MAEL is not a mainstream assessment organisation but is designed to work within the framework of the Montessori educational ethos. In summary, some of the main aspects of this ethos are:
● The freedom of the individual, both children as well as adults, which implies there should be a creative environment which is attractive but structured and safe, with a minimum of rules;
● Allowing the teacher within that environment to be less prominent than in a traditional classroom, giving opportunities for him/her to take a ‘back-seat- role, observing the child and using these observations to motivate the children (without any use of rewards) and enhance their learning using interesting materials which are at an appropriate but stimulating level for the child, based on his/her own interests;
● To provide a peaceful environment to initiate the child into an understanding of peace education, learning to deal with conflict in the classroom without resorting to violence, preparing them for a socially responsible adult life;
● To promote all aspects of the child’s development, physical, intellectual, social, perceptual, emotional and spiritual (in the secular sense of developing the spirit of the child) being aware of the natural paths of personal development;
● To promote independence and concentration, recognising the crucial role of concentration (or ‘flow’) in the cognitive and social development of children;
● The necessity for educational structures and processes to be based on rigorous scientific research.
Applying these principles to an assessment context implies that assessment tasks should be structured to permit the maximum degree of personal autonomy consistent with them being valid and reliable; that they should not intervene on the activities of the person being assessed or their charges; that they should tend to promote co-operative learning and that they assess a wide range of abilities. This ethos also involves a high degree of shared responsibility. There are numerous models of governance in the business community. Of these, the one which most nearly matches to the Montessori ethos is the stewardship model, whereby the directors of the company, alongside all staff, support management, and steward resources. Based on the UK Stewardship Code, the directors have therefore adopted the following principles of governance:
● Full public disclosure of policies on how their stewardship responsibilities will be discharged,
● Maintenance of a robust policy on managing conflicts of interest, data protection and equality issues,
● Transparent monitoring of teaching centres,
● Establishment of clear guidelines on when and how intervention in stewardship activities will be initiated,
● Willingness to co-operate fully with other involved organisations, and
● Periodical reporting of stewardship activities and (where appropriate) of voting decisions,
These principles do not constitute a rigid set of rules. In any situation where a constituent chooses not to (or is unable to) comply with one of the principles, or not to follow MAEL guidance, they should deliver written meaningful explanation with alternative suggestions to their line manager or to the Board of Directors, expressed clearly in such a way that it would enable the reader to understand their approach to stewardship and the rationale for their actions. In providing such an explanation, the signatory should aim to illustrate how his/her actual practices contribute to good stewardship and promote the delivery of the company’s objectives. This should constitute a clear rationale for their approach. Obviously, a situation where procedures are changed frequently is not conductive to efficient management, so a robust rationale will be expected. Their personal approach is, in any case, subject to veto or a final decision or amendment by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.
To read further, click ‘more’ below (more…)
MAEL is governed by a Board of Directors, who exercise their control through the Managing Director. He/she manages the company’s business through designated functional structures/bodies. At the present time, MAEL consists of three standing bodies within the company.
These three standing bodies are:
1. The Board of Directors (the specific terms of reference for whom are found in section 2.2.1 herein) who have responsibility for determining the company’s overall strategy, monitoring progress towards achieving the objectives, the operation of company policies, appointing senior management and accounting to stakeholders;
2. The Assessment Board (the specific terms of reference for whom are found in section 2.2.2 herein) which has specific responsibility for independently ensuring that all assessment processes are conducted professionally and without bias – their decisions on standards are not subject to review by the Board of Directors and the Teachers’ Panel has no access to its deliberations;
3. The Teachers’ Panel (the specific terms of reference for which are in section 2.2.3 herein) which is an advisory body, reporting to the Board of Directors and the Assessment Board and acting as a consultative group and a channel of communication with centres. The panel has no executive authority and a strict firewall is maintained between it and the Assessment Board, contact being restricted to requests for information about the assessment process.
