Associated Schools and Centres (definition)

System of Quality Accreditation for Associated Schools and Centres

The System of Quality Accreditation for Camões, I.P. Associated Schools and Centres exists within the best practices framework defined by EAQUALS (Evaluation & Accreditation of Quality in Language Services). Providing correct and comprehensive information in full compliance of the law, this system is based on a commitment to fair interaction among all the entities concerned.

The evaluation process is based on a global auditing model that covers all aspects of associated schools and centres’ activities and is geared towards the systematic assessment of all those elements in a constructive and consultative manner.

Quality control is carried out by Evaluation Entities who gather evidence from various sources in order to ensure that the required standards are being adhered to. They assess the degree of compliance in accordance with all the necessary requirements, conditions and factors within the System of Quality Accreditation for Camões, I.P. Associated Schools and Centres. This process is carried out in schools and centres intending to join the network or those wishing to extend their collaboration contract, whose compliance is confirmed in published quality reports.

Evaluation Entity: definition, skills and selection criteria

It is understood that an Evaluation Entity will carry out an Evaluation Visit to entities applying to be included in Camões, I.P.’s network of schools and centres. The evaluation visit can be carried out by Camões, I.P.’s own officers or by entities appointed by the Institute, both in Portugal and anywhere else in the world. To this end, Camões, I.P. signs collaboration agreements to certify that Evaluation Entities have the capacity and experience to fulfil the requirements and conditions necessary to inspect schools and centres, as well as the required administrative and managerial know-how to execute activities relating to the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language.

The purpose of the evaluation visit is to assess the quality levels of applying schools and centres.

During the visit, inspectors need to gather sufficient evidence to prove that the candidate is conforming with all the set standards. This is carried out by observing the activities and carrying out interviews with the people working in the applying school or centre.

The result of the evaluation visit must then be transmitted in the form of a quality report. This report should present a general assessment of the conditions of the school or centre, along with an overall score and a list of proposed improvements.

Evaluation Entities must have the following credentials: 

  • Experience in inspecting organisations;
  • Experience in the organisation and administration of schools and educational centres;
  • Experience in the administration and management of activities relating to the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language.

Evaluation Visits

Appointments for an evaluation visit can take anything up to 60 days from the moment the Approval is sent by Camões, I.P. to the applying school or centre.

Taking an average of two days, evaluation visits check all the requirements, conditions and factors established by the System of Quality Certification for Camões, I.P. Associated Schools and Centres in the process of certifying the quality of the applying schools and centres. The whole assessment procedure is strictly confidential and carried out in an impartial manner, taking into account all quality indicators, including the observation of lessons, interviews with staff members, teachers and students, the checking of documentation and inspection of facilities and accommodation, where applicable.

The candidate’s management procedures will also be checked in order to validate the processes of evaluation and existing quality assurance systems. The institutions are expected to provide documentation about these processes, as well as all the legal and safety requirements. Set standards and criteria aren’t actually prescribed although a base of requirements is clearly established.

Following this step, the Evaluation Entity will draft a Quality Report with a general assessment overview.

Quality Reports

Quality reports are issued either by Camões, I.P. or an accredited evaluation entity appointed by Camões, I.P. to carry out the work.

The steps required for obtaining a quality report are as follows:

  • A contract is signed by the evaluation entity and the applying school or centre;
  • A full submission of documentation is required by the evaluation entity in order to prepare for the visit, as well as a promise to commit to handing over of all necessary legal documentation within a period of eight months, once Camões, I.P. has agreed to the signing of a membership contract;
  • An evaluation visit is made to the applying school or centre for the duration of two days in order to assess whether or not the establishment has the necessary facilities and conditions for quality certification, as set out by Camões, I.P;
  • A quality report is issued in duplicate. Compliance with the minimum requirements does not guarantee a favourable report, subject to the scores obtained in all the different areas. 

Information to be included in the quality report (which is to be delivered within two months or can be extended to a maximum of six months from the date of the inspection visit) must include the following:

  • An overall assessment with scores for each aspect concerning quality;
  • Information with recommendations for the improvement of the quality of services provided by the school or educational centre;
  • Specific information about the standard of teaching by the school’s staff and teaching recommendations.

