“We should be encouraging students to pursue their ambitions, developing the confidence to take on new challenges and ensure that they make a positive contribution to the world.”
The current landscape of education, with the evident and extensive inclusion of technology, is on a path to reformation. This path demands from its travellers to be au fait with everything that’s required to leverage all the opportunities offered.
To be at the peak of this educational reformation, one is required to ceaselessly dedicate a major part of his/her life in uplifting and retaining the value of education. In this endeavor, one has to understand the gravity of the role wherein one would be titled as an educational leader. Pertaining to this, a prolific educator holds a pivotal position in students’ life and journey towards academic excellence.
With the motto of bringing into spotlight such eminent personalities who are on an endless strife to deliver quality education and subsequently attain educational zeniths, we at The Knowledge Review, bring to you the journey of an ardent educational leader, Richard Bruford, the Head of School at Suzhou Singapore International School.
This is Richard’s story, in his own words.
“I originally started my education career in the UK as a Geography teacher. The first three years I had as a teacher, was a very positive experience and prepared me for challenges that would lie ahead in my career. Being part of a large department, I was able to see the importance of effective collaboration between teachers and their influence on student learning along with purposeful leadership that focused on developing strong relationships between leaders, teachers and students.”
“Moving to Australia, I worked at two prestigious private schools in Sydney and Adelaide. It was in Sydney where I was given the opportunity to work at one of Australia’s oldest International Baccalaureate (IB) schools and my passion for the IB mission and philosophy in making the world a better place through education, has continued to grow through having the privilege to work in IB schools for over 20 years.”
“Working at Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, I was fortunate to be encouraged to study for a Masters’ Degree in Education Leadership and share my practice through writing articles for educational journals and presenting at workshops and conferences across Australia.”
“I had considered working in international schools around the world for some time, though finding the right time to make the move had proven difficult. To be honest, I had never considered China as a country to work in but in exploring career opportunities I ended up choosing Suzhou over Beijing to further my career as Assistant Principal at SSIS, which has since progressed to becoming Head of School in my eight years at the school. Working internationally in China has been rewarding for me both professionally and personally, meanwhile working with students and parents from over 50 different countries and gaining an appreciation of Chinese culture and progress.”
A Benchmark in Itself
“SSIS is an international school of nearly 1200 students and offers the IB Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. The school is also successfully accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. SSIS is viewed by many as a model IB school in China and the Asia-Pacific region for its approach to teaching and learning.”
“Significant hallmarks of SSIS include its attention to student wellbeing and holistic education, being an inclusive school that achieves outstanding academic results, providing excellent professional learning programme for teachers and fostering an international community that embraces compassionate interaction. We very much see ourselves as Suzhou’s International School.”
Redefining Educational Leadership
“Educational leaders have a responsibility to work with teachers by engaging, challenging and furthering their own learning, so that students directly benefit as a result. SSIS is well known for the professional learning that it provides for teachers and the part it plays in fostering professional networks.”
“SSIS has played an instrumental role in enabling teachers from different international schools in Jiangsu, Shanghai and China to come together to share their experience and expertise with the sole intention of improving education for our students.”
“During my time at SSIS, I have become a Lead Educator for the International Baccalaureate Educator Network making a significant contribution to the growth of international education in the Asia-Pacific region through delivering workshops for school leaders and teachers
“I believe that educators have a responsibility to share and learn from each other not just in our own schools but between schools. In leading evaluation visits to other IB schools in the region, I am fortunate to be able to see examples of good practice that I am able to bring back and share with the SSIS learning community. In leading workshops and presenting at conferences, I hope to inspire others in embracing and overcoming the challenges we are faced with, in education.”
Acknowledging and Overcoming Challenges
“The biggest challenge we have in schools today is that there is so much to do yet so little time. We need to tackle this in two ways. Firstly, we need to be as productive with our time as possible being both efficient and effective in our practices. Secondly, we need to work out what works best educationally for the students in our own schools’ context. No school is the same, each one has different needs and therefore a ‘one size fits all approach’ to student learning must be avoided at all costs.”
“Good leaders are able to get their teachers to agree on what the priorities are and work collaboratively to implement the changes necessary to see improvements in student outcomes. One challenge all schools need to embrace is the development of critical thinking and the ability to develop their own opinions whilst being mindful of the difference between fact and fiction. We should be encouraging students to pursue their ambitions, developing the confidence to take on new challenges and ensure that they make a positive contribution to the world.”
“To remain motivated in a profession that can exhaust the best of us, I enjoy professional conversation with teachers in listening to their ideas for improving our support of student wellbeing and the provision of new learning opportunities.”
“Connecting with students both in and out of the classroom, whether it be coaching a sports team, teaching a class, mentoring a student, or simply a corridor conversation, grounds me in our purpose as educators and gives me the energy to do the very best I can to encourage students to be the best they can be and strive to be responsible global citizens who are actively engaged with their community.”
“We should be encouraging students to pursue their ambitions, developing the confidence to take on new challenges and ensure that they make a positive contribution to the world in which they live.”
Bequeathing the Keys to Excellence
“I am often asked about what message I’d give to school leaders, teachers and students. I remind school leaders to make sure that they under-promise and over-deliver to build trust and respect in their school community. I tell teachers to model the qualities that they wish our students to develop, and that lifelong learning needs to be modeled not just taught. For our students I remind them of a quote by Dwight Moody which states, if they look after their character, their reputation will take care of itself.”