Global Insights: April 2020

Page 1











APRIL 2020















Gi 24 Greville Street London EC1N 8SS +44 (0)20 7824 7040 Copyright 2020 | Twitter: @ecischools

56 | 2020 YOUTH WRITES AWARDS EDWARD GIRARDET 60 | IMPORTANCE OF SPACIAL DATA ANNE ROBERTSON & JANET ROBERTS Cover image: Tan Kaninthanond Contents page image: Gateway College, Sri Lanka



To all the contributors who have worked so hard to help make this issue what it is, we thank you very much for your fresh ideas, innovative thoughts, and more than anything, your pedagogical passion! We know these are not easy times for anyone right now, but we hope the articles in this issue will at least give you some inspiration for better days ahead. Wishing you and your loved ones good health during this challenging time. Your ECIS team.



See where ISS can take you and your school. Whether developing and managing world-class international schools, staffing schools, ordering equipment and supplies, performing accounting functions, or supporting best-in-class teaching and learning approaches, International Schools Services (ISS), provides the full range of services necessary for your school to thrive and deliver an outstanding global education to your students. Learn more at Be part of a virtual ISS-Schrole Advantage job fair:

iFairŽ • April 16, 2020


REAL WORLD MOTIVATION: Harnessing Authentic Audience to Transform Assessment for All Students.

Rachael Thrash The International School of Helsinki Ellen Heyting The International School of Helsinki & Monash University

T oday’s K-12 educators are diligently moving away from the traditional lecture and note taking methods of teaching towards constructivist views. In daily lessons, we strive to put the learner at the centre of educational experiences. Yet, when it comes to assessment, we are dragging our feet. If we accept the value in these constructivist pedagogies, then surely we must acknowledge that it is time to challenge our traditional notions of assessment as well?




he hallmark of traditional school work is the essay. Its ultimate audience, the teacher, assesses the level understanding a student demonstrates. This approach puts students and teaches in a transactional relationship. And, not surprisingly, students who feel prepared to perform in this way may find this process satisfying. Their efforts yield positive recognition from the authority. But what about the other learners? How does this model strike them? And even for those ready to show their learning in this format, how does it encourage personalisation, risk taking, and empowerment? By limiting the students’ audience to their teachers, we establish a primarily hierarchical relationship between teachers and students. Worse, we miss the opportunity to encourage all of our students to find their voices.

feedback mechanism. Created with intention and student growth in mind, it broke down the process of creating a meaningful resistance piece into manageable steps; students practiced disciplinary skills until they developed confidence.

TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT VS. AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT Problems with assessment arise when the work is an exercise with a foregone conclusion. The same students always succeed while the students who don’t know the answer or feel unsure of their abilities lose motivation. If a student’s goal is only to show that they can identify symbolism in a resistance text, knowing that the teacher has a particular definition of symbolism, where is their sense of agency? How can they feel empowered?

THE INSPIRATION OF AN AUTHENTIC AUDIENCE In contrast to a student who has just completed an essay, picture Ayla, a 10th grader who faces attention and language based learning challenges. Recently, Ayla acted as a docent at a local restaurant where student shared their work in a resistance art installation, “Question The Narrative: Young Artists Challenge Norms That Promote Injustice.” Ayla’s piece exposed Nestle’s abuse of child labourers, including a call to action for consumers. Watching a visitor view her work, she exclaimed, “I have goosebumps! I can’t believe someone actually cares!”

It is easy to find the shortcomings of traditional essaybased assessments: Tests are based on ‘unseen’ questions, whereas in authentic assessments, as much as possible is known about the task ahead of time, and students have had a chance to practice, get feedback and prepare. Authentic assessments are iterative by nature, involving students and teachers working together to co-construct new understandings of the world. Traditional assessments simply take a ‘snapshot’ of a students’ performance at one point in time. While traditional assessments ask students to reproduce a correct answer, authentic assessments are open-ended and allow for student agency and voice.

Yolanda, a highly precocious student also grappled with the challenge of creating a meaningful resistance piece for the installation. She pursued ideas and ultimately decided to expose society’s unhealthy version of success. She symbolically re-purposed a photo of Justin Bieber on the cover of Forbes, questioning societal values and role models. Her work was both personal and impactful. She explored her own concerns about success and shared them with an audience. The restaurant staff marvelled at the customer discussions her piece sparked.

Traditional methods of assessing offer the illusion of learning in our students. But ask students to take what they’ve learned and transfer it to a new situation and they may lack the deeper understanding or flexibility. Gardner (1993) argues that authentic assessment tasks must ask students to solve a real world problem or create a product with someone else’s needs in mind, and have value beyond the classroom walls.



When we talk about real world experiences, we are showing young thinkers that their opinions matter. They have value outside their achieved grade. Students seek teacher feedback when they know they will share work with a larger audience. The teacher’s role moves from success arbiter to coach. Mistakes become opportunities for improvement rather than reasons to justify a lower grade. Students trust the teacher to help them find their voice.

These students and their diverse classmates responded to a complex unit digging into hegemonies and resistance. They worked to expose unjust power structures to an audience beyond the teacher assessing them. Alongside this performance challenge, students developed their abilities by analysing resistance texts and researching hegemonic structures. Assessment on this work became an important




Consider this range of opportunities for students to share their work: • Class magazine • Interviews with community members • Teaching the parent community • Raising awareness for a local organisation • Helping other students • Displaying work in a public space

DOES THE EXTRA EFFORT YIELD RESULTS? Rachael is a teacher and social justice advocate who has worked in schools in Poland, the United States, and Finland. She is passionate about inclusive education and its capacity to empower every student to make positive change.

We don’t claim to have all the answers to these complex questions. But we have seen the transformation they can bring about in our students. Our 10th graders are visibly enthusiastic to identify concepts they developed in the resistance unit as they read Harlem Renaissance Poetry. Even better, they willingly share their voice in a poetry slam. They have taken ownership of their learning experiences and find value in the process. Yes, authentic assessments are not perfect, they are risky and messy, but we’re getting better at them. The more educators and schools that move towards this type of pedagogy and assessment, the more we will all learn how to deal with the ambiguities and execute them better. One could argue using authentic assessments is in fact an authentic assessment of our own teaching. If we are willing to take risks in the real world, we model the perseverance and creativity we hope to inspire in our students.

Ellen is a teacher and educational researcher who has worked in schools in Melbourne, Beijing, Singapore and Helsinki and who believes education can be a force to unite people, nations and cultures for an equitable and sustainable future.



1. The assessment is realistic; it mirrors how this knowledge or skill would be used in the real world. 2. The assessment requires judgment and innovation; the task is open-ended and has more than one right answer. 3. The assessment incorporates skills that are required in the discipline being studied. 4. The assessment is done in contexts as close to the real world as possible 5. The assessment involves a range of skills and deals with a complex problem that requires some degree of informed judgement or choice from the student. 6. The assessment is iterative and allows for feedback, practice, and redos.

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of Mind (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books. Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative Assessment: Designing Assessments to Inform and Improve Student Performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


HATS OFF TO ACCREDITATION Helping educators address blind spots, assures parents that schools are of high quality, and gives students access to colleges across the globe.

Annette Bohling Chief Certification Officer Chief of Global Operations, Cognia



T he Chief Certification Officer for the world’s largest accrediting body explains what schools learn from accreditation and how it helps schools continuously improve.

Culture does not just apply to adults. The more opportunities students have to be owners of their learning, collaborate with peers, and engage in activities that require movement, voice, and thinking, the higher the school’s overall rating tends to be. Additionally, schools where parents are engaged and active also tend to be higher performing overall.


or international school leaders, accreditation is an independent seal of approval that gives credibility to students’ transcripts and diplomas which allows students to attend universities anywhere in the world. The process assures parents that schools’ programs, processes, and instruction have been evaluated against high standards, and measured by an independent agency that they can trust to determine the level of overall quality. It tells parents that international schools are truly distinctive and are the premier institutions they claim to be. In many cases, ministries of education rely on accreditors to ensure that schools meet numerous additional criteria of importance to them.

Many schools have sought to create new types of learning environments that help students become more engaged and actively involved with learning. But surveys of more than 400,000 students and nearly100,000 teachers worldwide made available from accreditation reviews indicate that there is a profound disconnect between what teachers say students do and what students say they spend most of their time working on in class. These insights transcend national boundaries and can help school leaders improve teaching and learning in a wide range of educational settings.

But accreditation also provides leaders of international schools with a framework to clearly assess the quality of the institution they lead and better meet the needs of every student. School leaders and staff engage with review teams and receive a wealth of information that they would not be able to identify on their own. By making all of the realities of schooling visible and shining a light on weak areas and unexpected strengths, accreditation shows educators where their schools stand and what they can do to move forward.

The data from Cognia show that while the majority of teachers believe students are deeply engaged in active learning, most middle and high school students say that they spend a great deal of time listening to teachers and completing worksheets. Students also say that teachers are neither challenging them nor encouraging them to complete long projects or work regularly with their peers.

THE TECHNOLOGY DISCONNECT Similarly, in our observation of 250,000 classrooms worldwide, we have found that educators often lack a clear picture of how technology is being used in learning. While sophisticated technology and digital learning tools are becoming more commonplace in schools, these technologies are not being used to change how students learn on a daily basis. In fact, the data indicate that in a majority of all classes, there is little evidence of students using technology to gather, evaluate, and/or use information for learning. In an even more significant percentage of classrooms there is little evidence of technology being used to conduct research, solve problems, create original works, or communicate and work collaboratively for learning.

My organisation—Cognia (formerly AdvancED)—is the world’s largest accrediting body, providing reviews of school quality in 36,000 schools in 85 countries across the globe. This vantage point gives us a front-row seat to ascertain what schools most need to do to improve, and deep insight into how various aspects of school leadership, resource allocation, and instruction make a difference to student and school success.

CULTURE DRIVES PERFORMANCE We have learned that the ways schools shape their written (and unwritten) rules influence every aspect of how a school functions. In research based on engagement reviews conducted by Cognia, schools where the entire learning community is actively engaged, empowered, and supportive score significantly higher in overall quality— nearly 10 percent higher on our measures of instructional quality than those with lower culture ratings.

The lack of effective use appears to be less about school access to broadband or wireless or student access to digital tools (tablets, laptops, and smartphones) and more about lack of training to put them to work. Educators often believe that technology tools are useful only in certain contexts for certain students, or that they can be inappropriately used and are an off-task distraction to learning. In fact, schools across the globe score only 1.8 on a 4-point scale




in how students use technology for actual learning. We typically find that even the best schools can do more to improve their overall effectiveness. Every school ought to commit to a journey of continuous improvement. Changes in technology, staff, curriculum, enrolment, and demands from college and work require that schools adjust and rethink the policies and practices that may have worked well in the past. Moreover, school quality shouldn’t be viewed as an allor-nothing proposition. In past decades, accreditors gave schools and districts a simple thumbs-up or down, either recommending or denying accreditation. But we have learned that this does not give schools a clear enough sense of where they stand, nor does it create an incentive for schools to go beyond “good enough.” It fails to point a path forward to reaching a higher standard.

Annette Bohling is Chief Certification Officer and Chief of Global Operations for Cognia, formerly AdvancED l Measured Progress. Cognia is the world’s largest accreditor and offers accreditation and certification, assessment, professional learning, and improvement services to institutions and other education providers, serving over 80 countries and 36,000 institutions. The organisation serves and supports nearly 25 million students and five million educators every day. Cognia serves as a trusted partner in advancing learning for all. Find out more at

The accreditation process can be a major step toward helping schools continuously improve. Our work helps schools develop actionable plans based on clear evidence and data to identify what they need to do next. For school leaders and educators, one of the greatest advantages of accreditation is the window we provide into other schools. Accreditors encourage schools to participate in peer review of other schools by serving on accreditation teams, which educators often say are among the most valuable experiences they can have in understanding what quality looks like in other schools. Virtually every school is a work in progress. Engaging school leaders and educators in an accreditation process focused on continuous improvement – not compliance – represents one of the best ways to shift a school’s culture to reflect our changing world.



Sandy Mackenzie Director Copenhagen International School




he concept of a learning ecosystem has never been so relevant as it is today in 2020. In countries across our inter-connected world, the delicate nature of a healthy ecosystem has been brought into stark focus through the spread of a global pandemic. International schools are resilient beings that have withstood many tests of disease, natural disaster and man-made catastrophes. Never before has such a single, tiny entity had such farreaching implications - as well as creating a threat to health worldwide, making us question our modus operandi in all aspects of society. In our globally mobile profession, we all have friends and former colleagues working in China. Therefore, we had all heard about corona virus, that schools had to close their doors and provide remote and online learning in February. Somehow, in Europe we became apocryphal King Canutes and believed that it would not happen here and so were in varying states of readiness when it was time to write a risk assessment matrix and a remote learning plan. Across Europe, in late February and early March strategic thinkers and planners made calm arrangements for procedures in the event of a case of the virus entering our communities. The speed of the spread of this threat quickly overtook the pace of the careful, thoughtful leaders. Countries swiftly brought in restrictions and closed schools to halt the impact, and brought new terms to our lexicon such as “flattening the curve” and “social distancing”. Social media became the super-spreader of information and mis-information, from which Donne’s “no man is an island” is even more relevant than it was 400 years ago.

time. Without able, caring, dedicated, versatile teachers any effort to alter the nature of learning so radically virtually overnight would fail. Software solutions and technological tools are fantastic aids to distance learning; for them to be employed equitably and usefully, all students need access to them. We know that stressed and anxious people rarely make good students - those governing the local community and the nation need to provide clear guidelines for operating within restrictions. Otherwise, toilet paper runs out and sane, upstanding members of society become headless chickens caught between two stools!

