British Schools in the Middle East (BSME), the largest membership organisation of British International schools in the region, celebrated its 35th Annual Conference in March. With almost one hundred Principals and Headteachers representing the best of British education, our Associate Members facilitated our largest exhibition to date.

The professional development highlights we enjoyed included world-renowned speakers and performers. Our Key Note speaker, Professor Yong Zhao engaged us in a series of challenging questions, including the dangers of a standardised approach to education, the scope of entrepreneurship in schools and the balance of using technology for learning.

Dr Ger Graus shared the early research findings from a Havas Helia collaboration with Kidzania in the UK. This study found that the gender divide is as strong at age 4 as it is at 14. Gender stereotypes about potential career choices are firmly in place well before the teenage years and then remain. The data therefore raised significant questions about the impact of high-profile interventions designed to encourage girls to study STEM subjects and consider careers in engineering.

Joshua Jay illusionist extraordinaire, left us questioning the boundaries of reality. More importantly, our curiosity was peaked and our problem-solving skills turned on! A valuable lesson for all, not only in creating and sustaining a sense of wonder in our students’ learning, but always providing an environment where questions could be asked – those with or without answers.

Jane Larsson, Executive Director of the Council for International Schools (CIS ), updated delegates on the work of the International Task Force on Child Protection, whilst BArry Speirs (RSAcademics) discussed with Principals and Headteachers the outcomes of their research,The Art of international Headship, which identifies the challenges of international school headship and the qualities needed for effective leadership.

Networking opportunities were extended beyond the Conference hall; our welcome reception saw BSME colleagues, old and new, school and associate, getting re-acquainted. The BSME Charity Event, organised by St Christopher’s School Bahrain, helped to raise £3325 for The Dream Society, helping children’s dreams come true; we also identified Quiz champions from within our membership! Our Gala Dinner was a fitting end to an overwhelmingly positive and productive Annual Conference.

If you are interested in joining the network of BSME members, please contact Lisa Kirkley: [email protected]