School Policies

Admissions, Attendance, School Year, Special Needs, etc.

Admissions

The Mercy Ships Academy strives to meet the educational needs of all students with limited access to para-educational support and qualified support staff. We are unable to accept students with educational needs that reach beyond our capacity. Student assessments and reviews are completed to determine whether a student’s needs can be met onboard our ships during the family’s acceptance process. 

Special Needs

The Mercy Ships Academy is limited in its ability to provide additional educational support services designed for students with specific educational needs (SEN). The specific special needs of each student are assessed as part of the Academy application and throughout their time onboard. It is the Academy’s responsibility to assess whether they can provide the support needed by a student and communicate with the family and HR leadership when the student’s needs exceed our capacity.

Many special educational needs (SEN) require medical, emotional, and educational support that surpasses the regular classroom learning process. The Academy works with the medical and chaplaincy services to determine what support can be provided or if alternative options need to be considered.

Homeschooling

The Academy cannot offer any provision for homeschooling onboard. The Academy is not staffed to offer assistance or supervision of the homeschooler.

It is necessary to inform the Principal regarding the application of families with homeschooled children who wish to continue homeschooling onboard.

Attendance

Students are required to attend 90% of the school year in order to be eligible for promotion to the next school grade. Students may accrue 18 days of absences before having to repeat a school year. Once a student enrolls in the Academy, attendance requirements apply. 

Home Language

In most cases, the Academy is not able to accept children who are not able to read, write, and speak English fluently up to their appropriate grade level. We encourage students, where possible, to attend an English education for at least one year prior to attending the Mercy Ships Academy.

When students do not have English Language fluency up to their appropriate grade level, the parent caregiver may be required to support the child in the classroom for a minimum of three months until the language fluency is adequate for functioning. In some cases, this type of parental English language classroom support may be necessary for longer than three months.

 The Principal does not expect that Academy teachers will adapt their teaching methods to enable non-English speaking students to access the curriculum.

The placement of parents in the classroom to act as full-time English language support teachers must go through the Human Resources Department onboard their respective ship, as well as the Academy Principal.

Discipline Response

All staff and students are expected to exercise self-discipline in order to work effectively and efficiently within our school. No student has the right to disrupt another student’s learning. Our focus is on rewarding positive behavior. When self-discipline is lacking, teachers and school leadership may need to correct student behavior. 

If needed, correction of your child will be done by talking to him or her privately, withdrawing privileges, or by detention (for grades 6-12). If your child does not respond appropriately, we will contact you to discuss the matter further. In the unusual event that your child is detained by a teacher after school for a misdemeanor or to complete work, the teacher will notify you. If you already have a family event or a planned visit ashore at which you need your child to be present, please let us know, and the detention will then be moved to the next day.

Please note that a delay in detention will generally be accepted only if there is a prior family arrangement.

School Year

There are to be a minimum of 180 instructional days in our school year. The nature of our ministry will sometimes cause us to change the school schedule.

The school year is divided into two semesters — approximately the start of school to Christmas, and New Year to the end of the school year. You will be notified of school closure days. Vacation periods for students may be scheduled during those days.

Occasionally, it becomes necessary for a family to leave during the school year for vacation or support raising purposes. This situation is not ideal because the child loses valuable classroom instruction time, and must either work with the parents during the period of absence, or catch up after they return. However, we recognize that these circumstances are sometimes inevitable. Teachers will provide guidelines as much as possible for the student, but please be aware that detailed instructions will not be available for lengthy periods of absence.

Occasionally, high school students may choose to make time to do the required work upon their return to school, and the subject teachers will set reasonable dates for its completion. An extensive absence may result in loss of credit for certain subjects. Parents should be sure to notify the Principal if children are to miss school.