The International Education Master's programme at King's College London has been designed exclusively for Nord Anglia Education staff. I completed the two-year course in August 2020, after a dissertation studying teacher Professional Development in an international setting. The course comprised distance learning over six modules, plus two weeks' in-person on King's College campus in Waterloo, London.
Re-entering academic work after 11 years of teaching was a steep learning curve, and so much has changed in education since my post-graduate certificate in Education, which I completed in 2007. A large proportion of my studies were conducted entirely on mobile devices - during commutes to work, on planes and in taxis, and even occasionally while on the beach - using apps to manage journal articles, composing weekly web forum posting and joining online seminars.
Fitting online learning around my teaching and leadership responsibilities at NAIS was achieved via a combination of modern time management and a patient spouse. The course is a great path for staff in international schools who want to challenge themselves to achieve greater understanding of the role we play in our students' lives and the place of international education in the wider world.
I studied with 40 colleagues from across the NA group and made many connections with staff in different roles and backgrounds. The course leaders are experts in relevant areas of international education, including language acquisition, cultural sensitivity, historical context and institutional structures of governance.
One module that is particularly relevant to our school is the development of English as an additional language, and the issues relating to identity and culture which affect children’s personal and social growth, as well as influencing their academic life. It is a matter of great importance for our school to provide a nurturing and supportive environment for English language development both as a native language and as an additional language for many students, without sacrificing those children’s home language.
The course was a fantastic opportunity for me to challenge my thinking and grow my knowledge of international education as a whole, and in particular how NAIS Pudong fits into the bigger picture of both the Nord Anglia family of schools and the wider international school sector.
The dissertation assignment was a 12 000 word research project, for which I designed a case study about teacher learning in an international setting, and what factors affect its success. It was an insightful and valuable process for my own practice and development as a teacher and leader and may provide some benefit to the school itself.
One part of my research relates to the Nord Anglia University platform. This is an internal company website of professional learning content which all staff can access for their own development. This year is has been completely redesigned and relaunched with new content. Staff are required to use the platform as one of their performance targets for the academic year, and are given time to enroll on courses and follow learning pathways in both tutored courses and independent learning.
International School students learning outside their home country and/or home language face many obstacles to growth. Likewise, there are many novel challenges for teachers in international settings. This course is a great way to gain a better understanding of the issues and explore solutions.