President's message

ICSEI and its members are always invested in change. Improvement is change in a positive direction. But those in our community and in education as a whole are now surrounded by change on a monumental scale.

We are living in what is probably one of the most important periods of history in the modern world. At this time, identity and wellbeing are the new frontline of school effectiveness and improvement.

From its very beginnings, teacher effectiveness and then school effectiveness emphasized the importance of time on task and establishing a safe and orderly climate in schools as essential for establishing a positive learning environment where all students could succeed. More recently, innovations and initiatives in positive behavioral intervention have supplied teachers and schools with specific strategies, not just general advice, to enable them to create this kind of environment.

One of the greatest global refugee crises in history has brought humanitarian issues into classrooms as students and their teachers are having to cope with the emotional disturbance and post-traumatic stress that violence and dislocation bring. In professional terms, some Northern European countries have had to find large quantities of new teachers for tens of thousands of unaccompanied refugee children even as these countries are being urged to get their PISA scores up. Meanwhile the immigrant families of ten or twenty years ago are now raising achievement scores in many inner cities as their aspirations for their children in a new country begin to bear fruit. This has not held back the governments of some nations such as the US and UK from tightening up on immigration to the extent that many children in existing immigrant families fear for their lives and their futures as every day brings the worry of dislocation or deportation that may be awaiting them.

The New Imperatives draws our attention to Achieving with Integrity. Meanwhile, countries as disparate as Ireland, Canada and Singapore are making wellbeing their new priority, even extending to dispensing with grades in Singapore, for example.

The world is waiting for answers. Our community is one of the places that can raise and discuss possible solutions to these complex global issues. We are an international association after all and can learn how different countries and systems try to address these issues. We hope you found these opportunities challenging and fulfilling in our Ottawa conference in January and that when our Congress is held in Singapore next January, you will find not just a country with high PISA results but a system making profound changes to ease the emphasis on traditional assessment, to insist that all children get experience of outdoor and adventure education, and to concentrate on building character,

As President, I am honored to serve this community in the next two years and will have future messages about the working groups we have set up that are helping us think more deeply as an organization about how to

  • become more diverse among countries and also within some of the countries where our current members are most numerous;

  • continue to pay attention to generational renewal, by continuing to recruit and retain new members and also by making the most prominent conference platforms are open to rising scholars and practitioners as well as established voices in the field,

  • enhance our media and communications platforms to increase access and accessibility to the work we do and to the best ways it can reach others as well as each other.

We hope to see you in Singapore where there will be a very dynamic set of presenters, some visits to outstanding and innovative schools in this top performing system, and a chance to engage with global colleagues in formal sessions and networks, as well as in informal settings like the street fair and stalls that will make up our prime social event.

I look forward to seeing you there in Surprising Singapore.


Andy Hargreaves

President of ICSEI

Brennan Chair in Education

Boston College