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International School magazine summer issue now available May 27, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in International education, Magazines.
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The summer 2011 issue of International School (is) magazine is back from the printers; individual copies and two-year subscriptions are available from our bookshop.

It is another fantastic issue of one of our most popular magazines. Editor Caroline Ellwood has managed to squeeze in:

  • an article from Kevin Larkin, middle school principal at ACS Hillingdon International School, explaining why recent natural disasters in Australia, New Zealand and Japan  were ‘too important not to discuss with children’.Kevin writes: “Those who attend international schools in particular can be shaken when such tragedies occur. Students might be seeingh the events in their homeland and it is in such times that international school communities will want to pull together and discuss the subject fittingly. As an international school, it is not just enough to have international children. We have to taken opportunities to put international mindedness at the centre of what we do.”
  • Claire Moore, curriculum and IB co-ordinator at St Gilgen International School, Austria, writes about the power of poetry: “Through a literature course, hopefully students become aware that poetry, and, indeed, all literature, is about the power to imagine, to transform another’s life, about the possibility of viewing life through a different set of eyes. It is also about questioning the politics and ideologies of the world the writer lives in.”
  • Meanwhile, Heather Card, a consultant with the UK office of STEPS Professional Development, explores how teachers approach the writing development of students learning in a language other than their mother tongue.“When creating opportunities for students to write, it is vital they are given the maximum opportunity to daw upon the linguistic and conceptual knowledge that they already have, and that they are adequately supported through scaffolding to put their ideas together in written form.”

International School (is) magazine, the official magazine for the European Council of International Schools, reflects the full diversity and professionalism of international educators. Published three times a year it goes to heads, teachers and administrators in schools around the world. £15 pays for a one-year subscription.

Reminder: free eZine subscription to International School (is) Magazine May 24, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in International education, Magazines.
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Your FREE voucher code: 88JZ8U

Click here: is magazine is now available as a digital e-Zine. Readable on PC and Mac.

Please encourage readership for all your staff. International School (is) magazine is a publication that reflects the diversity and professionalism of international educators. Written by teachers and administrators of international schools, the magazine is published three times a year in January, June and September. The printed magazine is received by international schools throughout 157 countries.

To order your free eZine subscription of International School (is) magazine click here to proceed to purchase, verify code and place order (in order to securely receive the free e-Zine you will need to set up an account). You will be sent a confirmation email and an email with a link to download the e-Zine. If you experience any difficulties please check your spam/junk folders before contacting us.

Order printed copies? The printed form of the magazine can be purchased via our online bookshop. Archive copies are also available.

If you would like to submit copy for inclusion in the magazine, please read the submission guidelines here. The editor, Caroline Ellwood, can be contacted via CarolineEllwood@ecis.org

Some comments from our readers:
is has something for everyone and is essential reading because it is seizing on so many issues in international education.” C S, Brussels

“What a great job: interesting articles, great layout and generally a ‘good read’.” JH, Istanbul

“Congratulations on a superb publication!” JJ, Budapest

An international school’s encounter with internet pirates May 24, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Conferences, International education.
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While we were out in Istanbul at the ECIS Administrators’ Conference recently, we heard some disturbing news from the International School of Stavanger, Norway, that we wanted to share with as many people as possible.

Dr. Linda M. Duevel, Director of the school takes up the story...

Over the past several months, the International School of Stavanger has been challenged with a new and unpleasant phenomenon – being taken ‘virtual hostage’ by internet pirates.

We have learned some things along the way that may be of use to other school administrators. We do not seek sympathy by sharing the story, but rather seek to alert other schools that they are just as vulnerable as we were. Schools may wish to consider how they will react if the same thing happens. The bad news is while we are all vulnerable, there are few safeguards.

When hearing about our situation at the recent ECIS conference in Istanbul, John Catt Educational offered to send the information out to their mailing list in the hopes of reaching more administrators.

The scenario…

In February, 2011 we started getting some emails from candidates applying for non-existent ESL and English teaching jobs. They referred to having seeing ads on various ESL employment websites.

