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Widening the dialogue: Promoting learner-centred teaching in the developing world September 29, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in International education.
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Glynn Richards is head of access projects at the International Baccalaureate. This is the first half of an excellent article featured in the autumn 2010 issue of is (International School) magazine.

The home computers and Facebook accounts of many teachers in international education teem with photographs from an array of colourful and fascinating countries. But how many of us have actually engaged with colleagues teaching in local schools in those same countries?

Herein lies an uncomfortable paradox for many teachers on the international circuit: the passport stamps suggest extensive travel, but the CV often reveals little interaction with the teachers and administrators outside our international school’s walls.

The unfortunate fact is that most of us don’t actually have any real opportunity or invitation to come together with local teachers in the developing world. And this is a shame because many teachers in the countries we work in would welcome the chance to meet us, to begin a dialogue on teaching, share some of their own experience, and come up with negotiated solutions to some of the problems we face as educators.

In short, they yearn for the same inspiration, ideas, communication, and insight that we gain from fellow educators at our own conferences and workshops.

The International Baccalaureate is actively involved in trying to bridge this gap by facilitating teacher-to-teacher interaction through volunteer training projects. Within projects in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, and India, the IB aims to widen the circle of conversation so all can come away enriched and wiser. These projects bring together international teachers – both IB and non-IB –

with their counterparts in national schools with few resources and fewer means to connect with teachers outside their districts.

The aim of the projects is to develop together practical, culturally-relevant, learner-centred approaches to teaching and learning that take into account the low resource environments within which the teachers work. Volunteer trainers come from all over the world, from all types of schools, to share their experience and be part of an ongoing conversation. For their part, teacher trainees come from a variety of backgrounds, both urban and rural, but all are from low-resource environments. Salaries of $50 a month are not uncommon.

In Sri Lanka, the IB works with non-governmental organisations as well as local and national government to train leaders in early childhood education. To date, over 30 workshops have been facilitated for leaders and potential trainers, each received very enthusiastically by educators.

The schools are alive with custom and music, providing rich material for all to work together to fashion authentically Sri Lankan approaches to learner-centred, interactive education. Teachers of all ages and backgrounds enthusiastically work together to come up with realistic approaches to helping their young children hone their models of the way the world works.

The IB is now engaged in training a new set of teacher leaders in the newly accessible north and east, as well as working with Sri Lankan experts to develop a set of professional development materials to complement the government’s own national standards.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please click here to view the is (International School) ezine.

Independent Schools Awards September 28, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education.
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Shortlists have been announced for categories in The Independent School Awards 2010, which recognise excellence in the strategic and financial management of independent schools in the UK.

Ruthin School in north Wales has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Outstanding Financial/Commercial Initiative category.

The school has been recognised for its innovative use of technology in managing many business and financial processes – enabling it to bring in more than £1 million of revenue from fees up to four weeks earlier than it could previously.

Principal, Toby Belfield, said: “We work incredibly hard at Ruthin to ensure the school runs as efficiently and effectively as possible and we are very excited about being shortlisted for this award. Managing our electronic billing system through SIMS has saved hours of time for our staff and helped ensure invoices get to parents quickly and safely.

“With almost 50% of our parents living overseas, this has had a huge impact on our finances. We now typically receive 64% of our revenue from fees several weeks earlier than we did before, a figure amounting to half a million pounds in every billing run.”

Is Professionalism Killing Teaching? September 27, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education.
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There’s an interesting documentary coming up on BBC One in the UK on Tuesday night (2305-2335 BST), Is Professionalism Killing Sport?

The BBC describes the programme thus: Has the fun gone out of sport and do the top sport stars actually enjoy what they do? Would their performance improve considerably if they simply relaxed and put the enjoyment back into game? Is professionalism actually making our sportsmen worse at their sport?

The thought struck us that there is a very interesting analogy to be made here with teaching. Is Professionalism Killing Teaching? There’s a good documentary to be made there…

Has the fun gone out of teaching and do teachers actually enjoy what they do? Would their performance improve considerably if they simply relaxed and put the enjoyment back into teaching? Is professionalism actually making our teachers worse at their job?

