NEWS ARTICLE

Submitting a quality application: Advice from the International School Awards judges

Jan 11, 2023

The aim of the International School Awards is to share some of the outstanding initiatives that address common needs for learning and for community action that are being implemented by international schools. Here is some advice from the International School Awards judging panel to guide schools when preparing their awards application.

Submitting a quality application: Advice from the International School Awards judges

Jan 11, 2023 | Good practice

The aim of the International School Awards is to share some of the outstanding initiatives that address common needs for learning and for community action that are being implemented by international schools.

Reviewing the applications requires the judging panel to evaluate every initiative submitted by international schools. The criteria provided for each category are designed to guide schools in their applications, and from which the judges make their assessments.

Every international school is unique, with its own contexts and needs, so it is impossible for the judges to compare one school against another – and they have no requirement to do this. Instead, judges evaluate each initiative application against the category criteria. This helps them to identify some of the most innovative and effective initiatives currently being implemented that have the best potential for implementation by other international schools, regardless of the size or budget of the school.

Following this year’s judging process, the judges have shared feedback for schools, including some of the most common reasons why applications do not make the shortlists. Although individual feedback to one specific application cannot be provided, we hope this advice from the judging panel helps to inform those submitting applications in the future:

  • Several initiatives were poorly defined and did not provide the detail necessary for judges to understand how they are being implemented and exactly how learners are benefitting.
  • Some initiatives did not provide the detailed evidence required to convince the judges of success outcomes and impact. Anecdotal explanations (for example, ‘students were engaged’) without any evidence of measuring outcomes are insufficient.
  • Several initiatives submitted this year were too new to provide sufficient evidence of success and sustainability from year to year which is required for the application. Some of these appear to have good potential for future impact and the judges urge schools that might fall into this group to submit in a forthcoming year once evidence of success and sustainability of the initiative is available.
  • Some applications described a group-wide initiative that was being implemented across several schools within their school group, but lacked detail on how the initiative had been adapted by the particular school to their local context.
  • Several initiatives were written in a style and with language more relevant for marketing a school to the general public; providing insufficient evidence of rigour, authentic voice, or appropriate evidence. The most powerful and authentic applications were written by the educator or administrator responsible for implementing the initiative.
  • A number of applications contained broad descriptions of various general activities happening at the school rather than a detailed account of one specific initiative or project, why and how it was implemented, and its impact.
  • Several applications described future intentions of an initiative rather than explaining current implementation and outcomes.
  • Several applications did not directly answer the criteria questions.

You can read all successful applications that have been shortlisted for the 2023 International School Awards on the ISA Awards platform

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