STAR quality: MCI's framework

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Montessori Centre International (MCI) presents its Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR) – a new developmental framework

Holly Tree Montessori Nursery in Stockport has started its STAR accreditation
Holly Tree Montessori Nursery in Stockport has started its STAR accreditation

Since its inception as the Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board (MEAB) in 2007, the Montessori Group has upheld a firm commitment to accreditation for Montessori schools and early years settings both in the UK and globally.

In 2021, it is time to broaden the service offer and to reinvigorate the potential impact and depth of Montessori Centre International’s (MCI) involvement with its quality enhancement responsibilities across the education sector and strengthen its place at the forefront of educational quality assurance activity to benefit learners worldwide.

As a sector, we remain aware that as education becomes increasingly globalised, innovative and inclusive practices become ever more important. The need for quality assurance and encouragement of ongoing enhancement in these areas becomes vital, and against a backdrop of secure, high-quality standards of excellence, the Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR) framework is well placed to provide focus on and recognition of the value of such developments.

The STAR framework is a worldwide commitment to upholding the highest standards for education providers. The accreditation assessment process is focused on celebrating the importance of each and every learning journey.

The STAR framework’s values integrate reflective practice and creative improvement planning. Dynamic delivery supported by strategic thinking is encouraged - and it is this combination that makes it unique.

Karen Chetwynd, MCI’s Director of Academic Quality and Partnerships, says, ‘Unlike preparation for other forms of inspection or accreditation, the STAR review process encourages education providers to explain and explore their practice, to help the accreditation assessors learn more about the individual setting or educators’ specific approach to education, support and personal development. STAR asks for evidence of ongoing development, initiatives for improvement and areas that have been self-identified for further attention or focus as part of regular reviews to maintain standards.’


The STAR framework is a ladder structure – this is a unique feature enabling providers to apply for recognition at the level best suited to their aims, experience and expertise. Education providers and settings are encouraged to move through the Affiliation services to suit their own developmental journey and reach their own levels of independence - some may even choose to establish themselves as training providers in their own right, passing on their experience, knowledge and expertise with MCI’s support, delivering education and training to their staff or wider communities. This aspect of the framework resonates particularly with practitioners looking to move into the next stage of their career.

MCI ‘s Head of Education Preeti Patel says, ‘At the start of their careers it is imperative that students on placement have the opportunity to “learn their trade” in settings that are committed to providing enabling learning environments for the next generation of Early Years Educators.’


The STAR framework is unique in its support for ongoing development across every setting, no matter the size or funding status. Quite simply, high-quality provision is acknowledged as a significant and essential component in delivering the best education and care for children across the globe.

The STAR framework supports a wide range of educational provision:

  • early years settings
  • home-based educators and childminding services
  • schools and college institutions
  • further and higher education providers
  • private training establishments.

The STAR framework operates internationally and provides a trustworthy marker of quality, recognisable to parents, community leaders and funding partners. MCI is continuing to gain further global recognition for STAR, ensuring it remains current, relevant and responsive to the educational provision in demand today.

STAR seeks to support the place of innovation in education to suit the 21st century – it is understood that educational practice needs to be response and flexible to meet the needs of today’s families and address the challenges of working in the busy, fast-paced and, at times, challenging educational sector.


The STAR framework enables education providers to apply for recognition at the level best suited to their expertise, and best able to reflect their experience in quality assurance and enhancement activity.

Accreditation, Endorsement and Approval Services

Phase One:

Journey to Accreditation (e.g. independent nursery settings or home based educators)

Successful Accreditation status provides assurance to communities of quality compliance and ongoing embedded practice routed in authentic, sustainable Montessori, and Montessori-inspired, practice.

Phase Two:

Achieving Endorsement (e.g. experienced and well-respected settings with capacity to support trainees)

Successful Endorsement status provides public recognition of quality educational provision which is innovative and relevant, enabling learning communities to make informed choices when looking for high-quality education programmes or study locations.

Phases Three & Four:

Host & Beacon Training Centre Approval (e.g. established, expertly staffed settings with local training needs for staff)

Successful Approval status enables established, well-positioned educational providers to be supported, monitored and inspired by contemporary Montessori practice across adult learning provision and offer a portfolio of well-managed and sector-relevant professional development courses and qualifications.

Ms Chetwynd says, ‘Each educational provider, no matter which phase of the STAR framework ladder, will be required to achieve satisfactory annual monitoring and re-assessment every three years. They need to demonstrate an active, sustained interest in progression for professional development opportunities, settings’ development targets and strategic opportunities for growth and new business support.’

STAR accepts applications from settings and educators self-titled as ‘Montessori’, operated by Montessori-qualified teachers and/or those seeking to embed and uphold child-led practice through a wide, firm commitment to high-quality, Montessori-inspired practice. Their practice must be evidenced in line with the STAR quality standards and inclusive learning and teaching principles that have been developed through a long-standing history of assessing educational provision and supporting the evolution of a responsive application of the Montessori (and wider Montessori-inspired) pedagogy.

STAR assessments draw on the expertise of Montessori practitioners, experienced educators and quality-assurance and enhancement experts, all working together to deliver a transparent, consistent review process secured through regular monitoring and robust peer scrutiny.

The awarding of STAR status is for commendable practice – parents, children, wider families and communities will know that these recognised settings, home-based educators or colleges are part of a wider network of excellence; a robust community of educational providers who are accountable and proactive in maintaining their educational quality standards.

The STAR assessing team are inquisitive, supportive and curious to learn about your specific, dedicated learning provision. We want to understand your context, your communities and your commitment to your children and families. We will listen, learn and question – much more than a ‘tick-box exercise’!

The Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR) framework offers a pioneering approach to educational accreditation, endorsement and approval. Awarding the STAR status to quality settings and educators choosing to be held accountable for their methods of operation and professional practice is essential for supporting parents, learners’ families and their communities, seeking confirmation of excellence among the range of educational provision available today.

If educational providers are looking to be recognised for their commitment to high-quality learning and teaching, STAR is the quality mark that is the best fit – a personalised assessment process, reflective and responsive to the unique provision at each provider, routed in dependable and valuable comparisons with the highest-quality sector standards.


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