International schools often describe themselves as a bubble within an environment, floating in the ecosystem they inhabit. COVID-19 pierced that bubble and illuminated the symbiotic relationship between a school and its surroundings and its neighbours. Moreover, the success of the school to respond to the challenge of remote learning and campus closure is largely dependent on four main factors:

As well as clear societal guidelines, a calm and reasonable set of expectations for all community members in the face of a dynamic, shifting environment is needed. School leaders set the tone for the response to this novel situation - optimism and confidence are key. In our school, Arthur Ashe’s famous words “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can” provided a guide star for approaching the challenge of shifting learning to a blend of online and offline activity delivered through synchronous and asynchronous methods. While we may not have had a glossy (digital) brochure describing our remote learning provision with virtual bells and whistles attached, we were fortunate to have the four bullet points above.

• Human adaptability and preparedness for change • Consistency of availability of tools required for remote learning • Clarity of expectation in the local and national environment • Leadership and communication Presence of all four conditions is required for a sustainable, successful remote learning solution during this uncertain



The subtitle to the ECIS Leadership Conference due to take place in Madrid 2020 was “leading school communities that thrive”. In this new normal of remote learning, how do school leaders ensure that their community continues to not only survive but to also thrive? At these moments of uncertainty, leaders display empathy and provide reassurance; they communicate thoughtfully and appreciatively. Moreover, they look for opportunities for new learning, not merely a pale imitation of on-campus learning. It is quickly apparent that teaching volleyball or developing skills in using 3D printers and laser cutters are not possible in a home learning environment. Well supported, adaptable teachers make proverbial lemonade from those lemons - PE teachers creating podcasts for a modern sex education programme, Design students taking photos and measuring the height of their tower made of household packaging that needs to support a carrot on top, video challenges that involve the entire family and encourage social interaction, home cooking and human connection.

Across the world, in every type of international school, educators are asking what are the important skills for students to gain. Teachers are utilising creativity and employing ingenuity to design experiences that engage students, both in real time and in asynchronous, offline tasks. They are engaging in a different manner with their environment; they are adapting the ecosystem to ensure that communities remain strong. As they do so, even larger questions come into focus that may require a re-examination of the axioms of school education. If the International Baccalaureate and other bodies can cancel all exams, and universities are able to make good decisions about admission, in 2020, are written, timed examinations still fit for purpose? If we truly value collaboration, research skills and project-based learning, do we need to redefine the concept of academic honesty? What is the true purpose of the teacher, and what skills and attributes are necessary to be an inspirational educator in the 21st century? As we hear about some of the horrific immediate effects of COVID-19 ravaging countries, our thoughts are with families and communities losing loved ones. The next phase of concern will be the resultant economic changes for organisations and societies. For many of us, the medium term impact may be deep with educators examining the core of how we define school as part of a global, interconnected learning ecosystem.

Colleagues from China with experience of many weeks of remote learning tell us that students, and their teachers, focus less on the content of learning as time passes; instead they crave the social interaction, collaboration and human connection that school provides in their daily lives. That is evident in week three of our enforced remote learning experiment. Reflecting on the different things we can do, on the things we can do differently and the aspects that we can live without is making educators question what is important. How many conferences have you attended where the keynote speaker expounds a powerful message that it is about time we changed school education, that in the 21st century our content-based, teacher as fount of all knowledge paradigm needs a significant shift? In the age of the answer being immediately available on a screen, is it not time that we asked different questions? Many of us leave those conferences with great ideas in our mental briefcase, brimming with confidence and good intentions to bring in a new initiative only to find that days later, we are back in a familiar groove.


Sandy Mackenzie is Director of Copenhagen International School and has over 20 years of experience supporting the education of young people in many parts of the world, including China, Denmark, Scotland, and the United States. Sandy has taught Mathematics, co-authored a textbook and held senior leadership positions in four schools. Empowering and supporting teams to provide an outstanding education to young people that positively contributes to their academic, personal, social-emotional, and inter-cultural well-being, learning and growth is his true passion.

The retrospective inertia that exists in all schools (also known as the “this is how we have always done it” syndrome) can slow or stifle change. Could it be that the necessary catalyst for disrupting the status quo is this global pandemic of COVID-19 and the international response to lock down countries, restricting movement and enforcing working and learning from home?






kuala lu























36 8


10,4 0 0


F E E S ($ )


15 0


4 0, 5 0 0


10 7, 8 0 0


6,6 4 8

10,7 8 4

E E S ($ ) UIT ION F





1 0,9 0 0

8 ,7 0 0




7 9,1 0 0








1 0 8 ,6 0 0














E S ($ )


*position in global rankings by number of international schools











186 8 1, 0 0








8, 0 0







4 ,0 4 0 22

7, 6 4 6 05

3, 8 0 0


9, 2 52 18


More international schools, more diversity.

Will Bedford Senior Manager, Schools Division ISC Research




outh-Eastern Asia is now one of the leading subregions in the world for international education. According to ISC Research data from January 2020, which takes into consideration new school openings and school enrolments for the current academic year, the subregion has 1,516 English-medium international schools with over half a million (557,000) students currently enrolled. This makes South-Eastern Asia the third largest subregion in the world for the number of international schools (behind Western Asia and Eastern Asia), and the fourth largest subregion in the world for the number of students attending the schools.

ENROLMENT DIVERSITY students. For the Western expatriates who are being hired today, fewer receive the generous relocation packages that, 20 years ago, enticed them overseas. Some are offered a contribution towards international school fees for their dependants, but others receive no benefit at all resulting in more cost-conscious school selection.

In several countries within the subregion, the local population is seeking out international schooling more than ever before; Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia particularly so. In all of these countries, local children have become a significant demographic, and demand from local families continues to rise as economies improve. This can an admissions challenge for international schools that could fill all of their available places with local children. A healthy demographic mix is, nevertheless, vital for a good international school; in both its student population and its teachers, and strategic admissions and recruitment is a priority for many international school leaders today.

This broadening demographic, away from the traditional Western expatriate model, is driving a demand for a wider variety of international schools, including those with fees that are more manageable within a parents salary. As a result, a new sector of mid-priced international schools has emerged in recent years.


When it comes to demand for school places from expatriate families, an increasingly broad demographic is emerging, many now originating from elsewhere in Asia. Market analysis from ISC Research shows that international schools in the global cities of Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are experiencing growing demand from Chinese, Japanese and South Korean families seeking the international schooling that is less restrictive, or more readily accessible than in their home countries. This is prompting some families to relocate in search of the education they want for their children. There has also been notable movement, in recent months, of families from Hong Kong due to challenges within the country.

The different models of international school vary in their demographic of students, staff and facilities, all of which are impacted to a significant extent by the school’s fee levels. An example of the nationality differences in these two school types can be seen from the data for Thailand. According to analysis conducted in November 2019 by ISC Research for its Market Intelligence Report of international schools in Thailand, 49.9% of the 34,000 children currently enrolled in the country’s 76 premium international schools (those schools charging the highest school fees, which are more likely to be accredited and a member of at least one well-regarded school association) are Thai. 5.3% of the students are American, 4.9% are British, 2.6% are Japanese, 2.1% are Chinese, 1% are South Korean and 0.9% are Indian. Russian, Singaporean and Australian children are also within the top ten nationalities at Thailand’s premium international schools. At the midmarket priced international schools in Thailand, at which 21,000 children are currently enrolled, the demographics are similar, but the percentages differ; 41.5% of the students are Thai, 5.1% are South Korean, and 3.9% are Chinese.

A growing expatriate demographic throughout SouthEastern Asia is the Southern Asian professional who is increasingly being hired by multinationals based in South-Eastern Asia in preference to very costly Western expatriates. As a result, Indian children are an emerging demographic in many international schools. For example, Indian children are the leading student nationality in Singapore’s international schools making up 12.4% of all




American, Japanese, Indian and British students are all within the top ten nationalities at these schools along with Taiwanese, British, Russian and French children. The demographics of teachers varies between the different international school types too. The ISC Research Market Intelligence Report of international schools in Malaysia identifies the most predominant nationality of teachers at Malaysia’s premium international schools as British (42.6%), 24.1% are Malaysian, 13.9% are from North America and 9.1% are from Australia or New Zealand. In the mid-priced schools, over half of all teachers are Malaysian (54.7%) with 26% UK teachers and the rest coming from a range of other countries. The higher fees of the premium international schools reflect the higher cost of recruiting the best teachers. They typically pay higher salaries and offer competitive remuneration packages. A blend of staff demographics is just as important for a good international school as the blend of students; this includes local teachers who bring a cultural understanding that is increasingly recognised as vital for any good international school.

Will Bedford is Senior Manager of the Schools Division at ISC Research. You can reach him directly at will.bedford@ or on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin. com/in/william-bedford-1a203226/

INFORMING THE MARKET ISC Research continues to work closely with many ECIS member schools, as well as many other international schools around the world to collect data and understand market changes. As the international schools market becomes increasingly competitive, so knowing emerging demographics, changing demands, and market trends are essential for school admissions strategy, staffing and recruitment planning including setting salaries and benefits, growth planning, and new campus investment. Data, intelligence and different reports, specifically prepared to inform all stages of school development are available from ISC Research at



Mark Steven Reardon Lead Learning Consultant Quantum Learning

I saw first-hand, 100% Commitment from all faculty Feedback, effort and practice Joy and pride in the results I SAW IT AND THOUGHT, ‘WHY NOT IN EVERY CLASSROOM?’ Imagine wandering down a school hallway, a palpable buzz emanating down the corridor of classrooms. Not an audible buzz, a sensation, a feeling that heightens your curiosity. Peering into the small window in one classroom door, you see what’s generating the buzz and it draws you into the room. Students with partners, some with puzzled looks, others with smiles, huddle over their work. Two students gather around the teacher speaking of their work and defending their choices as the teacher probes for deeper thinking. Soft, melodic sounds seep into the energy of voices. A student’s gesture toward the wall directs your focus to a colourful icon, and the whiteboard displays a digital clock counting down from ten. There’s an orderliness throughout the classroom—everything in its place—as if to invite students toward resources and supplies.




ithin moments, a chime sounds and students respond quickly in silence. “It’s time to look critically at your work. There are three questions you’ll use to do so. Let’s read them together.” The students, in one voice join in. Followed by, “Now, take about a minute to answer the questions to yourself, and when you have answered them, turn back in this direction and be ready when I call on you to share your answers. Please begin your analysis.”

THE QUANTUM LEARNING SYSTEM Orchestrated by the teacher, it’s a system of four core components that when artfully orchestrated, create a shift in what the teacher thinks is possible and what students believe about themselves. 1. A strong Foundation where everyone knows what is expected and how to interact with one another. 2. An empowering Atmosphere where everyone feels safe and supported, that they belong and are valued. 3. A supportive Environment that uses the physical space to enhance learning. 4. A purposeful Design & Delivery that ignites creativity, critical thinking, and reflection.

You stick around to attend the after-school professional development workshop facilitated by five of the school’s teachers. You arrive as 120 on-time teachers and administrators take their seats at tables arranged for four. Within a few minutes and right at the scheduled time, a member of the Lead Learners team greets everyone as they show their respect with applause. “Welcome to this third session in our series of workshops on effective teaching and learning. The team and I have prepared, based on your feedback, an eventful, and practical experience from which you’ll better understand the why and the how behind strategies that maximise learning.”

It’s almost too good to be true. How can students be this engaged, focused, communicative and interested? What’s happening behind the scenes that creates such attentiveness and evokes such respect? You think this must be an exceptional class with an exceptional teacher. Surely, not all classrooms here are like this.

After a brief set of instructions, teachers and administrators, heads leaning toward the centre of the table, grab markers to create their metaphor for today’s topic. These creations soon adorn the side walls while they talk with colleagues at their tables about their successes of the day.

You wander down the hall. Classroom after classroom, each teacher unique in style, and students engaged in various learning activities—writing, viewing videos, reading, noting, peering into microscopes, researching, listening to another student speak. A few classrooms reveal students arranged in a lecture format, in other classrooms, students stand at stations tucked up against the walls.

Four other teammates scurry to stations decorated to support their respective topics. At the signal, everyone darts to their assigned station and settles into an intensively focused conversation about how to maximise learning. Soon a bell sounds and everyone goes back to their original tables to share what they learned and make applications to their next day’s lesson. “Is this typical PD at this school?” you ask the gentleman next to you. The principal remarks without hesitation and without breaking his attentiveness, “Yes. In my 30 years in education, this is the finest PD I’ve experienced.”

HOW DO THEY DO THIS, AND WHY NOT IN EVERY CLASSROOM? Entering the teacher’s lounge, you find women and men, spanning a range of years and experience, discussing freely what’s working and seeking solutions for what’s not. An occasional remark about another’s quirky style and outlandish instructional activities bring a round of laughter.




and strategies that amplify teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to master those standards. It transcends grade levels, ethnic and cultural nuances, and teacher and leadership styles. The Quantum Learning System increases teachers’ and leaders’ efficacy while providing the WHY behind what’s effective.

What is this place? Utopia? Wishful thinking? Could this even be possible? When everything is done with intentionality, singularity of focus, and the belief that students and teachers can achieve, schools become places where everyone succeeds, where everyone experiences joy and purpose.