It would be interesting to hear from any teachers who watch tomorrow evening. Or indeed anyone with fears on whether the joy has been taken out of the profession by the pressure of professionalism and business.

The BBC Sport documentary has been made by former England cricketer-turned Times writer Ed Smith. Ed’s father Jonathan Smith is himself a former teacher in independent schools in the UK, and is the author of the highly successful and much-loved book The Learning Game: A Teacher’s Inspirational Story, published back in 2002.

Nottingham High School head: Let’s share “good practice” September 24, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, New releases.
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The latest title in our Leading Schools of the 21st Century series, Public Relations, Marketing and Development, is back from the printers and copies are on their way to the HMC ahead of their annual conference this week, where the book will be launched.

One of the contributors, Kevin Fear, Head  at Nottingham High School, has kindly provided us with some information on why he feels now was a good time for a book release on marketing in independent schools.

“I was happy to contribute to Public Relations, Marketing and Development and feel that this will prove to be a very useful publication for all who work in schools.  Over the past decade independent schools have become so much more professional in the way that they market themselves and in an increasingly competitive world this book shares good practice, tips and advice from those who have been involved in the evolving discipline of marketing schools.

“My first involvement in marketing came when I expressed an opinion on an advert that the school I was working in had placed.  From there was formed a marketing committee and eventually I took on responsibility for marketing the school.  I know how useful I would have found a book like this at that time.

“Each person involved in the marketing of schools comes to it with a huge variety of different expertise.  Whether involved in marketing outside of the schools world or as a Head who has little experience of marketing, this book will show you how to fully integrate marketing and development into your practice.

“In the section I have contributed I have looked at the importance of the admissions department to the Head.  Without the successful recruitment of pupils each year the school simply cannot operate – I look at how to embed marketing into the heart of decision-making in a school, to ensure that the Head is comfortable with what is happening and to ensure that the marketing department is both respected by the school community and adds significantly to it.  Quite simply, it explains why the admissions department is as important to the Head as his management team or his PA!

“Marketing and development are gradually becoming embedded in the majority of independent schools but given the competitive pressures between schools it is difficult to share good practice in the way that happens in such areas as teaching and learning.  This book helps to do just that, however experienced you are, you will find some good ideas here and ideas for how your marketing and development strategies might develop in the future.”

New ASCL general secretary: coalition should recognise us September 21, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, Magazines.
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The autumn issue of one of our flagship magazines, Conference & Common Room, was this week mailed out to all HMC member schools. Editor Tom Wheare has put together another fantastic issue with a fine mix of the weighty, the constructive and the irreverent.

Brian Lightman: Post was "irresistible"

The issue includes an interview with new Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Brian Lightman, who recently stepped into the considerable shoes of the departing John Dunford (also paid tribute to in the same issue).

Here we pick out some of the best bits from Tom’s excellent interview…

How and why did you become general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)?
Ever since joining ASCL in 1996 I have had the greatest admiration for the work the Association does and have valued enormously its support for school leaders and its influence over education policy. Having enjoyed the privilege of being ASCL’s president in 2007-08, the opportunity to become general secretary was irresistible even though I have loved headship. I would not have left it for any other post.

What advice would or will you give to Michael Gove?
On the day of his appointment, ASCL sent Michael an open letter with ten recommendations that summarises our position.

