• international schools
Heads advice to education suppliers by Diane Glass

Last week, I hosted a panel session at the GESS Dubai conference at which I was delighted to welcome some superb guests including Jake Madden, Executive Principal at Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi. His school has around 1,200 students aged from kindergarten to grade 11. It’s been growing organically year on year. This summer (2020), it will become a thriving K-12 international school when it opens  its Grade 12. Al Yasat Private School follows a US curriculum, is fully accredited by AdvancEd, and uses the MAP testing programme as its external benchmark.

Jake was asked how he strategically plans school progress and how he stays informed of new solutions to support teaching and learning, and to improve school administration. “Driving our school’s improvement agenda is our annual development plan,” he said. “We build that plan with the input of our stakeholders (including the board, staff, parents and students) and it is with these goals in mind that we look for potential solutions. However, one of the difficulties for schools is the wide range of products on offer.” Jake explained that he relies on two routes which he finds most reliable for keeping informed of new solutions and best of breed resources: “The first is the knowledge and experience of staff from their time in previous schools, and the sharing from colleagues in other schools. The second is to actively seek solution,” he said.

Jake offered valuable advice to educational suppliers about the support he and other international school leaders want – and, importantly, do not want: “School leaders don’t want to be inundated with sales personnel,” he emphasised. “We like to work with existing, trusted providers to ensure their product is the solution to our needs. For example, when we introduced Literacy Pro to our school, we knew the brand from a previous library project, so met with a representative, discussed our school plan, reviewed the data and, as a result, developed a solution. It can be difficult to resource your school with the overwhelming number of providers available to you. The secret is the establishment of a relationship. Good providers want you to succeed in your endeavours and will engage with you to get to where you want to be.”

We hope this blog gives you some suggestions and ideas with your strategic planning and the support you want. If you would like to learn more or discuss this topic, get in touch today. We're here to help.