Most likely, if you are reading this, you entered education to make a difference. So did we. Each of us desires to express our passion with joy and work our magic with students. Our students with unlimited potential and possibility are not just our future. They are our present. They deserve the best we’ve got— the what and the HOW that ignites joyful, meaningful, and challenging learning.

This is a description of what’s happening in two schools in Malaysia. As I witnessed first-hand, these two schools have fully embraced a teaching and learning system that has transformed the professional culture, enhanced lesson design, elevated the delivery and facilitation of learning, and increased the effectiveness of leadership. Two schools where teachers and administrators are creating the school they’ve always dreamed of—a place where students and learning come first.


WHAT’S MISSING? THE “HOW” In far too many schools around the world, the description above is far from reality. Far too many teachers and leaders feel stuck, drained by initiatives and mandated expectations, policies and an ever-shifting focus of what’s important. They know what to do (teach the content, manage the initiatives) and the outcome toward which they’re aiming (effective learning, achievement, graduation.) Is it possible they simply do not know HOW?

Mark Reardon has nearly 20 years of experience at Quantum Learning, and is co-author of Quantum Teaching: Orchestrating Student Success. Founder & CEO of Centrepointe Leadership, his four-decades in education spans roles as an elementary and middle school teacher, middle and high school principal, trainer, consultant, speaker and author. He has dedicated his professional life to discovering and articulating what works best in teaching, leading, and learning.

While most professionals are clear on the WHAT, they may lack the skills and understanding of how to accomplish the task. What if there was a HOW that capitalised on the brain’s natural learning systems—a HOW that released teachers’ passion and creativity and unleashed students’ potential to create, find solutions and articulate those ideas?



For Studies & Results + Professional Development workshops CLICK HERE To hear how international schools use Quantum Learning CLICK HERE The World of Quantum Learning • Bermuda, Central & Latin America, Singapore Case Histories: CLICK HERE

It’s not that the schools in Malaysia face fewer demands, have higher quality teachers, better trained leaders, more respectful students, or more resources. It’s that these two particular schools have embraced a HOW, a system. A system built on accessing the brain’s natural learning systems and employing strategies grounded in the neuroand cognitive sciences. The Quantum Learning System integrates with content standards and initiatives providing a philosophy, models,


INTENTION TO IMPACT LEADERSHIP A manifesto for new and aspiring leaders.

Kim Cullen M.A., M.S., B.A. Upper School Director, The American School of Madrid




enjamin Franklin is credited with the saying “Well done is better than well said”. At the American School of Madrid, one of our school-wide goals this year has been to determine what concrete steps each of us can take to transform words into action. There is a considerable difference between intention and impact. Most of the time, our intentions are honourable. We are a community of caring, generous people: we mean well. It takes more than meaning well, however, and we sometimes shield ourselves behind intention when things didn’t go completely as we had hoped. “I didn’t mean it that way” or “It was just a joke” is something I often hear students and teachers say. In leadership, we must recognise that intention is a powerful motivator, and we need to help our community members think more specifically about impact. This means we need to walk the walk and talk the talk. We must ask ourselves What is the impact my words will have? What is the impact I want to have? Related to this are questions like What do I want to be known for, remembered for? What legacy do I want to leave? As a school administrator, my daily challenge is to move from the what to the how. It is in the how that I will define the impact I have on others.

The impressive library at the American School of Madrid.

BE AUTHENTIC. AND BE VULNERABLE. There is no magic leadership formula - be true to yourself. Identify your strengths and don’t be afraid to leverage them. Also, be honest about your shortcomings and commit to working on them. Knowing yourself and allowing for both authenticity and vulnerability are fundamental so successful leadership.

As I reflect on the leadership lessons I have learned over my twenty-three years in education, below are some of my personal highlights - a manifesto, if you will, on how to transform my own best intentions to real impact. For new and aspiring leaders, developing one’s own manifesto for intention to impact leadership can be a powerful way to define the role one wants to play in the lives and growth of the communities one serves.

BE COMPASSIONATE. Everyone has a story - a lifetime of experiences, beliefs, and history that defines who they are. Don’t be quick to draw conclusions about others, and remember that understanding people’s context is critical in building strong, trusting relationships. It is important to note that compassion is different from empathy. Empathy is the intellectual awareness and appreciation of someone’s circumstances. Compassion takes it a step further and involves a desire to make a difference. In short, compassion is caring.

BE COMMITTED TO GROWTH. Every experience in life is an opportunity to learn and grow. One actually CAN teach old dogs new tricks. Just because someone might refuse to change doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t. Commit to learning new things, seeking out new challenges, and helping others do the same. Learn to learn.

FEAR IS HEALTHY. Fear means we care, we want to do well. But we fear, and we stay in our comfort zones, thus limiting our opportunities for growth. Rather than perceiving fear as a force of evil, learn to embrace fear as a driving force for doing your best. Don’t be afraid to say yes.

EVERYTHING IS A GIFT, EVEN IF YOU WORKED HARD FOR IT. If your baseline is that everything in life is a gift, even if you worked hard for it, you will be less inclined to hold onto




that sense of entitlement that sometimes creeps in despite our best intentions. Gratitude means you will be less likely to get upset when things don’t go the way you planned or expected. Gratitude gives you the ability to give situations only the attention they deserve. It also gives you the ability to move on when it’s time.

BALANCE YOUR APPROACH. Know the difference between reacting and responding and which one is most appropriate under what circumstances. Reaction is quick, usually involves emotion, is often uninformed and sometimes misguided. Response takes time and requires thoughtfulness, getting to the bottom of something, considering all the options and all sides. Find your balance between instinct, insight, and improvisation. Act in accordance with YOU.

Kim is a thoughtful and committed educator with twenty three years of experience in international education. As a American citizen born in Brazil and raised in Texas and Spain, Kim is an adult TCK (*third culture kid) who understands the unique benefits and opportunities that come from having cross-cultural experiences during the developmental years. Kim cares deeply about young people and how they learn and she has devoted her entire professional career to fostering supportive, impactful and relevant learning for both students and educators. Having served school communities in a variety of capacities, Kim’s professional profile is comprehensive with experiences in visioning, strategic planning, relationships, team-building and compassionate leadership. Along her journey in education -- from behind the scenes in fundraising and community relations, through teaching and counseling, and almost a decade in leadership laying the groundwork for systemic change – Kim has to come to firmly believe that if educators are thoughtful, open-minded and willing, they have the ability to create powerful educational experiences that will transform the future for our children, our society, and our planet. Kim is the founder of i2i Education Consulting, helping forward-thinking education leaders create meaningful learning for students ( She also publishes insights and learnings on life on her personal blog, ebb and flow,

Live into your values with confidence and integrity. Identify your beliefs and wear them on your sleeve. Don’t sacrifice your values. Boundaries are important; learn how to set them. Know when to say no. Integrity leads to reliability and trust.

LEAN ON OTHERS. No one succeeds alone, no one knows everything, no one can do everything. Lean on others. Seek out allies. Find a thought partner. Listen more than you speak. Offer help along the way. Be someone’s mentor.

CELEBRATE OTHERS. Recognise the contributions of others as much as you can. Everyone needs and deserves validation. No one can work at their best when they feel unsupported, underutilised, unappreciated or underpaid. Celebration is fundamental to emotional and professional well-being and, ultimately, growth.


BEING COMFORTABLE WITH LEADING UNCERTAINTY Sue Aspinall Executive Leadership Team | Head of Junior School Vlaskamp The British School in The Netherlands




We have found that this approach makes a significant impact to the quality of teaching practice, and ultimately, the equity in the quality of learning for all BSN Junior School students. There is clarity to everyone’s role and professional dialogue can be focussed around a common topic. With the three BSN Junior Schools working together for the same outcome, the opportunities for sharing learning and extending professional dialogues are tripled.


s a growing multi-campus international school, the British School in the Netherlands (BSN) prides itself on being a dynamic centre of excellence for both students and staff. In this article, I will be sharing the ways we are intentionally building alignment around our whole school improvement priorities across the five campuses whilst also enabling staff teams to follow their own lines of enquiries, so that new ideas for improving teaching practice emerge. I will be suggesting that the carefully balanced leadership of both of these intentional and emergent approaches is necessary to enable the BSN to sustain success over the long term.

EVIDENCING IMPACT OF TEACHING ON STUDENT OUTCOMES This academic year, the maths leads across the Junior Schools have been leading the strategy. The overall intended impact at the end of this academic year is to enable: All students to be able to explain their mathematical understanding using the correct consistent mathematical language in full sentences.

THE INTENTIONALLY CONSTRUCTED STRATEGY It is important in any school to have clear priorities for improvement which are informed by a range of evidence, including students’ progress and attainment data. Across the three BSN Junior Schools, these priorities are agreed and clearly articulated annually along with the intended impact by the end of the academic year. The intentionally constructed strategy for implementing the change to teaching practice is cyclical and ongoing. In each academic year there is a key priority, e.g. to raise student progress and attainment in logic and reasoning through a mastery approach to mathematical learning. The key priority for improvement is the focus of the weekly one hour staff professional development sessions and all other on-campus professional learning opportunities. Hence time is spent intentionally, providing teaching staff with the pedagogical knowledge and teaching skills required to make the changes. These opportunities are mapped out across the academic year, which provides opportunities for teachers to trial and evaluate the impact of the changes they are making to their practice over time. Where necessary, lead teachers are available to plan, model and team teach in order to support the acquisition of new areas of learning. In this way, there is a collective endeavour to make a difference. Every staff member is involved in professional learning and the impact is evaluated on an ongoing basis. The focus is re-calibrated and the implementation strategy re-designed as progress is responded to throughout the year.

Progress being made towards this is evaluated in many ways; such as through progress and attainment feedback sessions from year group leaders, book looks and student conferencing. Half termly evaluations of student progress data and teacher assessment indicate that most student are on track to meet their age related expectations. Importantly, there is consistent evidence that students are accessing manipulatives to explain their learning, demonstrating logical thinking and reasoning and building a fluency in their use of mathematical language.



EMERGENCE WITHIN THE COLLABORATIVE ENQUIRY MODEL The BSN values the importance of building professional collaboration and enabling teams to create their own improvement work within their specific field of expertise. A model that enables new avenues of professional enquiry to take place is being trialled at one of the Junior Schools by each year group team, each subject specific team and the inclusion teams. Based on examples cited by Weston, D and Clay, B. (2018), this model enables the teaching staff to identify a very specific question regarding their teaching practice and its impact on student outcomes. The staff agree upon the most useful evidence that will be collected and build a programme for this to be collated. The resulting collaborative discussion, built around the evidence collected, provides the opportunity to unpick very specific ‘tweaks’ that can be made to teaching practice and classroom management to make a difference to student outcomes. These ‘tweaks’ are built into the practice of teams incrementally throughout the year as the model is repeated. This cyclical process is slowly building team ownership and localised attention to school improvement.

FINDING THE BALANCE AND LEADING THE PROCESS In the best cases, teams have been able to integrate the collaborative enquiry approach and the strategic improvement priority. The respective teams have then dived deeper into their understanding of the impact of their practice e.g. the impact of the bar modelling strategy on Y5 students’ ability to explain their mathematical reasoning clearly. Equally, the emerging learning from the collaborative enquiry has often been able to inform the impact of the whole school improvement work, and where appropriate, has enabled these ideas to be adopted by different year groups.

EVIDENCING IMPACT OF TEACHING ON STUDENT OUTCOMES During the collaborative discussion, emerging themes and questions are unpicked and future actions are agreed. Feedback from staff has been positive. They have welcomed the team ownership of the process, the range of evidence that is used to inform the collaborative discussion, and the immersive presence of the Senior Leader, who leads the enquiry alongside the year leader.

The success of all of this work is dependent on its leadership, staff engagement and commitment. Leadership of the school improvement approaches requires an understanding of their intentionality, so that collaborative enquiries stay within their parameters and inform the improvement priorities of the whole school. A shared accountability for outcomes and a sustained commitment to find a balance between the approaches is becoming established.

“This approach is far better than a one-off lesson observation. Each class teacher in the year group is focussing on the same enquiry and we are continually talking about our findings. There is much more professional discussion with a purpose”


“I like having Lucy and Miffy involved throughout the duration of the week rather than a one-off lesson observation. I think they get a better understanding of what learning is like for our students in the Year Group and their feedback is very objective and wide ranging.”

The BSN provides opportunities for team leaders to enhance their leadership skills, knowledge and attributes by enrolling on programmes such as the international Professional Qualifications in Middle Leadership (iNPQML) and international Professional Qualifications




in Senior Leadership (iNPQSL) delivered through the BSN International Leadership Academy (ILA). These programmes enable team leaders to learn about research and theoretical models that inform their leadership in practice. They also learn practical techniques to help them facilitate team meetings, design collective enquiries, critical analyse evidence and hold honest conversations. Their roles as leaders of intentional strategy and/or collaborative enquiries are all supported by the requirement to embed their learning from the face-to-face modules into their leadership projects. By integrating their requirements for the iNPQ assessment with their contribution to the school improvement priorities, the BSN is building informed collective leadership capacity within the organisation, and more broadly, within the international education community.

Over the last twenty years, Sue Aspinall has been leading schools through significant change, intent on raising the quality of learning and teaching available to their students. Having been both a Head of an inner London state school and three British international schools based in different countries, Sue knows how it is to live a global life and transition between cultures and across countries. She has the ability to build diverse teams and motivate staff around common goals. She empowers staff to lead from within and coaches them to reach their highest aspirations. An experienced facilitator, Sue provides an impactful learning experience for leaders who want to make a difference.