When I went onto one of these websites, sure enough there was a posting for an ESL job at our school starting in May 2011. The job would pay benefits including 1800 Euro per month and the advert suggested applicants write to an individual (who really does work here), referring to her as the ‘Recruitment Manager.’

Of course, the job was pure fiction. Probably the silliest part is the idea that we would be paying a Euro-based salary. The Norwegian Kroner is the only currency we use for salary payments. (However, that last piece of information is also what has led the police to believe that this mischief had been accomplished not by a disgruntled individual with a possible connection to the school, but was probably was a ‘phishing’ expedition.)

Things evolved when our innocent employee, whose name was being used, started getting email responses from unwitting candidates reacting to the long list of questions that she had supposedly sent them to reply to. The candidates found our employee’s real email address by going onto our website, to get in touch with the school after getting suspicious. But too often by the time they did that, they had already sent in their personal information to the fake email addresses.

The next surprise was to learn that our entire website had been cloned. A domain name was set up very similar to our own. The scammers then completely copied our website making changes ONLY to the ‘Employment’ section where again, the fake jobs were listed.

The object of the pirates is to extort money from unsuspecting candidates for the non-existent jobs at our school. After answering the questions and sending in personal details including passport copies, the candidates were requested first to send €900 for the first two months rent of the ‘accommodation’ our school would ostensibly provide – to be returned at ‘orientation’ – and another €470 for a Visa processing fee. (Remember – this is to a school in a country that does not use the Euro as its currency!)

Once that money was received, then they would ask for more, and then more: next for a ‘national medical card’; next for a local ‘teaching certificate’; and on and on. We know of individuals in Ireland, England and Australia who have sent in money.

One person told us she has sent in €6,500! She told us her husband had questioned her on whether the job could be a fake, but she was quite sure it wasn’t as she had multiple Skype conversations and an interview with me. The ‘other me’ described having a ‘problem’ with the Skype reception and so ‘my’ face couldn’t be seen.

While we know of how many have contacted us, we don’t know how many others may be out there packing their bags to move to Norway for ‘orientation’ at the end of May. We are aware that air tickets had been bought by several individuals believing that they had a job here.

All the requests for money came along with a fake contract with my ‘signature’, neither of which looked anything like the real thing – but how would the candidate know that?

The money was to be sent to a Western Union address in Spain, because… “Our finance department in Norway is currently busy so they can’t accept payments from selected candidates at the moment. That is why we have shifted that responsibility to our office in Spain…”

Again, this sounds like an implausible answer but apparently there are enough people out there willing to trust the answers to allow the pirates earn a living.

The result has been a huge amount of time sending kindly responses to over 100 ‘candidates’ who contact us in a bewildered, confused and angry state at what has happened when they have figured out how to get in touch with the real ISS. While they haven’t levelled those emotions at our school, they are understandably upset with themselves for falling for the trick.

I’ve found myself responding to stressed out individuals who have now sent along a lot of their personal details and documents to an email address that has nothing to do with us. Not surprisingly, they are concerned that they were duped and the shadow of identity theft now hangs over their heads.

And I can only respond to the ones who become sceptical and find out that there may be a problem and get in contact with us. We have no way of knowing how many others are out there that we have not heard from – perhaps they will walk through our door in late May when they are supposed to arrived for ‘orientation.’

It used to be that the internet scam emails we all have received were so implausible that it was simple to just hit the delete button. What I have learned through this process is the crooks are getting cleverer. Many of the ‘candidates’ that I have talked to are smart individuals who sincerely thought they were applying for a real job. From my perspective, I can see many red flags – but enough people applied to remind me that what seems apparent is not always the case.

My advice to you – talk to your own IT folks and see if there are additional safeguards you can take now. Should we have thought to buy up the domains for isstavanger.com, .net, .co.uk and .org before? No – there are so many combinations that it is a simple thing for someone dishonest to easily come up with a plausible name for your school website address. And opening fake email and Skype addresses is a very simple thing.

