CDNIS: Full IB report comes out, highlights deficiencies in leadership, communication

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CDNIS has sat on a report from the visiting IB inspection team until just before the Chinese New Year break. It’s out and makes for explosive reading. A summary of findings and link to the full report follows.


Note: The full report can be read here.

The full report from the International Baccalaureate review of the Canadian International School in Hong Kong (CDNIS) has been released.

Parent activist group ComeTogether accused the school of withholding the report since December 11th in an email released February 1, 2016. The text suggests it was written before December 7th, most likely in November. It does not make for complementary reading.

Mr Kevin House, Head of School Services, and Ms Monita Sen, PYP Regional Manager, School Services, visited and wrote the report arising from their meetings with administration, teachers and stakeholders.

Their two part aim was to:

  • “to assess the extent to which the recent significant changes in board membership, school leadership and faculty have impacted upon the school’s adherence to the IB’s standards and practices, in particular standards A and B [see full report]
  • to gauge the impact of the recent upheavals upon the implementation of IB programmes in the school”

Summary of the Summary

The Vision: “… no revised vision. This will hamper the MYP self-study” and “impact on many of the necessary policy reviews, in particular languages, assessment, academic honesty, admissions and special educational needs. The board have indicated that the revised vision will be drafted and ratified by mid-December 2015 however, this may be a challenging milestone to achieve…”

The Board “The two-tiered board system [Members plus Board of Governors]…” causes “a lack of clarity…” Meeting with“…members and the board it seemed clear that both groups remain convinced that this two-tiered structure is necessary for the school’s sustainable future. This contradictory position is a significant hindrance in the school’s healing process and was identified as an area of concern across many levels of the wider school community. It was noted that the Governance Task Force recommended the dismantling of the member tier to enhance the school’s efforts to develop a more sustainable leadership model.” [Ed. note: Subsequently, the Members indicated their intention to stay on for up to 15 years, testing the lifespan of many long-standing Members.]

Educational Leadership

“…it is significant that almost all educational leaders are new to their roles and it was made clear that within two years, CDNIS will have a completely new educational leadership team. This, coupled with the absence of a clearly articulated educational vision and strategic plan, presents a challenge to sustainable pedagogical leadership within the school.”

“…beyond the comments from the principals, the visiting team heard few advocates of the leadership of the head of school. Indeed, many suggested he may not have the trust-building or pedagogical leadership skills needed for the task at hand.”


“The head of school and the principals felt that their regular collaboration on communications to the wider school community had enhanced clarity and created a better sense of unity. However, this was to some extent contradicted in discussions with the faculty…”

“ …staff and parents remain disgruntled by the disruptions to school life over the last year or so and saw little real improvement even if things appeared ‘quieter.’ A recurring theme was that many felt the school was still ‘broken.’”

Teaching and Learning

“Overall, observations and interactions around the school indicated that good quality teaching and learning was taking place at the school…”

“…mathematics in the lower school, English as an additional language support and learning diversity support all needed better articulation.”

“…staff felt the school was well resourced and there remained an exceptional level of training opportunities.”

“the requirements of the Ontario State [sic] Curriculum places timetabling challenges on the IB Diploma programme and this was being reviewed….”

…”a lapse in the concurrency of learning in the TOK [Theory of Knowledge] programme because formal teaching is suspended after the grade 11 Easter break, only to restart at the start of the grade 12. This is a clear breach of IB standards and practices.”

“…certain educational decision making at the school lacks a long term strategic logic. For example, the use of Annual Fund Committee money to fund curriculum positions of responsibility for two years has created unnecessary confusion…” “…hindered efforts to foster open communication and leaving some to feel a lack long term strategic vision in the educational goals of the school.”

Conclusion Verbatim

“The IB recommends that the school complete the visioning exercise as a matter of urgency and involve as many from the community in the process as possible. Once this is done, the school should develop its strategic plan and publish this, along with the vision, to the whole community. It is essential that the roles and responsibilities of the new pedagogical leadership team are clearly defined and that they are empowered to make decisions regarding the implementation and structure of the programmes. Time and effort needs to be dedicated to rebuilding a climate of open communication and trust on the part of all stakeholders, this in turn will support sustainable implementation of all three IB programmes.