1. Pass fewer education laws. Do not over-regulate schools and colleges. Put in place just enough regulation to ensure that one school’s success is not at the expense of another.
2.
Maintain the direction of change from the culture of competition that existed in the 1980s and 1990s to the culture of collaboration and partnership between institutions that has developed strength in recent years.Create more incentives for schools to work in partnership.
3.
Continue to increase in real terms the proportion of the national budget spent on schools and colleges. The next generation of young people should not have their education jeopardised as a result of an economic crisis not of their making.
4. Over time, improve the distribution of that funding so that young people are not disadvantaged by their postcode.
5. Continue to build schools for the future and prioritise the renewal of the schools with the worst buildings.
6. Strengthen post-14 qualifications by introducing a general diploma with a broad core of knowledge and skills.
7. Strengthen assessment by building a cohort of chartered assessors – senior professionals externally accredited to carry out in-course assessment to external standards – and use these assessments as a proportion of final grades in all
external qualifications.
8. Engage parents more strongly in the education of their children – and recognise that they don’t want to run schools.
9. Introduce intelligent accountability for schools and colleges. Make it robust, fair and proportionate. Make quality assurance and self-evaluation the centrepiece of the accountability system.
10. Only through our work at school and college level can your policies become successful, so make sure that all these policies are rooted in the reality of implementation.

To me the most important message is that the department should take advantage of school leaders’ collective expertise on implementing effective change in schools. Legislation, overregulation and hyper-accountability stifle our ability to achieve this.

What are the main challenges facing members of ASCL?
The greatest challenges are the same issues that make our work such a fulfilling experience. Society rightly has the highest aspirations for our education service and our members share the commitment of our political masters to ensuring that every child is able to succeed and achieve his or her potential. These are high stakes that bring high levels of accountability.

In meeting those demands we cannot be expected to solve all the ills of society. As a professional association we have sadly had to deal with far too much casework around members who have been treated by their employers as the problem rather than the solution. That culture needs to change if we are going to attract the calibre of professionals we need to meet those aspirations.

What are your plans for ASCL?
We have my predecessor, John Dunford, to thank for ensuring that ASCL is such a highly regarded and influential organisation with more than 15,000 members. It would be madness for me to do anything other than build on that strong base. However the world of school leadership is changing, with new roles and structures that challenge us to look to the future. I want to listen to all our members and develop our services to meet their needs. This includes using new technologies and providing the kind of consultancy and training that they need.

At the same time I want to ensure that the new coalition government recognises us as the most influential voice of secondary school and college leaders. Above all, however, I want to be a champion of school and college leadership so that our very best graduates aspire towards it as a most worthy career.

The full interview with Brian Lightman can be found in the autumn issue of Conference & Common Room, the magazine for leading independent schools, published by John Catt Educational for the HMC. Copies can be ordered from our bookshop. To contact the editor Tom Wheare with any editoral ideas, please email tom@dunbury.plus.com

School Photographer of the Year competition: winner announced! September 20, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, Magazines.
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We had another fantastic response to this year’s Prep School Photographer of the Year competition,  attracting over 100 entries from dozens of schools around the UK.

With so many entries of such a high quality, selecting a winner was no simple matter. After a long deliberation, we settled on the entry of Chelsea Kaoh, who photographed some of her friends having fun on a climbing wall at Ashdell Prep, Sheffield. The second prize goes to Tom Nunan of King’s House in Richmond, Surrey, while Izzy Fletcher from Kensington Prep School took third place. All three winners will receive digital cameras, by courtesy of John Catt Educational.

Chelsea Kaoh: The winning entry

Second place: Tom Nunan

Third place: Izzy Fletcher

Prep School magazine has evolved… September 20, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Magazines, New releases.
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All-singing, all-dancing...

The new-look Prep School magazine is back from the printers and being sent out to schools around the country as I type. Michele Kitto has done a fantastic job on her first issue as editor; here she tells us a little more about the direction the bright, vibrant new magazine will be taking…

“Building on all the fantastic history of the most important publication in the prep and junior school world, we have made some tweaks.  In this autumn issue you will find more articles from teachers and leaders in the prep school world.  Articles now span one or two pages and only news items are spread across multiple pages towards the back of the publication.

“Inside there is a new page layout, hopefully making it easier to read over a coffee in the staffroom – with new font, font size and arrangement on the page.  Colour has increased inside the publication making the most of the images on offer to support articles and to capitalise on the full colour publication.

“We have a Viewpoint section as well as themed issues – this issue focuses on ‘learning outside the classroom’ and it is hoped that readers will find this of use in their everyday teaching as well as in the leadership and management of a school.

