Head of Primary School at International School Hannover in Germany
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Head of Primary School
International School Hannover (Germany)

Appointed - Duncan Fitzgerald
Apr 23, 2018

On behalf of the International School of Hannover Region ( ISHR ) and Head of School Rachel Hovington, Search Associates is pleased to announce that after a highly competitive search that attracted more than 50 applicants, Duncan Fitzgerald has been appointed HEAD of PRIMARY, effective July 2019.

Duncan is currently the Assistant Elementary School Principal at the American International School in Guangzhou where he also served as 5th grade teacher. Prior to joining AISG in 2014, Duncan taught and held leadership positions in Australian state and independent schools. He holds a Bachelor of Education ( Primary ) from Griffith University and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Southern Cross University.Duncan is joined by his wife Bernadette and their two children, Edie ( 8) and Robbie ( 5 ).

Duncan is a learning-centered Principal who is looking forward to joining ISHR in his new role as Head of Primary. ISHR Head of School Rachel Hovington, her search committee, and Search Associates would like to thank all candidates who expressed interest in the Head of Primary position, and to everyone who assisted and supported the search process.





Head of Primary School

The School

The new ISHR Head of Primary School, to begin in August 2019, will be uniquely placed to collaboratively lead the Primary team into the future guided by our Vision for Learning 2018-2021. The Head of Primary is a member of The School's Leadership Team and works in close partnership with the Head of Lower Primary (3K-1st Grade).

Primary School

This NEASC and CIS accredited 3K-12 International Baccalaureate Continuum school was authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) in 2006. For the growing K-12 student body of over 620 students the Primary School is the beginning of an English immersion journey for German, Japanese, Spanish, Saudi Arabian and US students as well as students from over 30 other countries. 21 of our students K-12 have refugee status. Our US and UK students constitute our main English speakers. With just over forty staff including specialist and student support teachers the team is a great size to lead in terms of collaboration and professional growth.

The ISHR Early Years Section became part of ISHR in 2013 when an affiliated Kindergarten was incorporated into both the school's campus and programmes. It is now a dedicated wing of the school with its own playground adjacent to the Primary School wing.

At ISHR we believe that children learn most effectively through play, social interactions, contextualized and inquiry experiences. Using the framework of the IB PYP our teachers work with children to problem solve, reflect and question. In addition to classroom activities the students have specialist lessons and teachers for PE, Music and Art. Classes have access to iPads, and computers both in the classroom and on hallway based laptop carts. Rooms are equipped with Smartboards. Each class in Lower Primary has a teacher assistant. Some grade levels in 2nd-5th grade have a third floating teacher to support two class teachers and student numbers range between 11 and 24. Supported by a team of EAL and Learning Support teachers, the Primary student community totals nearly 300 students with a modest rise in numbers projected in the next few years. We are committed to empowering students for action and impact as evidence by this learning journey that first grade are currently taking to address the Global Goal of Inclusivity.

A large area designated as a school garden is a wonderful resource for the classes and raspberries, sunflowers and pumpkins are just a few of things planted and harvested by students. 3-11 year olds have a dedicated playground with sandpits, scooters, a writing wall and wooden play structures. 1st -5th Grade use the Primary play space on the main playground where they have access to wonderful play equipment, musical outdoor instruments, sandpits and wide open areas to run.

We recently opened a makerspace dedicated to Primary students that facilitates design thinking and solution finding. It gives the children a unique space to fail forward, to manipulate different materials and to explore electronics and machines.

Staff professional learning opportunities are varied at ISHR at our campus's Center for Professional Development led by our Curriculum Coordinators and we have hosted Ron Ritchhart from Harvard Graduate School's Project Zero, Lynn Erikcson for Concept Based Inquiry and Lee Watanabe Crockett for The Future of Learning workshops amongst other opportunities onsite. Four staff attended Reggio Emilia training in Italy this spring as well as the Principal's Training Center for International School Leadership and CIS Child Protection Training. We have adopted the Solution Fluency (Design Thinking) model for solution finding.