NEXT STEPS FOR THE BSN Creating this balanced approach requires class teachers to be continually observing the impact of their teaching on student learning. It is an incremental approach to school improvement that is responsive and adaptive; it requires flexibility, open-mindedness and a commitment to continuous learning and development. This is the ultimate challenge for us as school leaders: are we comfortable with leading this level of uncertainty within our school improvement work? Are we flexible and adaptable enough to intentionally construct a strategy and then to recalibrate and re-design it, as new learning emerges from the collaborative enquiries?

BIBLIOGRAPHY Datnow, A., and Park, V. (2019) Professional Collaboration with Purpose. New York: Routledge Hargreaves, A., and O’Connor, M. (2018) Collaborative Professionalism. London: Sage Seel, R. (2006) “Emergence in Organisations”, Weston, D., and Clay, B. (2018) Unleashing Great Teaching. Oxon: Routledge Woods, P., and Roberts, A. (2018) Collaborative School Leadership. London: Sage

I believe we need to be if we are going to build leadership capacity across our international schools, and equip staff with the pedagogical knowledge and teaching skills to meet the needs of our students. We need to be comfortable with the uncertainty of what will emerge when teams are empowered to take their own lines of enquiries to improve their teaching practice. As Woods and Roberts (2018) summarise, “leading this way is not only challenging but also a creative, inspiring and feasible way of advancing learning in its best and fullest way”.









“Aspirational, inclusive, thriving, enriching.”


• •

...being five campuses, three Junior and two Senior schools, each with their own unique character and strengths. This allows us to offer a degree of choice to our students and parents as to which environment and location suits their needs best, as well as a range of academic pathways. Our 800+ staff work together in cross campus teams, sharing expertise and innovation. In this way we are a strong, adaptable and dynamic staff team aligned around our core vision, mission and values. Together we strive to provide equity and excellence for all our students. ...of our International Leadership Academy and BSN Language Centre, which provide the highest quality of Professional Learning and Development to our staff and those in other international schools across Europe.

• •

5 YEARS FROM NOW? The first cohort of students will graduate from Senior School Leidschenveen in Year 13. They will have been the pioneers of the 3-18 learning continuum across two of our campuses, proving that a seamless continuity of learning is possible between the Junior and Senior sectors. Our campuses will be aligned around a common curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, enabling students to move smoothly between year groups, phases and campuses. Our staff will be working in cross-school teams, sharing professional learning and knowledge freely; ensuring that students are provided with the best possible learning opportunities. The BSN will be known throughout Europe and internationally as a research-based centre of excellence for students and adult learning. It will be recognised for its investment in the professional learning and development of its staff, which ultimately contributes to the success of its students. The BSN will proudly hold its place as the largest worldclass international school in Europe; one united school incorporating five unique campuses.

WE BELIEVE... • • • • •

Redesign learning for all Galvanise staff expertise to provide high quality remote learning Strengthen the sense of belonging within the BSN community Explore the exciting possibilities offered by Education Technology

In building on the best of British practice within an international setting In making each member of our community of more than 90 nationalities feel welcome In delivering academic excellence within a broad and contextually relevant curriculum In creating high aspiration and challenge for all our students In nurturing the development of the whole individual; ‘head, hand and heart’


HELPING STUDENTS FIND THEIR GPS Gifts, passions, & a sense of service.

Jade Vidler Deputy Housemistress Sotogrande International School




n September 2019 we were reminded of the power of children and young people as millions of students forgave their education, using their voices to stand up against climate change. One student, Greta Thunburg, led this specific movement using her own GPS. This is a strong reminder that students already are agents of positive change and their capabilities should not be underestimated.

and sustainable. For our students, it’s all about experiential learning. In line with our partners’ needs, students come up with ideas, projects, inventions and products which help to address social or environmental issues. We then provide the platform for these dreams to become reality through our framework of student entrepreneurship. To deepen the learning and social impact, we offer students the opportunity to make direct connections by participating on incredible expeditions to our partners spanning over 4 continents.

Helping pupils find their gifts, passions and sense of service is arguably the most important thing a school can do. Encouraging students to uncover what they are passionate about; what they care about and ultimately how they want to shape their lives leads to well-rounded individuals who are equipped with direction for life post-education. However, these factors have to be nurtured; there needs to be time and space for these gifts and passions to emerge, and students need to feel empowered.

WHAT DOES THIS REALLY LOOK LIKE? We facilitate the majority of this learning and many of these experiences through the KP Club. This is an after school club that runs three times a week and currently engages over 70 students. Through structured but flexible and creative systems, students take the lead on all aspects of the projects from the initial ideas, to the running of an event or development of a product. The students have complete control, coupled with careful guidance, and what they produce is truly outstanding. An example of one project is the Little Suns project, started by Max G (pictured), aged 15.

When students realise that their agency is entirely within their own power and not something they are born with or without, and they start to explore it and feel passionate and empowered by it, then the magic can really be unleashed. Poon (2018) in Education Reimagined explained student agency as having four components: 1) setting advantageous goals; 2) initiating action towards these goals; 3) reflecting on and regulating progress towards these goals and 4) a belief in self-efficacy. The fourth element is recognised as underpinning the first three and demonstrates the importance of students’ sense of self belief. This can be facilitated largely by educators as we provide tools for students and prove to them that they can do things and that their actions can make a difference.

Through curricular connections, Max understood that the community of one of our partners in Nabugabo, Uganda, struggle to carry out daily tasks after sunset without electricity. He had the idea to provide solar lamps to the people of Nabugabo. He researched, fundraised and

THE FOUNDING OF THE KINDRED PROJECT At Sotogrande International School we strive to empower student agency. In 2010, through a deep process of reflection, we questioned the impact of the funds raised through events and in turn, the learning processes provided for our students. We looked into models that would enhance our social impact, but what intrigued us most was, how this would look if it were completely student-lead? This inspired the birth of The Kindred Project, or ‘KP’ - our student-lead NGO. It has been designed as a guarantor that student-led action has a real positive impact in the communities we work with, creating win-win situations for all involved. KP achieves this by using tried and tested models implemented by international development organisations, which allow for the monitoring of activities and funds, as well as evaluation. This enables action that, as a response to a genuine need, is mindful, appropriate,



sourced 60 Little Suns solar lamps which he had delivered to our school, ready to be taken on our next expedition to Uganda. These solar lamps were distributed amongst the community. Seeing the huge impact his project had on people’s lives, Max was inspired to continue raising funds for more lamps and applied to take part in the next expedition to see it first-hand.

on this journey. I have learned that when you take action by following what you love doing, you really develop a life-long passion.” These are just some examples of how students have been personally impacted after finding their GPS through experiential learning on one of our expeditions. Flora S, aged 17, reflects on her work with KP as she prepares to move on to higher education and summarises the importance of giving students opportunities to find their GPS’s. “What I have learnt, and what I continue to learn, can be taken with me wherever I go; it is a gift that I didn’t even realise I was being handed as I embarked on all those years of challenges and adventures. And it is one I will cherish for life.”

His reaction on the ground in Uganda was profound and life shaping. However, KP also goes further than KP Club. The values, morals and passion of KP are also sewn into the curriculum at Sotogrande International School. Class projects begin in our youngest years and continue up through the school, with many students focusing their community and personal projects on addressing social and/ or environmental issues, giving back to the community and cultural exchanges.


Expeditions are an essential part of KP as they provide the rawest, realest experiential learning possible. They accommodate the opportunity for experiences of human connection and personal realisation, as well as skill development and inter-cultural understanding. The expeditions include working with our partners in Spain, Morocco, Uganda and Ecuador, and this summer saw our first expedition to the Himalayas. All of these trips are unique, with an individual sense of purpose that provide life shaping opportunities for our students, as well as the communities we work with.

WHAT DOES STUDENTS FINDING THEIR OWN GPS LOOK LIKE? For most students, experiential learning is what they remember. It’s most likely through experiential learning that they have their ´light-bulb moment´. It causes them to understand what is important to them, and that alone, can be life shaping. One example of a student experiencing this is Enola G, aged 16, who tells us “Through hands-on work in the community of Nabugabo, I realised that I am driven by helping others, and suddenly my career path became very clear. The day I came back from the trip, I was confident about studying politics and international relations at university, with the intention of making a difference for those who need it the most.”

There are three main factors in replicating this model within a school; passionate people, human connections and space for student agency. There are passionate people in every school, and bringing them together will help create the right environment for this type of model to flourish. This includes both staff and students. Another key factor in making this model sustainable is the human element. Human connection is what really fuels these projects and programs to run successfully. Making the programs real through relationships is invaluable. If this cannot be achieved through partnerships, human connections between staff and students can also evoke emotion.

Another student, Nele W, aged 17, reflects, “This expedition was completely different to anything I have ever experienced before. Following this trip I have come to the conclusion that anyone can make a difference. Over the coming months and years I will always continue to reflect




The key emotion to awaken through these projects is empowerment. Once the students feel empowered, their investment in the projects climbs, as does their self-esteem. Facilitating space for student agency is also imperative. Having a ‘yes’ culture, which is followed up with assistance, guidance and reflection is where the key lies. Letting them direct the project, event or idea is an essential factor in the development of their sense of agency. Being open-minded and allowing the roles to be reversed to some extent from student to teacher helps the opening up of projects and allows the model to run. The thing to remember above all else is that our youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the change-makers of today.

Jade has worked in Boarding schools for a number of years and developed a passion for giving students real-world experiences and helping them to navigate their path in life. She is currently Deputy Housemistress at Sotogrande International School and combines this with working as an Educational Specialist at The Kindred Project. Having been on leadership teams on expeditions to Uganda and Ecuador, and through running the KP Club, she has seen first hand the life-shaping impacts discussed in this article.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Poon, J. (2018). Part 1: What Do You Mean When You Say “Student Agency”? [online] Education Reimagined https:// [Accessed 14th March 2020]





YOU HAVE 3 POST-IT NOTES TO WRITE DOWN ONE GOAL ON EACH FOR THE YEAR AHEAD, WHAT WOULD YOURS SAY? Jak Kearney is the Head and CEO of Sotogrande International School in Spain. Jak joined Sotogrande International School as the Head of Maths in September 2010 and was the chair of the steering committee for the CIS evaluation in 2013. He became Head in May 2014 and CEO in January 2018. Previously he has worked as a Deputy Head in the UK, an Advanced Skills teacher of maths in the UK and a Key Stage Leader in the Philippines.

This is funny as it could be answered using several different hats. I will answer as a school leader for my school. Goal 1: To continue to invest in, listen to and develop the School Leadership Team. Leadership for me is not a one man show. It is about the team, we are the ones who make decisions, guide our school, set the direction, listen to the needs, wants and desires of the community and ensure we balance our mission and margin. The great work we have done at Sotogrande is due to the team, therefore investment in them remains the key for me.

With over 20 years’ experience teaching and leading in schools around the world, Jak has found a home at Sotogrande, where he has been able to work as part of a team to lead an incredible IB World day and boarding school, which offers extraordinary educational experiences, provides a wide range of opportunities for students to explore their curiosities and passions and uses education as a force for good in the world.

Goal 2: To consistently employ the strategy of raising achievement for all, aka RAFA! This goal is not about developing language, improving maths, increasing IB results, etc.. It pushes further than this. It shouts and sings about knowledgeable child centred education. If we as teachers really know our students, then we can help every student at every level become better, reflect on their learning, understand their strengths and weaknesses and become better, more in-tune learners.

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT HOW YOU CAME TO BE IN SPAIN? Honestly this move was all down to my wife! I loved International Education and, when we started our family, we decided it would be great to be closer to ‘home’. We moved back to the UK from South East Asia. However, we felt uncertain about where we wanted our own children to be educated. One cold day in the UK, my wife sent me a text saying bring back a bottle of Champers, I have found us a job abroad! I was delighted and what sealed it for us, was the visit to the school. We met a community of staff, who shared a similar vision about education as us. We met the graduating class, who were well grounded, confident, knowledgeable, polite and able to challenge. This is what we wanted both as parents and as professionals. Honestly we have not looked back. I guess you know home when you find it.

Goal 3: To enhance and increase our provision to create opportunities for students. Schools for me are about opportunity. Everyone is great and brilliant at something, some people are great and brilliant at more than one thing. My desire is for every child to feel special. To know that they have tried lots of different things out and found something that they love, enjoy, and are great at. This is the sweet spot. Our role as teachers and leaders is to create these opportunities in art, drama, dance, music, science, technology, maths, engineering, sports and public speaking. You name it, we should do our utmost to provide an opportunity for students to explore, alongside passionate, inspirational educators. If you want to see this in action come to Sotogrande!




“You are part of a team of people who need to bring about swift and rapid change to increase revenue in a failing business. You have one week to strategically map out your solution. You will be assessed on your team work, delegation abilities, presentation skills, technical know how, research skills, problem solving ability, conflict management and more.”

I feel one of the pressing issues faced is the lack of the “We” focus in international education. This is the education of others, of connectedness and togetherness. Often education focuses on “me”, the development of self, the movement forward of you. However, society is lacking social cohesion because we are forgetting others. Developing a sense of others is critical as we help student’s transition into a connected society. At Sotogrande International School, we have a student led NGO called the Kindred Project.

