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Blinks: High quality reviews and training
Blinks: High quality reviews and training
High quality reviews and training
High quality reviews and training

Guest Column - September 2022
Simon Watson

Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply

International schools are free to choose from the best educational initiatives around the world, unshackled from the administrative handcuffs of national and state regulations.

Yet many international school leaders and governors find themselves blinkered by historical traditions and patriotic ruts of the marketing gurus. The hindrance to development and innovation, the lack of cross-pollination of ideas that follows from ploughing the single furrow is self-evident.

The connected thinking in international schools is no doubt as varied as it is in national schools. Blind adherence to national standards and curricula trap some international schools in their offerings, being more “British” or “American” than schools back home.

The best schools are open and outward thinking, ready to critically accept ideas from around the world, even if these ideas emanate from people or organisations in countries other than their own. International schools have a responsibility to look beyond their own borders and aspire to provide an Education for a Shared Humanity.

Our purposeful and accidental interconnectedness with all forms of life on the earth has been growing exponentially but is now so prevalent that we cannot ignore our collision with the world. We must explicitly educate young people and our communities about our detrimental impact. And all that we do must be for the good of all humankind, emanating compassion and demonstrating forethought that we readily talk about yet find difficult to achieve.

The autonomy that international schools possess can be debilitating but armed with good research and perceptive questions, schools can decide on key elements that help structure the curriculum.

At St Christopher’s School, Bahrain, we have sought to define the essence of our existence as an international school through our distilled mission, vision and strategic journey. These are complemented through our holistic curriculum framework, the Future Ready Curriculum (FRC), which equips students with forward thinking knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to serve as Role Models for the World.

Through subject-based and experiential learning opportunities students receive clear, specific and authentic opportunities to develop competencies in the domains of Academic, Metacognition, Service, Enterprise, Digital and Wellbeing.

This learning journey includes activities to engage student-centred learning within the context of the school and global community such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), internationalism and interculturalism, and positive psychology (PERMA) among many others.

The title of this short piece is a modification of one of Hilary Clinton’s quotes on her campaign trail in her bid in the 2016 US Presidential Election. It encapsulates much of what we endeavour to do in schools and, like Clinton, we probably fall short, just a little, not quite perfecting the ideal lesson or creating the dynamic curriculum that engages all learners.

Yet, also like Clinton, we keep going, we demonstrate to the community that we care. Because no matter how imperfect our schools are we will always: Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply.

Simon Watson is Principal, St Christopher’s School, Bahrain.

Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply


Guest Column - July/August 2022
Jane Harris
2030 vision: we need to talk about speech and language
Given the unusual way the schools white paper and SEND green paper were published on consecutive days in late March, it is understandable that the sector is still trying to make sense of them.
2030 vision: we need to talk about speech and language

Guest Column - April/May 2022
Andy Samways
10 reasons why reading aloud matters
The simplest sentences are often the most impactful. That was certainly the case in Roy Blatchford's monthly column in March:
"If you read no further than the end of this sentence, please watch the YouTube video Frank Cottrell-Boyce supporting the Essex Year of Reading - Essex County Council."
10 reasons why reading aloud matters (April/May 2022)

Guest Column - February 2022
Tom Duckling
Learning Strands
It is the start of term and for INSET day an engaging and inspirational speaker has been booked. It is a financial investment but they have a great reputation on the conference circuit and some glittering reviews.
Learning Strands (February 2022)

Guest Column - January 2022
Samantha Smith
Lead as yourself
When I was starting as a headteacher, I was given the advice, Remember to lead as you.
This is a most valuable piece of advice and one I often return to. And it has never been more important than in the past two years, when we have all been asked to give more than we ever thought we would.
Lead as yourself (January 2022)

