Head of School at International School of Uganda in Uganda
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Head of School
International School of Uganda (Uganda)

Appointed - Simon Gillespie
Jan 3, 2018
Mar 15, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

At long last, the search for the next leader of the International School of Uganda has come to a successful conclusion. I've decided to simply send the announcement made by the Board Chair so you get a sense of what Simon brings to the table. I'm sure several of you have met Simon or heard about him from people like David Toze, who has been a sort of mentor to Simon over the years. I wholeheartedly agree that he is a great choice to step into the big shoes left by Caroline Jacoby – shoes that have taken many months to fill.

"It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Simon Gillespie, currently Head of School for TASOK in Kinshasa, as our new Head of School. Simon will take up the position in July of 2019.

We cannot speak highly enough of the great work of our current HOS, Caroline Jacoby, but she has made it clear that the coming academic year will be her last with us here at ISU. Finding a suitable and strong replacement for her has been a top priority for the board and HOS search committee.

Simon and his wife, Kelly, visited the ISU campus last week and had multiple meetings with all the stakeholder groups of the ISU community. He was interviewed by students, parents, staff, teaching faculty, executive management team, and the Board. Simon is very articulate, with a sense of humour, and is clearly driven by a vision of education that is strongly aligned with the values and learning principles of ISU. He is a critical thinker, energetic and brings an impressive background of achievement as an education leader. Like Caroline, he is a also a member of the Board of AISA (the Association of International Schools in Africa) and much involved with strengthening inclusive education in international schools. His referees were all very enthusiastic about his abilities and performance as a school leader and educational ambassador.

The support extended to Simon and his wife, Kelly, by the ISU community has convinced him and the ISU Board that he is truly the right candidate for the next Head of School at ISU. Please join the Board in welcoming Simon and his family to ISU."

Kind regards,

Bridget McNamer



July 2019

The School


The International School of Uganda's (ISU) mission statement declares "We learn together to unlock the opportunities of a changing world". Our vision and Learning Principles unpack this Mission and guide all our work at the school.

ISU is a non-profit, co-educational day school, established in 1967, offering an international education program for students 2 ½ to 19 years old. Our current enrolment is 545 students representing over 60 different nations, creating a culturally dynamic and cohesive student body with many languages and customs.

ISU is authorized by the International Baccalaureate to offer the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programs. ISU is also accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States and the Council of International Schools, two prestigious international accreditation organizations. ISU was last accredited in 2015 for a five-year period.

The Position

ISU is seeking a new Head of School beginning in July 2019. The Head of School will be responsible for all aspects of ISU's operations management and academics, ensuring that standards of excellence are set and maintained in every area.

The scope of responsibility for the Head of School includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Ensure excellence in both the educational program and the administration of the school
  • Provide leadership to staff, students, parents and other stakeholders.
  • Work with the Board of Directors to provide and oversee implementation of policies and procedures that represent best practices and to ensure implementation and monitoring of the strategic plan.
  • Ensure a supportive and well-disciplined learning environment.
  • Lead the development of additional school facilities to meet increasing demand in line with the campus master plan. The current major infrastructure project is building a Performing Arts Centre.
  • Maintain ISU astheinternational school of choice amid growing competition in Kampala.
  • Maintain financial discipline and fiscal accountability.

The Curriculum

ISU teachers use the best research-based teaching methods, centered on a dynamic international curriculum, that meets all global standards of the widely acclaimed and highly respected International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs.

In the Junior School, (Early Childhood to grade five), the curriculum is based on the IB Primary Years Program and draws on the Reggio Emilia approach in Early Childhood. Providing a strong foundation in all subject areas, the program focuses on the social, physical, emotional and cultural development of the child. It provides structured inquiry as a vehicle for learning that is carried forward into the other two IB programs.

In the Senior School, the IB Middle Years Program forms the core of ISU's educational focus for students in grades six to ten. The inter-disciplinary approach to learning develops students' critical thinking abilities and communication skills, while offering an academically challenging and stimulating program of study.

In grades 11 and 12 students follow the academically rigorous IB Diploma Program. Considered the leading edge of international secondary education today and the "gold standard" of high school diplomas, this program of study allows students to expand their horizons and challenge their abilities while continuing to study a varied mix of subjects.

