This April 8-12, Search Associates Founder John Magagna and Senior Associates Diana Kerry and Julie Ryan attended the annual European Council of International Schools (ECIS) Leadership Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Brussels. ECIS celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a gala event at the Hotel de la Poste. Senior Associates attend regional conferences, such as ECIS, to keep informed of recent research and development in international education, as well as to provide opportunities for networking with international school administrators and teachers.
Stimulating conference sessions focused on a key question: How are we preparing our students to face the future? Graham Brown-Martin, Founder of Learning without Frontiers, revealed that though many schools have embraced technology, they are not teaching valuable problem-solving or entrepreneurial skills. Matthew Taylor, Executive Director of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) stated that teachers should help students create unique, meaningful, and autonomous lives. Finally, Jay Shuster of Pixar used his company as a model for creative success, allowing his audience to draw analogies to education and entrepreneurship. Senior Associates considered the implications for recruiters and teachers abroad. Diana commented,
"Since Search Associates was founded on the premise that it is the quality of a teaching staff that assures the caliber of the education at a school, the ECIS Conference’s focus on enhancing creativity and assuring that a new generation of teachers will be qualified and prepared provided an opportunity to consider future recruiting criteria and techniques."
Julie was particularly struck by Brown-Martin’s emphasis on the importance of engaging teachers in their work. She compared the careers of teachers stateside to those in overseas schools,
"I found it concerning to hear him summarizing a study revealing that only 30% of U.S. teachers feel engaged in their work. Is this why we are losing so many teachers before their fifth year is completed? It made me reflect on the conditions in many international schools—small class size, excellent professional development, the diversity of students and faculty—all of which contribute to a high degree of teacher satisfaction."
Nick Brummiott, CEO of International School Consultancy group (ISC) forecasts that the total number of international schools could reach 15,000 by 2025. Today, there are 350,000 teachers in international schools. In ten years’ time the ratio of profit to non-profit overseas schools will be four to one.
Diana was particularly interested in a session discussing the possibility of creating a university Student Teaching program, coordinated by ECIS, in conjunction with schools abroad. The session provided an opportunity to draw attention to the possibility of creating a year-long intern program.
Diana and Julie departed Brussels with innovative ideas and the satisfaction of knowing how they can continue supporting conference leaders involved in international education.