Kuwait may not be as well known by teaching professionals looking to work abroad as other parts of the Middle East region. However, teachers in schools in Kuwait often stay for many years, and a good number return after stints in other schools around the globe. There is just something quite magical and magnetic about the country.
One particular gem in Kuwait is The English School (TES), which was established in 1953. The school has been transforming the lives of students for the past 63 years.
The Headmaster, Kieron Peacock, is a member of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) and boasts an extensive career in education.
Under his leadership, TES remains a prominent and outstanding school, which currently has 620 pupils, 45 British qualified teaching staff, 5 Arabic teachers, 2 swimming coaches, 17 learning support assistants and another 30+ administration, security and maintenance staff – who all, together with an excellent PA and parent body, gel together in creating a strong sense of family throughout the whole school community.
“At TES, our teachers average 5 years of service and so many will obviously do more than that. A significant number of the wider team have been at the school for well over a decade,” stated Headmaster Kieron. The school recruits high quality, ambitious and talented teaching staff with the aim to deliver the very best standards and to keep abreast of the changes in education.
When asked about the recruitment process and securing the best staff, he shared the following:
- Early advertising and recruitment are pivotal to the continued successful employment of high quality teachers. When teachers return after the winter break in January they must either sign their contract and commit to another academic year or tender their resignation.
- This early ‘notice’ then allows the Headmaster to advertise locally and internationally. The school’s reputation in Kuwait and the region ensures that there is real interest in any teaching vacancies.
- When you add into the mix applicants from further afield and the UK, often from fellow IAPS schools, the current recruitment strategies are undoubtedly working effectively.
A top recruitment tip from Headmaster Kieron and mindset has to be, ‘When you lose a great teacher, go out and employ an even better one!’
A proud not for profit school, TES’ business model has allowed a gradual increase in staffing over the last few years and further investment in facilities. Of note, in June 2017, the school’s next building project will commence on a state of the art science and technology centre, facilitated by the school’s incredibly supportive and generous Kuwaiti Sponsor.
“We follow the UK prep school model catering for pupils from 2 1⁄2 to 13 years of age,” continues Headmaster Kieron, “rather uniquely in the region almost 50% of the school’s pupils are British with almost 75% being native English speakers. The English National Curriculum and Early Years and Foundation Stage Framework are our school’s academic anchor, and places are highly sought after.”
It is not surprising, that in schools such as TES, academic success and excellence are almost a given. Academic rigour sets the stage for the work that is done throughout the school. In their recent inspection conducted by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), it was noted that TES is ‘highly successful in providing a British education that equips its pupils for a seamless transition to the next stage of their education.’
According to Headmaster Kieron, all of its pupils for the last 12 years have secured places at their first choice of school, as they have moved on at the end of Year 8, whether it is in Kuwait or elsewhere around the world.
The students’ success can be attributed to the holistic approach that the school engages in as they prepare students for the next level of their educational journey. TES’ core values involve developing students’ confidence, empathy, integrity, positivity and respect.
With bullying in schools becoming a key area of focus for most educational institutions, TES employs a zero tolerance stance on bullying.
“The school’s core values promote a healthy atmosphere within school. Students are constantly encouraged, in all that they do, to make good choices and respect others,” noted Headmaster Kieron.
“Inevitably children sometimes get things wrong, and when they do, our excellent pastoral leaders work closely with them to discuss where things went awry and how the school’s values may have been compromised. By reinforcing our core values in our daily lives and routines the children’s general awareness, and social and emotional intelligence are effectively nurtured.”
Like all excellent prep schools, TES values highly breadth, in curriculum and offers a wide range of extracurricular activities dovetailing with academic excellence in the classroom. The school has had regular sporting successes in Under 11 and Under 13 BSME Games in recent years and has excellent music, drama, art, DT, as well as ICT facilities that allow students to foster skills and interests, and produce outstanding results in each individual area. In February 2017, the school will also once again be hosting the BSME Music Festival.
The use of technology is fully integrated throughout the school. Years 3 – 8 pupils use iPads effectively to support their learning, and they are adept at managing documents and assignments in their own folders in Google Drive. The school’s VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) is growing in content and is becoming an increasingly important conduit and teaching and learning platform.
The wide and varied extracurricular activities programme (ECAs) provide wonderful opportunities for students to enjoy a whole range of opportunities. They are encouraged to take risks, and responsibility in leadership roles throughout the school.
Headmaster Kieron commented, “The pupils’ emotional and social intelligence are both extremely important. We aim to develop robust and resilient individuals, well positioned to cope with the demands and pressures of 21st century education. This is pivotal to our success and, shapes teaching and learning.”
Regular TES Parent Partnership Workshops have been warmly received by the parents and facilitate parent learning. These sessions take place three or four times each term and cover a range of topics.
The strong sense of family embedded in the TES school community is one that continues even after students move on. Children leaving TES at the end of Year 8, or at anytime, as is the nature of international and global travellers, are well-rounded, robust and confident individuals who are well placed to make the most of the challenges ahead.
Both parents and students who have moved on remain in contact with Headmaster Kieron, usually sharing with him how precious and rewarding their TES experience was and how much they miss the fantastic teaching and the school.
He likens these bittersweet moments to the lyrics of the Joni Mitchell track, Big Yellow Taxi, ‘Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’.
That said, The English School in Kuwait continues to nurture and create the leaders of tomorrow. Their astute approach to teaching and learning and the wellbeing of all stakeholders, make this gem one that will continue to shine brightly in the years ahead.
By Carolyn Lee