will greatly improve your chances of success.

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