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A global outlook

International schools insist on teachers who can adapt

With a keen demand for international school education in Hong Kong, there is no shortage of jobs for teachers with the right qualifications. The English Schools Foundation (ESF) alone, one of the biggest providers of international education in Hong Kong, has around 5,600 primary school students and 1,100 secondary school students on its waiting list.

Charles Caldwell, ESF human resources director, says there are no plans to expand the number of school places available at the moment, but every year there is a need to recruit teachers at the end of the school term to replace those who decide to move on. “The competition for jobs at ESF is intense. The calibre of job applicants is very high. In our latest round of annual recruitment, which typically spans from December to March, we had more than 5,000 applicants for around 110 jobs,” he says.

ESF is always looking for excellent candidates and attracts teachers from all over the world. “Obviously, we look for teachers who enjoy working with children,” Caldwell says. “However, an ESF teacher looks beyond the enjoyment horizon to see each child from both an academic and emotional perspective. ESF teachers are able to form an all-around perspective of how the students they teach can and do grow as children. What is each child’s potential? What world of opportunities can be opened up for each student? This requires a flexible outlook and quality in the teacher.”

Caldwell predicts that technology and social media will continue to have an impact on education. “This shift involves ‘game-ified’ disruptive technologies that present educational experiences in a more dynamic, compelling and fascinating learning context for students. But while technology races off in one direction, we may see a traditional resurgence in another, especially the arts, where students will continue to seek ways to express their gifts, ideas and passions,” he says.

To cope with the ever-changing teaching environment, ESF demands that its teachers are willing to adapt to educational trends and embrace the current curriculum.

“We want teachers with expertise in their specific subject area, who are able to teach in a variety of creative ways to keep students engaged. ESF teachers are team players who can collaborate with colleagues and contribute to their school. They have excellent communication skills that can relate to a student on the one hand, and interact with parents on the other,” Caldwell says.

ESF teachers typically have rich teaching experience, but that does not mean ESF avoids investing in helping them continue to develop professionally. “Our professional-development opportunities are excellent and ESF is becoming well known for the inroads we’ve made in this area over the last several years,” Caldwell says.

Another international school, the Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA), is currently in the midst of a three-year expansion plan to add extra classrooms and reduce class sizes. The school is looking to recruit a mathematics teacher for the upcoming school term.

VSA secondary principal Richard Parker says the school is looking to recruit highly qualified teachers who possess strong academic credentials and have proven experience teaching in international settings. “Our school provides an international working culture. We have more than 150 teaching staff coming from diverse nations that include Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Britain and the United States. We seek to appoint experienced, enthusiastic, committed teachers who have proven experience teaching in international settings and knowledge of IB [International Baccalaureate] programmes,” Parker says.

Applicants should be committed to student-centred, inquiry-based learning and be able to adapt to a new cultural environment.

To help newcomers, the school has a buddy and mentoring programme for new staff. “We have an adequate budget for professional development. All teachers are given training to suit their IB programme needs, as well as in many other areas of teaching and learning,” Parker says.

The American International School (AIS) is also recruiting a teacher for its Grade Five students. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree or above in education, plus at least three years of teaching experience, are welcome to apply.

The teacher will be responsible for delivering a standards-based US curriculum programme including English language arts and literacy, maths, science, social studies, art, and integrated technology.

Teachers at AIS are required to be highly proficient in their use of technology. The school sees technology as an important tool in education and teachers are equipped with interactive whiteboards, digital projectors, digital visualisers, iPads and computer pods to assist their teaching. Technology also plays an important role in communication, curriculum development and the increasing use of student data to improve teaching and learning.