Between attending the EARCOS conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and heading to Bangkok to prepare for the Search Leadership Fair, Senior Associate Ray Sparks flew to the Philippines to visit three schools in Manila. Having lived in Manila, Ray has been to International School Manila (ISM) and Brent Schools Inc. (BSI)—also known as Brent—numerous times over the years. Both are very well resourced and well respected by international teachers who have either worked or aspired to work there.
ISM is located in the center of Manila in Fort Bonifacio. Most teachers—singles and families—live in very nice housing within walking distance of the school, shops, and restaurants. With its fantastic facilities, strong curriculum, and high retention rate of staff, ISM is a definite destination for teachers who want to work in a well-respected school within a city.
For teachers seeking a quieter and more outdoorsy environment, Brent is set in a greenbelt area, a 45-minute drive outside of Metro Manila. The area features many hiking and biking trails, and school housing is close by, with access to all school facilities. Strong Christian values are important to Brent’s mission of educating, inspiring, and development students’ moral understanding. Many outreach programs are available to those interested in community service work. It is a great place to raise a family. The famous Philippine and world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao lives in the area and is often seen at Brent, visiting his children who attend there. Brent, which has two smaller satellite schools in Baguio and Subic, is also home to the headquarters of the East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS).
Ray considers the British School Manila (BSM)—also called the British International School Manila (BISM)—a hidden gem. The campus is nestled among tall trees and foliage, so you would never know you were in the middle of a large city and BSM’s beautiful facilities are mostly hidden by the vegetation throughout campus. The five-story Drama and Art Centre is home to a recently opened theatre. BSM’s student body of nearly 1,000 represents over 48 nationalities. The school delivers a U.K. curriculum, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education as well as the International Baccalaureate Programme. Although BSM is very much open to applicants from other English-speaking countries, such as Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, the current staff is mainly from the U.K.
En route to Bangkok to host the Search Leadership Fair, Ray reflected on his Manila tour of schools:
The schools that I have been fortunate to visit have all been very warm and welcoming. The smiles I see from students and staff, as I roam the halls or drop in to classrooms, are a very telling point to me that there is happiness and respect and a sense of security for all.