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Truth, A Hint of Hubris and the IB Evaluation
Gordon MacIntyre

The ancient Roman historian, Tacitus, said that, "Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty." The accuracy of this statement was confirmed to the fullest extent in purpose and spirit during Mulgrave's IB evaluation visit that took place in the early days of October this school year. The truth is: Mulgrave is an outstanding school.

For three days, a highly experienced team of six IB evaluators representing the PYP, MYP, and DP poured over every detail of our curriculum, visited every classroom, examined every teacher's planning documents and interviewed panels of teachers, students, parents and Board members. They made measured judgements as to whether Mulgrave met the rigourous standards and practices the IB sets for schools. The IB delays these inspections to occur in the wake of a school sending its voluminous self-study documentation, hundreds of pages in the making, months ahead of the evaluation. Inspection and delay - this is the quality assurance of the evaluation process for an IB World School.

In its final 43-page report, the IB Evaluation team noted 105 commendations against only 15 recommendations. There were no serious matters to be addressed. The 7:1 ratio of commendations to recommendations is exemplary. The commendations were far-ranging across the IB standards, from the school's values and beliefs, to the leadership and governance practices, to the resources and supports to implement the programme, to the collaborative work of the teachers, to the strength of the curriculum, and not least of all, to the quality of teaching, learning and assessment practices.

The 15 recommendations contained no surprises, as they were items we had identified in our Self-study. Recommendations on how we can improve even further included continuing to strengthen the professional development of teachers, instantiating to a greater extent the library as a center of inquiry across all programmes, and further exploring meaningful opportunities for student service. These are all worthy recommendations, ones that we are already acting upon.

Under the school's new strategic plan, we will aim to make Mulgrave 'everything it can be'. Over the next five years, a Mulgrave education will be more personalised through curriculum, learning and support, more enriched with 21st-century skills, more extended through enhanced co-curricular provisions, more applied to authentic real world contexts, and more international so that students can live and work happily and successfully in a range of countries and cultures.

In my sixth year at Mulgrave, and having hosted hundreds of visitors, I have been at the school long enough to recognise a natural reaction. Spend enough time in the place and you develop an appreciation for its ethos steeped in learning and teaching, its welcoming and caring environment, and its vibrancy that grows out of the industriousness of the teachers and students - and all of it set against a canopy of sea, sky and sweeping interior coastline that is the envy of poets and artists. The place grows on you – and quickly.

The team of six IB evaluators spent three days with us. They came knowing little of the school other than what they had read in our self-study, or perhaps what they had seen online. They left knowing the purpose and values that drive Mulgrave. They left understanding the vision of the school community. They left appreciating the quality of learning and the overall environment.

There is, admittedly, a hint of hubris in writing this piece. Hubris - excessive self-confidence - should not be countenanced nor should it ever come to characterise the disposition of the school. But, once every five years – the length and timing of the IB evaluation cycle – perhaps we can tolerate it. Maybe it is okay every long now and again to shout to the heavens and take pride in a great school accomplishment. Thank you to the teachers who are the engine of the school, whose care and dedication are inspiring. Thank you to the students who make Mulgrave a great place to work and learn. And thank you to the parents, who trust us every day with your children and who give their unending support to the school.

Gordon MacIntyre,
Deputy Head of School

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