My search for a job as an international school Head

Published on 25th March, 2019 by Gemma McSweeney. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

My teaching career began in Hertfordshire; I worked for four years as a PE teacher in St. Albans. I then made the decision to move to Mexico, where I worked as Head of PE at Edron Academy. After Mexico, my family and I moved to Prague where I worked in my first leadership role as an Assistant Head. I then moved to Switzerland where I worked in the role of Deputy Head, and then Head of Institut auf dem Rosenberg, in St Gallen, from 2016 to 2019.

A new challenge

Having been a senior leader in the same school for a while, I was ready for a new role in a new school. So, I began searching for positions in Europe, but also a little further afield.

I was looking for a community-based school, where the staff were passionate about education. I was aware of Byron College in name, through its membership with COBIS. From the outset, the school looked like an establishment that suited my skills. I also grew up in the town of Hucknall in Nottinghamshire where Lord Byron, whom the school is named after, is buried, so there was a personal connection too!

The advice and support that helped me

TIC Recruitment provided me with clear, concise information about Byron College. Of course, I could have worked with the school directly, but I think the process would have been much slower. I felt well informed and that TIC had a really clear picture of the school and the type of Head that Byron College were looking for. I immediately felt at ease working with Andrew and Gemma, both of whom were really supportive; it was clear that this was going to be a partnership from the beginning and this helped me immensely. 

The first interview

My first formal interview was conducted by TIC via Skype. I really appreciated that during this interview, my priorities and needs were taken into account in order to make a successful match with a school; it was refreshing.

Andrew had visited Byron College, so was able to give me a first-hand account of the school, which was of huge benefit. He also had knowledge of Edron Academy in Mexico where I previously worked, so was able to offer valuable comparisons. All my concerns about the current economic climate in Greece, and the possible effects of Brexit were also answered and addressed by Andrew and the team at TIC.

TIC also guided me on more general lifestyle factors which was really important for me and my family. They were honest and straight with regards to the package and how it compared to other schools. Because of their honesty, I felt a level of trust that was valuable throughout the entire recruitment process.

The final interview

The final interviews were held in Athens at the school. It was absolutely essential for me to have the final interview take place at the school, I would not have expected anything else for such a position.

I attended a range of interviews with different panels of stakeholders from the school. During these interviews, I felt my own needs and questions were valued and that I was able to ask as many questions as I needed to. I felt I was in a position to be selective about the job.

I’m really excited about becoming the Head of Byron College in Athens. The school is at the start of a new and exciting chapter and I am honoured and privileged to serve as the Head.

You can read TIC Recruitment’s account of the search for a Head at Bryon College 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.