If the report is produced by Camões, I.P, the Institute will send a copy to the school or educational centre. If it is produced by other inspectors, then copies of the report will be mailed to Camões, I.P. and the school or educational centre in less than ten days from the issue date.

Favourable Quality Reports

A favourable quality report is obtained when the minimum score for each of the respective areas is achieved. If the minimum score is not achieved, or if a score of zero is registered in some sections, then the report will not be favourable, even if the total score exceeds 80 points.

Negative Quality Reports

If the minimum score established by Camões, I.P. isn’t achieved, even though the total score exceeds 80 points, then the school or centre has the right to request a review within one month of receiving the report. The school or centre will then have a maximum of four months to carry out any recommended improvement. 

In the case of a new evaluation visit being required, the school or centre must pay the evaluation entity’s costs, including travel, accommodation and any other daily expenses. Quality report reviews, whether positive or negative, do not involve the payment of a new report.

Signing the Contract

Valid for three years, a contract is then signed by Camões, I.P. and the school or centre that has been issued a positive quality report by the evaluator.

Documentation

The evaluation entities provide Camões, I.P. with all the documentation used in the report, which the Institute retains throughout the validity period of the agreement. During the process of issuing the report, the inspectors seek to adopt all necessary measures to safeguard, at every level of the organisation, full confidentiality of all the information obtained whilst carrying out their duties.

Documentation not of a legal nature provided by the school or centre during the inspection process or period of collaboration within the network of schools and other teaching establishments will be destroyed by Camões, I.P. once the contract (or any extension period) has expired, unless the school expresses in writing that it wants the documentation returned, in which case it will be subject to any postage charges.

Contract Renewals

The agreement can only be renewed if the associated school or centre explicitly requests a new contract in full accordance with Camões, I.P.

The school or centre can request an extension anything up to eight months prior to the contract’s expiry date by carrying out the following procedure:

  • Filling in the extension request form and sending it to Camões, I.P..
  • Being in receipt of a reply by e-mail or fax from Camões, I.P. accepting such a request.
  • Choosing an evaluation entity in order to obtain a quality report, which can be from Camões, I.P. or any of the other official entities (regardless of who issued the previous report).
  • Hiring an evaluation entity to produce the report and declaring (in advance) full compliance with all the legal requirements involved in operating a teaching establishment.

Quality reports required for the extension of a contract with Camões, I.P. must be issued within a maximum period of three months, provided that the school or educational centre puts in a request and, if favourable, delivers it to Camões, I.P. (together with the necessary documentation provided by the school) at least four months before the contract expires.

Renewed contracts are valid for four years.

Contract Termination

The contract may be terminated by consent of both parties for any failure to comply with the obligations or when the contract period expires.

Any complaint by either party must be notified in writing to the other party by registered letter (with receipt of delivery) within a minimum period of 6 months from the contract’s expiry date. Once Camões, I.P. has received notification, the school or educational centre can no longer use the quality certificate or its corresponding logo.

Any breach of these conditions, including the misuse of the term "Associated Camões, I.P. School/Centre” and the corresponding logo, as well as proof of any irregularities or shortcomings whose impact or repeated use affects or may affect the teaching of the Portuguese language, brings about the termination of the contract.

In the event of the contract being revoked or terminated, the associated school or centre is no longer entitled to a refund of any payments already made to Camões, I.P.

In case of any disagreements or questions relating to the terms and conditions of the contract, parties must put their case before the Portuguese courts.