These are serviced by office staff and led by the Managing Director (MD), together with ad hoc committees (e.g. a qualification development task force) appointed as required,. Other task forces which are deemed, by the Board of Directors, to be necessary to deal with specific issues will be appointed as and when any such issue arises and with terms of reference determined by the Board
MAEL also acts as a publisher of Montessori texts. At the present time (November 2020) this is confined to practical manuals that accompany the qualifications (and are provided to learners as part of their fees – and to Centres de bono) together with booklets of readings provided in a similar way. Centres are consulted, via the Teachers’ Panel, as to whether they are content for this arrangement to continue. In some cases Centres may wish to produce their own texts in order to minimize costsd. In thiew case copies must be forwarded to the MD in order to check their content. The production of the books produced by MAEL is overseen by the MD and is subject to the general overview of the Teachers’ Panel, who will review content and subject matter and make recommendations as appropriate. Should it be proposed (by any party) to offer any other services, the Board of Directors will be notified and take a decision on the strategic implications. The Board will also determine the extent of their ongoing involvement and oversight of the new service.
MAEL is also developing a nursery/pre-school accreditation system, for use abroad in countries where there is currently no system of quality control for them.
The company operates as an ethical concern, governed by policies which are openly available on the company website. All staff are expected to make themselves familiar with the policies and procedures of the company. In the case of any issues arising out of the content or operation of any of the policies, these must be raised with the appropriate officer of the company, in accordance with the Policy Management Framework. For an employee this will be their line manager. For a director this will be agenderised at the next meeting. Changes to policies will only be made by resolution of a director’s meeting unless an emergency situation arises or a legal challenge has been made. In such extraordinary circumstances the MD may make a temporary ruling, to be ratified or amended at the next director’s meeting, although, normally, an additional director’s meeting would be called as soon as practicable. Fuller details are provided in section 4.16 herein. Any alterations or extensions to policy must be notified in writing to all staff by the MD or his/her delegated officer, and the staff concerned asked to initial a memorandum confirming receipt.
[the dotted lines indicate input without any control]
The Board of Directors
n a sentence, the Board of Directors is in overall control of MAEL and takes responsibility for overseeing the establishment and operation of MAEL’s objectives, policies and procedures.
The Board consists of the Chairman of the Board (CBD) (normally one of the non-executive directors (NXDs) and appointed by majority vote of the board, although the MD is acting as the CBD during the current phase of the development of the company), the MD, any other executive directors and all NXDs. It exercises its stewardship through regular meetings and mandated feedback from the MD. All directors are invited to attend meetings which shall be at not less than quarterly intervals, with additional ad hoc meetings arranged if required. A quorum is set at 60& of the Board membership.
The board’s role is to:
1. determine the company’s overall strategic objectives. This is achieved by any change in MAEL’s modus operandi being subjected to scrutiny by the Board, with the ultimate power to veto any change a majority find unacceptable. The Board monitors progress towards the achievement of objectives and policies, including overseeing the maintenance and application of MAEL policies in general, specifically dealing with breaches of policy and any changes to policies which may become necessary, excluding minor changes deemed necessary by the MD to ensure clarity (in accordance with the Policy Management Framework in section 4.16 herein).
2. oversee the decision as to which qualifications shall be offered, with the Board taking the final responsibility for approving all new qualifications. The Board also accepts responsibility for ensuring that the process of qualification development is carried out in accordance with MAEL’s policies and also in accordance with the rules of compliance of any and all regulatory bodies. The Board checks how the offer is worded and advertised, in accordance with details in the Qualification Development Handbook. This contains the following specific points where the Board’s involvement is mandated, the Board being notified through a regular Board meeting, or in the case of urgency, an ad hoc meeting – usually via a tele-conference, e.g. via Zoom.:
In establishing the need for a new qualification, the Board of Directors will:
Receive a preliminary report from the MD and make a provisional decision to proceed, or a final decision to shelve the proposed new qualification.
