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13 March 2013

The period from January to April is the time when international schools are intent on recruiting teachers to replace those who are moving on. Consequently, I was interviewing potential members of staff in London on the date of the school’s Bahrain Heritage and Culture Day. I was very sorry to miss the event, but have heard from so many people, just how successful it was. If you couldn’t be there, then read all about it in this edition of school news.

This event is an example of parents and staff working together for the benefit of our pupils and the school.  Please, as you read the article, take note of the names of sponsors and helpers – we are very grateful to them all!

I also missed – because it was in Doha – the Battle of the Bands, which was won by a St Chris band … and yet another occasion during my absence from Bahrain was the Young Leaders’ Conference. I am delighted to learn that we won sixteen out of twenty awards available. Well done indeed to our musicians and young leaders!

Finally, some words on how we recruit teachers to St Chris – I am sure that some readers are curious about this.  The average stay of a teacher at our school is about 6.5 years, this is longer than is found in the majority of international schools. It is quite close to the average length of service in independent schools in the United Kingdom.  The period would be longer if it weren’t for the fact that some teachers, who would like to stay longer, can’t because their spouses (in banking, engineering or whatever) are moving to a new position outside of Bahrain.

Teachers with St Christopher’s experience are very attractive to other schools – and there have been examples of poaching! They do very well in their careers and around 25 teachers that have worked with me have now risen to become Heads of their own schools in countries around the world.

In November, each year, we usually advertise definite and possible vacancies in paper and online editions of the Times Educational Supplement – the educational paper read by almost all those wishing to work in British-style schools around the world. This is followed, following contract signing by our teachers in early January, by a larger advertisement; also in the TES.

In parallel, the school attends recruitment fairs, depending on the number of vacancies and the quality of applicants being received through other means.

We receive a large number of applications from the TES presence and also a number of speculative candidates. Typically, amongst these will be twelve or fifteen teachers who have previously worked at St Chris and who would like to return.

Every credible application is read and references are taken for those we are likely to shortlist. For Gulf-based applicants, we often invite them for interview in Bahrain and ask them to teach a lesson that we evaluate. Other shortlisted candidates are interviewed in London – normally by me. I decide who to appoint and offers are made.

Over the years, the recruitment period has moved earlier and earlier as schools vie to obtain the best possible replacements. In the past, late March and April would have seen us still working extensively on this task, but this year, I am very pleased to say, that whilst many excellent schools are still advertising, we have filled all positions well ahead of schedule!