“We aim to be an inclusive publication and welcome the views, news and articles from all sectors of the prep and junior school world – be it from teaching assistants, teachers, SMT, Heads, deputies, gap students, NQTs, governors and support staff.

“This publication is for teachers and although we are happy for parents to read it they are not the target audience.  Please do contribute to your publication. If you have an idea for an article or Viewpoint piece for the next issue of Prep School, or any news from your school, please don’t hesitate – email me at editor@prepschoolmag.co.uk”

The rise and rise of the International Baccalaureate: Part two September 16, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in International education, New releases.
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The International Schools Journal Compendium: The International Baccalaureate: pioneering in education

The International Baccalaureate: pioneering in education is the fourth in our Compendium series for the ISJ.  The author, Dr Ian Hill, Deputy Director General of the IB, has kindly answered a few questions about the book and the IB in general.

John Catt Educational: Where does the IB go from here? In what areas do you think the IB can improve?

Ian Hill: The IB is in the process of improving its infrastructure which was lagging behind its educational programmes. The annual growth rate of schools has been a world average of about 15% for at least twelve years – a phenomenal growth rate by anyone’s estimation. With the increasing number of schools come legitimate questions about maintaining the quality of the assessment process, and also ensuring that there is alignment across the world of IB procedures such as the authorization and evaluation of schools, and of teacher professional development. The IB is spending much time on moving towards electronic marking of examination scripts which also assists standardising the grading of examiners. We are also spending much time on getting feedback from schools about PD and the authorization and evaluation processes.

The number of state (government) schools makes up some 57% of all IB schools in 2010 and the percentage of international schools themselves is decreasing (but not the number – international schools continue to grow). We need to be careful not only to embrace the future but to also value the past, and particularly not lose sight of the fact that it was thanks to the international schools that the IB came about. I personally welcome the growing interest in state systems – this provides a world class programme to students who might not have been able to afford it.

There are some concerns that the large number of state schools, and particularly in the US, will change the IB programmes to cater for particular markets. I don’t believe this will happen and it isn’t happening. International education is international education. It can be delivered in any type of school as long as teachers and students adopt the right attitude of mind. The IB has changed from being an education programme for international schools to an  international education programme for all schools and we should all applaud that.

We are also starting to offer a small selection of online programmes for the DP (Diploma Programme) and this will grow. For the time being these are to help schools supplement existing offerings with subjects they could not offer because they lack the expertise or a viable class size.  For example, offering languages online with class members around the world and an experienced teacher in charge. We want to protect the integrity of the school experience but at the same time acknowledge that online learning is here to stay and we need to be part of that. The current regulations require online students to be registered in an IB World School.

JCE: The IB Africa, Europe, Middle East regional conference in Liverpool is just a couple of weeks away. Are you hopeful the book will be well received there? Have you had much feedback from colleagues about your histories in the ISJ?

IH: I think most people in IB schools and IB staff are interested in the origins of the IB, so I hope this will be an occasion for people to celebrate the past and what it has meant for so many students over the last 40 years. Some of my colleagues have used the history articles from the ISJ in their own research and also in designing PD session content. I have also been contacted by a number of research students from around the world, seeking to discuss some of the history articles. Recently I gave a brief history of the IB in each of the major IB offices to staff, similar to what I will be doing in a break-out session at Liverpool.

JCE: You’ve written and contributed to many publications and journals in the past; it must be something you enjoy? Any further plans for books in the future?

IH: I do enjoy the challenge of writing and particularly about international education and the IB – there is so much to say and learn. My next publication will be a chapter entitled “The IB influencing mainstream systems of education”. It will appear in The Changing Face of International Education (both titles may be change slightly prior to publication), edited by George Walker, and including contributions from a number of my senior colleagues within the IB.

