Director at The International School of Azerbaijan in Azerbaijan
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The International School of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan)

Appointed - Chris Andre
Sep 8, 2014
Oct 12, 2014




August 2015


The International School of Azerbaijan (TISA) is a 3-program IB World School enrolling over 700 students from Nursery to Grade 12, in classes of 10 – 20, with a school-wide student-teacher ratio of 8.8:1. Opened in September 1996, its original and primary purpose is to educate the children of expatriates resident in Azerbaijan to carry out work to develop oil and gas resources in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. The Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), the first oil consortium to begin operations in Azerbaijan after the country’s independence in 1992, owns the school.  TISA is operated by BP Exploration (Caspian Sea) Ltd.

TISA has just embarked on the third year of its Strategic Plan 2012-15, which covers various campus improvements as well as the development of the curriculum (including the implementation of a 1:1 Apple programme) and extra-curricular activities.  


The TISA Mission is to prepare students to become life-long learners and positive contributors to their local and global communities.  TISA will prepare its students for the next stage of their education through a high quality, well-balanced educational programme.  TISA will deliver its programme according to the universally recognised educational principles, practices and beliefs of the International Baccalaureate.



TISA is fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS), latest re-accreditation in April 2012, and is authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate PYP, MYP and DP programs – an IB World School.

The feedback received in March 2014 on our First Report on Planning and Progress was extremely positive: “CIS was impressed by the school's positive approach to the recommendations contained in the April 2012 Visiting Team Report. In your Introduction to the First Report on Progress and Planning, you note the …very close alignment between CIS’s recommendations and the plans already in place in the TISA Strategic Plan for 2012-2015… and this report confirms the conscientious, purposeful efforts you have made to actualize these plans.”  TISA was re-authorised to deliver IB programmes in 2011 (Diploma), 2013 (MYP) and 2014 (PYP).  Arrangements have been made to align PYP, MYP and Diploma re-authorisation with CIS re-accreditation in 2017.


TISA provides an international curriculum taught in English and is authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer the Primary Years Program (PYP) for ages 3-10, the Middle Years Program (MYP) for ages 11-15, and the Diploma Program for ages 16-18. All Secondary students enrolled in the Post-16 Program work towards earning a TISA High School Diploma, and following an IB Diploma track, an IB Certificate track, or the TISA Graduation track. MYP and IB Diploma results are well above world average.


The school is a not for profit establishment, and is financed entirely from school fees, and is in a good financial position. A financially very sound owner has given the school the opportunity to develop school facilities as necessary.



TISA occupies a 5.9 hectare site on the outskirts of Baku, about 15 minutes from downtown Baku. The purpose-built facility is located in a residential community where many TISA families live. The Primary School classrooms and specialist areas are located in TISA 1 and 2 and in the Early Learning Centre.  Secondary School classrooms are in TISA 3 and 4.  Specialist rooms include science labs, libraries, art rooms, music and drama areas, a Design Technology Studio and resource areas. Outdoor facilities include play areas, a grass sports field and a basketball court. The Baku Toddler Klub (BTK) for 2 year olds is located next to the main campus. A magnificent new $11 million sports centre opened in August 2014, and there are exciting plans to build a new Arts Centre in the near future.



Azerbaijan is situated on the western shores of the Caspian Sea and is bordered by Georgia and Armenia to the west, Russia to the north and Iran to the south. Baku, the capital city, is situated on the Absheron Peninsula and has 2 million inhabitants.
Baku has sunny, hot and dry summers and short, cold and dry winters. The outdoor season lasts from April till early November, and Azerbaijan can offer an abundance of outdoor and camping experiences.  Close to Baku you will find long, sandy beaches, although quality may vary.   Baku has reinvented itself the latest ten years, with new and with splendidly refurbished buildings. Amenities and services are improving steadily, you will now find most of what will expect to find in a large international city – but Baku still has its own charm.

TISA is a non-sectarian, co-educational college-preparatory day school for approximately 760 students aged from 2 to 18 years.  It serves both the expatriate community and those in the local community who are seeking an international education. TISA aims to prepare students to be independent, lifelong learners and to acquire the problem-solving skills and knowledge necessary for educational success.  Teachers encourage self-expression and creative thinking as well as respect for, and understanding of, different philosophies and cultures.

There are currently 40 children in the Baku Toddler Klub (BTK), 460 students in the Primary School and 260 students in the Secondary School, with 50 enrolled in the Post-16 Programme.  Over 50 nationalities are represented in the school roll, with most from the UK (24%), the USA (19%) and Azerbaijan (13%).  39% of students are children of BP expatriate employees and around 65% in total are from oil-related backgrounds.  There is an active and supportive parents’ association.

The school population will to a large degree reflect the oil and gas activities in the country,  so that there have been periods with a downward trend in number of students.  During the latest five years the student population has grown 45%.  


The TISA Director is assisted by the Primary School Principal (P1 to P8) and the Secondary School Principal (M1 to DP2).  The Principals are responsible for educational leadership and curriculum development, personnel management, staff development and parent-community liaison as well as for dealing with issues related to individual students, class scheduling and school routines and administration.  Numerous coordinators support the Principals in their work and those teachers are responsible for specific subject areas and school sections.

Other administrative positions include an Admissions’ Officer, Counsellors in Primary and Secondary, a Business Manager, a Human Resources Manager and an Accountant.  Primary and Secondary School secretaries and other administrative support personnel assist the administrators in the day to day operations of the school.