By all means, put a disclaimer on your website ‘Employment’ page warning applicants to beware of internet job scams. We have been gratified that some of the providers, including Skype, immediately shut down the fake accounts when we notified them, but new ones can easily be opened. And a number of the ESL employment websites have not heeded our requests to remove the fake advertisements.

We have been very pleased at how quickly and how seriously the police and the internet watchdog groups gave advice to our school. But unfortunately there is not a great deal they can do to stop the problem. In our case, we have traced the sources of the scam to three different continents. While the amount of money sent in to ‘our Spanish office’ is a sizable loss to the candidates, in the world of internet crime the amounts are small enough that the police can’t use their already overloaded resources to track them down.

In each of the cases where we know people have sent money in, they reported back to us that when they approached their local police the response was basically: “You sent personal documents and money to an internet scam. We are sorry, but we can’t help you beyond suggesting that you do not do it again.”

Why our school? I don’t know, and I doubt that we are the only school being singled out. If a school notices that it suddenly starts getting applicants for non-existent jobs, rather than just deleting the emails, you should do some investigation. After several months of hearing from many candidates the number has now quieted down to just a few each week. That is good for us, but just means that the criminals will migrate onto another school where they can set up another scam and try to soak more money out of more unsuspecting applicants.

While we can’t do much more here than what we have been doing, whatever can be done to keep other schools and unwitting candidates from being victimized, I believe, will be in the best interest of all international schools. If our experience here at the International School of Stavanger helps someone avoid the same issues, I will be very pleased.

Beware and good luck to all of us in avoiding this exceedingly nasty distraction from our real jobs of working with teaching and learning.

Please do share this story with colleagues in your own school and in your networking group. For the moment it seems, vigilance is the only defence.

The return of “the perfect 10” May 24, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Uncategorized.
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Back in September we brought you news of a competition run by Outlook Expeditions, a UK provider of tailor-made youth expeditions. To celebrate their tenth birthday the company offered one lucky school the chance to win a ten-day expedition for ten students to Morocco in Easter 2011. (More info on previous post here)

We are happy to tell you that the 10 lucky sixth-form students from Culcheth High School, Warrington, have now returned from their 10-day cultural adventure, in which they were able to develop key skills including team work, organisation and communication on a trip that included a four-day trek across the High Atlas Mountains.

On her return, student Sophie Akiyenu said: “It was one of the most strange but best experiences ever!  I met some amazing people and saw some of the most amazing views and it really opened my eyes to a different culture”. Fellow pupil Aaron Nixon further commented when asked if he would recommend other young people to go on an expedition. “Yes, it improves many life skills and gives an unrivalled cultural experience”.

For further information contact: Rachael Adams on Rachael.adams@perception-uk.com or on 0845 293 2552

Food for thought: nutrition and academic performance May 23, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in New releases, Special Educational Needs.
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New evidence commissioned by a leading partnership of food charities shows that a whole-school approach to food that links practical food education with quality school dinners leads to a better family diet and can improve academic performance and behaviour.

The Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) project was set up to encourage pupils and their parents to eat healthy food and learn how to cook it and grow it themselves. An independent evaluation of its work, by a team from the University of the West of England and Cardiff University, provides hard evidence that schools were rated more highly by inspectors after taking part in the FFLP programme.

More than twice as many FFLP primary schools received an Ofsted rating of outstanding following their participation (37.2% compared to 17.3% outstanding pre-enrolment).  Headteachers reported a positive impact on pupil behaviour, attention and attainment.

Libby Grundy, director of the FFLP, said:  “The UK has the highest rate of childhood obesity in Europe, with almost a quarter of adults and about one in ten children classed as obese and a further 20-25 per cent of children overweight.  The UWE evidence shows that our programme has made a positive difference to improving diet and this in turn is having a knock-on effect on behaviour and attainment.  Yet, just as the programme looks as if it has reached the tipping point in terms of making a cultural shift, cuts to local authority school meal budgets – and an uncertain funding future for the FFLP programme itself – could undo all the good work.”

All this mirrors some editorial we carried in the recently released Which School? for Special Needs 2011/12, in which Griselda Halling of Independent Nutrition talked about the effect a good diet can have on children’s behaviour.

