Head of School at The International School Aberdeen in UK
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Head of School
The International School Aberdeen (UK)

Appointed - Nicholas Little
Oct 9, 2017
Nov 8, 2017


We are pleased to announce that after a thorough search process, with the assistance of Search Associates, the Board of the International School Aberdeen has recently appointed Nicholas Little to be the school’s new Head of School.

Nicholas started his career in the UK.  In 2002, he moved to Suzhou Singapore International School in China where he has been a teacher, a Head of Humanities, a Secondary Assistant Principal, a Secondary Principal and finally a Head of School. 

He will start his new job in August 2018.




HEAD OF SCHOOL – from August 2018

The Board of Trustees of The International School Aberdeen (ISA) is seeking a new Head of School to start in August 2018. The Board is looking for an accomplished and dynamic educational leader to take the school forward in a new phase of its development.

A.   The School

ISA offers an internationally recognised, co-educational pre-kindergarten (age 3) through secondary school (up to age 18) education. We provide every child with every opportunity to achieve their potential through an innovative curriculum, excellent staff, outstanding facilities, partnership with our committed parents, and an involved community.  The student body consists of approximately 400 students from 31 nations.

The school’s vision of excellence in education and exceptional care for every child is provided through a safe and caring learning environment. ISA students are challenged to achieve academic success and personal growth to become socially responsible and active global citizens. 

Graduating students earn the ISA High School Diploma accredited by MSA. They also have the opportunity to enrol in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, which offers a rigorous curriculum and opportunities for advanced education in Grades 11 and 12.  The IB is recognised globally and prepares students for success at a higher education level, including at the best universities around the world. ISA’s IB Diploma graduates have consistently scored above the international average.  In addition, ISA is an IGCSE test centre and incorporates much of this curriculum within its main educational programme.

As an international school, ISA gives Modern Language study a high priority.  In addition to the foreign language study options of French and Spanish, there are formalised French and Dutch Mother Tongue programmes at ISA.  The French programme, offered for the first time this year, allows French native speakers to follow the French national curriculum in French language and history/geography through a well-established and respected distance learning programme set up by the French Ministère de l’Education Nationale. Meanwhile, the Dutch language programme is in line with learning goals set by the Dutch Ministry of Education.  The Dutch ministry supervises this programme at ISA and has rated it as excellent.  There are also Home Language clubs after school in Arabic, Spanish and German.  The ISA library is well stocked with reading material in more than 30 different languages.  There are over 2,000 titles in Dutch and more than 50 in French, Spanish, Danish, German, Norwegian, Russian and Japanese.  About 10% of the collection of about 30,000 books is in languages other than English.

Community service is a very important component of the educational programme for all ISA students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and is modelled by the entire ISA community.  This service takes many forms: from cleaning litter from the Deeside railway path and Balmedie Beach to planting trees at a nearby park.  Our students also dedicate their time and effort locally through organised service experiences to Aberdeen charities as well as in other countries such as the Czech Republic.

ISA’s mission is to create a better world through education, therefore academics are highly prioritised.  Class sizes average between 14-18 students. We believe that students should learn and experience outside of the classroom as well, and so offer various student-run clubs and outdoor adventure opportunities.  Opportunities to travel outside Scotland are available to Middle and High School students in athletics, vocal or instrumental music.  High School students also have the opportunity to travel to other countries for grade level curriculum-related or community service trips, Model United Nations events, and modern language immersion trips.

An extensive After-School Activities programme offers students a range of sports and other activities.   One of the advantages of being a boutique school is that students get to participate in a wide range of activities.   Every student is welcome in every activity.

ISA teaching staff consists of more than 60 teachers and is one of our best assets. As true professionals they are constantly reviewing their practice in the quest for excellence. In the past year, IGCSEs, the CNED programme and the After-School Care programme were introduced in addition to a review of the marking system and timetable being carried out.   ISA is always looking to improve and aims to be at the forefront of pedagogical innovation.

At ISA we are a family. Our students, parents, teachers and staff are all partners in delivering the best possible educational experiences. Our teachers are highly motivated professionals who pride themselves on going the extra mile. There is an active Parent Teacher Organisation that is supportive in building a friendly nurturing environment where everybody can take pride in his or her achievements. At ISA it is “cool to succeed”.