Students from Grades 4-12 use computers as part of a blended learning approach. In grade four and five, students each have MacBook Airs supplied by the school to use at school. In the Senior School all students are expected to bring a mac computer to school. This standardization has recently been introduced.

ISU uses Managebac as the standard online system for reporting and communication between faculty, students and parents.

ISU provides support for students who are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) and also Learning Support who require extra support. ISU is a member of Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI) and is committed to accepting any student who will benefit from the school's programmes. The school also offers a Functional Skills Programme for students who are better suited to learning life skills than following a more academically rigorous programme in the Senior School.

Through our extensive Sports and After School Activities Program, students can develop various athletic and other interests, build self-esteem, become motivated learners, improve time management and self-organizational skills, form many friendships and gain a greater identity with our school. ISU's sport teams are well known in the region for their high performance in multi-school events; similarly, ISU's performance in regional intellectual competitions has been very commendable.

Administration and Staff

The Head of School is supported by Secondary and Primary Principals, a Business Manager, a Human Resources Coordinator and Coordinators for each IB program, as well as other administrative staff.

ISU has 64 full-time, highly experienced teachers, most of who are certified in the United Kingdom, the United States or Canada. Others have teaching qualifications from Australia, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Uganda. Almost half of the teachers hold Master's or other postgraduate degrees.

There are four IB Diploma examiners, three IB Middle Years moderators, one IB Diploma senior moderator, four IB Diploma workshop leaders, and four IB Primary Years trainers on the staff.


ISU is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors. Seven board members are elected for a two-year term from amongst parents of students at the school, who are members of the ISU Association. The eighth member is appointed by the Board and the ninth member is appointed on an annual basis by the US Ambassador.


  • ISU's MYP, DP and MAP scores are above world averages, but it is critical to continue to ensure high standards of instruction across the curriculum, while also offering an open admissions policy and, in particular, challenging academically advanced students.
  • Ensuring consistency of excellent instruction across the school and in all areas of school operation.
  • Ensuring that ISU grows as planned despite the increasing number of international schools in Kampala and the impact that Kampala's escalating traffic congestion has on people's choice of school.
  • Continue to develop the school's After School Activities Programme and Sporting programme, which also include multiple forms of school outreach to engage with and support social development in the broader community.
  • Improving parent and community involvement in school life.
  • Ensuring that the Performing Arts Centre is completed on time and to a high standard.
  • Ensuring campus development matches enrollment increases.

The Campus

The lush, purpose-built 33-acre ISU campus is situated on the outskirts of the capital city of Kampala in a secluded suburb. The grounds feature many indigenous plants and bird-life. Students, parents and staff all consistently comment on how much they enjoy learning/working on such a beautiful campus. An adjacent 12 acres of land owned by the school has us well positioned for future expansion and development.

Key features of our facilities include:

  • Four fully-equipped science laboratories;
  • Three computer laboratories with Internet access and campus-wide wireless connectivity;
  • Library of over 20,000 volumes;
  • Extensive sports facilities including: 3 sports fields, Multi-purpose sports hall complete with climbing wall, 400m running track, 2 swimming pools, 4 tennis courts

The Early Childhood Centre is a beautiful self-contained area for our two-and-a-half to four-year old students to play and learn. In 2017-2018, the school will be developing a vegetable garden which will help supply the kitchen, where meals will be prepared for the young students. Students will be involved in the process, helping them understand where their food comes from and the importance of healthy eating.

The school currently uses a multi-purpose hall for assemblies, performances and also as a dining hall. It features both indoor and outdoor seating with a beautiful view overlooking the suburb of Lubowa, Lake Victoria and the main sports field.

Recent Progress

The school is currently moving into year two of a rolling three-year strategic plan. The plan was created with extensive involvement of all ISU's stakeholders and is guiding our work.

A modern science centre was completed in 2016.

A new Support Staff building is currently being completed which will include a kitchen and dining room for staff, as well as bathrooms and storage.

The school is moving toward becoming more environmentally friendly through installing rain collection tanks and more solar lighting. This is an ongoing project, to help save energy and also set an example for our students.

The Campus Master plan calls for the construction of these new facilities:

  • Performing arts facility
  • Multi-media/library center

There has also been discussion about building teacher housing on the land adjacent to the school.