Below is an extract from Giselda’s excellent article.

As well as physical health, there is a growing body of evidence to show the correlation between nutrition and behaviour, concentration and learning. In 2008, the UK Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Forum compiled a report4 that recommended the emphasis should be publicly given to the importance of a balanced diet for optimum mental health. It also recommended that further research should be done to test the effects of selected essential fatty acids on the cognitive skills, mood and behaviour of both ‘healthy’ children, as well as children suffering from a range of behavioural disorders.

Compelling evidence for the connection between diet and school performance is found in large studies of groups of school children. For example, the Nuffield Study was conducted after Jamie Oliver instigated menu improvements in the London Borough of Greenwich. It showed that healthier meals led to improved educational outcomes, in particular in English and science. It also showed a substantial decrease in absenteeism due to ill health.

Another recent survey examined the association between diet quality and the academic performance of more than 5000 Canadian schoolchildren, and found that pupils with decreased overall diet quality were significantly more likely to perform poorly. Conversely, pupils performed significantly better with an increased fruit and vegetable intake and less caloric intake from fat.

Another study showed that good nutrition had a beneficial impact on pupils’ behaviour. Pupils in the improved nutrition schools were 5.4 times as likely to be ‘on-task’ compared with pupils in control schools. The British Journal of Nutrition reports that diet can affect cognitive ability and behaviour in children and adolescents and that nutrient composition of meals can exert immediate or long-term, beneficial or adverse effects.

Which School? for Special Needs 2011/12 is the leading guide to independent and non-maintained schools and colleges of further education in Britain for pupils with sensory, physical, learning, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, or dyslexia. It is available via the John Catt Bookshop.

the gap-year guidebook and gap-year.com photography competition – winner announced! May 20, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in the gap-year guidebook.
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After long period of deliberation, we have now chosen the winner of the second year of the gap-year guidebook and gap-year.comtravel photography competition.We had a huge number of fantastic entries from around the world, proving that the spirit of the gap-year is alive and kicking.

Our competition committee – made up of the editorial and production staff at the gap-year guidebook and gap-year.com – decided that Oliver Mosse’s image had a fantastic mix of ingredients: happiness; the meeting of cultures; a sense of community; and the feeling that the world is a better place when people come together to learn from each other.

Well done Oliver. Your image will feature prominently in the next edition of the gap-year guidebook 2012- due for publication in November 2012.

Here’s what Oli, from Finchley in London, UK, had to say about the photo:

“The photo was taken in north Thailand, Chiang Mai, 2009. I traveled with my friend Nick (in photo), we started in India, then traveled down southeast Asia, starting in Thailand and ending up in Indonesia. After that we went to Australia, New Zealand, Figi, Canada and the USA. I found the experience hugely rewarding and character building. Interacting with such a large range of people thoroughly prepared me for uni and ignited my thrust for adventure.”

If you are – or know of – a former “gapper” who has a story to tell about their experience, or you are an organisation or school who wish to make contact with people planning gap-years and career breaks, drop us a line to discuss how the gap-year guidebook might be able to help.

The gap-year guidebook 2011 is available to buy as a printed guide or eBook version, via our bookshop.

Which School? for Special Needs 2011/12 published May 17, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, New releases, Special Educational Needs.
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We have received back from the printers the latest edition of Which School? for Special Needs 2011/12.

It is the 20th edition of this popular guide to independent and non-maintained schools and colleges of further education in Britain, for pupils with sensory, physical, learning, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, or dyslexia.

Here are a few words from the guidebook’s editor, Wendy Bosberry-Scott:

Our guest editorials this year include information about The Orpheus Centre in Surrey, a perfoming arts school with a difference; we hear from HACSG, the hyperactive children’s support group; and Deafness UK has contributed a story about one mum’s fight for her children’s hearing.

Griselda Halling, from Independent Nutrition, gives us valuable insight into why healthy eating is so important, and we hear from The Huntington’s Disease Association, who tell us about this terrible disease and how it can affect everyone in the family, and how they are working to help, inform and support families and professionals alike.

