Head of School at SEK - Santa Isabel International School in Spain
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Head of School
SEK - Santa Isabel International School (Spain)

Jan 26, 20
Feb 18, 20



Head of School Recruitment

 Profile and Process

 January 2020


Background and SEK Group

The SEK Education Group, which marked its 125th anniversary in 2017, is rooted in a long family tradition of freedom and autonomy, without any religious, political or financial ties. Our enduring commitment is the development of quality education in line with our ethos, values and education principles.

In order to meet this commitment, we implement our own unique approach to learning, developing every aspect of each individual student’s personalities and talents at each stage of their evolution, through the expertise of our leaders, educators, first-class facilities, educational resources, innovative technology and specially designed school environment, organisation and services.

The SEK Education Group consists of nine international schools in Spain, France, Ireland and Qatar. Additionally, the University Camilo José Cela was established in the year 2000 to foster research and innovation.

SEK-Santa Isabel International School, founded in 1973, is for Early Childhood and Primary School students. Our curriculum focuses on building responsibility, conducting inquiry, and engaging in transdisciplinary studies, through the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme.

We have been an IB World school since 2011, and are the only authorised IB PYP school in central Madrid.

A school with a growth mindset

SEK-Santa Isabel is a wonderful place for innovation and creativity. We provide a rigorous, bilingual and balanced educational framework, whose quality is recognised both nationally and internationally. We develop rounded individuals who are excellent communicators, with an international perspective that will enable them to face the challenges of the 21st century. We nurture a genuine student-centred learning community in an environment conducive to learning, healthy living and relaxation.

We use a concept-based learning approach that nurtures knowledge, skills and understanding through research, critical thinking, and creativity. We use collaborative learning methods, in which we develop social and intercultural competencies and encourage teamwork. Participation and interaction in the classroom are core elements of our learning process. In this environment, students are actors in, and owners of, their own learning.

In partnership with families, we pay close attention to individual students and their unique characteristics. We nurture autonomous, self-confident students, capable of independent, self-directed learning.

We are renowned for our outstanding academic success as demonstrated by local and international external assessments and the rigorous IB authorisation process.


Our aim is to help students become proactive global citizens by providing learning experiences which focus on concept-based inquiry and reflection thus enabling them to develop intellectually and emotionally, while acquiring a lifelong passion for learning.


Our ethos is enshrined in a framework throughout the SEK Educational Group, based on our unique approach, the Intelligent Classroom. It is founded on the following principles:

Students and their world are the focus of the life and education at the SEK schools. We respect them as individuals and strive to awaken their abilities to ensure they fully realise their potential.

We believe in educating in freedom for freedom. We accept the challenge implied by this and encourage students to accept responsibility for their own actions.

We aim to respect the diverse values of our students (individual, historical, cultural and religious).

We encourage the principles of universal solidarity in our teaching staff and students.

We value productive work, as an essential factor in personal worth and advancement, and as an aspect of sociability, not in terms of rivalry and ambition.

We are open to the world and the age we live in. We are open to innovations in education, and to educational and cultural organisations that share our aspiration of creating a more cultured and equitable society, and of bettering humanity.

Core Values

The values that guide our learning and teaching are:

Ethical conduct: personally, and towards others

Respecting diversity: respecting other ways of being, thinking and acting

Universal coexistence: justice, peace and solidarity

Intercultural competence: relating to others, respecting different identities, international mindedness

Freedom: a supreme ideal and tied to responsibility

Intellect: wisdom, rigour and intellectual mastery

Truth: adapting thinking to reality, respecting truth

Personality: exhibiting the highest standards of behaviour, knowing how to be, how to act and to behave ethically

Aesthetics: raising awareness, nurturing discernment, and fostering creativity.

Productive Work: allowing for personal realisation and dignity

Health and Wellness: developing social, physical and mental health and mindfulness

Metaphysical: open to transcendence and abstract thinking

International Mindedness

Our international mindedness extends to participation in international organisations such as the Education Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS), the Academy for International School Heads (AISH), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the Council for International Schools (CIS), the Alliance for international Education (AIE) and WISE (Worldwide Innovation Summit for Education). The new head will be joining a genuinely internationally minded community.


SEK-Santa Isabel International School is located in the historical centre of Madrid, surrounded by the museum triangle (El Prado, Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Museum), the Royal Spanish Language Academy, the Royal History Academy, the Las Letras Quarter, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. We enable students to make use of these inspirational cultural surroundings in their learning.

Curricular and Co-Curricular programmes

One of our main objectives is the holistic development of each student. To this end we enhance learning with a full programme of co-curricular and extracurricular activities.

Our trademark is the development of essential third millennium skills through: technology and maker spaces; public speaking and debate programmes; emotional and multiple intelligences programmes, and individualised student support and pastoral care.

Our unique learning opportunities provide an invaluable and unforgettable experience that contribute to development of students as active, responsible, global citizens.

