Primary Principal at The International School of Azerbaijan in Azerbaijan
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Primary Principal
The International School of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan)

Appointed - Tom Burton.
Oct 13, 14
Oct 31, 14


The International School of Azerbaijan, Baku

seeks a


effective August 2015


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.


In order to fulfil our Mission we will:

  • Develop in our students the attributes of the IB Learner Profile.
  • Foster a friendly and supportive learning atmosphere.
  • Enable students to transition successfully to and from TISA.
  • Prepare IB Diploma students to embark on higher education courses in suitably challenging universities.
  • Promote positive relationships with other schools and organizations in Azerbaijan and abroad.
  • Recruit and develop well-qualified and effective teaching staff.
  • Provide appropriate forms of assessment and international benchmarking.
  • Integrate technology into the curriculum in order to develop skills according to internationally recognised standards.
  • Inform and educate parents about all aspects of their child’s education and encourage active parental participation.
  • Continue to improve the school’s learning environment, facilities and resources.



The International School of Azerbaijan, more commonly known as TISA, was founded in 1996 and initially provided an international curriculum mainly for dependents of the AIOC/BP oil consortium.  In September 1994 the State Oil Company (SOCAR) of the newly founded Republic of Azerbaijan had signed a 30-year production sharing agreement (PSA) with a consortium of 11 major oil companies from six nations for the development of major oil fields in the Caspian Sea.   This PSA represented the first major investment by western multinational companies in the former Soviet Union and was dubbed “the Contract of the Century” by the Azerbaijanis.  A new operating company was formed - the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) - to implement the agreement on behalf of the shareholders and working in conjunction with SOCAR and the government of Azerbaijan.  BP has been the operator and consortium leader of AIOC since June 1999 and the school is owned by AIOC.  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.  TISA was re-accredited by CIS in April 2012. The feedback which we 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 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.  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 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 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 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.



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 is an IB World School offering the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme.  Most students opt to complete the full IB Diploma, but they may also be awarded a TISA Diploma through the completion of IB diploma courses.  All TISA graduates are thus prepared to enter colleges and universities throughout the world, and the vast majority elect to do so.


English Language Support is available for non-native speakers up to age 15, as well as for some native speakers who may also benefit.  The school has no special provision for children with significant learning disabilities, but the Learning Support Department is able to offer assistance to those with minor learning needs.


Examination Results and University Entry

In recent years our MYP and IB Diploma results have been very good, and compare very favourably with other schools in the world.  In 2013 (2014 results are not yet published) out of a maximum grade of 7.00 our MYP candidates scored an impressive average of 5.62 compared to a world average of 5.00. Our average MYP total points score was 51 out of a maximum of 63. At IB Diploma level TISA students continue to score at or above the world average and have earned, on average, between 30-35 overall points for the past nine years.  Our most recent CIS Re-accreditation Report confirmed that “TISA has an experienced IB teaching staff who bring with them commitment, professionalism, in-depth subject knowledge and an understanding of a wide range of educational issues”.  The top end achievement of our students in 2014 was pleasing: one student achieved 38 points and another two scored 36 points. The average total points score was 32.8 over the past six years. The number of students studying the IB diploma has risen dramatically in recent years, showing an increasing level of confidence in the programme. TISA graduates enter some of the most competitive universities in the world. 


The Board of Governors is seeking to appoint an experienced and energetic Primary Principal who can lead the next phase of the Primary School’s development.


Candidates should ideally be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Successful experience in a senior management position at a comparable international school;
  • Extensive knowledge and experience of the PYP programme;
  • A record of excellence in instructional and curricular leadership;
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Ability to further links across all areas of the school;
  • Ability to enhance colloboration and partnership between staff, Board, parents and the wider community;
  • Experience in systems and practices of continuous improvement;
  • Commitment to international education and knowledge of international school trends;
  • Experience in the recruitment, mentoring and evaluation of faculty;
  • Sensitivity towards, and familiarity with, a diverse range of student learning needs;
  • Cross-cultural openness and understanding.



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.



All candidates wishing to apply should send a full CV with photograph, letter of application (no longer than two pages) and statement of educational philosophy to the Director, Mr. John Gillespie. Names, addresses, emails and day-time telephone numbers of at least three persons who may be contacted for references must be given; these should be direct supervisors or persons in senior positions of responsibility who can validate the applicant’s performance and should include the current employer.  

TISA is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and we expect all staff, volunteers and other third parties to share this commitment.  Appointment to teaching positions is subject to pre-employment background screening to confirm identity, qualifications and/or criminal/police record and including any other appropriate background checks for all countries inhabited.


All the above must be copied into A SINGLE PDF ATTACHMENT and emailed to as soon as possible but no later than Friday, 31 October. Please write “Primary Principal Application” in the message subject header. It is expected that an appointment will be made in early December. Any enquires should be directed to the


Deadline for receipt of applications: Friday, 31 October

Attention: If you apply for this position, please inform the school and us ( that you saw the notice on the Search Associates website. 

Did You Know…?

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