The International School of Hannover Region is situated at the center of this vibrant mid-sized city, adjacent to Europe's biggest urban forest and at the top of the beautiful Maschsee, a lake where sailing, rowing and running occur just a stone's throw away. Faculty housing is affordable and almost all either walk, cycle or take the tram to work. This university city has several art galleries, excellent shopping and is a hub for rail links to cities all over Europe with Berlin only an hour and fifteen minutes away. Hannover is the hidden jewel of Northern Europe with a leafy urban standard of living unparalleled in affordability and public transport access with nature all around. Although Germany is known for its high taxation and bureaucratic regulations, the quality of life here is superb. The health care system is excellent, it is very safe, care of the environment is taken seriously, and there are many different cultural offerings to suit every taste.

With great infrastructure, gorgeous outdoor spaces, local bakeries everywhere, small grocery stores, outdoor and indoor recreation (from open air swimming pools to the Opera) and numerous festivals it's easy to see why Hannover is rapidly becoming a highly desirable city to live in and to relocate business to. In a recent study it ranked in the top three least stressful cities to live in worldwide. Our recruiting brochure gives you some information about relocating to Hannover.


The school's current Head of Primary who is well respected by students, staff and parents alike is retiring after 15 years at ISHR, having left a strong foundation upon which to build into the future. The Head of Lower Primary joined the school this academic year. Plans to break ground on a new purpose built Early Years/Lower Primary building with an associated retrofit of existing space means it will be an exciting time to lead at ISHR. The school is showing steady growth and is financially stable with a moderate operating budget. This position will collaborate closely with the Director who is seeking a colleague who will be a thought partner to both her and the rest of the leadership team as well as a coach, mentor and learning leader for the Primary School Staff.

Additional information about the International School Hannover Region can be found at the school's website. Follow ISHR on Twitter @ISHannover and @ISHRLearns and the Director @rhovington. You can also follow ISHR on Facebook.

Preferred Skills

The Head of Primary School position requires an exceptional learning leader, with well-developed written and verbal communications skills, a high level of interpersonal empathy and a willingness to engage at every level with our community. The successful candidate will be able to navigate complex cultures, and demonstrate an international mind-set. He/she will bring a rich experience with relevant national and international curricular frameworks. Personal attributes expected include active listening skills, self-motivation, the ability to think both strategically and tactically, and the flexibility to successfully work within a diverse and demanding school environment. Well developed technology and financial management skills are required to successfully manage and lead the Primary section.

The new Head of Primary will be deeply familiar with best practice in implementing research based learning and leadership practices via their rich professional experiences and learning network. They will therefore be competent in effectively addressing the ten NEASC ACE Learning Principles in order to effect transformational change in the learning environment and learning outcomes for our students to meet the needs of the future.

Characteristics of the ideal person for this position include:

  • A Bachelors degree in a related field.
  • A Master's Degree, or higher, in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Studies, or a related field. (or actively working towards one).
  • A minimum of 8 years teaching experience, with at least three in a leadership role that has involved coaching and mentoring, hiring and goal setting for teams of teachers.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability and desire to work collaboratively with the community of ISHR and the wider community locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Experience in the school accreditation process as an accreditation team visitor and/ or a leadership role from within the school.
  • Proficiency in a second language would be desirable but is not essential.
  • Sense of humor and a commitment to healthy conflict.

Procedures for Filing an Application

International School Hannover Region has appointed Search Associates as consultant in the Head of Primary School search with Gunther Brandt being the lead consultant. Candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and the requested materials as early as possible as the Search Committee reserves the right to close the selection process at any time if the right candidate is found. The review of files will begin as soon as applications are received.

Candidates should send the information listed below as a single pdf file attached to an email:

  • A letter of application describing your interest in the Head of Primary School position at International School Hannover Region, listing your strengths as a candidate and how your qualifications and experience align with the profile of the desired candidate.
  • A current resumé not to exceed two pages
  • A one-page list of at least 4 referees with current phone numbers and email addresses
  • A maximum of three letters of reference (scanned at low resolution) that may already be in your possession

Total document size should be kept to less than four (4) MB if possible.

Applications should be sent to: Gbrandt@searchassociates.com

Interviews for all finalists will include a visit to campus with panel interviews including the facilitation of a lesson, meeting or mini-workshop with students and or staff.

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Nick Kendell has worked in Asia, Australia, and Africa as an educator and administrator.