You may be sceptical about ‘alternative health’ strategies, but if they achieve positive results, could they be worth trying anyway? This week we share with you a video about Juan, a teacher in Quito, Ecuador, who enables five-year-olds to use simple ‘tapping techniques’ in the classroom, which appear to boost concentration, raise self-esteem and improve behaviour. He says the results are impressive – so what’s not to like?
Imagine working in beautiful Switzerland, in a school where behaviour isn’t an issue, and where Lake Geneva, Montreux and some of the finest scenery in the world are right on your doorstep. We spoke to Dr Ilya Eigenbrot, Principal of St. George’s School, to find out about the reality of living and working in Switzerland .
Could you begin by telling us a little bit about St. George’s School in Switzerland?
St. George’s School in Switzerland was originally a British girls’ boarding school set up in 1927 by two Oxford graduates, who were horrified by the First World War and who wanted to establish something that would promote internationalism and the spirit of communication between cultures and countries.
Over the years the school has grown enormously: originally we started off with just a handful of students, and currently we have over 480 aged three to 18. The biggest change over the years has probably been the fact that it’s now no longer a pure boarding school: we still have a good size boarding section with around 70 boarders, but the majority of our students, especially younger ones, are day students who live in the area. There are a lot of multinationals that have set up base in this part of Switzerland, and with our good reputation it’s always been one of the schools recommended by these companies for their expat employees.
There are no specific requirements for British schools overseas, unless the host country has its own requirements, but these can be very varied. Ofsted inspects foreign schools in the UK.
The Department for Education (DfE) was approached by several countries to give an assurance that British schools in their area are run properly. As a result, we introduced the BSO Inspection System last September, providing a government-approved inspection process which is absolutely voluntary.
We called for expressions of interest in carrying out inspections from interested organisations. We had applications from nine international organisations with roots in the UK and six were approved, including CfBT Education Trust, Cambridge Education and Tribal Education.
So far nine inspections have been carried out and they all went well. The schools were sufficiently confident about the education they provided to put themselves forward for the first wave. The problems in the Middle East resulted in a number of inspections being delayed last term because of concerns for the safety of inspection teams, but they’ll take place as soon as things quieten down.
During this first year we have been trialling the process. At the moment we’re not actively promoting the inspection system but I’m confident it will grow organically, by word of mouth. Once national governments decide to support it – and Egypt and Dubai have been finding out more about it – it will snowball. Large corporates who move people around are very interested as education is very high on the list of priorities for people being relocated.
The British Council is often asked to recommend an international school but until now they’ve had nothing to go by. This inspection system helps them discriminate between schools and direct parent to a respected independent report about the school.
How does the BSO Inspection System work and is it similar to Ofsted?
The inspections are broadly similar to Ofsted’s. However, the international aspect means that they’re not short notice visits and most inspections will be booked in advance – it’s all about being pragmatic. The costs of an inspection depend on the organisation that’s carrying it out; the DfE isn’t privy to this as it’s a commercial matter.
The system looks at two overarching issues:
- how easily will a pupil slot back into schooling in the UK and
- if a pupil completes their education in a British overseas school, how difficult would they find it to fit into a UK university, in terms of their qualifications and awareness of how British society works.
I’d like to stress that the system isn’t just for the expensive top public schools; it’s for every good British school overseas that provides a good quality education: it’s not necessary to have lavish facilities. We want to be inclusive, to provide parents with the best quality information about a range of schools, with the reports giving them a real understanding of the ‘flavour’ of a school.
How does the inspection system combine the British character of schools with the need to allow for different cultures?
Again, we need to be pragmatic. Where there’s a conflict between international standards and the requirements of the host country, schools must comply with the host country – and the schools must make this clear to inspectorates who can reflect the situation in their reports.
The ‘British’ aspect of education in international schools can relate to the school’s ethos, values, and extra-curricular activities – its ‘Britishness’!
What are the benefits of the system?
The benefit for schools is that it makes it clear to parents who want a good quality education and understand the value of inspections that the school has reached the gold standard and is as good as the best schools you’ll find in Britain. It also provides an independent view of whether a school will deliver what parents are paying for and that the education provision on offer is as good as it can be. This means that they need have no hesitation in sending their child there. A further benefit is that the inspectors can suggest how a school can improve, update them on forthcoming developments and things on the horizon.
It’s useful for teachers too. The inspection reports give teachers a better idea of the kind of school they’re considering working for. They can get information on issues like the curriculum of the country and how it impacts on international schools, the school’s facilities, turnover of pupils and how many teachers speak English.
Finally, the government has just confirmed that schools that have had a BSO inspection will be eligible to provide induction for new teachers training in the UK. These new arrangements are likely to come in from September 2012 and we anticipate consulting British Schools Overseas in the autumn on these new arrangements.
For more information click here.
Colin Bell, from the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), commented:
“We support all schools to work towards a DfE approved inspection. We encourage schools to focus on this in their development plans and target setting, with buy-in from governors, senior leaders, teachers, and parents. The inspection system gives schools confidence, increased pride, a feeling of well being and an opportunity to share collective success. It enables a clear comparison with quality education in the UK independent school setting, and evidence of ease of transition for pupils.
Another tangible benefit for a school with a successful BSO DfE approved inspection and fully accredited COBIS membership is that from September 2012 they will be eligible to support NQTs to complete their induction process – something which COBIS has campaigned for.”
Eteach’s Gerry Hillier-Manolas attended the latest event hosted by the Council of British International Schools, for the launch of Quality Standards and voluntary inspection for British Schools Overseas. Here she reflects on lessons learned about successfully launching a new product or service.
On Thursday 15th September I had the pleasure of being the guest of my CEO Paul Howells as we attended the latest event to be hosted by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). It was here I learnt the recipe for ensuring the instant success and support for the launch of a new service or product. All credit goes to Executive Director Colin Bell, the COBIS Committee and their team. Their reception to mark the successful launch of Quality Standards and voluntary inspection for British Schools Overseas was definitely ‘Gold Standard’ and worth the equivalent of a Michelin Star.
I realised you must start with launching your product or service at a venue that is highly exclusive, well known and full of prestige. In our case it was the Attlee Room in the House of Lords.
To ensure a full complement and punctuality from your guests, choose a weekday and an early evening start. Attendees will be delighted to have the excuse leave their offices a little early in order arrive on
Line up as many well-known speakers as possible, but only give them a couple of minutes each to talk.
Ours were: the Minister of Education Michael Gove and Hon. Vice –President of COBIS Alastair, Lord Lexden – both experienced in this procedure.
Sprinkle the event with a few glasses of quality wine; ours was sponsored by Eteach, along with some mouth-watering entrees expertly served by a professional team.
Blend together your carefully selected guest list. Ours included senior representatives of government and its agencies, COBIS educational members, training and service organisations,
NGO’s corporate clients, approved inspectorates and the educational media. Leave to steep for an hour or so.
La crème de la crème!
Our result was a crisp cocktail of professionals who were able to discuss and promote the many advantages of an independent inspection system for British International Schools. This included the importance for COBIS member schools this Gold Mark to differentiate themselves from those just calling themselves ‘British’. By upholding the highest standards
expected by the approved Inspection Teams and COBIS itself, both parents and teachers are able to choose schools with complete confidence. These schools can then promote themselves and the British education system they provide with
confidence, and know they truly are ‘la crème de la crème!’
And as we all know from celebrity cooks ‘the cream always rises to the top’……