Obligations of Associated Schools and Centres

A Camões, I.P. associated school or centre must: 

  • Offer the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language through general language courses and/or specialised courses whilst fulfilling all the conditions laid down by the evaluation entity compiling the quality report;
  • Establish curricula based on Camões, I.P. benchmarks with clearly defined quality levels, specific objectives and contents, methodological guidelines and criteria for evaluation;
  • Operate a staff training programme in accordance with the one defined by Camões, I.P. in the membership contract;
  • Encourage student participation in certification programmes supported or sponsored by Camões, I.P.;
  • Promote Portuguese culture by organising extracurricular activities or through participation in activities promoted by Camões, I.P.;
  • Use the Camões, I.P. image in accordance with the standards set out in the rules regarding the use of the Institute’s logo and image;
  • Use the logo in publicity material concerning the teaching of English in associated schools and centres in accordance with the standards concerning graphic image;
  • Provide Camões, I.P. with any information that might be requested in relation to the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language and any other matters relating to studying the language;
  • Pay Camões, I.P. an agreed annual fee (variable in each country) to be a member of the association.

Advantages of becoming an Associated School or Centre

Any establishment joining the Associated Schools and Centres Network is eligible to: 

  • Use the Camões, I.P. image as well as the phrase "Camões, I.P. Associated School or Centre", in accordance with the graphical identity regulations set down by the Institute. 
  • Receive a personalised certificate stating that the establishment is an "Camões, I.P. Associated School or Centre" for the duration of the collaboration agreement or contract extension, depending on the case. 
  • Be included in the official list of associated schools or centres on the Camões, I.P. website, complete with contact details and a link to the establishment’s website. 
  • Benefit from access to the Institute’s initiatives, including teacher training activities and the quality certificate programme.

General requirements

The general requirements for becoming a Camões, I.P. associated school or centre are initially intended for institutions dedicated to the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language in person to be specified and assessed in check lists. The requirements relating to associated schools and centres are as follows: 

  • To be a language teaching establishment offering the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language either exclusively, as a priority or as a complementary language with more than two years of experience teaching Portuguese or with staff capable of showing a similar amount of experience if the school opened more recently.
  • To be located in cities where there are no other Camões, I.P. associated schools/centres (except in exceptional circumstances).
  • To meet the minimum requirements of the System of Quality Accreditation for Camões, I.P. associated schools and centres in terms of the quality of their teaching, facilities and equipment, administrative organisation, information, advertising and legal requirements.

Concept

The Network of Associated Schools and Centres of Camões, I.P. is an international network of public and private institutions that teach Portuguese as a foreign language, each of which is dedicated to teaching and spreading the Portuguese language and culture in Portugal and overseas, with the quality of their services being recognised by Camões, I.P.. 

This network is designed to contribute to the expansion of teaching and promoting the Portuguese language with a guarantee of efficiency and quality, with membership aimed at schools and educational centres dedicated to the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language mostly abroad but also in Portugal. 

Membership of the Network of Associated Schools and Centres of Camões, I.P. involves signing a contract with Camões, I.P. after confirmation of certain requirements, conditions and quality indicators established by the System of Quality Accreditation for Associated Schools and Centres of Camões, I.P. 

Establishments belonging to the network are eligible to promote themselves as a ‘Camões, I.P. Associated School or Centre’.

Objectives and applications

The project Network of Associated Schools and Centres of Camões I.P. is in line with the Institute's mission 'to propose and execute learning and teaching policies relating to the Portuguese language and culture overseas'.

This project is particularly aimed at schools and educational centres dedicated to the teaching of Portuguese as a foreign language that wish to be part of the network of Camões, I.P. associated schools and centres, both in Portugal and abroad.

The first phase of the project concerns schools and centres dedicated to teaching Portuguese as a foreign language on-site, in line with all the general requirements and commitment to quality set out by Camões, I.P.

The application process is divided into the following phases:

  • Application by the interested school or centre by sending a completed form and signed declaration complying with the minimum requirements;
  • A message of endorsement by Camões, I.P.;
  • An evaluation visit to establish the legal, physical, administrative and educational conditions of the school or centre seeking quality certification;
  • The signing of a three-year contract by Camões, I.P. and the associated school or centre if the establishment is found to be in full compliance of the minimum requirements set out by Camões, I.P.

Associated schools and educational centres are eligible to say that they are an ‘Associated Camões, I.P. School/Centre’ as well as using the corresponding logo throughout the duration of the contract, initially of a three-year duration but renewable for another four years.

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