Guest Column - December 2021
Jean Gross
Reaching The Unseen Children
This is an extract from Chapter Seven of Jean Gross's recently published 'Reaching The Unseen Children'
The seven secrets of self-efficacy
This is the most important chapter in this book. It is important because it introduces a concept which is relatively unfamiliar to educators, but profoundly important in improving outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Reaching The Unseen Children (December 2021)

Guest Column - November 2021
David Bartram OBE
Leading great SEND provision in schools
We appear to be making the leadership of SEND increasingly complicated. The danger of creating this overly complex approach is that it persuades teachers across the country that they may not be sufficiently expert enough to help children experiencing difficulty.
Leading great SEND provision in schools (November 2021)

Guest Column - October 2021
Cameron Mirza
The learning scientist
The critical success factor in the education system will always be the teacher. It is essential today that teachers are supported to develop the skills, subject knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, pedagogical content knowledge and digital skills required to thrive in the classroom environment. The recently published teaching report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Microsoft, laid stark some sobering data.
The learning scientist (October 2021)

Guest Column - September 2021
Harry Hudson
At the cutting edge
Teaching is moving at a pace, and there has never been a more exciting time to become a teacher. We know more now than we have ever known about how the brain works, and teachers can be more confident than at any time in history about the science of learning. What's more, there is still so much left to discover.
At the cutting edge (September 2021)

Guest Column - June 2021
By Old Cobbler
Great news! Primary languages are rubbish!
Ofsted blog: schools, early years, further education and skills
As the subject lead's blog on the Ofsted website explains, inspectors recently visited 24 primary schools, all rated excellent at their latest inspection, to assess the quality of their languages teaching.
Great news! Primary languages are rubbish! (June 2021)

Guest Column - May 2021
Dr Michael Lightfoot
Rethinking assessment: in praise of ePortfolios
The long-term impact on education systems caused by the Great Pandemic of 2020/21 will take many years to play out. Emergency remote teaching became the mode through which education systems tried to overcome the impacts of school closures, and most schools turned to EdTech for solutions.
Rethinking assessment: in praise of ePortfolios (May 2021)

Guest Column - April 2021
David Ingram
Shaping the legacy of COVID-19
During a particularly difficult stretch of the lockdown, my professional coach invited me to engage my curiosity. This prompted me to consider the enormity of the pandemic from an entirely different perspective. I remain curious. Necessity may have been the mother of invention during lockdown but as the world returns to a semblance of normality, school leaders will need to ponder next steps.
Shaping the legacy of COVID-19 (April 2021)

Guest Column - March 2021
Harry Hudson
Changing the image of teaching
Education is in the spotlight in a way it hasn't been for decades, and much has been said about how teaching can 'build back better' after the pandemic. Yet step back from all the talk of 'catch up funding' and ways our classroom practice can be improved by having taught online, and there's an even bigger picture.
Changing the image of teaching (March 2021)

Guest Column - February 2021
Marc Rowland
Culture
The most effective strategies give teachers and other staff the capacity, expertise, knowledge and development to meet the needs of their pupils and improve them as learners. Teacher agency and buy-in are fundamental to success. They all complement one another, working together to support the development of a culture of inclusivity where pupils' needs are understood and assessment drives action.
Culture (February 2021)

Guest Column - January 2021
Malcolm Wheeler
Online passages from India
The pandemic will be remembered in the words of Dickens as "the worst of times" and, in the most unintended ways, also "the best of times". Before the lockdown, the challenge for our kind of schools was finding the sweet spot between theoretical and experiential learning. After the move to virtual learning, it has become about finding our collective 'ikigai', or finding our reason for being.
Online passages from India (January 2021)

Guest Column – December 2020
Keith Grainger, Principal, Garth Hill College
The case for the defence: online learning
In a week when the government has threatened councils with legal action over decisions to switch to online learning over coronavirus fears, I feel the urge to celebrate the considerable merits of online learning. Such threats almost cast a slur on the very concept of online learning and, given our positive experience as a state secondary school, I am compelled to make a case for the defence.
The case for the defence: online learning (December 2020)

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