All schools develop handbooks and other publications to clarify what the school believes, what policies it enforce, the procedures which are followed to carry out those policies and procedures, and the expectations placed upon employees of the school.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, precise definitions at the start will clarify the differences between them and make transparent, to the extent possible, how policies, processes and procedures are adopted and altered.
It is important to remember that SSIS is a board-run school. The members of the Board of Directors of Saigon South International School are appointed by the executive leadership of the Central Trading and Development Company in Taiwan and its Phu My Hung subsidiary and bear primary responsibility for the governing of the School. It is within their purview and responsibility, when necessary, to set such policies, processes and procedures as they deem necessary for the development of the School.
In general, however, the Board of Directors’ most important task is to engage a Head of School whose chief responsibility it is to carry out the mission of the School as established by the School’s founders, Mr. Lawrence S. Ting and Mr. Ferdinand Tsien. The Head of School, with approval from the Board, engages a group of administrators who work with the Head of School to fulfilll this mission as the Senior Administrative Team. It is generally, then, at the level of the Senior Administrative Team that policies, processes, procedures, and expectations are discussed and decisions are made by the Head of School.
Policies are the rules and guidelines, the purpose of which is to ensure consistency and compliance with the School’s mission and strategic direction. Policies are written when issues rise to the level that a Board decision is needed. SSIS policies are generally structured with the following parts:
A process is a detailed list of the steps or activities related to a product or outcome. It may be related to a policy (e.g. what steps to take if an employee has a grievance) or simply a transparent explanation of how things are done (e.g. steps to apply for professional development funds). SSIS processes generally contain the following:
A procedure defines the specific instructions to perform a task (which may be part of a larger process). SSIS procedures detail:
To illustrate all three, the administration might create a policy that all leaving employees are to be surveyed before departure regarding their time at SSIS (justified by the importance we place on our Core Values and our desire for honest feedback). The Board would then be asked to afirm the policy. This survey may be part of a larger process when employees depart the school (closing of nancial accounts, return of school equipment, closure of employee school network accounts). Each step in this process may have a procedure associated with it (e.g. how and when are employee email accounts closed).
Within handbooks published by SSIS, specifically those intended for the employees and teaching faculty, will be found sections on “expectations.” These are guidelines which employees are expected to read and follow. Failure to do so can, in serious cases, become a factor in considerations of contract renewal or continued employment at the school.
As has been mentioned above, SSIS is a board run-school. As such, the Board of Directors may, from time to time, establish policies for the School which they believe are needed to fulfill its mission. These policies are not open to alteration or elimination without the consent of the Board of Directors and will be enforced by the administration of the school without exception.
Most policies, though, are created at the senior administrative team level. The senior administrative team serves in an advisory capacity to the Head of School and is not a voting body. Policy proposals or alterations, which may be generated internally or come as suggestions from SSIS employees and faculty, are discussed among the administrative team with the hopes of achieving a consensus opinion. However, in the end, proposed policies must have the support of the Head of School and be submitted by the Head of School to the Board of Directors for their approval, amendment, or alteration.
Processes and procedures may be created at many different levels within the school (e.g. an elementary school process for student council elections or all school trip planning procedures) but must be submitted to the relevant member of the senior administrator (the Elementary Principal, in the case of the examples provided) who, in turn, will file the same with the Head of School office for inclusions within this publication.
Expectations are often contractual in nature. They may come from the Board, the Head of School, or be suggested by the various supervisory personnel on campus for approval by the Head of School.
SSIS attempts to maintain all policies, processes, and procedures, along with a great deal more information, in a unified body of handbook chapters. However, it must be understood from the start that no organization can anticipate all potential situations which may arise. In the end, the Head of School is solely responsible to the Board of Directors for the administration of SSIS.