I have just completed a draft article and forwarded it for publication in Prospects, a journal published since many years by the International Bureau of Education (Piaget was director for some thirty years until 1967). The IBE is the curriculum development and PD arm of UNESCO, in the same building as our IB offices in Geneva.  The article attempts to define a “world class” education (the theme of this special issue of Prospects) and how the IB fits the definition as one example of that. Many national systems are talking about offering a “world class” education these days but the term itself is perceived differently. This publication contains several examples of a “world class” education.

Where does the IB go from here? In what areas do you think the IB can improve?
The IB is in the process of improving its infrastructure which was lagging behind its educational programmes. The annual growth rate of schools has been a world average of about 15% for at least twelve years – a phenomenal growth rate by anyone’s estimation. With the increasing number of schools come legitimate questions about maintaining the quality of the assessment process, and also ensuring that there is alignment across the world of IB procedures such as the authorization and evaluation of schools, and of teacher professional development. The IB is spending much time on moving towards electronic marking of examination scripts which also assists standardising the grading of examiners. We are also spending much time on getting feedback from schools about PD and the authorization and evaluation processes.

The number of state (government) schools makes up some 57% of all IB schools in 2010 and the percentage of international schools themselves is decreasing (but not the number – international schools continue to grow). We need to be careful not only to embrace the future but to also value the past, and particularly not lose sight of the fact that it was thanks to the international schools that the IB came about. I personally welcome the growing interest in state systems – this provides a world class programme to students who might not have been able to afford it.

There are some concerns that the large number of state schools, and particularly in the US, will change the IB programmes to cater for particular markets. I don’t believe this will happen and it isn’t happening. International education is international education. It can be delivered in any type of school as long as teachers and students adopt the right attitude of mind. The IB has changed from being an education programme for international schools to an  international education programme for all schools and we should all applaud that.

We are also starting to offer a small selection of online programmes for the DP (Diploma Programme) and this will grow. For the time being these are to help schools supplement existing offerings with subjects they could not offer because they lack the expertise or a viable class size.  For example, offering languages online with class members around the world and an experienced teacher in charge. We want to protect the integrity of the school experience but at the same time acknowledge that online learning is here to stay and we need to be part of that. The current regulations require online students to be registered in an IB World School.

5. The IB Africa, Europe, Middle East regional conference in Liverpool is just a couple of weeks away. Are you hopeful the book will be well received there? Have you had much feedback from colleagues about your histories in the ISJ?
I think most people in IB schools and IB staff are interested in the origins of the IB, so I hope this will be an occasion for people to celebrate the past and what it has meant for so many students over the last 40 years. Some of my colleagues have used the history articles from the ISJ in their own research and also in designing PD session content. I have also been contacted by a number of research students from around the world, seeking to discuss some of the history articles. Recently I gave a brief history of the IB in each of the major IB offices to staff, similar to what I will be doing in a break-out session at Liverpool.

6. You’ve written and contributed to many publications and journals in the past; it must be something you enjoy? Any further plans for books in the future?

I do enjoy the challenge of writing and particularly about international education and the IB – there is so much to say and learn. My next publication will be a chapter entitled “The IB influencing mainstream systems of education”. It will appear in The Changing Face of International Education (both titles may be change slightly prior to publication), edited by George Walker, and including contributions from a number of my senior colleagues within the IB.

I have just completed a draft article and forwarded it for publication in Prospects, a journal published since many years by the International Bureau of Education (Piaget was director for some thirty years until 1967). The IBE is the curriculum development and PD arm of UNESCO, in the same building as our IB offices in Geneva.  The article attempts to define a “world class” education (the theme of this special issue of Prospects) and how the IB fits the definition as one example of that. Many national systems are talking about offering a “world class” education these days but the term itself is perceived differently. This publication contains several examples of a “world class” education.

UK state school outsources maths teaching to India September 10, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Uncategorized.
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An interesting story we spotted on the front page of the Times Education Supplement today:  Ashmount Primary in Islington, north London, are running a pilot scheme with their Year 6 pupils, providing them with one-to-one tuition using teachers based more than 4000 miles away in India.

