Senior Associate Bill Turner and Executive Assistant Alison Turner took time off from their tour of UAE schools to attend the 2017 School Leaders Conference for the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) in Kuala Lumpur on November 4th-5th. FOBISIA was launched informally in 1988 as the Federation of British International Schools in South East Asia & Asia when six Head teachers of British Schools in South East Asia met to discuss mutual concerns and offer support in delivering a British type curriculum far from home. Current Chairman Simon Watson describes the organisation’s activities:
“For our pupils; the FOBISIA Games, one of the Federation’s very first initiatives, have a long-standing reputation (as) a fantastic opportunity to compete at the highest levels but at the same time to form global friendships with their peers throughout the region. This successful formula is now emulated in many other curricular areas such as Music [and] Drama . . . For our teaching colleagues; the services we offer also embrace a rich and varied Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme that includes regional Job-Alike-Workshops (JAWS) and a wide range of other offerings by leading personalities & authorities within our profession. . . Pupils and teachers from throughout the region are able to interact and enjoy working together on common interests.
This year’s conference theme was about well-being. Entitled “Health, Wealth and Self”, it was addressed from various angles in the four keynotes: Dick Moore’s “And How Can You Fly without Wings,” Rob Holroyd’s “Who Looks after the Heads’ Wellbeing?” John Littleford’s “The Longevity of Heads & the Effectiveness of Schools,” and Clive Leach’s “To Boldly Go…Positive Leadership in a VUCA World.” Bill and Alison Turner attended a handful of presentations and seminars also linked to this important theme.
A report on the initial teacher training for Qualified Teacher Status and Newly-Qualified Teacher induction in FOBISIA schools--presented by Mark Bignall, Head of Education Traded Services, Buckinghamshire Learning Trust, UK--revealed the increasing opportunities for teachers now choosing training outside the UK, often with no intention of teaching in the UK itself. These ‘off-shore’ teacher-training programmes are of particular interest to those already holding a degree, and wishing to teach In British curriculum or IB schools outside the UK, as well as such groups as trailing spouses and non-UK nationals.
Bill also learned of the British Schools Overseas (BSO) initiative to insist upon the application of the clauses related to the rights of the LGBT community in the BSO inspection framework. As a consequence of local cultural sensitivities, many schools in the United Arab Emirates say they feel compelled to discontinue BSO inspections and are using the British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) inspection framework (run by Penta International) instead.
Bill and Alison enjoy building the Search Associates presence within the British international school community. Before the conference, they visited Search Associates schools in Phuket and Kuala Lumpur; following the event they returned to visit schools in Dubai. At the conference itself, they spent time meeting school leaders throughout the day at the Exhibitors Hall and making more acquaintances at the three evening events hosted by the hotel and, on the final evening, the iconic Atmosphere 360 restaurant at the KL Tower. One regular topic of conversation at these meetings was the cross-over of skills between the British and International Baccalaureate (IB) curricula. British curriculum school leaders are open to employing teachers from IB schools. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education plus the IB Diploma is now one of the most popular combinations in international schools, providing teachers with a background in one with the opportunity to gain experience in teaching the other.
Attending conferences like FOBISIA provides Associates like Bill Turner with the privilege to be a learner, a teacher, and a guide. That is why, at Search Associates, we love what we do.