It is recommended that the scheduled Middle Years Programme evaluation visit be postponed to 2017 to align with PYP [Primary Years Programme] and DP [Diploma Programme]. This will allow the school the time to address the above recommendations and enable CDNIS to benefit from the wider lens provided by having a full 3-programme visit at that time.”


A summary of key excerpts follows. Again, the link to the full report appears at the head of this story.

The report makes frequent reference to “CIS special issue” 1 through 6. These ‘special issues’ are not detailed in this report.

The Bad

On mission and philosophy aligning with IB (A.1):

“The school employed and [sic] external consultant to assist them in collecting data via a survey to support this process [of review]. The consultant is due to get back to them with findings by December 7th. This means, however, that the direction of the school’s strategic vision remains uncertain and it is not clear what the specific timeline for articulating this may be or quite how the process will unfold or be communicated.”

On understanding of IB philosophy in the school leadership (A.2):

“Conversations with the governing body indicate an emerging understanding of the IB philosophy…”

“There are varying levels of experience and understanding on the part of the administrative team, pedagogical leadership and staff in terms of the IB philosophy. Many leadership members are new to their roles and the head of school [Gregg Maloberti] have not yet received the required IB recognised training across programmes.”

“Conversations with various stakeholders indicate a lack of confidence in the head of school as a pedagogical leader.”

On international mindedness (A.4):

“Many questioned whether the school promotes the values of the IB and learner profile visibly enough.”

“Some of the decision making in the school has not been demonstrative of the learner profile.”

On open communication on understanding and respect (A.6):

This has been identified as a serious concern by various stakeholders in the school and the climate is described with terms such as: “broken”, “climate of fear”, “breakdown of trust”.

Various stakeholders were visibly uncomfortable during the meeting when it came to openly voicing their questions and concerns.

There appears to be a lack of transparency around communication in general.

Essential agreements on the use of modes of communication are not agreed upon and understood by all.

On systems to keep the governing body informed (B1.1):

Conversations with the board indicate they have regular meetings with the head of school. However, it is not clear whether these meetings provide the board with accurate information [bold added] about the implementation and development of the programme for strategic or operational reasons. Related to CIS special issue 3

On governance and leadership structure(B1.2):

RE: “pedagogical leadership of the programmes. The climate around these structures is described as “delicate” or “fragile” at the best of times. There appears to have been limited knowledge transfer when leadership teams have changed and a general lack of trust in the senior administrative and governance levels is apparent from all stakeholders.”

“Conversations with the governing body, leadership, coordinator and staff do not reflect a comprehensively collaborative approach to implementation.”

“Conversations with various stakeholders do not indicate that the pedagogical leadership are fully empowered by the school in making decisions.”

“Parents sensed a lack of articulation in certain areas of the curriculum.” Related to CIS special issue 2

On continuity and planning (B1.6):

“…, the leadership team has not been consistent so this has an effect on the continuity of the programme in terms of forward planning.”

“Conversations with staff indicate a lack of clarity about future plans for the programme as many are uncertain about who will remain in the school”

“During the visit, a large number of staff confirmed that they would not be returning to the school next academic year, including the DP coordinator, MYP Coordinator and a literacy coordinator who was identified to be a PYP coordinator in the following year. Related to CIS special issue 4”

On involving stakeholders in the IB process (B1.7):

“…feedback from most stakeholders indicated a lack of understanding of the role of the visit or expectations for involvement. Clear and transparent processes for involvement and selection of stakeholder groups were not evident. There was a general climate of nervousness about speaking freely and honestly. Related to CIS special issues 4 & 5


The Good

On international mindedness (A.4):

Students have an understanding of the concept of international mindedness and the attributes of the learner profile.

During conversations, parents indicated that they understand and value the development of international-mindedness and have a general awareness of the learner profile.

On open communication on understanding and respect (A.6):

Some parents express that they are encouraged to be in close contact with their child’s classroom teacher and are welcomed into the school.

On governance and leadership structure(B1.2):

“aspects such as resourcing are strongly supported.”

On continuity and planning (B1.6):

“The school’s action plan includes some timelines, accountabilities and outcomes regarding the ongoing development of the programme.”