This would not only be a real test for the real world, but it would be fun! For students, it would more fairly allow them to demonstrate their knowledge, teamwork, grit, determination, creativity, etc. For staff, it would mean that the “skills based education”, which we all know is critical, is assessed. For parents, it would take the endless “revision” out of the grind and hopefully reduce stress for all.

This is our tool to enable the education of ‘we’. At SIS, we call this the journey from ME to WE. I would like this model to be shared by other schools, so that CAS is not just something that is done at school, but something that students learn to live and breathe at home, during holidays and in their future.



The spread of COVID-19 has really allowed us to pull together as a community. Initially, we sent letters to parents about how to remain safe, how to alert the school about travel, and actions on the back of this. We returned after February half term to temperature checks, instructed selfisolation, stopped visitors and parents coming on-site and finally moved to total shut-down from March 16th. We run a boarding school and we safely expatriated 100 boarders over a 2 day period. These transition points were at times scary for both staff and students, however, we knew they were necessary. The feedback from parents, students and staff at every step of the way was overwhelmingly supportive.

I would love to find better ways to test student knowledge. The final exam! There is so much resting on one day following 2 or more years of work. It feels like such a tough rite of passage. This is not the way the world functions. We apply our knowledge to solve problems that we don’t know the answers to. We don’t prep and prepare in the same way that students have to pass an exam. I like the IB because it has made headway into this phenomenon, with the extended essay, TOK, CAS, Personal Project, Community Project, etc. These are examples of real life issues, areas of personal interest, etc. that enable students to research, apply their learning to a variety of situations and get feedback. Imagine a business “exam” where the problem posed is…

We are now operating as a virtual school. I am so proud of my dedicated staff, who have really risen to the challenge of going virtual. They have been on the learning journey



that students experience daily. The frustrations, the need for resilience, the need to seek help, experience successes, joys and the desire to share these. It is an amazing journey and the need to be a lifelong learner has never been clearer. The IT team has been critical in facilitating this development, identifying problems, supporting growth and development, listening, pro-actively addressing issues. They have been an amazing support pre and during our virtual school.


Our students have also embraced the change in the way we have taught them to, with open hearts and minds. They have not let COVID-19 stop their education. They remain committed, thirsty and patient. Empathy has played such a critical part in going virtual, being there for students and staff, understanding how people are feeling, dealing with isolation, seeing the joy of actually having a conversation with others. These experiences have spurred our staff to do more and create better, more engaging activities.

Would you like to be interviewed in a future issue?

Wow, what a great and tough question. I would say I have 2 lessons. Firstly, listen more than you speak. Secondly, don’t stress / worry over things outside of your control and influence. Our thanks to Jak for his insights.

We have all successfully transitioned through a time of change in the past. We used this experience to do it again, as we have always done, as a community, as a team of dedicated, caring and creative staff, who live and breathe the best for students. COVID-19 has made us better. A better community, a better set of teachers and learners, a better group of leaders, better parents, better students, because all barriers can be seen as opportunities. It just depends on the way you see the world.



Seth A. Roberts International Bilingual School of Hsinchu Director of Teaching and Learning




ne of the most intimidating tasks of an educational leader is to give feedback to other educators about their instruction. When I arrived at the International Bilingual School of Hsinchu (IBSH), the school was preparing for a WASC accreditation visit, and it became clear that there was no program in place to give teachers regular feedback about their practices. I took on the daunting task of designing and implementing a clinical supervision model for the school. I expected many veteran teachers, some of whom had taught for 30+ years without ever being formally observed, to greet this new process with cynicism, reluctance, and fear; I was very mistaken.

another important reason for the warm reception from the staff was that the entire process was clearly broken down into smaller, more digestible pieces with expectations for each step defined concisely. This process was discussed with the staff as a whole and then reviewed at the start of each pre-observation conference. In the end, it was decided that the model would include two observations (one per semester) with a pre-conference, observation, write-up, post-observation conference, and a co-created action plan for the teacher after the first observation. The support from the staff was further bolstered when the WASC Coordinator (who is also the science department chair and a veteran IBSH local teacher with over 30 years teaching) offered to share his completed observation form with the entire staff. Having a local teacher (and well-liked, highly regarded one, at that) volunteer to be a guinea pig greatly helped reduce teacher anxiety, as did providing them with a concrete example to help them anchor their ideas on instruction and assessment.

The enthusiastic embracing of this new program by local Taiwanese and Western teachers alike (IBSH is staffed by 2/3 local teachers and 1/3 Western teachers) -- their downright hunger for meaningful feedback and advice on how to develop their practices -- was a welcome surprise that I had not anticipated. The anecdotal evidence as the observations began seemed to show enthusiasm for the process and trust that I would help them improve their instruction. In fact, when we surveyed the teachers at the end of the year, it was clear that they found the experience useful as seen in the graph below.

The big surprise began when the WASC Coordinator had his first debrief and we created an action plan together. He was very open to de-privatising his practices and was truly excited to get feedback that he could use to improve his instruction. That set the tone for the entire staff. The clear explanation of the process helped them see the relevance and importance of the clinical supervision process. It was also apparent that the listening skills of the observer allowed significant differentiation of the experience and increased the comfort of the observed teacher. The survey also supports these insights:

When one considers that 5 was “strongly agree” and 4 was “agree”, it’s clear that teachers felt that the process was helpful. But why did they feel that way? What was done to build such strong buy-in and a feeling of relevance for the clinical supervision model we used? It seems that the way IBSH went about introducing a clinical supervision model to the staff, and the fact that it was provided as instructional support rather than as a part of an evaluation system, were significant factors in garnering the approval from staff for a meaningful and detailed clinical supervision model. We began by creating a Danielson Framework evaluation tool that was shared with the entire staff for a review period. Faculty was invited to give input on both the observation forms and the process. We dedicated multiple faculty meetings to examining the feedback tools and the clinical supervision processes and refining them. I believe that

(1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree)



teaching and positive morale. This was further expressed in survey comments, including the following: “Mr. Roberts stayed in my class [the] whole period, and his anecdotal record listed what happened ... every 5 minutes. He carefully watched how I interacted with students and [how] students responded to me after my instruction. This is my first time [I] receive[d] such ... detailed record of a classroom observation. The official report given at the post-observation meeting looks very professional. It follows the pre-set indicators to give his [reflections], which reflect [a] real class situation of teaching and learning. The manner [in which] he talked to me makes me feel he respects me, as a science instructor. I thank him for all the effort and time he dedicated to me.”

Though the administration was initially apprehensive about implementing clinical supervision out of concern about how teachers would react, the end result was that teachers undertook the process with zeal and seriousness that had not been predicted. The deep and sometimes “courageous” conversations that teachers engaged in with me were above and beyond all expectations. After having performed over 1,000 observations in 26 public schools in America, the first 120 observations of IBSH staff felt more welcomed than in any previous school. The anecdotal and survey results backed that up. On the survey side, two questions support this best, as seen in the graphs below.

“I found some specific areas in which I need to improve and part of my summer fun will be pursuing information on improv[ing] [my] questioning process. I am constantly trying to improve on my strong points but the clinical observation showed me some things I was neglecting, to the detriment of my students. This is a good program and should continue.” “I do believe that this observation was one of the more useful things that I have done at IBSH.” This experience, that began with a recognised need, has evolved into an ongoing practice that the staff agrees is improving the school. I’m proud to say that teachers have truly embraced the clinical supervision practice and have begun to brag about exceeding their action plans in faculty meetings. The cautious and deliberate way that the program was proposed to the staff and rolled out accounts, in part, for the supportive teacher response, but there’s something else at play here. It became clear that the IBSH local teachers were actually craving useful feedback on their teaching practices that the national system was not providing. The conversations in pre- and post-observation conferences, as well as the survey feedback, made this clear. That so many teachers were genuinely grateful to have an administrator stay an entire period to watch them ply their craft and give feedback was surprising to this somewhat jaded American educator. Clearly, local Taiwanese teachers welcome meaningful staff supervision if it is perceived as fair, useful, and relevant. This program that started with me intimidated to give feedback to professional veteran teachers turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my 22 years as an educator.

While the second graph, summarising responses to question number 13, illustrates a strong staff belief that the process improved teaching, the fact that all respondents believed that their lessons and teaching were well explained in the observation report further underscores the point that teachers saw the process as valuable and supportive of growth. The level of gratitude that I experienced from local and Western teachers alike was unprecedented. Their positive feedback on my feedback in meetings and through surveys made me feel as if the work had an impact on




Seth A. Roberts is a fourth-generation educator whose pursuits include: Economics, philosophy, my family, disc golf, the Washington Redskins, playing cards of almost any kind, and the Golden State Warriors. He graduated West Chester University in 1998 with a Secondary Social Studies Education degree and received a master’s in Community and Economic Development from Penn State in 2007. Seth is a very passionate educator who loves teaching and curriculum equally. Seth began teaching at Urbana High in Frederick County where he taught AP Economics, AP European History, AP World History, IB History and IB Theory of Knowledge. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland at Baltimore and Frederick Community College, and has coached World Scholar’s Cup, and the Fed Challenge very successfully. Seth became the Secondary Social Studies Teacher Specialist for Frederick County in 2007 but missed teaching and sought an adventure so he returned to the classroom for three years in Surabaya, Indonesia. After a brief stint at Linganore High School, Seth moved to the International Bilingual School of Hsinchu (IBSH) in Taiwan in August of 2016 where he has been the Director of Teaching & Learning and the AP Economics teacher. Seth has been asked to serve as the head of school for a small school in Taiwan for 2020-2023.



Dr. Tara R. Campbell Senior Manager Jostens



“Extracurricular activities aren’t fun anymore; it’s just something that we do to get into college.”

can see how school culture could easily become toxic. School culture is the shared behaviours, beliefs, and norms within a school or organisation. Because school culture shapes the relationships between and among all school stakeholder groups and can affect learning and student wellbeing, school culture is not something that should be dismissed (Johnson et al, 2015; La Salle et al, 2014)

That statement was shared with my husband and colleague by a high-achieving high school student. Hearing this articulation repeated multiple times from multiple students in multiple countries elicited a journey into understanding how the pressure placed on adolescents affects the culture and climate in schools. Perhaps the most surprising realisation from these investigations is that affluent students are now considered ‘at-risk’, a term no longer reserved only for students living in abject poverty.

When thinking about school culture, it is important to first assess the current climate on campus. What do your school norms express as valued on your school’s campus? Is that fostering a sense of wellbeing in your students? Numerous studies on school climate have revealed a positive correlation between healthy and supportive school cultures to student motivation, feelings of connectedness, and student self-esteem (Hopson et al, 2014; Hoge et al, 1990).

First, it’s important to understand that ‘at-risk’ does not mean an inability to achieve academic success, but instead signifies a student is less equipped to be successful which can result from a myriad of factors. In a recent report, The Robert Wood Foundation positioned adolescent wellness as not the absence of problems, but as having voice, thriving, and being socially aware and self-accepting. The report went on to name the top environmental conditions harming adolescent wellness – included in the list alongside poverty, trauma, and discrimination was an excessive pressure to succeed mostly tied to affluence (Geisz & Nakashian, 2018).

In order to foster a supportive and connected school culture, systems should be created that allow for dialogue among students, among faculty, and between students and faculty. Each of these stakeholder groups need to feel as if they have an avenue to express their emotions, concerns, life events, and be able to share coping strategies and dialogue about what affects them. To help maintain a sense of balance and buffer against stress in high pressure environments, social down time should be built into school operations and schedules (Wallace, 2019).

Once we drop the preconceived notion that an abundance of material wealth brings forth wellbeing, it is easy to see how affluent students can be ill-equipped to thrive socially and emotionally. Affluence can bring about isolation, stress, and skewed competitiveness (Osherson, 2017). Affluent students in environments placing importance on academic excellence experience a lack of connectivity that results in higher rates of mental health and emotional problems (Wallace, 2019).

To equalise the pressure placed on academic excellence, schools should create formalised systems for recognition and reward for non-academic values such as citizenship, grit, compassion, leadership, advocacy, etc. Additionally, things such as how people are welcomed onto campus, how new faculty and students are embraced into the school community, and how support personnel are treated and respected by school stakeholders, all contribute to the overall sense of connectivity and wellbeing on campus, thereby setting an undertone to the school’s culture.

The intense expectation to perform and to be the best creates a pressurised environment where students are driven to out-compete their classmates, leading to a school culture ripe with peer envy, anxiety, and depression. The social isolation and self-comparison epidemic bolstered by the prevalence of social media only confounds the problem. Add in other issues present in international and privatelyfunded schools for affluent children -- such as parents who either blatantly or subtly use their wealth to influence school policy, disciplinary reactions, or teacher autonomy; the frequency of student mobility making it difficult for students to forge and maintain lasting and supportive relationships; and the lack of organically grown resilience and self-reliance resulting from exposure to ‘problems’ that cannot be fixed by familial wealth and influence – one

Creating and sustaining a positive school culture can seem daunting, but assistance is available. The Educator Services division of Jostens has dedicated the past 36 years to creating resources proven to improve school culture through their Renaissance program. Jostens offers its schools access to over 168 episodes of character education and social emotional video series, titled The Harbor™. Through the Jostens Renaissance Leadership Curriculum, Jostens offers schools more than two years’ worth of classroom leadership curriculum that ties



leadership principles to overall school culture and school stakeholder connectivity. Through Jostens’ scientifically validated Pulse survey, schools can capture stakeholder perceptions of student recognition. To assist schools with the professional learning offerings for faculties, The Green Room Professional Learning Series by Jostens provides school administration with professional development content that leads to more connected school cultures. Finally, through Jostens’ Idea Exchange, schools can access a database of best practices for building strong campus cultures, all submitted by other schools from multiple countries. Jostens makes these and other school culture resources available to its partner schools. Schools can contact their Jostens sales representative for access to these complimentary culture building resources.



