In today’s competitive international school environment, both within Thailand and globally, it is common place for teaching staff and many Heads of Schools to remain in position for only two years. While this competitive market provides opportunities for teachers all over the world, the result can lead to high staff turnover in many schools.
With several Heads of the St. Andrews International Schools in Thailand (Cognita Group of schools) accumulating over 45 years’ experience, and having recently celebrated the 10, 15 and 20 years’ Long Service of over 50 members of staff, St. Andrews International Schools group is challenging these odds with a fine balance: a group with a lower staff turnover averaging 4-6 years tenure, as well as a stable leadership team who contribute to the continuation of a school’s ethos, direction and teaching excellence.
Here are four reasons we believe this stability among leadership (and therefore longer staff tenure) is important:
1. Continuation of the school’s culture and ethos
The essence of any particular school is only what it is because of the culture and ethos that the staff and students live and breathe. When this is defined and continuously embedded into the school, it can serve as a touchpoint for the future development of the school, its’ community and, inevitably, the happiness of its students.
2. Delivery of the school vision
In a study carried out in UK Independent Schools by the Education Development Trust, it was observed that, among effective leadership and Heads, a clear direction and vision for the school was more likely to be supported and embraced by staff. This essential buy-in, coupled with longstanding Heads to lead the implementation, ensures that the vision and future direction can be delivered.
3. Extensive relationship development
Head teachers serve as pillars within the school community and play a key role in integrating students, teachers and parents. A trusted and long-serving Head will become a familiar face and a symbol of stability among parents, aiding customer satisfaction and increasing student retention.
Similarly, the familiarity with the school community and its surroundings that long service brings invites extensive opportunities for Heads and staff to integrate and collaborate with other schools, businesses and charities. Such partnerships provide greater avenues for community action and collaboration for the school’s student and parent communities.
4. A school where happiness breeds success
Put succinctly in the words of Professor and Author Z. Khajayeva; ‘Without high-level trust and respect between and among all members of a school community, student achievement and happiness stalls every time.’
Staff who feel supported by and confident in their leadership and the vision for the school are more likely to believe in what the school stands for and to be happy within their role. If staff feel confident in the ability and knowledge of their Head, innovative ideas will flow, resulting in enhanced learning experiences for all students. Trusted Heads will create happy staff, happy students and a happy school.
Simply put, a longstanding leadership team can provide and deliver clear vision while also inculcating a culture that nurtures happy staff and successful students. Opportunities for collaboration, idea cultivation and self-expression are enhanced, thereby creating an environment in which students can excel and discover their passions all the while being their true self. After all, isn’t that exactly what all schools are trying to achieve?