• international schools
What are the challenges facing international schools in the Middle East right now?

Last week (24th June) ISC Research and BSME hosted a webinar about re-opening international schools in the Middle East. It featured guest speakers Mark Leppard MBE, Headmaster of The British School Al Khubairat in the UAE who is current Chair of BSME, Nicola Singleton, Principal of the Modern English School Cairo and Vice Chair of BSME, and Sam Fraser, Head of Field Research at ISC Research.

The guests responded to questions ranging from re-opening procedures and staffing challenges, to the impact of COVID-19 on school admissions, and new priorities for resource and service needs.

Mark Leppard discussed the new government evaluation of online learning provision by schools in the UAE. “I was initially very concerned because of the pressures on the staff, but the template that was used was very useful and I think that could be taken and used by schools to evaluate themselves if this continues or, as many suspect, next year there may be a bit of a hybrid of being in school and out of school at certain times. So, for the online quality I actually found it really useful.”

Nicola Singleton responded to a question about staffing: “Retention rates have benefited significantly from present circumstances at my school and many others; perhaps a temporary response to present reality rather than anything to forecast future trends upon.” She went on to say: “I regard the Middle East as being ahead of the game with regards to innovative staff recruitment and staffing practices - and perhaps this is where historical regional instability has prepared us. Most of us staff our schools with contingency plans in mind.”

Mark discussed the likely shift in resourcing and expenditure: “I think there will be more investment in IT, both in terms of tech and training,” he said. “I think CPD will be revisited. Safety to be COVID compliant will be a huge investment because we all want to get our students back in and if that means making sure it’s safe then that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Both school leaders offered advice about looking ahead. “Whatever plans you conceptualise, ensure that they are sufficiently flexible and resilient to withstand unanticipated change,” said Nicola.  

A full recording is available here.

A research report investigating the impact of COVID-19 on international schools in the Middle East expands on some of the information shared during the webinar. The survey of 55 international schools in the Middle East, was conducted by BSME and ISC Research this June.

Request your free copy of the report here.