This morning we held our annual Careers Day, where we invite parents and other professionals to come and speak to the students about what they do and how they got to where they are. One of the speakers also talked about the warmth of the welcome he receives at OIS, compared to other schools (he speaks at a great many schools). This is what he said:
"There are many good to great schools, and you're one of them. But you're also nice, and that's important"
And that just made my Monday morning!
It has been three months since my last blog post. Three whole months! That is disgraceful, and I do apologize.
In my defense, this has been a very busy time for me. This is the recruitment season, the time when most of the hiring of new teachers for next year takes place. And with an existing faculty of 276 teachers and a new campus to staff, this has been a particularly hectic time.
Our retention of existing teachers has improved considerably, but we still have some turnover (I think the word is “churn” in this country). So why do teachers leave OIS? There can be a number of reasons:
Recruitment of local teachers is getting easier for me. The OIS reputation has spread among the Indian international school community, and the school’s name is one that ambitious educators want to get on their resumé. I think for the past month I have averaged at least four local teacher interviews per day.
Expat teacher recruitment is a different matter. The OIS reputation is an international one, and any international teacher who wants to come to India will come to my table first at the recruitment fair. The problem is, most of them don’t want to come to India.
In January, I made an offer to a young British teacher I knew well. She had been a student at the International School of Dusseldorf when I was the Head, and after university she started her teaching career at that school where I was still the Head. She then moved on to an international school in the UK, and attended a recruitment fair in London. She was a fantastic teacher, and she had always liked working for me.
She was very excited when I made her an offer, and I was very disappointed when a few days later she rejected my offer. “Dad won’t let me come to India – he says it’s too dangerous.”
Seriously, dangerous?!!! I feel a higher level of personal safety here than I did back in Germany. But she told me her father would not be persuaded.
I blame CNN, and BBC, and all the others. Last week I heard “India has overtaken China as the country with the worst air pollution.” What a meaningless statement! India is a huge country. It has places where the air is very polluted and places where the air is pure and clean. I don’t live in “India”, I live in Mumbai. The air in Mumbai is sometimes OK, sometimes not OK, but it’s not even close to the “worst in the world”.
When CNN reported some assaults on women a while back, they didn’t say they happened in Bangalore – they said they happened “in India”. Everything is sensationalized, and everything happens “in India”. I asked a candidate if she had ever considered Mumbai as a destination, and she said “Oh, no – not India. You have all those rapes in India”.
International teacher candidates have literally the whole world at their fingertips. At the major fairs there are jobs on offer in London, Paris, Rome, Germany, Switzerland, Hawaii, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo……….and India. There are schools on the Riviera, there are schools in the middle of ski resorts. And with all the bad press surrounding India, Mumbai schools are a pretty hard sell.
There’s another factor influencing expat teacher recruitment. There are now sooooo many schools. I’ve been on the recruitment fair circuit for many years now. In earlier times I could wander around the fair and recognize every school – I knew most of the Heads. Now, more than half the schools are ones I’ve never heard of before. New ones keep popping up.
For the past five years, the People’s Republic of China has averaged one new international school per week!! The city of Dubai now has 254 international schools. 254 – in just one city! So many new schools are emerging, hungry for teachers, and offering good packages.
This is why the international reputation of OIS is so important. Many candidates have heard about this school, some have friends who teach here, some have attended IB workshops here, some have seen us and heard our presentations at conferences and recruitment fairs.
The most important influence on school quality is the quality of its teachers. And the most effective way to attract good teachers is to have a good reputation