Each Ashmount pupil is given a headset and can interact with their teacher while following their instructions on screen. It costs the school £12 per hour, per pupil.

The service, called Brightspark Education, was set up by UK-based businessman Tom Hooper; his company employs more than 100 Indian -based tutors full-time, all of which are maths graduates with teaching experience.

Dylan Williams, director of London University’s Institute of Education, predicts the idea could become more mainstream.

“I am sure that this will become commonplace in time. If brain surgery can be done remotely, why not maths teaching?” he told the TES.

You can read the article in full on the TES website here.

To us, the idea seems a good one in principle. Outsourcing via headsets obviously works – the school reports the pupils learning of the subject has increased enough for them to roll the programme out to the whole of the year, and perhaps other Years 4 and 5 too.

But doesn’t the cost seem a bit prohibitive? £12 per hour per pupil; perhaps £360 for an hour’s maths tuition for a full class? Couldn’t they find a decent maths tutor for that amount to actually stand in front of the pupils and teach?

Deputy Director General: My history of the IB September 8, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in International education, New releases.
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It’s been a very busy few weeks in the John Catt Educational offices; over the last couple of months we have been working across four association magazines, four school guides, three books, one gap-year guidebook and one professional development journal.

The out-tray got just a little smaller this morning when we sent off to the printers the latest release in our Compendium series reprinting the best articles from our fantastic International Schools Journal.

The fourth volume in the series is titled The International Baccalaureate: pioneering in education. In it, Dr Ian Hill, Deputy Director General of the IB, traces the early days of the organisation and the goal to create, develop and implement a truly international curriculum and qualification.

We spoke to Ian this week to get his thoughts on the Compendium: below is the first of two blog posts of his answers. We’ll put up the second half in a week or so.

John Catt Educational: Why did chronicling the history of the IB in the International Schools Journal?

Ian Hill: I was working as senior private secretary to the Minister of Education in Tasmania, Australia when we had a visit in 1986 from an IB representative from Europe who was talking to education ministries in three Australian states. We were both intrigued and impressed by the IB system and its Diploma Programme. As a result, the IB was discussed at the next meeting of all Australian ministers of education that same year.

As a result, the ministers council wished to have a representative at the meetings of the then Council of Foundation of the IB which met in Geneva each November in those days. Parliament sat in each Australian state in November so no minister could attend. I volunteered to go and was accepted. I attended my first IB Council of Foundation meeting in 1987 as an observer and in the subsequent year Australia became a member of the IB Council for three years with me as the representative.

This gave me the occasion to visit IB schools each time I went to Europe for the meetings. I was impressed. Something different was taking place in these schools that I hadn’t seen before in my 25 years in state schools in Australia – students were active, articulate, debating, thinking critically, doing community service, TOK and an extended essay. I wanted to find out where the IB organisation came from. Who started it? When? Where? Why?

At the same time I had been toying with doing a PhD and had been interested in policy process in education. So I decided to embark on a history of the IB using policy process as the over-arching theoretical framework for my study.

I started my PhD in 1988 and finished it in 1993 while head of an IB bilingual school in France. When I began working with the IB in October 1993 as regional director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East, based in Geneva, I talked about the history of the IB on my many visits to schools and ministries of education in many countries. I found people were genuinely interested so in 2001 I approached the editors of the ISJ with the idea of  writing instalments about the history of the IB in each edition. I used my thesis work and updated it to write the instalments.

JCE: Has it been something of a labour  of love? Are you interested in history in general?

IH: I’m not an historian but history does interest me.  I really enjoyed the research: visiting the archives in Geneva and most of all meeting some of the pioneers of the IB – remarkable people – to interview them about its origins.

JCE: Has your research thrown up anything surprising? What are the areas / times that have interested you most in the IB’s history?

IH: The following:
1. It was a “bottom up” initiative – started with the teachers in the early 1960s… it was not imposed from the top, but supported by people with influence.  So it had immediate “buy-in”.