Johnson, S.L., Pas, E., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2015). Understanding the association between school climate and future orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. DOI 10.107/s10964-015-0321-1. La Salle, T. P.L., Meyers, J., Varjas, K., & Roach, A. (2015). A cultural-ecological model of school climate. International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, 3(3), 157-166.

Geisz, MB & Nakashian M. (2018). Adolescent Wellness: Current Perspectives and Future Opportunities in Research, Policy, and Practice – A Learning Report. The Robert Wood Foundation. Hoge, D. R., Smit, E.K., & Hanson, S.L. (1190). School experiences predicting changes in self-esteem of sixth and seventh-grade students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 117-127. Hopson, L.M., Schiller, K.S., & Lawson, H.A. (2014). Exploring linkages between school climate, behavioral norms, social supports, and academic success. Social Work Research, 38(4), 197-209.

Osherson, Sam (2017). The Influence of Affluence. Independent School, Fall 2017. National Association of Independent Schools. independent-school/fall-2017/the-influence-of-affluencein-independent-schools/

Dr. Tara R. Campbell is a veteran educator. She started her career as a high school teacher and has since served the field of education as a professional learning and development coordinator, a curriculum designer, an AtRisk Prevention Specialist, and a Career and Technical Education program manager for the Tennessee Department of Education in the United States. Dr. Campbell currently serves as Senior Manager of the Educator Services division of Jostens where she and her team create school culture and climate resources. She is the co-author of the book “Make It Reign: A Collection of Proven Ideas to Fund Renaissance in Your School.”

Wallace, J B (2019). Students in high-achieving schools are now named an ‘at-risk’ group, study says. The Washington Post, September 26, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost. com/lifestyle/2019/09/26/students-high-achievingschools-are-now-named-an-at-risk-group/


THE ASCENDING COGNITION PRINCIPLE Kevin Jennings, M. Ed. World History Teacher Leysin American School




n my 10 years in education I’ve had the good fortune of teaching on three different continents, with colleagues from all over the world, and students from over 30 countries. In that time, I have found a few challenges to be both universal and recurring.

In the beginning of the school year, a class may be asked to practice skills such as Cornell notes, summarise, and compare and contrast, in order to set a foundation of skills to build off in the lessons and units to come. As a student, a group, or a class is able to master these skills, they will then “graduate” to more cognitively demanding skills such as classify, predict, interpret, solve, analyse, cause and effect. Of course, these skills are made easier by the use and implementation of earlier, foundational skills.

These problems include: I) How do we create a classroom environment that promotes higher-level thinking without overwhelming students?

As the year progresses, lower-level skills and activities will take less time to complete, allowing more time for higherlevel, more cognitively demanding skills to be targeted. For example, while we may take 2 weeks to master Cornell notes in the beginning of the year, writing these notes will (hopefully) become second nature into the latter half of the school year, allowing more time for new exciting and challenging skills. In our case, the next two levels of thinking skills are Application and Analysis.

II) How do we make sure one class period, one week of classes, a 5-week unit aligns meaningfully with the next? III) How do we create a classroom environment that promotes student leadership and independence? IV) How do we make sure we practice the skills and develop the understandings that are necessary for success?

These two levels allow for students to solve problems, building prototypes, investigate, defend reasoning, develop a thesis with conclusion, etc. The mixture of interesting and challenging material with constant practice and feedback will allow even these difficult skills to become natural as the school year progresses.

Through trial and error, and through conversations with colleagues, I created a standardised unit outline that helps to address the problems mentioned above. I call it The Ascending Cognition Principle.

As mentioned in the initial problems, the ultimate goal of my class is for students to be able to handle higherlevel thinking tasks and skills, while becoming more independent and self-reliant. The ascent to the highest level thinking skills, Synthesise and Evaluate, encourage such behaviour as they are meant to help students develop something new, or justify a position. Some students or classes may be ready to ascend quicker than their peers. In which case, it would be beneficial for educators to allow these students to embrace more cognitively demanding tasks and activities. Students, who are ready, will benefit from more challenging material as well as more opportunities for creative expression e.g. developing a song, creating a historical fiction, creating a political cartoon or meme, solving problems, etc.

AN EDUCATIONAL PRINCIPLE Think of skill development in the classroom in terms of the proverbs “you must learn to crawl before you can walk” and “you don’t need shoes to run, but it helps.” While developing units, It’s important to target specific skills necessary for student development. The first few units may require students to focus on the mastery of lower level, less cognitively demanding skills that are necessary for success, e.g. Cornell Notes, extracting information from a text, comparing and contrasting resources, etc. These foundational skills are our proverbial “shoes”, preparing students for their next challenge.

A unit lasts as long as time allows, or as you (or your school) see fit. The following unit will then build off the foundation of skills you have just developed in order to embrace more challenging material. The ascending complexity of



tasks and activities over the course of the school year is represented by the gradual change from red to purple in the figure below.

that fall under “Synthesis” or “Evaluation”, the highest levels of the Bloom’s scale, will only be practiced once that individual, group, or class, is ready for the challenge, which may not be until the latter months into the school year. Once we know which skills we would like our students to master, and we know where in the unit the skill will fall, it’s now time to create activities allow students to master these skills. For example, if I want my students to learn how to take Cornell Notes, it’s up to the teacher to come up with an effective way for students to learn this process. This large task will be infinitely easier if the teacher has the ability to collaborate with other teachers of similar grades or subjects.

PREPARING FOR A SUCCESSFUL UNIT In order to figure out which activities are less or more cognitively demanding, you may want to use Bloom’s Taxonomy Teacher Planning Kit (Google it) as a guide, then use and/or add what makes sense for your classroom.


As you move from left to right on the Bloom’s scale (click here to see the full chart) from “Knowledge” to “Evaluate” the keywords, actions, and skills will become ever more complex and cognitively demanding, as seen on the figure above.

While the goal of a school year may be for students to master all of the skills necessary for their next year, teachers will also benefit from having a classroom which is (among other things) predictable, flows seamlessly from one lesson to the next, has a clear purpose, offers creative outlets for students, and guides students to higher-level thinking activities. The Ascending Cognition Principle was developed to allow teachers to produce units that do just that.

TARGETING SPECIFIC SKILLS As we prepare for a successful unit, one thing we should be cognisant of is the skills that you would like your students to practice and eventually master. If you are using The Bloom’s Taxonomy Planning Kit, these skills and command terms are located in the “keywords”, “actions” and “outcomes” section, and if they are not there, add your desired skills to the appropriate section of the unit. Click here to see the full chart.


The location of the skills along the Bloom’s scale (e.g. under “Knowledge” or “Comprehension” etc.) determines when in the unit the skill will be practiced. For example, any desired skill that appears under “Knowledge” or “Comprehension”, which are the first two levels of Bloom’s, will likely be targeted earlier in the unit, while any skills

Kevin Jennings is a social studies teacher and resident scholar at Leysin American School in Switzerland. He is a native of the Washington DC area and is currently in his 10th year of teaching.


SCARED OF DIGITAL DRAMA? Help everyone, tel l a story.

Allison Ochs Author, Lecturer, Consultant Switzerland

There are many schools where I work on a regular basis. When I go back into a class after a year and ask students what they remember from my workshop the year before, they all remember my stories. They can retell them with near perfection. I have their attention yet again, as they lean in, faces eager, and I hear those words that are music to my ears, “Miss, will you tell us another story?� Today I intend to do just that; tell you a story.




ot long ago, a mother I know explained, “I trust my child to do the right thing. I need to give her freedom as a teen. I respect what you do, but I don’t believe in checking her online space.” I remained polite, somewhat silent, and smiled. A week or so later, I was in the main foyer of the school chatting with another mother. The hustle and bustle of the morning had stopped, all children were snuggled safely into their classrooms. On this morning, the foyer was mostly deserted. Suddenly, we heard someone briskly entering the building. It was the woman I mentioned earlier, looking like she was on a mission. I know that look as a mother: distraught, tired, and ready to launch into battle. I glanced up and watched as she stormed past us. I instantly felt sorry for the teacher or administrator she would encounter. My friend and I looked at each other and said in unison, “She is headed to the office!” carefully chosen her schooling, helped craft her friend groups by encouraging particular friendships and inviting others over to cocktails and dinners. She tries to manage her daughter’s issues for her by demanding this and that from the school and is an avid Instagram and Facebook promoter for her children’s accomplishments. A true poster mom. I respect her, yet this mother fails in one area; her daughter’s online world remains “private to her.” Remember, she trusts her daughter.

Yes, it was that obvious, and yes, I too am guilty of having been on similar missions in the past. I have also been on the receiving end when I worked at a school. Her fists were slightly clenched, and the look of sheer determination on her face was recognisable. She was heading into the school to launch what I call an “I’ll huff and I’ll puff” mode of attack for her child. This particular mother is active on the PTA, engaged, and educated. Listening to her chat at various events, I have come to realise that she is like many parents, eager to march in, throwing tantrums, and completely ignoring her child’s part in whatever drama might have happened. She is the same mother who does not need help, the same mother who trusts her child.

The irony is that this mother, who wants to do the right thing, is uninformed in the name of trust. How many of us have trusted someone to find out later just how misinformed we were? The word “trust” is tricky when it comes to the online space; It eludes us. We want to trust our children with this magical tool; a tool that tricks us into overlooking the dangerous side, the distracting toy side. Unfortunately, it is not that straight-forward. We have all rushed to use the tool without thinking of the consequences.

I know a bit about the child mentioned above. I have even seen screenshots of things and heard tales of her online posts. Sexting was definitely part of the Snapchat history. The words “privacy” and “trust” that the mother mentioned? Well, privacy doesn’t exist online and trust is complex because a teen isn’t always ready to deal with the adult world they encounter online. A teen’s brain is still developing and they might make some fast choices they regret without thinking through the consequences. I am not against trusting teens. However, they do have developing prefrontal cortexes and need adult guidance, also in their online space. Neglecting to see this is an error.

Schools use tech, and love these nifty tools. Parents I listen to tell a different tale: “I feel undermined by the school. I might make an effort to do everything right but my child was given an iPad on a rainy day instead of going out for recess. He came across inappropriate content. You know he is eight years old. I am so outraged.” “I can’t tell when they are playing or working. Can’t they have non-digital homework?”

It is clear that this mother loves her daughter. She has



So, how can we learn, come together, and educate on all levels? When working with parents and teens, I have found one method works better than any other. It is so simple that we sometimes forget it exists. Tell a story.

• Give students time in home room classes to discuss stories. They will appreciate having the time and space to discuss relevant issues. Remember to let them take the lead. The mother in my story said she didn’t need help. I didn’t react but I knew she did. We all do. This is not a matter to tackle alone, and no parent or school should even attempt to.

How do you tell a compelling story about our digital world? For starters, tell a beautiful full-blown story with a beginning, middle, and end. When you are done with the story, ask some open-ended questions, encourage dialogue, and then listen without judgment.

The more stories I tell, the better the workshops are and the more learning takes place. The more I listen to the stories the better I get at understanding others, finding solutions to problems and creating new stories.

When confronted with an online drama, the loving mother in my story yelled at another mother. She rallied other parents behind her, spreading rumours. It was a mess! In the end, there were consequences for many others. This mother gave an example of what we often do in a crisis but shouldn’t. She was scared, crazy, and clueless. I have seen administrators, board members, and staff members be scared, crazy, and clueless.

When I was fifteen, I was mesmerised watching Karen Blixen tell a story by candlelight in the film Out of Africa. I walked out of the movie theatre with the desire and dream of becoming a storyteller. It is strange to remember that day, realising that I now spend most of my time telling stories to teens, some of them the same sweet age I was when I fell in love with storytelling. Good stories make us think and feel. Telling stories to our communities of students, staff and parents will help everyone think, feel and learn. Let’s get back to the basics, go back to the campfire and candlelight, and tell some great stories.

This is rather obviously not the way to tackle problems. I always tell educators and parents they need to be accessible, informed, calm, and realistic when approaching online drama. Realistic means there is no way you will avoid drama, but you will need to do some prevention, manage conflicts and be open-minded, possibly making some changes in your policies and the way you do things as our online space evolves.


This might sound all too familiar. I want to ask you a hard question and an important one to ponder. Are you always approachable and calm? I most certainly have made mistakes and have not always been composed and ready to listen. I think approaching this messy space open-minded and ready to receive help is beneficial. Owning up to our mistakes and slowing it down a notch will also help.


Allison Ochs is an American/Swiss social worker, lecturer, teacher, and consultant. She has volunteered in an Orphanage in Mexico, at the University Hospital in Kiel, in a teen transition home and has both taught and held leadership positions in public and private schools in Switzerland. She is currently the owner and president of EDIT Change Management Sàrl, member of the Board of Trustees at the International School of Amsterdam, and author of “Would I have sexted back in the 80s?” A modern guide on raising digital teens derived from lessons of the past; it will be published in January 2019 by Amsterdam University Press.

