Founding Principal (Head of School) in Kolkata, India: here’s what you need to know.

Published on 11th May, 2021 by Gemma McSweeney. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

We have an exciting opportunity for a Founding Principal at an international school in Kolkata, India. The School, which is set to open in 2023, was conceived and designed to be a beacon for innovation. The School will deliver the best in international education teaching methodology, enhanced by the construction of a world class campus. It intends to set its own benchmark of excellence in international education in India, by offering the best state of the art facilities, recruiting the most inspiring faculty, and providing a stimulating learning environment. We caught up with Paul Regan, the school’s Education Consultant, to find out more about this opportunity.

What qualities are you looking for in the ideal candidate?

Primarily, we are seeking a pedagogical leader with a convincing and authentic vision for the transformative potential of learning. They must be able to articulate and demonstrate this vision to the school community through their words, actions and choices. The ideal candidate will be independent of mind, a problem solver and critical thinker, and able to combine theory with practice. and to act heuristically and pragmatically in delivering continuous improvements and innovation.

Applicants should be able to provide evidence for the following: that they have led at least one reputable school and preferably more than one, over a sustained period of time; that they have guided school academic improvement during their tenure(s) in terms of examination and university placement outcomes; that they have overseen the teaching of at least one IB programme over a similar period. Experience of founding an IB school, whilst not essential, will be highly desirable. 

The Head must be someone who can demonstrate persistence and long-term ambition and is committed to remaining in post for at least the period of the initial contract. 

What advice would you give to applicants? 

Consider carefully the unique challenges and demands of founding a new international school and how the role may be different to leading an established school. It is easy to make mistakes when being confronted with the unpredictability of a start-up situation. How might you minimize these mistakes by thorough preparation and willingness to take advice and share the load. Be humble since there is no proven template for Founding Heads.

You will need to show in your application that you are leading or have already led a school or schools through a sustained period of improvement in terms of academic outcomes such as examination results, opportunities such as university placements, and growth such as in admissions or reputation. You should also have overseen the teaching of at least one and preferably more than one of the IB programmes out of PYP, MYP and DP. You will need to show a sophisticated understanding of the IB philosophy and all of its pedagogical implications.

You should be in excellent health with high energy levels and the mindset to work long hours where necessary and a readiness to take on multiple tasks and challenges.

What values does the school have? 

The schools' values are enshrined in the mission statement and further expanded and explained in the supporting vision paper for staff. This is available to read for all applicants.

What is the salary and benefits package like? 

The Goenka family group has an established corporate policy for setting the salaries of its senior staff.  Remuneration will be agreed by negotiation between the selection committee and the successful applicant and will be based upon the applicant's current leaving salary. It is anticipated that the agreed salary will always be higher than the current salary. The salary will grow annually in line with the projected growth of the school until it reaches its full capacity. The Head will also be awarded a negotiated bonus at the end of three years in post.

Other benefits such as health insurance, education for children, flights and allowances are set out in detail in the letter to applicants.

If the package offers accommodation, what is this like?

The package does offer free accommodation to the Head and their family.  This shall be selected to reflect the status of the post, and will therefore of a very conformable, serviced and spacious and well-located specification. The Head will be offered a selection of houses and apartments from which they can choose the most suitable for their specific family needs.

What measures will the school be taking to ensure both staff and students are safe from COVID-19?

The school's Board of Trustees is currently carrying out a full Covid-19 feasibility and resilience study and risk assessment based upon four criteria- 1. The implementation of best available scientific guidelines and government regulations for maintaining maximum safety for staff and students. 2. Our ability to provide a comprehensive learning plan to all homes during any interruption to school leaning. 3. A safeguarding, pastoral and welfare program for students to ensure that their mental and emotional development is not negatively affected by any interruptions. and 4. To maintain a full programme of permissible activities and home school communication during any interruption.  The study, once agreed, will be based upon best available practice and implemented in full when the school starts. All staff will have a role to play and will be provided with the necessary training and tools before the school begins, and training will be ongoing and updated after that.

What is like for an expat teacher in Kolkata? Are there travel opportunities? What to teachers do in their spare time?

Kolkata is the historic cultural centre of India. It was once also the capital city and industrial and commercial powerhouse. Although it got left behind somewhat after the capital moved to Delhi, rapid modernization is now happening as exemplified by huge infrastructure projects such as a new airport, metro extensions, new highways, city beautification, malls, hotels, and cinema complexes. The city is safe to walk around even at night. For an expat teacher, pretty much anything is on offer- cricket tournaments, golf clubs, shopping malls, multiplex cinemas, traditional theatres, parks, and a huge choice of restaurants and hotels. Travelling to Darjeeling and beyond to the Himalayas, or down to the coast is all possible and easy to arrange. Flights to other parts of Asia or to anywhere in India can be taken from Kolkata airport. 
What is it like in Kolkata with a young family? 

The Head and their family will be offered club membership. This would include golf, gym, dining, play areas for children, organized sports activities, and so on. There are several such clubs in Kolkata. The opportunities for travel (see above) during weekends will be numerous. Kolkata is a safe city. There are of course challenges on the roads, so most trips would need to be undertaken by car. 

How did you come to be involved in such an exciting project? 

I was a founding headteacher of an international school in Kolkata myself until very recently.  I became involved through a third party who introduced me to the founding team and school owners for whom I am now acting as educational consultant.

What do you envisage for the future of the school?

Kolkata is still catching up on other Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in the number and range of IB schools.  We are planning for the school to be a leader in best educational practice, and especially in regard to the impact of AI on learning methodology and academic development. The school will grow to full capacity as a K-12 school over five years, enabling the staff to create and nurture an ethos over time which we expect to be a model for values and competency-based education. A great deal of finance, advance planning and collaboration is being is being invested early on so that the school can be promoted to local parents as a unique opportunity for their children. The Head will be asked to start a year in advance in summer 2022 so that he or she can play the fullest part in creating the founding team and making their mark on the school ethos.

To apply

To apply, or for a confidential conversation regarding the opportunity, please contact Gemma McSweeney, Associate Director at TIC Recruitment, who is handling the vacancy on behalf of the school: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Full vacancy details can be found here

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Gemma McSweeney

Gemma is our Associate Director, having joined TIC in 2009. With over 15 years experience of recruitment and selection methods, she specialises in matching teachers and leaders with our international school partners. She has attended many international education conferences and has visited a number of international schools over the years. She uses this experience to best advise our teachers, leaders and schools and manage our team and UK operations.