Person Profile

This is not a traditional Head´s role, which will become available due to the current head, Javier Presol, taking over a senior role with the Felipe Segovia Foundation, part of the SEK institutions. Javier has transformed the school over his 14 years of fine leadership and innovative ideas. Javier leaves behind a high-performing and dynamic school, and a huge legacy of successful achievements.

The successful candidate will join a collaborative team, with the key role of inspiring this team to even greater heights. The team consists of the staff, leaders, and administrators of all strategic and operational areas of the school.

The successful candidate should possess excellent leadership experience and skills and should have a diverse range of attributes, attitudes and competencies.

He/she should be an inspirational, passionate and adaptable educator and a caring, creative and innovative leader. He/She should be an outstanding motivator, learner, administrator and communicator, with excellent interpersonal skills, and should be capable of leading learning and development, and preparing students for a modern global society, through a caring, stimulating, challenging, well-organised and supportive learning environment.

He/She should be able to provide leadership to ensure improved professional learning for staff and outstanding learning and achievement for all students. A key competency is to be a collaborative team member and value the collective ability of teams rather than traditional hierarchies.

Attributes, Knowledge and Skills.

It is essential that the successful candidate has an excellent command of spoken and written English and Spanish.

The Head should:

be aligned with the SEK values;

be internationally minded and culturally sensitive, with a commitment to developing global citizenship and community action;

possess excellent communication and collaborative skills, with the ability to promote the school in the local and wider Spanish and international communities;

be a strategic thinker, with a growth mindset

have a strong record of learning, achievement and leadership in international schools;

be able to lead, manage, and develop an expanding international school, and nurture team spirit;

have experience of implementing major new projects and leading collaborative change in international schools;

be innovative and creative in applying current research as to how students and adults learn and develop best;

have extensive experience of international curriculum developments, programmes of study and assessment methods and be innovative and creative in applying them in practice;

have an innovative and creative approach to international school leadership, based on best current practice.


This position has two main purposes:

to provide professional leadership and management for SEK-Santa Isabel, to build on its existing international reputation and to secure the school’s ongoing growth and success;

to be an active member of the collaborative group of SEK Heads, and contribute to the SEK Group aims.

Roles, responsibilities and expectations

The Head should:

foster the values, dispositions, behaviours, attitudes and attributes of the SEK institution and the IB learner profile;

design, develop, implement and review the school policies and strategic thinking

lead curriculum innovation, including the coordination and effective delivery of learning, teaching, assessment and reporting;

ensure high quality student wellbeing services;

promote, market and raise the profile of the school with local and international organisations;

develop activity programmes that nurture global citizenship, social innovation, skills development, and student agency and leadership;

oversee all aspects of human resources, including staffing, recruitment and professional learning;

oversee all aspects of accreditation, authorisation and regulatory compliance, according to requirements of external agencies;

ensure effective admissions policies and procedures;

ensure effective financial policies and procedures;

oversee facilities development;

oversee the day to day running of the school

provide regular progress reports to the Director General of Schools;

participate in a regular review and evaluation process of the head’s impact on leadership, learning and overall performance of the school.

Salary and Benefits Package

We expect that the successful candidate will stay not less than three years, and hopefully much longer.  

The package includes the following elements:

a competitive salary, liable to Spanish tax

free tuition at SEK-Santa Isabel (or one of the other SEK schools in Madrid) for school-age dependents

private medical insurance

excellent professional learning opportunities.


In addition, for an international Head recruited outside Spain:

accommodation and utilities allowance

annual flights to and from the Head’s home base (city airport), for the Head, his/her spouse and any dependent children.

We hope that the new head will have fun leading the continued development and exciting initiatives in SEK-Santa Isabel International School. This is a role for someone who has the desire to try out innovative new ideas, aspires to lead and learn in new ways, embraces collaboration and teamwork, and does all of this with a sense of humour!

Application Procedure

Start date: August 2020

Suitably qualified candidates should send the below items together in one pdf as an email attachment to arrive as soon as possible, and no later than 18th February 2020.

A letter of application (no more than one page), briefly outlining why the candidate wishes to apply for this position and what specific skills, qualities and experience he/she can offer the school

A CV (no more than three pages)

A brief statement of educational and leadership philosophy (no more than one page)

The names and full contact details (including current professional email addresses) of three or more professional referees

A good quality recent head-and-shoulders photo.

School website: SEK-Santa Isabel International School

Email: recruitment2020@sek.es  

For the attention of: Christopher Charleson

Director General of Schools

SEK Education Group

Interviews will take place digitally in January/February, with final interviews in Madrid to be arranged. We reserve the right to appoint an appropriate candidate in advance of this schedule.


Did You Know…?

President of Search Associates, Jessica Magagna, was born in Morocco and attended the American Community School in Iran while her father was headmaster.