Life as a Senior Leader in Europe
Cobus Steyn is Head of Secondary School at the International School of Flanders (ISF) in Belgium. He is originally from South Africa and has lived and worked in Africa, Asia and the UK. TIC helped Cobus to find his leadership position. Here Cobus talks about his experiences of living and working as an international Senior Leader in Brussels:
A strong international community
“The International School of Flanders is a truly international school. We have a very cosmopolitan staff and student body with over 90 nationalities represented. There’s a strong sense of community and the dynamic between leadership, staff, students and parents is wonderful. Working at ISF is like working with extended family; communication is open, honest, and always constructive.
Life with my partner in Belgium
My partner moved with me to Belgium and is also working at ISF as a primary teacher. I don’t have children but Belgium is certainly a very family-friendly environment to be in. The people are polite and helpful, and it’s a safe country.
It was quite a shock adapting to the taxes! I moved from a tax-free country, so this was something that had an immediate impact. Needless to say, salaries in Europe do not compete with those of the Middle East but I believe the quality of life is much better in Europe.
Advice for teachers considering moving into a leadership role
Ask yourself why you want to pursue a leadership role. If it is 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 for teachers moving into middle management. If you always base your decisions on what is best for the students, staff and school, you can be confident that others will follow.”
If you would like to read more about how Cobus is developing his leadership skills at ISF, and how the school differs from his previous international school in the Middle East, read his full case study here.