Making a global impact in education
“Every day is completely different. It may throw up new challenges or you may just see the most outstanding lesson you have ever seen. You just never know.” So says Martin Bates, who spoke to Eteach about his work as an international education consultant and school inspector both in the UK and abroad.
Could you tell us about your career history, and what led you to becoming an international education consultant?
I was a deputy head in the UK until 2010 when the school I was at closed. I was approached by the Egyptian British International School in Cairo to join their senior management team. I loved the school but being away from home long term did not suit me. On leaving, I was asked by the chairman of the board to stay with the school as their UK consultant. So I now handle all their UK affairs, including recruitment, and I am helping to prepare the school for a full British inspection. I visit for three or four weeks a year to monitor the school’s progress and to help with their training needs. The school is very successful and the roll has doubled to 2,000 in just two years. I also work for a number of inspection providers, inspecting schools both in the UK and abroad (principally in the United Arab Emirates).
Could you tell us a bit more about school inspections in the UAE? What form do they take, and what are the main differences with UK school inspections?
The UAE have a long-term vision to offer an education of the highest standard. There is no distinction between the schools that are inspected so they may be private or state schools. The framework that is used is very similar to that in the UK, which inspects every aspect of a school’s performance.
The outcomes are the same, in that you leave a school having told them their strengths and the areas in which they need to improve.
What do you like about your work – and what isn’t so great?
For me personally, it’s very satisfying because you feel that you’re making a really important contribution to the ongoing process of helping the schools to improve. As an inspector, going in to any school, it’s always a privilege. And every day is completely different: it may throw up new challenges or you may just see the most outstanding lesson you have ever seen. You just never know.
One of the downsides in the UAE is that morning school starts very early so you are always up at the crack of dawn. On the plus side though, it does mean they finish early in the afternoon!
What advice would you offer to other education leaders who would like to enter a similar field? And what opportunities exist for consultancy work?
I never planned for this eventuality – it just sort of happened. However, it is very fulfilling. You constantly meet new people and experience different countries and their own unique culture. What is really rewarding is that you are really appreciated for the differences you are able to make.
There are lots of consultancy opportunities in the education field as countries all around the world look to raise standards. The interesting thing is that many of these countries use the UK system as a model for their own development.
Any plans for the future you’d like to share?
As for future plans, you just never know. It depends very much on who needs help and support. I am just happy at the moment that my current work is having an impact and helping to drive standards forward.