Maritius - Bruce Ashton

A Headteacher talks about his experiences of living and working in one of the most beautiful places in the world...

New Zealander, Bruce Ashton recently moved to Mauritius to take up the position of Head of School at the International Preparatory School (IPS). Here Bruce talks about his experience of moving to a new country and working at an international school in Mauritius:

Discovering Mauritius

“I was really surprised by what I saw when I first arrived in Mauritius. It's modern and progressive in so many ways, but there are also many reminders of the past. There are lots of museums which tell the stories of how indentured workers first came to Mauritius to work on the sugar cane plantations. You can still see the buildings where the sugar cane was processed.

Mauritius is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. There are lots of tourists, but once you get off the main highways you gain a better appreciation of what everyday life is like. In the North of the island beautiful beaches abound while in the South the former volcanic cones provide a rich tropical forest in which to hike and explore. It's similar to my home country, New Zealand, in many ways. Both are small islands, members of the British Commonwealth, and are isolated in the middle of very expansive oceans. Mauritius definitely has the upper hand weather wise! Most days have been very sunny and warm.

Adjusting to living here has been fairly easy as the population is well versed in English. English is actually the national language, although French and Creole are probably more commonly spoken. The first thing I wanted to know when arriving was where the supermarket is located! I was surprised to find that our local supermarkets carry everything you would find in a North American or UK supermarket. Another concern of mine was whether there would be good internet connection at my accommodation – I'm sure other international teachers can relate to this concern! I was pleased to find that our home came with a fibre optic wireless internet set up that keeps everyone very happy.

My best experience so far, has been my family arriving after a month of us being apart. I'm so pleased that they have fallen in love with the country and its people!”

My role as Head of School

“The International Preparatory School (IPS) in Mauritius differs from previous schools I've recently worked at, as there's more of an international community here. Many of the staff are local, but have studied and worked in France or the UK. They've returned to Mauritius to be closer to family and working at IPS provides them with the best of both worlds – they can be at home and teach at an international school. We also have a wide and varied student population. Students come from Canada, UK, France, Spain, India, Poland and South Africa to mention a few.

The school is forward thinking and I'll be challenged in my role as Head of School at IPS. For a start, I'm working with a different curriculum. Previously I worked with, and administered, the IBPYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme) curriculum but here we use a curriculum which is inquiry based. I seek to be a service style leader who works with faculty to help improve student learning. Our school strategy plan aims to increase teacher understanding of better instruction and to increase student achievement, both of which go hand in hand. It will be a challenge in that I will need to move the paradigm of some staff to gain a better understanding of how students learn best through an inquiry approach.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this year. I've been well supported by the staff at the school - both the Board and senior staff I work with have been exceedingly helpful in orienting me to the new position and country. I hope that this experience will help me to become a better Head of School, to learn how to work effectively with the Board, and to learn how best to manage a CIS (Council of International Schools) accreditation.”

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