Why UK education needs internationally experienced educators who are returning home.
The recent report from the Times education team highlighted how outdated and stuck in the past our British education system is. It doesn't teach the skills needed for success in the 4th industrial age, and gives priority to learning facts, rather than creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.
Those of us who have worked in outstanding British and American international schools overseas, have been teaching in exactly this way for many years. We have been integrating technology, international mindedness, creativity and critical thinking, through the International Baccalaureate Framework, the Cambridge International Curriculum and the newly revamped Fieldwork Education's IPC and IMYP.
Our schools pioneered and integrated technology many years ago, to enable quick and easy access to internet resources, and drive digital collaboration and communication between students from many different cultures, with many different languages.
Yet when international educators return to the UK there is a reluctance to see the potential they have to offer schools. Teachers and leaders who have taught overseas often struggle to get a job as as there is a strange assumption they are "behind" on their professional development. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Highly Skilled Teachers
Returning overseas teachers have extensive experience that will help UK schools innovate through a more internationally-minded and 21st century approach to learning and enrichment. An approach that focusses on skills and expert analysis of formative and summative standardised assessments across cultures, inclusion of many nationalities and languages, and an appreciation of the interconnected world we live in. The international school exists in a climate of inclusion and endless possibilities for success.
Teachers are used to working in classrooms that can have up to 100% EAL learners and external situations that can change all the time. They are agile and life long learners, and most have an in-depth knowledge of effectively integrating technology into the classroom, having taught in either Google, Apple or Microsoft schools. Professional development is compulsory in an IB school and a school can lose its accreditation if its teachers and leaders don't continue to take courses, and reflect on their practise.
Highly skilled Leaders
International school leaders are a talented bunch. They need to be able to navigate political challenges, develop cross cultural understanding, be knowledgeable about many different curriculums, and help owners or school groups develop financially sustainable schools to meet the ever growing needs of expat and local students overseas.
They need to have nerves of steel to manage change and keep calm, when political situations can and do change overnight, and they have to ensure they are engaged with all external stakeholders, from the British or American Ambassador through to expat associations, a multi cultural parent body, international teachers and all the challenges facing staff who are away from home. All this alongside ensuring the well being of staff, and students and success for all.
The UK education system is in dire need of innovators, and now is the time to open the school doors and gates to those returning from overseas, with a positive feeling about all we can learn from their valuable experiences.