An Internationally recognised curriculum that goes beyond the classroom with trips and overseas excursions
You are still quite new to BISL. Where have you served before and what are your impressions about the British International School of Ljubljana?
Previously I worked in the UK for over 10 years in two completely different types of schools. One was a large school with around 2,000 students south of London and the other in the elite countryside area. It was good to get different experiences from a big, busy, challenging school with a focus on student progress to then move to focusing on quality and outstanding outcomes. My first overseas position was with the British International School of Budapest, after which I became a Head of School in Malaysia working with a diverse range of cultures. This experience enriched my thinking about people, history and different beliefs of education. I returned to the Nord Anglia Education group to help open a flagship school in the company of 55, so I moved to Houston, where everything was dedicated to being premium and the best in the world, we had relations with large companies, for example, The Juilliard School, MIT, First Lego League. I really enjoyed my time living in South-East Asia as it was an invaluable experience to me and therefore returned to be a Principal at an International School. I then relocated back to CEE to join a group of schools again, to settle down and to be close to my family. My first impression about the school here is one of extremely strong past academic outcomes that were very high, examinations at various age groups were also impressive and the students continually have a fantastic learning experience. Staff are very highly qualified, dedicated and committed to help all students progress and achieve beyond their dreams. It is a school with a rich history, passion and legacy. I see a very bright future for all learners and our community.
What would you highlight in the context of your future vision for the school?
In Slovenia, the education system is of an extremely high-quality (according to the PISA rankings) and we know that students get an excellent provision locally. When looking at the added value, why parents would choose to send their children to our school, there are some key factors that stand out. First of all, the strong English provision is a real highlight, as all of our teachers are either native English speakers or have exceptional English, we have a comprehensive English support programme and a very strong literacy department throughout the school. The training of our staff is another benefit - being mainly UK trained with an international understanding of the latest pedagogical approaches. Our legacy of outstanding exam results help create the foundation for our future vision.
We are able to blend these essentials above with the unique benefit of being a part of the Orbital Education group of schools, creating a platform where our students interact and collaborate globally - from China to Ecuador, giving our students the opportunity to even visit those places. We have a sailing trip to Spain, a historical trip to Budapest, skiing in Slovenia for example. In addition to the experiences that our students get globally, we promote problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and communication - the wider skills that are different from what one may find in the local education system: our methodology of learning, our progressive vision towards education and our pedagogical approach.
What are your thoughts about the changes in education?
I like to follow the latest educational and business news from the Times, Fortune, Forbes and read about CEOs and their vision for the future skills and attributes of employees. It's exciting to plan ahead for the workplace of today and tomorrow. The messages from the top CEOs are: think differently, challenge the status quo, look beyond the horizon, develop communication and collaboration, alongside the best academic qualifications. For me, it is how we unpick those skills, put them into our vision, our learning approach and develop these in our school. We focus on wider learning aspects and conceptual understandings, which include the thinking skills convergent and divergent, where you have logic against imagination and laterally, outside the box to help make those ideas come to life. Signposting, enabling and applying these vital characteristics now in the classroom will prepare our learners for the changes in the business world and help them get ahead in the jobs and careers of the future.
Your school currently has students aged 3 to 18 from more than 30 countries. About 40% of the students are Slovenian; what are the other countries represented and what would you highlight from the perspective of your international setting?
Our countries are Slovene, CEE, English and Russian. In fact, we have 50 nationalities in our school which really creates a wonderful atmosphere conducive to the learning environment. We follow the international Cambridge curriculum, which is recognised throughout the world, we go beyond the classroom with trips and overseas excursions to create a holistic learning experience.