2. The dedication and energy of those heads and teachers in international schools really struck me. Many of them did, and still do, love teaching in those schools although they are usually in more precarious financial positions (particularly in relation to pension arrangements) than say teachers in national systems. They are there for international education, for the kids. Great to witness.

3. It was the heads of the first IB schools (almost all international schools) who agreed to pay an annual registration fee to keep the organisation solvent when it was due to wind down by 1977 if no further funding could be found. This saved the IB.

4. Surprised  to learn that the extended essay (EE) was required in each of the three HL subjects in those first years and it was examined orally via tape recordings.

5. The meeting of Alec Peterson with the Shah of Iran where, after returning to his hotel, he was contacted by the Shah’s staff to say that he would like to make a contribution to the IB and how much would Peterson like.

6. Remarkable that the original profile of the diploma programme – breadth, with some specialisation, community service, critical thinking skills, educating the whole person, learning how to learn, research skills – has stood the test of time. This is not to say we shouldn’t review it, but it has attracted so many schools and continues to do so.

The International Schools Journal Compendium, Volume IV: The International Baccalaureate: pioneers in education will be published at the end of September.

We were both intrigued and impressed by the IB system and its Diploma Programme. As a result, the IB was discussed at the next meeting of all Australian ministers of education that same year.
As a result, the ministers council wished to have a representative at the meetings of the then Council of Foundation of the IB which met in Geneva each November in those days. Parliament sat in each Australian state in November so no minister could attend. I volunteered to go and was accepted. I attended my first IB Council of Foundation meeting in 1987 as an observer and in the subsequent year Australia became a member of the IB Council for three years with me as the representative.
This gave me the occasion to visit IB schools each time I went to Europe for the meetings. I was impressed. Something different was taking place in these schools that I hadn’t seen before in my 25 years in state schools in Australia – students were active, articulate, debating, thinking critically, doing community service, TOK and an extended essay. I wanted to find out where the IB organisation came from. Who started it? When? Where? Why?
At the same time I had been toying with doing a PhD and had been interested in policy process in education. So I decided to embark on a history of the IB using policy process as the over-arching theoretical framework for my study.

I started my PhD in 1988 and finished it in 1993 while head of an IB bilingual school in France. When I began working with the IB in October 1993 as region I denal director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East, based in Geneva, I talked about the history of the IB on my many visits to schools and ministries of education in many countries. I found people were genuinely interested so in 2001 I approached the editors of the ISJ with the idea of  writing instalments about the history of the IB in each edition. I used my thesis work and updated it to write the instalments.

2. Has it been something of a labour  of love? Are you interested in history in general?
I’m not an historian but history does interest me.  I really enjoyed the research: visiting the archives in Geneva and most of all meeting some of the pioneers of the IB – remarkable people – to interview them about its origins.

3. Has your research thrown up anything surprising? What are the areas / times that have interested you most in the IB’s history?
The following:
1. It was a “bottom up” initiative – started with the teachers in the early 1960s… was not imposed from the top, but supported by people with influence.  So it had immediate “buy-in”.
2. The dedication and energy of those heads and teachers in international schools really struck me. Many of them did, and still do, love teaching in those schools although they are usually in more precarious financial positions (particularly in relation to pension arrangements) than say teachers in national systems. They are there for international education, for the kids. Great to witness.
3. It was the heads of the first IB schools (almost all international schools) who agreed to pay an annual registration fee to keep the organisation solvent when it was due to wind down by 1977 if no further funding could be found. This saved the IB.
4. Surprised  to learn that the extended essay (EE) was required in each of the three HL subjects in those first years and it was examined orally via tape recordings.
5. The meeting of Alec Peterson with the Shah of Iran where, after returning to his hotel, he was contacted by the Shah’s staff to say that he would like to make a contribution to the IB and how much would Peterson like.
6. Remarkable that the original profile of the diploma programme – breadth, with some specialisation, community service, critical thinking skills, educating the whole person, learning how to learn, research skills – has stood the test of time. This is not to say we shouldn’t review it, but it has attracted so many schools and continues to do so.