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A set of draft school standards were drawn up and BSME was one of a handful of organisations asked to provide feedback on their suitability for use in the wide variety of contexts within which BSME schools are operated. After two rounds of feedback, the BSO system was launched in September 2010.
The system is fairly closely aligned to that used to inspect the majority of Independent (i.e. private / non-government) schools in the United Kingdom and the aim is that the system will allow schools overseas to be judged broadly in the same way, and with the same result, for a similar school within the UK.
BSME and PENTA International met with the Department for Education (DFE – the Ministry of Education for England and Wales) and Ofsted (the body with overall responsibility for inspections in England and Wales) with the result that the standards within the BSME Accreditation System was well-aligned with those in the new BSO programme, albeit with slightly different terminology and processes.
Accordingly, it is now possible, through ONE inspection / accreditation team visit, for a school to undergo an assessment under BOTH systems. There is, however, an extra cost involved in the translation of BSME terminology into that use by BSO; to cover the examination of additional BSO policies and procedures and to cover a proportion of the costs that the UK government levies to quality assure the system.
Although well-aligned with the BSME system, the inclusion of BSO does introduce some extra requirements. Firstly, BSO inspections can be Quality Assured by Ofsted. This will be through members of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI) joining inspection / accreditation teams, annually for a sample of school visits and through judgements of the quality and appropriateness of inspection reports, processes and evidence collected.
In addition, only approved inspection agencies may operate the BSO system. These agencies have undergone a rigorous application and approval process to assure the DFE and Ofsted that they are qualified and able to provide high-quality inspections under the BSO system. PENTA International was the one of the first two organisations to be approved and it carried out the very first BSO inspection (in Hong Kong). A total of six agencies have been approved by the UK government, these are: PENTA International; Independent Schools Inspectorate; CFBT Educaton Trust; Cambridge Education; G2G Education Ltd and Tribal Education Ltd.