About Uganda

A former British protectorate, Uganda gained independence in 1962. Recent census data (World Bank, 2015) gives a population of 39 million with about 2 million living in the capital, Kampala.

Shops, restaurants and recreational facilities support a very comfortable lifestyle for the large expatriate population in the country. Winston Churchill famously referred to Uganda as the "Pearl of Africa", a description which remains true today. With an enviable climate at an altitude of 1,200 m, snow-capped mountains, numerous lakes and stunning scenery, Uganda certainly packs a lot into its small land area, ensuring that this is a very enjoyable country in which to live.

The lush green Ugandan landscape provides many fascinating visitor experiences including white water rafting on the River Nile, tracking gorillas, viewing wildlife in its world-class national parks or just relaxing in one of the beautiful lodges.

With the discovery of oil, the focus of Uganda's economy has grown in recent years and begun to diversify from its traditional reliance on fish, coffee and other agricultural produce as its principal exports. Tourism has emerged as the greatest foreign exchange earner for the country, overtaking foreign remittances by Ugandans in the diaspora.

The suburb of Lubowa, where ISU is situated, is a welcoming and friendly community in a largely residential area with several other learning institutions nearby. Many ISU faculty members are housed locally on quiet roads, some within walking distance of the school. Modern shopping facilities are available near to the school.

Qualities and Qualifications

The Board of Directors seeks a Head of School with the vision, experience and drive to successfully lead ISU in achieving its stated mission and strategic plan.

The ideal candidate will be able to comprehensively demonstrate:

  • Relevant educational experience in an international school setting abroad, specifically with the IB curriculum at all levels (PYP, MYP, DP).
  • Leadership to inspire all ISU stakeholders towards the school's goal and drive continual improvements in academics, athletics, arts and community engagement.
  • Strong organizational and people-management skills.
  • An open-mind with the ability to adapt and be flexible.
  • A high level of skill as a listener and a communicator.
  • Integrity and effectiveness in all dealings with the stakeholders of an international school.
  • Extensive experience as a respected educator with a passionate commitment to student development.
  • Effective approaches to the challenges of successfully managing a large institution in developing countries, including collaborative work with a School Board on strategic issues.
  • A result-oriented leadership style that inspires others towards team building and success.
  • Successful experience of diversified resource mobilization and management.
  • Thorough understanding of short and long-term budget planning, implementation and reporting along with ensuring effective financial accountability.

The new Head of School should have the following qualifications at a minimum:

  • An advanced degree in education or a related field.
  • Successful track record in a senior management role at an international or independent IB school abroad.
  • Prior teaching experience in at least one of the IB programs.
  • Previous educational leadership experience should be commensurate with the level of complexity, knowledge, skill and effort required to lead a school the size of ISU.
  • Previous HOS experience required
  • Experience in Africa preferred

Salary and Benefits

ISU will provide a contract for a minimum of three years, with salary and benefits that are competitive for international schools.

Application Procedure

Interested candidates should send an application at the earliest possible time but no later than 15 March, 2018.

Candidates should note that review of files will begin as soon as applications are received and in the event an outstanding applicant is identified early in the search process, ISU reserves the right to make an appointment before the deadline mentioned above and to bring the search to a close.

To apply, please send the following materials:

  1. A letter of application, no longer than two pages, explaining your strengths as a candidate (with particular reference to the challenges outlined above) and why you are interested in this particular position.
  2. A current résumé not to exceed two pages.
  3. A one-page statement outlining educational beliefs and leadership style.
  4. The names, current email addresses and telephone numbers and positions of at least four confidential referees. These referees must be current and recent supervisors; they should not be colleagues or peers. For a candidate who is a current head of school, this would normally include the Board Chair, Treasurer, and other Board members. By submitting this information you agree that we may contact these referees directly.

At this time, please do not send any materials other than those specifically requested above. Please combine all of the above materials into a single pdf attachment. Please send this single pdf attachment to Bridget McNamer, Search Associates at the e-mail address listed below:


Also, please note that it is important to limit the size of your single pdf attachment to 5MB. (Please no photographs, color, etc.)

Thank you for your interest in the International School of Uganda. We look forward to receiving your application.

Did You Know…?

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