ISA’s campus is on a spacious site, located approximately 3 miles from the centre of Aberdeen in one of the suburbs in Royal Dee-side. The school was custom built in 2009. Facilities include a main school building characterised by a spacious entrance foyer and ‘Street’ that connects classrooms with a multi-level Library and Media Centre, a 300-seat theatre, a unique Black Box theatre, cafeteria and sports complex.  The two teaching wings consist of well-equipped general use classrooms, science and computer labs, performing arts rooms (band, choir, and drama), specialist EAL and Learning Support rooms, two art studios, and dedicated Pre-School and Kindergarten (P1) areas.  The campus has impressive sports facilities that include two gymnasiums, a fitness suite, multi-purpose room, 8 metre ‘natural rock’ climbing wall, and a 25 metre, six-lane swimming pool.  Outside, the school has two playgrounds, separate Pre-School and Kindergarten play areas, two FIFA-grade all-weather playing fields, and two tennis courts.    The grounds also offer opportunities for “outside” classrooms with a greenhouse, pond and wooded areas.

Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe, is “one of the most architecturally distinctive cities in Europe” according to the Scotsman newspaper. Magnificent granite buildings line wide thoroughfares. The second largest granite building in the world, Marischal College is a commanding example of what the city has to offer. The city has an international airport and good rail and road links to the rest of the UK. There are a number of retail malls, cinemas, theatres, galleries and museums. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is a teaching and research hospital and offers a wide range of medical care. The hinterland boasts mountain, sea, rivers and lochs that offer endless year-round opportunities for outdoor activity. There are numerous distilleries and castles to explore.   Aberdeenshire has 55 golf courses and is only 80 miles from the home of golf at St Andrews.    Aberdeen is 128 miles from Edinburgh and 145 miles from Glasgow.

The School’s website at www.isa.aberdeen.sch.uk provides further detailed information on many aspects of its educational programme and the opportunities available for interested students and parents.

B.    The Specific Duties of the Head of School

The Head of School is the Instructional Leader and Chief Executive Officer of ISA. The Head is accountable for the continuous improvement of the school in maximizing learning for all students. He/she is responsible for the development of the school in accordance with sound principles of organisation, administration, supervision, instruction, plant management and business administration.   The Head of School reports to the Board of Trustees.

Specifically, the Head of School is required to do the following:

School Operations

  • Attend School Board meetings.
  • Advise the staff and School Board on policy development and all matters pertaining to the operation and welfare of the school.
  • Interpret and enforce the policy directives of the School Board.
  • Represent the school with the general public, businesses and governmental agencies.
  • Keep the School Board informed about the programmes, practices and problems of the school.
  • Be accountable to the School Board in respect of all aspects of safety at the school including the buildings, plant, equipment and grounds.

School Management

  • Serve as Chief Officer of the school with direct responsibility for the management, organisation and supervision of all school operations.
  • Develop school administrative regulations and delegate authority where appropriate.
  • Develop long range plans for the school and implement these plans when approved by the School Board.
  • Ensure that all required reports are submitted.
  • Maintain adequate records for the school including a system of personnel, school population and scholastic records.  Maintain adequate financial accounts, business and property records, with the assistance of the Finance Manager.  Act as a custodian of such records.
  • Act on own discretion if action is necessary in any matter not covered by Board Policy; report such action to the School Board as soon as practical and recommend policy in order to provide governance in the future.
  • Maintain security accountability for all school and non-school functions.
  • Monitor and control use of buildings.
  • Undertake business trips as required outside Western Europe, after receiving prior approval from the Board.
  • Establish and maintain educational standards and practices corresponding to principles mentioned in the statutes and policies.
  • Determine admissibility and placement of prospective students.
  • Maintain proper discipline within the school.
  • Supervise teaching personnel and other staff assigned to the school.
  • Supervise the scheduling of programmes of study, courses and students.
  • Ensure effective methods of report to parents.
  • Regulate the attendance of staff and students.
  • Develop appropriate activities outside the regular school programme to meet the needs of students.

Educational Programmes

  • Provide for the organisation, planning, evaluation and reporting needed to implement the curriculum and instructional programme authorised by the School Board.
  • Recommend specific changes and long-range plans for instructional improvement.
  • Enlist the involvement of instructional personnel and non-certified staff in the development of curriculum, special programmes, the selection of textbooks and the rotation and adoption of educational materials.
  • Recommend the establishment or alteration of the School calendar.
  • Keep informed of modern educational thought and practices by advanced study, visiting School systems elsewhere, attending educational conferences and other appropriate means.