In investigating viability and commitment, the Board of Directors will:
Receive a summative report from the MD;
Raise any further issues which are not sufficiently explicated;
Should it be apparent that third-party involvement will be required, the Board will check that the MD has ensured that this will not affect ongoing regulatory compliance;
Make a decision as to how to proceed.
When consulting with stakeholders, the Board of Directors (or a designated task force) will:
Receive consultation information from the MD at the following break points:
When the need is first raised
When the competencies have been determined and organised into units/sub-units
When the assessment tasks have been set and assigned to LOs
When the proof copy of the syllabus is being circulated
Propose alterations if it appears appropriate.
3. appoint senior management, and specifically a responsible person (RP) for each and every accreditation body (there shall be one responsible person per regulator, but not necessarily the same for all authorities), to act as the primary point of contact, to conduct or oversee all correspondence and to monitor compliance. The RP shall be sufficiently senior to be accountable for the development, delivery and award of qualifications. At the time of writing, the role of RP shall be taken by the MD.
4. regularly check for compliance with all regulator’s conditions. This is achieved through updating the self-assessment template (see appendix 10 of the Qualification Operation Handbook): this matter to be automatically agenderised for each meeting, where any alterations will be discussed and amended if necessary. This also includes checking and approving the annual report to Ofqual and to any other regulatory authority. The MD should authorise the issuance of any information required by competent bodies (and specifically ensuring that an annual report to Ofqual is referred to the Board for review and/or approval in a timely fashion). When reviewing provision, the Board of Directors will:
Receive the MD’s annual report;
Ratify it or propose amendments.
5. guarantee the independence of the Assessment Board in all matters relating to the application and assessment of standards. This is achieved by the Chief Examiner being instructed to report any attempt by any individual or organisation to influence the standards being applied to, or the results of, any assessment.
6. safeguard the interest of learners in the case of a change of control (see details of change of control procedures in the Business continuity Plan, section 4.4 herein)
7. Exercise oversight of the workings of teaching centres, in accordance with details in the Teaching Centre Operating Manual. This contains the following specific points where the Board’s involvement is mandated:
Receive the MD’s report on a prospective centre and take a decision on their suitability,
Receive the MD’s reports on the consultations on the packaging of the qualification and supporting materials, and make recommendations on future procedure,
Receive action plan(s) from the MD relating to any issues arising from the IV or EV processes, and take a view on them
Receive a self-evaluation report form the MD quarterly and review any changes
Make a decision on qualification withdrawal if the MD indicates this is to be considered
8. delegate such duties as may be efficiently carried out by others (typically to a task group of the directors)
9. oversee any other activities of MAEL which do not lead to recognised qualifications, i.e. the publication of teaching materials and the operation of a pre-school accreditation scheme. This is achieved through the MD’s involvement in their production and oversight which is reported to the chair of the Board.
10. oversee the operation of the Risk Management policy, reviewing action plans, their progress and completion. Except in urgent situations, when the MD will acxt on risks and report back to the Board, these will be discussed at the quarterly Board meetings.
11. oversee stewardship and management of resources, and act as the formal repository of all data, ensuring its security and appropriate dissemination (the day-to-day duties being delegated to the MD and staff.)
These shall be held at not more than quarterly intervals. The MD shall select a date (in consultation with directors in order to ensure maximum attendance) and notify all directors not less than four weeks before the date. In case of an emergency, an ad hoc meeting will be called and, if members of the board are unable to attend ay short notice, a tele-conference will be set up. Generally the regular date will be agreed at each preceding meeting. With the notification an agenda will be sent, set out in the following format:
Time, date & place of meeting
Standard agenda items, to include:
Minutes of last meeting
Self-assessment report for Ofqual compliance
AOB (to include arrangements for next meeting as far as practicable.)
