Want a new international leadership role? Top advice from TIC Headteachers

Each year, TIC helps many leaders find new Headships at world class international schools. Four of these Heads share their advice for those seeking their first, or new, international school leadership positions:

Why do you want to lead?

Cobus Steyn is Head of Secondary School at the International School of Flanders (ISF) in Belgium. He’s originally from South Africa and has lived and worked in Africa, Asia and the UK. 

“Ask yourself why you want to pursue a leadership role,” Cobus advises. “If it’s about status and power, then I do not think it wise. I believe leadership is about empowering others and serving the school. Once you decide to go for it, have confidence in yourself. From my experience, this has always been the biggest bridge to overcome. If you always base your decisions on what is best for the students, staff and school, you can be confident that others will follow.”

What type of leadership do you want?

Carl Lander has worked as a school leader, inspector, and educational advisor around the world. Originally from Yorkshire in the UK, Carl is currently Head of St. John’s School in Chile where he has been working for a year. TIC helped Carl during his search for a new leadership position and supported him through the process of application, interview, selection and remuneration negotiation.

“My advice would be to fully research the culture of the country, and its attitude to education; not all schools are the same, not all countries are the same,” he says.  Carl also suggests thinking about the type of leadership role you would like: “Look for a school that matches the role you desire; it may be for founding a school, developing a school academically, developing its business, or fine tuning the school for excellence,” he explains and adds: “I would also recommend using a recruitment company like TIC; they echoed my own voice and represented me well to the school.”

Learn about the school and the country

Derek Laidlaw is a Headteacher from the UK. In August, he took up the position of Executive Principal at Oryx International School located in Mesaimeer, Doha in Qatar. Derek previously worked at a variety of international schools and was Headteacher at The British School of Alicante.

His advice to senior leaders considering a Headship is to make sure you know as much as you can about the school and its location: “Research the country in terms of legality, regulations, and expectations,” Derek recommends. “Make sure there’s evidence of best practice and staff development. Some kitemark recognition such as COBIS is also essential,” he adds. You can read more about Derek’s plans for Oryx in his feature below.

Know what you’re agreeing to

David Lowder is from the UK and has been leading international schools for 20 years. He’s worked in schools in nine countries and is currently Principal of the International School of Koje, in South Korea. He worked with TIC to make sure he was well informed and prepared for his leadership job in Koje.

David is very enthusiastic about international school leadership: “If you are a senior leader and aiming for a position as a Principal in an international school, I would, without reservation say, ‘go for it’; you’ll open up a plethora of unforgettable experiences for you and your family,” he says. 

David does offer one note of caution: “Ensure you investigate and do your research thoroughly. Research both the post, and the country you are considering before you sign on the dotted line,” he advises.

Want to share this content?