• Write personal and informative messages to parents on the subject and imbed a story; • Share your own struggles with students. Let them know how you manage your time online. Be honest and vulnerable (students are smart and know we are guilty of imperfection too); • If you are a director, meet annually with the parent groups of the different years. Use a story to talk to parents about issues and then listen to them to find out what stories are needed next;



Tunji David Lees Head of Student Development Swiss Leadership Camp & Academy




s Head of Student Development at the Swiss Leadership Camp & Academy, Tunji David Lees is responsible for the development of student leadership modules designed together with international schools around the world. With a background in Outdoor Education, he has extensive experience designing and implementing experiential learning programs at schools around the world and is keen to share some best practices.

HELPING STUDENTS GET THE BEST OUT OF THEMSELVES As educators, we want our students to do well academically and help them towards having successful lives and careers. According to a report by the World Economic Forum however, it is estimated that a majority of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. In a world that is changing exponentially, we have to ask ourselves; how do we prepare our students for drastically different job markets and future technological innovation in a world we don’t yet know? Let us explore several important factors that will help students get the best out of themselves in any possible future.

skills, and have learned to persevere and take on new challenges. These so-called “soft skills” are all important elements of personal development.

INTERNATIONALISM Studies have shown that children growing up in an international environment will have an expanded world view, greater cultural intelligence, strong interpersonal sensitivity, increased multilingual ability and a high level of general adjustment. A quality international education will reinforce this, helping students to develop into wellrounded global citizens. As the world becomes increasingly globalised, we expect international education to become more and more important alongside it. This means it’s now more important than ever to be comfortable in different cultural environments, to be adaptable to other ways of doing things, and understanding of others and their way of life.

There are similar components of non-formal learning in other curricula, with many schools placing an increasing emphasis on learning beyond the classroom through extracurricular activities and industry related experiences such as STEM programmes.

STEM EDUCATION STEM or STEAM Education is an interdisciplinary approach to the teaching of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics which is becoming increasingly popular in international schools. For good reason: it is estimated that 2.4 million STEM jobs in the United States went unfilled in 2018, and that this demand will increase by 13% over the next 10 years. Anticipating these factors, many schools are responding by developing their own STEM or STEAM programmes. The selling point to parents is usually about opening students to a world of possibilities and preparing them for a world of tomorrow.

LEARNING BEYOND THE CLASSROOM Does your school offer a truly well-rounded education? Let’s look beyond academics here. The IB includes Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) as a core component of their diploma programme, whereby students should have two CAS activities for each category in which they participate on a weekly basis. Around 80% of IB graduates say that as a result of participating in CAS they have developed better interpersonal skills, self-awareness, empathy, planning

The long-term benefits of such school programmes however as of yet unclear. It is our view that there is something of even greater importance which most schools



are not yet focusing on; student leadership and wellbeing. To us leadership means learning how to get the best out of yourself and others. This starts with learning to understand yourself, and then moving on to understand and collaborate with others.

WELL BEING AND SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING As of yet, the Kingdom of Bhutan is the only country in the world to make Well Being a fully integrated part of the national school curriculum. This was implemented on a systematic basis with the help of the Positive Psychology centre at the University of Pennsylvania, forerunners in the field. Statistical reports into the effects have not only shown a marked increase in student well being, but improved academic performance as well.

BIBLIOGRAPHY World Economic Forum. The Future of Jobs and Skills. chapter-1-the-future-of-jobs-and-skills/#view/fn-1

There is still much progress to be made internationally on the implementation of these kind of programmes, but more and more schools are beginning to see the benefits.

University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology centre. Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman’s Positive Psychology Research.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS Since the first forms of organised education in the time of ancient philosophers and scholars, knowledge was only reserved to a small minority of the population. It took till the 19th century for the value of mass education to became recognised in the Western world, and for nation states to begin national education programmes focusing on educating children in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

University of Bath. The Impact of Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) on students and communities. https://www.ibo. org/contentassets/d1c0accb5b804676ae9e782b78c8bc1c/ cas-finalreport-2017-en.pdf Education Commission of the States. STEM Demand.

Education has come a long way since then, with international schooling often leading the way when it comes to curriculum innovation. We would argue that schools should dedicate even more time to facilitating the acquirement of life skills. Only the development of the whole child -including well being, social-emotional learning, and leadership skills- helps to fully prepare them for the world of tomorrow, whatever it will bring.

Smithsonian Science Education centre. The STEM Imperative.

Tunji David Lees Head of Student Development Swiss Leadership Camp & Academy


HEAD FUEL & HEART COMPASS A reading love letter.

Laura Benson ISS Director of Curriculum & Professional Development

Books and reading teach us that we are not alone. We go into ourselves when reading. But there we find another self – our reader self. The internal dialogues we have with the words of the author and ourselves are part awakening and part fellowship. It’s hard to feel entirely alone as a reader. Lately, I have learned about some additional gifts of reading. New studies have identified very good news for readers, especially life-long readers. Individuals with high lifetime levels of cognitive activity show slower decline, despite the presence of underlying pathology (Jacobs, 2017). “Habitual participation in cognitively stimulating pursuits over a lifetime might substantially increase the efficiency of some cognitive systems,” writes a research team led by neuropsychologist Robert Wilson of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Centre. This efficiency apparently counteracts the often-devastating effects of nervous system diseases. “Asking ourselves, can we do anything to slow down late-life cognitive decline, the results suggest yes—read more books, write more, and do activities that keep your brain busy, irrespective of your age.”




nowing the essential vitality and utility of reading in our lives, here are a few of the essential experiences children need to flourish as readers:

LET CHILDREN READ. Engage the children you shepherd – whether as teacher, administrator, or parent – in daily doses of reading with you and on their own. This helps reading become something they own and look forward to each day. It becomes part of them and helps shape their identities, fuelling their passions and also soothing the rough parts of life. It all begins with books in hands, and this is where it grows over time. From my forty years as an educator, especially as a literacy specialist, I have witnessed many reading wars and engaged passionately to champion what I know as truth: We learn to read by reading.

LET CHILDREN SEE YOU READ. Children imitate what they see us giving time to in our own lives. By reading in front of growing readers, our actions will speak louder than our admonishments. Seeing the adults they love engage in reading acts as an invitation to children. When I began teaching, parent education workshops were part of each year’s teaching work. One of the insights gained from these collaborations was that since we were engaged in our reading after the children went to bed (or, in my case, outside of the classroom), the kids were not seeing us read. We realised that this was a mistake. It left children out of what was vital to so many of us.

reader are some of the best and most “Ah, ha!” provoking moments you will share together. Listen to how you talk to yourself before, during, and after reading. These words are your authentic reading scripts you can share with your children or students to nudge their own understanding and work as a reader.

WEAVE READING INTO YOUR CLASSROOM LIFE AND FAMILY LIFE. By reading to and with children, you are giving them a quiet place and a part of yourself no other activity can replicate or match. The shared thinking, laughter, awe, bewilderment, and sorrow; these common experiences deepen your relationship and connection to one another. It’s one of the very best things we can do to nurture children’s hearts and it absolutely widens the mind. Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.

REVEAL WHY YOU READ. Share why you turn to texts. It can take a budding reader years to find her or his identity as a reader. Reading is hard work and some children do take (and need) time to identify themselves as readers; reading will not always be your child’s or students’ first draft pick for their free time activities. Sharing openly and passionately why you read is vital for the growing readers in your life.

SHARE HOW YOU READ. Children of all ages mistakenly think that adults read perfectly and without effort. Sharing the hard work of your reading and your own problem-solving skills as a

From these few do’s, here are a few cautions for nurturing the literacy of growing readers:




This piece has been adapted from original publication; for the full-length edition, please visit

After reading a great book, I often tell a friend about the book and encourage others to read it. I don’t write a book report. I do read and enjoy book reviews. So, with my students and my own son, I encouraged book recommendations and sharing which occasionally turned into book reviews. But I never asked my kids to write a book report, create a diorama of their reading, or write about everything they read. These clerical tasks quickly turn children off reading. Let them read as you and I do – read for pleasure, read for information, read to edify.



Laura Benson helps ISS school educators develop and refine their curriculum and engage in deeper understandings of best-practice pedagogy. A well-cited scholar and researcher, Laura has published numerous articles in professional journals and is the co-author of Standards and Assessment: The Core of Quality Instruction and Bearing Witness. Laura earned degrees from Trinity University and University of Denver, and furthered her studies at Harvard University, Columbia University Teachers College, and Cambridge University. Follow her work at

Rather, encourage and respect each child’s choices in reading. Choice is the greater energiser of literacy. Think about your nightstand table reading and those texts you choose to read on an airplane. We often read texts which, in fact, are at our easy, comfortable level. We love a good piece in The New York Times, yummy recipes, or riveting sports articles. Pouring over the rich photography essays and design portraits in decorating magazines is a huge passion of mine. Are these cognitively rigorous or demanding for me? Probably not, but they fuel my creativity and sense of possibilities in creating my own home and office environments. In other words, they are pure fun and joy for me. Why not encourage all children to bring this kind of joy reading into their own lives? Whether they choose to read graphic novels, science fiction from an unknown author, fifteen books about horses, action-packed comics, or art books full of rich photography, honor children’s choices as readers.

ABOUT ISS International Schools Services (ISS) is a leading non-profit with more than 60 years of experience in international education. Whether developing and managing world-class international schools, staffing schools, ordering equipment and supplies, performing accounting functions, or supporting best-in-class teaching and learning approaches, ISS provides the full range of services necessary for schools to thrive and deliver an outstanding global education to their students. Learn more at

Many years ago, I heard Frank Smith say that a truly literate person is a person who not only can read but chooses to read, too. To help our children choose to bring reading into their lives, honor their voices and choices as readers. Model authentically your ways, joys, and struggles as a reader. Surround the children you love with so many books that they stumble over them. For my family, this means we have books in every room of our home and in our cars, too. Trust that by living literate lives as a family or in your classroom, your growing readers will turn to reading and embrace it as essential oxygen in their lives. Happy reading, connections, and sharing your reading with all the children in your world!

ONLINE REFERENCE Jacobs, T. (June, 14, 2017). Lifetime of Reading Slows Cognitive Decline. Pacific Standard.


IS YOUR SCHOOL DIFFERENT? Marcia De Wolf Director Quisite Consulting Your school is a wonderful institution that provides an excellent education to its students and is a place where students, teachers and parents feel at home. You know it and everyone in your school community knows it too. If yours is a typical international school, then many of your families move to their next posting after about 3 years, except for the locals and longterm expats who have settled in your country. The teaching staff is a mix of young, ambitious teachers who leave after two or three years to explore the next country, and longer term staff members who feel they have found a working environment they wish to remain in. Sounds about right?





o why do families come to your school? Why did they choose it over other schools in the area? What do they enjoy most about it? Why do teachers apply to work at your school? Do you know?

Let’s say a family has just been informed they will be moving to your country on their first expat posting. Very exciting but daunting at the same time, moving to a country they have never been to and where they speak a different language. They have two children (9 and 14 years old), who do not speak much English and need basic learning support. Where do they start? They make a list: learn about the country and city, find a house, a school, a moving company, get transcripts from the current school, and so on.

If I ask you why new families should come to your school, would you be able to tell me? Would you feel comfortable with your answer and confident that this is something new families or staff are looking for? What do you offer that “the school across town” does not? What makes your school unique? You will probably tell me that they should pick your school since it is obvious that you are the best school in the region! Is it obvious though, to people not yet in your community? And how are you the best, exactly? And if you are indeed the best, how can you prove that? In the ever-changing landscape of international schools, few schools have the luxury of waiting lists. If anything, there is more competition than ever and beating other schools in attracting new families is essential to reach your enrolment numbers. In addition, with the Coronavirus crisis, there could be a drop in families moving to your country and perhaps you will see a higher number of current families departing. If so your conversion rate of those that do move to your country would have to increase to reach your enrolment goals. The other schools in your region will likely set up their efforts to convince these families to apply to their school. Your chances of conversion will be best if you can successfully differentiate your school from all the others and effectively showcase why your school will fit the family best.

They will do a Google search to see what international schools come up for that city. They find some options and continue to the various websites, perhaps checking the schools’ social media channels. What do they find? Very similar information on the websites, happy faces on the social media channels, mostly of classroom or extracurricular activities. To them, the schools all seem alike and offer a very similar experience.

When you are ‘on the inside’, you often assume your school’s unique features are obvious to those looking at your school for the first time. The experience for those ‘on the outside’, however, can be quite different than you imagine. Prospective parents want to find a school that resonates with them, that they feel will be a good fit for their children as they move to this new country, where they will need to find new friends and learn a new language. They will likely skip past your school, even if it shows up first in the results on Google, if you have the same standard language as any other school. To get a family’s attention and have a chance to be contacted for a visit, you must find a way to connect with these parents to make them notice your school and consider it for their children. You need to provide a solution to their concerns as they start the relocation process.

I picked a random big city in Europe and checked the websites of three quality international schools. Here is what their sites want me to know: School 1: “we offer an American education, international community, and exceptional results” School 2: “we prepare our students to engage with and succeed in a complex world” School 3: “we are the oldest international school in x, have a rich history of inclusion and diversity, and offer a warm welcome to children.”



Have you already considered and identified differentiating factors for your school? Great! See if they pass the test: are they true, can you prove them, are they relevant and are they well communicated? Have you not yet considered what makes your school special or feel you may not be communicating it effectively? No problem, you now have an excellent opportunity to increase the number of new student inquiries by looking at differentiating your school now! If you would like to discuss further and/or be guided through the process, please e-mail In the meantime, keep up the great work and don’t underestimate all the seemingly small things your school does that can make it special and very appealing to new families!