The Chairman of the Board (CBD) shall be elected from the non-executive directors (NXDs) and will serve for a term of 3 years (re-newable upon re-election). Meetings will be quorate if over 50% of eligible members are in attendance. Electronic attendance (e.g. by Skype) is acceptable. The CBD will hold a casting vote, and meetings will normally be minuted by the company secretary. Minutes will be distributed not more than 28 days after the meeting.
Current members of the Board are listed on the Companies House website.
The Assessment Board
In a sentence, the Assessment Board has the responsibility of ensuring that all assessments/assignments are constructed and marked in accordance with the published standards of MAEL and that the processes conform to the requirements of all of MAEL’s regulatory bodies.
The Board consists of the quality assurance manager (QAM), chief examiner, the external verifier (if they elect to attend) and internal verifier, invited members and representation of examiners (who may elect to be represented by proxy by one of their number). The MD may attend in an advisory capacity. The main meetings will be held before the examination papers are approved, to compile a paper from the question bank, and afterwards to check gradings, but others shall be held as needed. The Board’s role is to:
● oversee all aspects of assessment, including setting tasks, marking, security, determining grade boundaries, appeals and award of certificates,
● liaise with the quality assurance manager to ensure that standards are maintained
● issue a report on the assessment of each cohort of learners, and on each examination session, and
● co-operate fully with all accrediting bodies.
Minutes of all meetings shall be distributed to all members and (where appropriate) be made available publicly. All business and assessment is carried out in the English language.
A number of individuals are involved in the assessment procedures. Their roles (which are given in more detail in section 3 herein) are as follows:
The Chief Examiner – to have overall responsibility for setting assessment tasks and ensuring they are correctly marked, and to chair the Assessment Board.
Practical Examiner(s) – to undertake viva examination of candidates for the practical component of an assessment scheme and production of written feedback.
Markers/Assessor(s) – to undertake the marking/grading of written assessments and production of individual written feedback.
Internal Verifier – to undertake the checking of the final marks for internal consistency and quality of marking.
External verifier – to act as an independent consultant to check the overall standard and determine where the grade boundaries should lie, in the context of their own experience in HE. The role of the EV is to ensure that academic standards are maintained, they do not have a role in checking compliance with regulatory compliance. This role was a requirement of the Open University when MAEL was recognised by them, and has been continued since then.
The Teachers’ Panel
In a sentence, the Teachers’ Panel is a consultative body. Its role is to provide a channel of communication between the qualification users and the administration.
The Panel consists of a representative of each Teaching Centre, normally the Principal, the MD ex-officio in an advisory role, and such other persons (e.g. representatives of employers and/or adult learners) as the panel may elect to invite. Meetings shall be at not more than annual intervals. Its role is to:
● to provide an advisory role,
● to act as a conduit for information to and from the Teaching Centres. The panel may expect to be given full responses to requests for guidance or information, in a timely fashion,
● to bring to the attention of the MD any issues arising out of the assessment procedures,
● to only communicate with the Assessment Board via the directors, and
● to elect a chair from amongst its number, to act as the main point of contact.
Each Teaching Centre has the right to appoint one member to the panel (see notification form on next page). In view of the wide geographical spread of associated centres, all meetings are quorate when a minimum of 66% of the members are present. Electronic attendance (e.g. by Zoom) is permitted. Minutes will be produced by a volunteer and copies circulated to all panel members (and the MD) within 28 days of the meeting.
N.B. A ‘firewall’ must be maintained between the Teachers’ Panel and the Assessment Board, ensuring that no confidential material is transmitted inappropriately and that no inappropriate influence can be exerted upon the examiners. This will be done through having separate post-holders who sign a commitment to confidentially. It is part of the CE’s responsibilities to ensure that no contact is permitted between the Teachers’ Panel and the Assessment Board. Any communication shall be via the MD. However this does not preclude the CE giving advice to teachers’ Centres on matters relating to the conduct and rubric of assessments, or general advice on marking and/or grading procedures.
The Teachers’ Panel also acts as a formal partner in the stages of stakeholder consultation.
page updated 12.04.2021