Mr. Cole, what is your experience as a school Principal?
I am UK trained and have been a senior leader for over 20 years. The British International School Ukraine is the sixth school where I have served in such a position. Previously, I have been in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Do you think you are a good Principal?
I think we all have strengths and areas for development and one way you can judge a Principal, Head of School, a teacher, or any professional is by how they identify such areas and address them. I am proud to say that in every school where I have been fortunate to work has shown great improvement in terms of learning and teaching, examination results, pupil numbers and overall standards. However, on each occasion, this was not down to my work alone, or the efforts of a single individual…it was the result of the pupils, staff team and the whole school community working together.
What are your first impressions about British International School Ukraine?
I’ve seen the students and they clearly enjoy learning and they are happy to come to the school. I would say there is a great deal of happiness here. This is a vital ingredient in any successful school. I have also been impressed by the commitment and loyalty of the existing staff and those joining more recently. Their diverse backgrounds, wealth of experience and individual skills are great assets to our school. In addition, there is clear evidence of an ongoing commitment to investment and improving facilities. Having seen all of these things I understand why BISU has the reputation, within the country and beyond, of being the most prestigious international school in Ukraine.
You will have seen that many new teachers joined the school this year.
It is not unusual for international schools to have some staff turnover. Teachers choose an international lifestyle and, for the majority, the opportunity to travel and experience new countries is a key factor. In terms of BISU we are fortunate to have kept a core number of the teachers who are very devoted and committed to the school. The new staff have come with their experience and expertise and unique skills. I believe the school will benefit greatly from an influx of new ideas and new approaches which will build upon the good foundation which already exists. It is not important if the teachers are new to school as long as we all share the same philosophy of education, that we remain united in our view that we are child-centred and that the needs of the students must always come first.
What basic qualities do you look for in a teacher?
What I look for in an outstanding teacher is that he/she is focused on the children. The most precious resource we have is our time and so teacher’s need to be willing to give that time to put students first. He/she recognises that each is an individual with his/her own particular needs and strengths and is able to listen, reflect, respond and adapt to support each child. Good subject expertise is essential however, such knowledge must then be applied to promote learning. A teacher must be able to relate to the students and always take into consideration the academic, physical and emotional well-being of each child in his/her care. Outstanding teachers remain enthusiastic and recognise that teaching is a profession and never just a job…they will give of themselves, always care and continue to learn and grow throughout their career.
How did you become a teacher in the first place?
Before I became a teacher, I had several different work experiences and I was looking for something that would be more fulfilling. I had been involved with conservation groups and part of my role was to visit schools to promote awareness. Through this introduction, I realised that teaching was an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and, in return, it could help me grow and develop personally and professionally. It was a conscious decision to become a teacher and one I have never regretted.
What will BISU do to remain the leading international school in Ukraine?
A first step is to further consolidate the good work that has been done and build upon on the school’s excellent reputation, prestige and history. At the same time, we must continuously prepare for the future in the knowledge that education is changing; Ukraine is changing and school has an important role to play in the wider community. As one part of such preparation, our school is committed to a programme of financial investment and continuous improvement. We know that BISU students are destined to become the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and business executives. It is vitally important that they think internationally, are able to positively contribute to society and are prepared for life in a world which will be very different from the one that exists today.