All entries for Monday 08 February 2021

February 08, 2021

RiA Conference Review – part two

What defines an international school?

Weeks had a long standing interest in international schooling, having been primary school educated abroad them-selves, and with teaching experience in Singapore, Madrid, and Bangkok. Their own mother in law, originally a singer, founded the Sharjah International School in the United Arab Emirates, one of the leading international schools globally.

Despite the distinct lack of quality research on the subject, Weeks gave trainee teachers an overview of what is known about the types of international school that exist, and what attracts families and teachers to them. The Independent Schools Council (ISC) predicts that by 2029, there will be 18,929 international schools educating 10.6 million children, needing double the current staff at 1.03 million teachers. This is as many as 1 in 4 teachers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, and the USA, all for international schooling. The demand for certified anglo-western teachers globally poses huge financial, social, moral, and ethical issues in the UK teaching system; interestingly, 45% of these schools adopt the English national curriculum, thanks to its easily accessible and standardised nature.

Weeks explored with us the three types of international schools, their ethics, and some of the sociocultural implications of for-profit international schooling. They also defined the phenomena of fourth culture kids, as students who find themselves not abroad, but in a foreign system which does not represent their home culture nor beliefs in the way that their home system would.

Key points to remember when considering a profession in international teaching included acknowledging the challenge of living and working abroad, researching the school, package, and cost of living, not underestimating what you have to offer, and Weeks’ concluding point: “Don’t be afraid to come back!” Students considering teaching abroad in international schools found the session hugely informative, with plenty to think about.

Teaching LGBTUA+ content in schools: an ethnographic approach

Rowan-Lancaster is an LGBTUA+ teacher educator, previous PSHE coordinator, and current teaching member on the Primary team at the University of Warwick. Their ongoing EdD research explores trainee teachers’ fears in relation to teaching LGBTUA+ content in schools, and in the talk on Monday they shared some of the potential reasons behind these fears.

Some of the data Rowan-Lancaster has begun to analyse so far shows that teacher fears include: students’ parents having an issue with the content; not having support from their senior leadership team; accidentally offending LGBT families; using incorrect terminology; not meeting their teaching and professional standards; and concerns linked to social media, such as what the consequences might be in their local communities, and whether parents will broadcast the issue on social media. Overall, teachers did not want to blur their personal and professional lives, an issue also explored in Davies’ keynote presentation.

Rowan-Lancaster hopes that their research will have a lasting impact in schools in reassuring trainee teachers that the equality act and their universities are supporting them. They would like to see less fear in teaching LGBTUA+ content in RSE, and hope that schools will start to see that leading ITT providers such as the University of Warwick have a clear focus in social justice, and will follow suit. Rowan-Lancaster acknowledges that social and structural change such as this inevitably takes time. The presentation was objective, focussed, and left students feeling optimistic about the future of teaching.

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