The annual COBIS conference in London is always an inspiring event, where leaders in British international schools gather together to share good practice and be inspired by innovative ideas for forward-thinking education. This year’s theme has been ‘Transformations’, and in listening to the many speakers interpreting this theme in different ways, it struck me just how exciting a time it is to be engaged in international school leadership.
The world, as we know, is in a state of flux and fluidity, which may appear daunting at times, but is actually a gateway to a phenomenal range of opportunities. In amongst this melee of opportunity, English medium international schools are flourishing: the latest figures from ISC Research indicate that there are now 4.61 million students studying worldwide in 8,646 English medium international schools (up from less than 1 million students in 2,584 schools in 2000). English – and an international education – is in huge demand, and this demand is growing. In part this is because English continues to provide a gateway to personal success for students all over the world, and in part it is because international schools often offer a high quality, forward-looking education which students, quite rightly, crave. When this education also takes them on to an international stage, or into a state of mind where they appreciate the real and immense value of connecting across national boundaries, it takes them to a place where they are best empowered to make a collective and positive difference in the world.
All schools have the ability to make a difference in the lives of young people; high quality international schools (like the COBIS-accredited schools who attended this most recent conference) have the ability to make a high quality, international difference in these lives. And what an exciting education this can be! With schools pushing the boundaries in technology, in staff development and in student-centred, personalised learning, this is a time like none before to be involved in education on an international level. Education opens minds and hearts; for leaders in international schools, who are entrusted with the keys to this education, it can be one of the most satisfying – and important – endeavours they ever engage in.