TISA attracts excellent teachers.  We have just over 90 teachers from the following countries: UK (28%), USA (23%), Azerbaijan (15%), Australia (12%), New Zealand (9%), Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, the Netherlands and Zimbabwe.  22 of our expatriate teachers have children at TISA.  In addition there are more than 50 teacher assistants and over 50 other support staff.  All teaching staff are university certified and most hold advanced degrees. Ample professional development opportunities are available (U$170,500 is allocated for 2014-15).

TISA staff with families and younger children are especially happy in TISA and in Azerbaijan more generally.



The TISA Board of Governors has eleven members: the Board Chairman is appointed by the President of AIOC, and BP appoints three additional members. One each is nominated by the US and UK Embassies. Two ex-officio members are elected to represent teachers and parents, and the Director and the two Principals are also ex-officio members. 

The relationship between the Board and the Director may be characterised as the split between strategy/policy and operations/administration. The primary responsibilities of the Board are to review and set policies, to make strategic decisions and to approve the annual budget (U$20.8 million in 2014-15).  The Director operates the school to implement Board policies and strategies. However, the Board of Governors retains the ultimate responsibility for the long-term viability and success of the school.   The Board of Governors has clearly formulated policies set out in its comprehensive Board Policy Manual, which is reviewed and revised annually. The Board meets monthly at school, meetings are minuted and summaries of the meetings are published.


The Director reports directly to the Board Chair.  The duties and responsibilities of the Director include but are not limited to the following:

Implementing all school policies as described in the Board Policy Manual and as amended by subsequent Board actions by:

  • Acting as chief executive of the school;
  • Attending and participating as a non-voting member in all meetings of the Board and its committees;
  • Advising appropriate administrators or teaching staff of decisions to be implemented;
  • Remaining cognizant of the school’s legal situation, rules of establishment, all school internal policies, schedules, national laws, internal BP/AIOC regulations, etc.


Directing all school operations by:

  • Overseeing the implementation of the teaching and instructional curriculum;
  • Ensuring that all curriculum guides and courses of study are reviewed and revised together with staff on a regular basis;
  • Recommending to the Board for its adoption all courses of study, curriculum guides and major changes of in texts and time schedules to be used in the school;
  • Recommending building additions, furniture acquisitions, ground repair, major maintenance, etc;
  • Preparing an annual budget;
  • Effecting all school expenditures in accordance with the approved budget.


Implementing all school employee relations policies by:

  • Assuring implementation of the employee evaluation programme;
  • Recruiting administrative and teaching faculty utilising the appropriate organisations;
  • Recommending and administering salary scales and job classifications;
  • Arbitrating grievances which may arise between supervisors, or between supervisors and their subordinates;
  • Reporting to the Board the case of any employee whose service is unsatisfactory and recommending appropriate action;
  • Recommending changes to employee relations policies.


Assuring compliance with the school’s student policies by:

  • Ensuring that admissions and guidance services for the placement, evaluation and help of students are provided;
  • Acting as final authority in severe disciplinary problems;
  • Overseeing the implementation of the school admission policy.


Assuring educational excellence in line with the school’s objectives by:

  • Overseeing the implementation of in-service training programmes;
  • Utilising research, educational and other training institutions for the enhancement of educational objectives;
  • Overseeing the evaluation of school programmes and texts for the purpose of maintaining quality education;
  • Ensuring that the administrative team attends educational conferences, stays current with trends in accreditation, visits other school systems, etc.


Advising and making recommendations to the Board by:

  • Taking such specific action as the Board or its authorised committees may direct;
  • Making recommendations concerning policy changes and other matters requiring Board action or review;
  • Advising the Board of any disciplinary matter that may require expulsion;
  • Informing the Board of any important matter that may affect the operation or administration of the school;
  • Keeping the Board informed of material developments in administration and education;
  • Recommending and implementing yearly objectives for the school.



The successful candidate will be appointed on an initial three-year term.  The remuneration package is extremely competitive, and benefits include furnished housing and all utilities, pension contribution, annual home return airfare plus an additional annual flight allowance, company car, school fees for dependent children, medical and longterm disability insurance and freight allowance.  Further details will be given to interviewees.



Applicants with the following qualifications and experience should apply:

  • Experience as Head of School in an international school offering at least two of the three IB Programs
  • Demonstrated abilities to engage with stakeholders
  • Experience of identifying the need for change and of driving change processes



The new Director will assume responsibility during the month of August, 2015. Interested candidates should send an application at the earliest possible time but no later than October 12 2014. The review of files will begin as soon as applications are received. TISA reserves the right to appoint before the stated application deadline should an exceptionally appropriate candidate be identified.

Search Associates has been contracted to conduct this Director search. Senior Associate Gez Hayden is the lead consultant. Candidates should send the information requested below. It must be submitted exactly in the form and manner requested. Please do not send information other than that which is specifically requested here. All applications should be by email to 

  • A letter of application, no longer than two pages, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in this position.
  • A 2-page current résumé, with photo (low resolution).
  • A maximum two-page statement outlining educational philosophy and leadership style.
  • A one-page list of minimum three professional references with phone numbers and email addresses.

Please note that all the above materials must be combined into a single PDF and sent in the same transmission to the e-mail addresses indicated above. Also, please note that it is important to limit the size of your single PDF to 5MB.


Did You Know…?

Many international schools start recruiting in September for the following school year.