Last month I was fortunate enough to attend, on behalf of the Master, the biannual IB World Heads Conference in Singapore. It was an extraordinary experience. 450 other Heads from 5 continents, or in IB speak 3 Regions, gathered at the United World College South East Asia; a remarkable campus only 10 weeks old and a model of sustainability and use of space in a densely populated part of the world. The college’s dining area sits underneath the astro-turf pitch!
The delegates listened to a broad range of lectures on the theme of “Leaders as Learners and Learners as Leaders”. The former part a timely reminder that the very best schools are learning communities where all are engaged in some form of learning and development from a Lower School 1 pupil to the Master. Teachers and pupils can then share their experiences of struggling through problems and the joy in finding their solutions independently or collaboratively.
The second aspect of the theme offered an opportunity to hear an extraordinary range of examples of pupil-led projects. Many were in the field of service and were similar to our very own HYT project but initiated, organised and implemented entirely by pupils. Other “projects” were more academically focused and looked at what pupils can in effect teach themselves if the right conditions are created; at this point many Heads started twitching in their seats, wondering quite whether we are now surplus to requirements in the Google age.
Lectures were followed by seminars and plenty of debate and discussion. Good practice was shared and contacts for overseas links made. My overriding feeling and memory of the whole conference was one of positivity. IB Heads are a wonderfully altruistic bunch and their pupils genuinely feel they can change, indeed save, the world. The Heads don’t appear to suffer from being worn down by political interference and constant change; their pupils don’t appear to spend their whole time fixated with getting into university. Whilst such things are, of course, important and very much a fact of life for us as educational leaders in the UK, the conference was a timely reminder that other areas of education really do matter and on the 13-hour flight back to the UK I felt encouraged knowing we, at Haileybury, are on the right path but excited as to how we might move forward.