The International School Award nominations include many excellently written applications. But there are others that suffer during the judging process because the content of the application has missed the mark.
Here is some advice from the International School Awards judging panel to guide schools when preparing their awards application:
- Many applications do not provide sufficient proof of impact to back up vague explanations. Your application needs to provide data or evidence to show the success of your initiative.
- Some applications focus on explaining why a category is important, rather than explaining the details of the school’s own initiative, why the initiative is important to the school, and what the initiative has achieved for its students and/or wider community.
- Judges look for evidence of impact of an initiative beyond the school’s own community. This is a criteria for all ISA categories and many schools fall short on this criteria. Can your initiative, or elements of your initiative, be adapted by others school, and how are you sharing details and practical implementation of your initiative in ways that other schools can learn or be inspired from your good practice and experience?
- Educators who are directly involved in the implementation of the initiative and who write the application, provide a more authentic and informed view of the initiative than someone who has not been an active participant in the initiative.
- Avoid education or marketing jargon in your application content. Instead, respond directly to each criteria question, writing clear explanations that answer the questions.
- Read every criteria question and all the application guidelines before writing the application. The guidelines are there for a reason – to help you submit a good application. Answer all the questions – including ‘how’ your initiative has addressed the criteria question and ‘why’.
- Select supporting evidence carefully. Images or videos should demonstrate the impact of the initiative on the students and/or the community.
- Judges are looking for initiatives that are unique and/or innovative, rather than practice that is expected of all schools.
- The best applications clearly and simply explain the context of the school, the details of the initiative (i.e. some of the key mechanics of how the initiative has been implemented), and provide evidence of how the initiative has impacted the school and its community. They marry intent of the initiative with measured and purposeful student impact and engagement. One ISA judge said: “It is difficult to read between the lines in cases where entries are clearly talking up their project without providing sufficient evidence.”