Despite the restrictions of the pandemic, our Search Associates continue to visit schools to support their recruitment needs. This November/December, Senior Associate Bill Turner and his Search Associates partner Alison Turner traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to catch up with seven schools.
A normal school visit usually involves a campus tour, particularly to new and important facilities. Associates chat not only with the Head of School but also other administrators, Human Resources representatives, teachers, and sometimes senior students. However, present pandemic-related restrictions allow for visits with Heads solely. Bill adds, “Nor do we get to see any of the campus as this would risk breaking social distancing bubbles."
A common view of all the Heads of School is that they miss the Search Associates face-to-face jobs fairs and look forward to these being re-started when the situation permits safely doing so. In the meantime, Search Associates (SEARCH) is grateful for the ability to gather intel so we can continue to connect outstanding schools around the world with excellent international educators determined to deliver the finest education to their students.
Bill's first meeting was with Graeme Scott, Founding Director of Fairgreen International School (FIS), an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, where 71% of the student body speaks another language at home. Despite the pandemic, FIS has managed to expand its student body from 180 to 471, with 600 planned for August 2021. Graeme, who will be moving on at the end of the year, says he does not predict many teachers leaving this year; the school is very stable.
Andreas Swoboda, Head of School at Uptown International School, shared with Bill and Alison that he was very keen to host the next face-to-face Dubai Search Associates Jobs Fair. As a consequence, the Turners are now planning for two fairs there: in November 2021 and April/May 2022.
Bill and Alison next caught up with Iain College, the Executive Principal leading the original and, now, the new campus of Raha International School in Abu Dhabi. Raha’s new campus is full to present capacity at 300, despite the pandemic. By the time the whole campus opens in August 2021, Iain and his team anticipate 700 students in the building, which evidences the popularity of this successful school.
In his meeting with Robert Rinaldi, Head of School at GEMS American Academy, Abu Dhabi (GAA), Bill was reminded that, as in all Abu Dhabi schools, only the elementary section plus secondary “exam grades” are currently on campus with the teaching staff. Other age groups continue to work from home. This will change in January 2021. Robert just joined GAA, having spent his previous 36 years in Latin America. This new Head of School wishes to develop a culture in which all students contribute, guided by the motto: What do you do for your school? Robert says he is seeking teachers with experience in inquiry-based instruction who can add value to students’ learning. GAA delivers the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and IB Diploma Programme (DP), with the U.S. Common Core linking the two. Interested candidates need not have prior experience teaching IBDP.
Next on Bill and Alison’s tour was a meet-up at GEMS International School, Dubai Hills (GIS) with Simon Herbert, the new Head of School. Simon, who arrived last summer from Dulwich College, Beijing, places strong importance on an emotionally intelligent school. This was evident in the friendly welcomes the Turners received from both the security team at the gate and the public relations team in the school entrance. The pandemic-related challenges the school has faced have not thwarted 95% of the school’s students. Simon is keen to repeat the IB workshop that Search Associates hosted in November 2019.
Bill and Alison paid a visit to Janecke Aarnaes, Head of School, Universal American School, Dubai (UAS) and good friend of Search Associates. Previously Head of School at Dwight Dubai, Janecke has worked hard to raise student numbers at UAS from below 700 last year to over 1000 today. This is promising for expanding the number of SEARCH teachers in the school. Since 2011, UAS has hired 70 SEARCH teachers! Janecke is looking for teachers who are committed to the holistic approach of “educating the whole child,” and who are committed to a school that wants to change and grow.
At the Dubai American Academy, Head of School Tammy Murphy took Bill and Alison on a tour of the awe-inspiring Center of Excellence – Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Students can now take AI as an elective course! Other amazing facilities the Turners have seen in the past include a 50-meter pool and indoor running track, a green room, and a drone aviary. Bill says, “This is a bright, colourful, spacious and stimulating, child-friendly school: a fantastic environment in which to work.” The school runs “an American Common Core curriculum with an inquiry-based heart,” plus IBDP and Advanced Placement courses. Tammy assured the Turners that the school is committed to diversity and will always appoint the best teachers, irrespective of origin or orientation.
Bill and Alison also found time during their school visits in Dubai for personal meetings with 38 SEARCH candidates. When the Turners return to the UAE in May 2021, they will be available for further one-to-one meetings with interested candidates as they visit more schools and prepare for the November 2021 Dubai Jobs Fair.