  • Supervise the preparation and presentation of the annual budget with the assistance of the Finance Manager and recommend it for approval to the School Board.
  • With the assistance of the Finance Manager, establish and maintain efficient procedures and effective controls for the management of all school funds in accordance with Board Policy and sound fiscal management practice.
  • Provide the School Board with ongoing input regarding continuing long-range fiscal plans and strategies.
  • With the assistance of the Finance Manager, submit to the Board a clear and detailed explanation of any proposed budget changes.
  • With the assistance of the Finance Manager, recommend budget adjustments and reductions in response to changes in the School’s financial status.
  • Monitor enrolment.

Communications/Public Relations

  • Represent the school before the public and maintain, through co-operative leadership both within and outside the school, such a programme of publicity and public relations as may keep the public informed as to the activities, needs and successes of the school.
  • Establish and maintain a programme of public information to facilitate a wholesome and co-operative working relationship between the School and Community groups.
  • Confer annually with professional and lay groups concerning the school programme and transmit to the Board suggestions gained from such conferences.
  • Initiate and oversee marketing opportunities.

Personnel Management

  • Recommend staff for employment, promotion, re-assignment, non-renewal and termination.  Carry out terminations as required.
  • Develop and monitor the school’s employee appraisal system.
  • Supervise school personnel including the definition of work relationships and assignments of areas of responsibility.
  • Communicate Board policy decisions and actions to all staff and relay staff input to the Board.
  • Manage the school’s personnel policies as applicable.
  • Supervise faculty and non-teaching staff so that advanced professional study is pursued and available.
  • Inform the School Board of any personnel problems where appropriate.
  • Approve travel for school-related activities.
  • Maintain an “open door” for all staff with specific concerns.  Provide for employee confidentiality.
  • Maintain records of training, experience, professional growth, quality of performance and other pertinent data of the school’s employees.

Support Services

  • Manage the activities of the support services such as transportation, building and grounds.
  • Maintain appropriate procedures to safeguard the property, buildings, vehicles and equipment of the school.
  • Develop long range plans for facilities.  Approve rentals and third-party use of facility.
  • Oversee the development of capital improvement projects.
  • Establish appropriate hours of work and operations.
  • Close school; cancel school activities or staff meetings according to his/her best judgement due to emergency conditions.


  • Carry out those duties as assigned by the Board in the yearly Head of School’s goals/objectives.
  • Address other duties as assigned by the Board.


C.   Person specification

Applicants must be graduates with appropriate academic qualifications and with successful school leadership experience (preferably, but not necessarily, to Head of School level), including international experience.

The successful candidate will have most or all of the following qualities and experience:

  • An ability to provide effective leadership in an international school community – specifically, a personal track record of excellence in academic, pastoral and extra-curricular matters and the ability to take a hands-on approach to driving forward student-centred improvements across the school.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills
  • Excellent planning, problem solving, time management and organisational skills
  • Cross-cultural openness, understanding and sensitivity
  • Capacity to develop a safe, secure and nurturing learning community
  • Knowledge and understanding of current developments in education
  • Commitment to ongoing self-education and staff professional development
  • A strong work ethic
  • Passionate commitment to quality education
  • Energetic, enthusiastic, determined and resilient
  • Friendly, approachable, maintaining high visibility across the school
  • Good sense of humour
  • Innovative and willing to learn
  • Good team player, good team builder

D.   Terms and conditions of the appointment

The contract will be for an initial term of 3 years, renewable thereafter by mutual agreement of the Head of School and the Board of Trustees. The successful candidate will be offered a highly competitive employment package commensurate with his/her experience and skills.

E.    Application Procedure

Suitably qualified candidates should send to David Cope of Search Associatesdcope@searchassociates.com - all the items below collated together in a single pdf as an email attachment (to arrive as soon as possible, and no later than 8 November 2017)

  • a letter of application (no more than one page), outlining why the candidate wishes to apply for this position and what specific skills, qualities and experience he/she can offer
  • a CV (no more than two pages)
  • a statement of educational and leadership philosophy (no more than one page)
  • the names and full contact details of at least three professional referees (one of which should if possible be the leader of the applicant’s current organisation)
  • a good recent head-and-shoulders photo

Interviews are scheduled to take place during November/December 2017, with the final round in Aberdeen.     However, ISA’s Board of Trustees reserves the option to invite selected candidates to interviews in advance of this schedule.

Closing date: 8 November 2017

 Applications to:  dcope@searchassociates.com

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Gary MacPhie is based in Toronto, Canada where he started his teaching career, and then spent 26 years overseas as a teacher, principal and recruiter in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.