The British Dyslexia Association talk about their work in helping to make schools more dyslexia teaching friendly, and we hear from Skill, who work with students with disabilities, helping them in their search for further education, training and employment. And, as we are nearing 2012, we hear from ParalympicsGB about how you can get involved in the Paralympics.

Finding an establishment that will address the needs of your child is extremely important, as it will have a significant impact on their development, the level of independence they are able to achieve and the opportunities they are able to embrace in life. The search for the right school can be a complex and emotional journey and so, to help the reader, we have tried to make this guide as informative, interesting and easy to use as possible.

Which School? for Special Needs 2011/12 is the leading guide to independent SEN schools in the UK. Click here for purchasing information.

The Following Game, by Jonathan Smith: Publication on June 9 2011 May 10, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in New releases.
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We are very lucky to be publishing Jonathan Smith’s latest book, The Following Game, which is due for general release on June 9 2011. You can pre-order the book here.

The Following Game is a follow-up to Jonathan’s critically-acclaimed 2000 release The Learning Game, one of the most talked-about books in education at the turn of the century. The Following Game is about Jonathan’s relationship with his son Ed, a promient journalist and former Kent, Middlesex and England cricketer.

Here is what Christopher Reid, winner of the Costa Book of the Year, 2009, says about The Following Game:

The Following Game is tremendously good. As with his book on teaching, Jonathan Smith seems to have invented a genre to meet his immediate needs. The result is completely natural: talking voice, spontaneity of exposition, insights and connections popping up as and when they need to, candour, uncompromised expressions of feeling – all that. So it speaks to me – who couldn’t be more indifferent to cricket – with great directness and passion.’

Below you’ll find some of the many excellent reviews of The Learning Game, which remains essential reading for all teachers and which we thoroughly recommend getting your hands on. Copies can be purchased via Amazon.

‘True, wise, morale-boosting’
Peter Conrad, The Observer

‘I enjoyed every word…this is an honest and intelligent book. It is about growing up and growing old and what, in the end, matters most as we try to help the next generation become just that little bit more creative and sensitive, thoughtful and resilient’
Chris Woodhead, The Sunday Telegraph

‘Sane and fascinating…a passionate love letter to the only profession in which “you can try your hand at so many things”‘
Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday

‘The only book on teaching that’s not boring’
Matthew Parris

‘In part it’s the thoughtful autobiographical reflections of a wise and successful teacher. At another level it’s a rather challenging how-to manual for less experienced teachers and for parents…Every jargon-free word that he writes rolls pleasurably round the mouth like good brandy. The prose is marked by a rare and incisive blend of informality and precision’
Susan Elkin, Independent

Spring issue of Prep School magazine published May 9, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Magazines, New releases.
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The spring issue of Prep School magazine is back from the printers – and it’s another cracker. Bright, vibrant and colourful, it reflects all that is fantastic about independent prep and junior schools in the UK.

The magazine includes:  a piece written by Richard Mace, head of boarding and S.Anselm’s Preparatory School, reflecting on the benefits of education beyond the classroom; a look at the teaching of sustainability by Antonia Lee of Maltman’s Green School; and a look at the importance of art by Glenn Smart and Michael Barr at Dulwich College Prep School.

Meanwhile, Ruth Vidler, the author of Primary Series 1, a set of 28 books covering Key Stage 1 SEAL themes, makes her case for retaining personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and citizenship in the National Curriculum.

To receive your copy of Prep School magazine, contact our bookshop for a subscription.

Leading Schools of the 21st Century: Bursars May 6, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, New releases.
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The seventh and penultimate title in our popular Leading Schools of the 21st Century series is back from the printers and now available to buy.

The work of the bursar: a Jack of all trades has been published by John Catt Educational in collaboration with the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.

More information on the book can be found in our earlier blog post, here.

Thanks to everyone for their hard work in producing another informative and inspiring book in this respected series. Once the back-slapping has stopped, we will turn our attentions to the final book, on governors.