These are by no means differentiators. In fact, most international schools in the world claim to: • offer a great education and excellent results. • provide a learning environment in which students thrive. • have a diverse and welcoming international community.


If these are the reasons your school uses to attract new families and expect prospective families to come rushing through the door, you may wish to reconsider as it does not differentiate you from any other international school on the globe. Do you feel your website, for a first-time visitor who knows nothing about your school, effectively tells your story? Does it convey the features that make your school so special? The many elements that you and everyone already at the school know, but a prospective parent doing a search does not? Prospective parents do not care if you have a flashy website, with fancy features. They want to see that you are a good fit for their children and get the sense that you understand their needs.

Marcia has been involved in branding and marketing activities for 26 years, both in North America and Europe. She started her career at CNN Headquarters in the Public Relations department for five years, before working in strategic communications at two leading PR agencies, Ketchum and GCI, guiding clients such as IBM, Nokia, Dell, and Sony.

I suggest you take an objective look at your school’s website, but from the perspective of an expat family that does not know your school, your country or international schools. Review your website, especially the home page, and consider whether this is the information you should see if you are a prospective family.

She started her own consultancy in 2018 to focus on providing strategic services in marketing and branding. Her clients include the Justine Henin Tennis Academy, Bugatti, FIFA and UEFA. She also runs events for the Belgian national men’s soccer team, ranked number 1 in the world and manages a group of Belgian female sports legends, such as Tia Hellebaut, Kim Gevaert, Ann Wauters and other Olympic and world medalists.

For most expats, school is home away from home, the support network that needs to take the place of family and friends. It must fill a big chunk of a new family’s life, so the choice is of huge importance to any family starting the relocation process. Look at it from their perspective, what do you want them to feel and what do you absolutely want them to know when they visit your website for the first time?

A frequent speaker and workshop leader at ECIS conferences, Marcia has successfully advised many schools in the area of effective marketing and branding over the past 15 years.


THE GLOBAL GENEVA 2020 YOUTH WRITES AWARDS A call for stories by High School students worldwide.

Edward Girardet Editor Global Geneva




o the chagrin of both parents and teachers, high school graduates are increasingly entering university and even grad schools unable to write properly. Business leaders are voicing similar complaints. A group of veteran foreign correspondents based in different parts of the world last year launched ‘Youth Writes’ in a bid to help young people not only improve their writing skills, but to counter cyber abuse by becoming more discerning about what is credible – and what is not – in social media. They are now seeking entries for the 2020 Youth Writes Awards from high school students worldwide. Its director, Edward Girardet, an award-winning journalist and author, explores why good writing is so important for young people as a critical tool for life, but also why the Coronavirus crisis could provide some positive learning opportunities this summer. Years ago, as an aspiring writer just out of university, I received my first job as a cub reporter working for United Press International, a U.S. news agency. I quickly learned that the luxuries of procrastination no longer existed. You had to get the story out and within minutes rather than hours. On my first day on the job in Brussels, I found a curt note splayed across my typewriter. “Go cover European communist party conference. If you fail, you’re fired!”

“Well,” I began. “What I’m trying to say is…” He did not let me finish. Instead, he scrawled with his pencil in large threatening letters at the bottom of the page. “THEN SAY IT!”


For the next three days, I turned up diligently at the conference to report. There was no other journalist present. It was only during the final hours that the British, American and other international ‘hacks’ rolled in, pulling out their notebooks and questioning me – and few French or Italian party officials - about what had transpired. And then, before retreating to a nearby bar, they called in their stories by phone with a deftness and sense of authority that could only stupefy me. Somehow, they had pulled together all the relevant points configured in stories that not only read well but incorporated an element of insight which would probably serve historians for years to come.

This was my first lesson in practical journalism – and writing. Don’t just write what you know, but what you think readers need to know. While this particular editor proved a despicable ogre to many in the newsroom, he was a godsend as an on-the-job writing teacher. All his comments were to the point and relevant. I not only learned how to report and observe, but also to write to deadline – and anywhere. Today, I have no problem sitting down in the middle of a traffic jam or in a trench with mortars falling nearby, and then write as if locked away in a Tibetan monastery. Nothing distracts me except my need to tell a story.

As for me, I returned glumly to my office. For the next two hours, I struggled to pull together a couple of paragraphs summing up what I had so assiduously covered. But I simply couldn’t write. My journalism career was a failure before I had even begun. Finally, my editor sauntered over. He ripped out my story from the typewriter with a searing glare of contempt.

The point is that anyone can learn to write. And everyone, no matter whether lawyer, engineer, scientist, civil servant, teacher, entrepreneur or high school student, needs to know how to write clearly and persuasively; in other words, to tell a story. It does not matter whether you are putting together a legal assessment, business or NGO project proposal, background paper, government policy brief or a school essay. If you can’t put across your ‘story’ in a manner that is accessible, then no one will be bothered. You will have lost your audience, and maybe even your job.

“What the hell are you writing?” he asked, holding up my paper between his thumb and forefinger as if just removed from the loo.



the best of these on an ongoing basis in our online Youth Writes section, but the award itself will be announced in fall, 2020. Recommended length: 700-1000 words. (Closing date: 15 September, 2020). We will be publishing (and paying100 CHF/USD) for any good quality youth story that we publish over the next five or six months. Students can offer their own perspectives, such as a story based on one’s own experience, but we want originality and will be looking at how credible their information is. We want them to do the appropriate research to learn more about their subjects. We have no problem with students sharing their drafts with teachers and parents, but the story should remain their own. A jury of editors and journalists from around the world will judge the entries. From our point of view, it is important to ‘read’ – and publish - the voices of young people, particularly at a time when so many crucial planetary issues can – and will affect their futures: climate change, pandemics, wars, impact of Brexit on cross-border studying or jobs, refugees, migration… The list is long.


For an aspiring writer, there is nothing more exhilarating than to see one’s piece in print. My own first (very short) published story on local island snakes while living in the Bahamas at the age of 12 appeared in Animals, a Londonbased magazine which featured articles by some of the world’s top wildlife specialists. I was elated. Later, I edited and wrote for school magazines. Eventually, at 19, I won second prize in a British student journalism competition with my piece about a full moon feast in Nepal published by a British weekly. Such achievements are not only great for the creative soul, but for one’s CV.

This is where the Youth Writes initiative comes in. High school is precisely the place where young people need to start honing their writing (and reading) skills, a process that may often seem a desperate challenge at first, but one that can prove satisfying, even enjoyable. And given the current Coronavirus situation with so many young people stuck at home, what better way to spend one’s time writing an article or short story for the 2020 Youth Writes Awards? The rules are simple. Fact or fiction, each piece cannot be no more than 1,000 words. It also and needs to focus in one way or another on any of the Sustainable Development Goals or a an “international Geneva” theme, such as human rights, climate change, refugees, migrants, health, world trade, conservation and environment…Open to high school students worldwide, this not only offers the chance to win a travel grant worth 1,200, 750 or 500 CHF/USD, but also to get published alongside professional writers in Global Geneva magazine. (Closing date: 15 June, 2020)

Depending on how many quality entries we receive, we also plan to publish a special Global Geneva print and e-edition. Just imagine an array of 20-25 imaginative if not unique stories written by high school students from Liberia to Singapore and Mexico! Depending on funding, we would then seek to distribute complimentary copies to all participating schools. Several sponsors, for example, are already interested in helping to make copies available to international schools in Thailand and Singapore.



We have also created a special Coronavirus Award (500 CHF/USD) for the best personal story on coping with Covid-19. Depending on quality, we will be publishing

So this is where we can help. As part of a global network of over 2,000 editors, reporters, cartoonists, film-makers and media specialists, we would like to share some of the



“tricks of the trade”. This includes not only helping young people dare to write stories that can make a difference, but to better understand the need for quality reporting in the public interest. If properly supported, good journalism can stand out as one of the most effective means for countering cyber abuse, false news and deliberation disinformation, now considered by The Economist, World Economic Forum and other leading international analytical institutions to be one of the world’s gravest threats. Now more than ever, young people need to learn how to discern what is a credible – and what is not – in social media.


As a non-profit initiative, Youth Writes was first launched in early 2019 only in Switzerland with a focus primarily on international schools. Despite only receiving just over 40 entries for the 2019 Youth Writes Awards, their quality proved exceptional. Furthermore, the publishing of the top three in Global Geneva magazine coupled with the presentation of the awards at the Morges Book Festival overlooking Lake Geneva last September has provoked considerable interest. We are now receiving queries by students, parents and schools from different parts of the world.

Edward Girardet is a foreign correspondent and author who has reported humanitarian crises, wars and development issues across the globe for nearly 40 years. Based between Geneva and Bangkok, he is the author/ editor of at least half a dozen books, including Killing the Cranes – A Reporter’s Journey through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan. He is editor of Global Geneva, a Dublin-incorporated magazine, and director of Youth Writes, a Geneva-based non-profit journalism-cumeducational initiative.

While the Coronavirus situation has disrupted plans for the development of journalism and writing workshops in locations such as Basel, Brussels, Nairobi and Bangkok, it has also prompted more out-of-the-box thinking. We are now in the process of developing a series of online initiatives, including short videos introducing students to different aspects of story-telling. We are also looking into the possibility of an interactive writing project as part of an online ‘summer camp’ for students. Finally, we are working with an Edinburgh-based company for a Youth Writes component that will help put both high school and university students in touch with UN agencies, NGOs, companies and other institutions willing to offer paid or unpaid internships and volunteerships. If funded, some of our own writing projects this year will involve the participation of high school and university students as reporting interns. For more information, please go to the Global Geneva


Delivering to the UN Sustainability Development Goals:





elivering to the UN Sustainability Development Goals: Why interpreting the ‘where’ of spatial data has never been more important.

Given the ubiquitous nature of google maps, the ease of looking at maps and data presented spatially, has probably never seemed easier. However, the pace and combination of technology changes – the speed to send large amounts of data that has hugely increased, as has the amount of data that an individual can store and use on a laptop, combined with the advances of cube satellites and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, that can deliver near earth observation data at a fraction of the previous cost, means that these data - that we can now access much more easily, have the potential to make possible, some amazing differences to all our lives. Of course, we have had these data and have been understanding our world through them for many years, however, this interpretation has primarily been in the control of governments, space agencies and research bodies.

Indeed, we are already building our smart cities – with rubbish trucks being efficiently routed to only the full bins, saving on fuel and costs for public authorities. Green infrastructure mapping of areas is a powerful approach to understanding the biodiversity scoring of neighbourhoods providing quantifiable evidence of a community’s access to green space, recognised as being critical for ensuring positive societal mental health outcomes.

The changes that we are seeing now, mean that an increasing number of organisations, public bodies, communities and individuals in the very close future, should be able to access and interpret near real-time data, and through understanding that effect, have more control over change on their society:

The success with which we are able to realise these changes will, to an extent depend on our ability to train and educate all of our societies in the use and interpretation of spatial data. This means that geospatial data analysis can not only be in the domain of the geographer – but must be taught across all our disciplines.

Communities will be able to become citizen scientists, complementing any “static” data record with near real time data from sensors and satellites, adding data on biodiversity, vegetation, air pollution etc. to better understand, respond and manage changes in their locality.

The importance of teaching children as young as five how to understand and interpret data spatial has been a mission for EDINA for over a decade, as it has developed its Digimap for Schools service: a simple intuitive tool that any user can start to look at data and add their own to understand it better through seeing its location - and in doing so think more critically about what they see is telling them. Our passion is to ensure that these are not exclusive skills and we work hard to make sure that any teacher or student – whatever, their skill level will be able to easily use the service, providing CPD training and learning resources to enhance the service.

When war or climate change causes the displacement of people or communities from rural to urban areas, satellite data to track population movement, will enable aid agencies to efficiently deliver the supply of all kinds of resources from water to vaccines, to the right place at the right time, in order to support and sustain lives. When school children capture data with sensors in their playground and map and compare them, they will be able to understand the local impact of choices they and their parents and governments are making e.g. monitoring nitrogen dioxide levels at school gates may encourage parents to stop car engine idling or even consider alternative sustainable transport options.

In addition, we recognise that the complement to managing the data is to have the coding skills to interrogate it. With this in mind we are developing a computational notebook service that will also support learners- whatever their skill set, to develop coding skills to manipulate and visualise geospatial data.




Digimap for Schools delivers an engaging, fun interface for learners to interact with real world data. It is free for schools to access until the 31st July 2020:

ABOUT EDINA EDINA is a centre of excellence at the University of Edinburgh, with a mission to contribute to education – in the UK and Internationally, to enable the widest possible access to learning through technology, providing students with the 21st century IT skills they need to be successful in their studies, their careers and their lives. Fundamental to this is our emphasis on widening access and inclusion: ensuring that everyone, whatever their background, or location, has access to the skills, technology and services they need, in order to learn.

Anne Robertson BA and MSc GIS, Head of Services, EDINA. Anne has worked in geospatial consultancy and geospatial policy in Australia, and designed and led on the service creation of Digimap for Schools.

Janet Roberts BA Hons. MBA. Director of EDINA. Janet previously worked in overseas development with Oxfam GB, as well as in finance, conservation and education before joining EDINA as Director.



THE EDUCATIONAL COLLABORATIVE FOR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS 24 Greville Street London EC1N 8SS +44 (0)20 7824 7040 The Educational Collaborative for International Schools. ECI Schools t/a ECIS is a Company Limited by Guarantee in England (No. 08109626), and a Registered Charity in England and Wales (No. 1150171). VAT Number GB 160 9238 11.


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.