The Annual Conference brings together heads, senior leaders and students from across the region to discuss fundamental educational issues and share successful initiatives in member schools in an intimate and friendly atmosphere that allows us to build the very special relationship of trust and confidence that is the key to the rest of LAHC activity.
The conference has grown both in stature and in size over the last twenty years, with major speakers such as David Perkins, John MacBeath, Sir John Jones, Alan November and Ben Walden challenging delegates to reflect deeply on the nature and the future of education. At the same time, participation by delegates has increased and has helped LAHC to fulfil its mission of "Sharing expertise for school improvement".
In addition to the Annual Conference, individual schools or groups of schools organise regional conferences on an ad hoc basis to which members are invited to participate, covering a diverse range of themes, such as mathematics, English as a second language, thinking skills, inclusion, service learning and leadership, to name a few.
We expect to see this new initiative fully operational in 2017 after a pilot phase in 2016.
LAHC is committed to providing opportunities for students to gain valuable educational experiences, in the widest sense, through a broad range of activities organised by member schools. Annual student conferences have covered such diverse themes as leadership, diplomacy, mountain leadership and survival, urban ecology and the natural world, the creative arts, education for sustainable development, Model United Nations and other experiences which are not necessarily an integral part of their life in school. In addition, these conferences have been instrumental in enabling young people to consider global issues and form lasting friendships across national frontiers.
For the last three years students have also been invited to the LAHC Annual Conference to work alongside school leaders and provide a complementary viewpoint on fundamental educational issues as seen from the student’s perspective.
Student activity extends to music and sport, with the LAHC orchestra and/or choir meeting annually during the same week as the Annual Conference and the organisation of sports exchanges between countries.
Current plans for expanding student activity include an LAHC Student Olympics, a virtual art gallery of student work and the promotion of student exchanges on both an individual and group level.
Teacher exchanges are an excellent professional development opportunity which can provide teachers with new ideas and different experiences that they can take back to their classrooms, as well as opening up spaces for on-going professional dialogue and reflection.
Taking advantage of the different school calendars across the region, teachers can visit each other’s schools without affecting their own students and also get the chance to experience living and working in another country.
We are currently working on formalising systems and procedures for establishing exchanges and expect this to be a major growth area in the next few years.
The LAHC Review is offered on a voluntary basis to schools that are members of LAHC. Its starting point is theschool's own assessment of itself and its performance in the areas in which it desires to be submitted to scrutiny. It is a peer review, with teams being made up of teachers and leaders of member schools, trained specifically for the purpose. No honorarium is charged – the school only has to cover the expenses of the team members.
The flexibility of the Review allows it to be applied in as complete or as partial a manner as is desired, with each application being tailored to the specific needs of the school. The decision is the school’s, and at all times the review team and its leader respond to the needs and requests of the school. This is not an inspection that judges schools against some predetermined criteria but rather a critical friend who gives an outsider's perspective on what the school thinks of itself.
The self-assessment documents are used as the basis for the examination carried out by the team during a week on site, during which time the team observes and compares the perceived reality with the school's assessment. At the end of the operation, verbal reports are presented to the Heads of Departments/Section and the Senior Leadership Team. Subsequently, a full written report, consisting of perceptions, points for commendation and recommendations, is delivered to the Head of the School, who uses this as a basis for a future action plan.
One of the Review's defining characteristics that sets it apart from many evaluation models is its concentration on classroom practice, with observations from as many as 200 or more complete lesson observations providing the principal source of evidence for the report.
The LAHC model has been applied jointly with CIS accreditation on one occasion and with IB five year evaluations on two occasions, with more joint applications in the planning stage and the possibility of a joint LAHC – BSO evaluation to take place in 2017.
The principal training provided by LAHC is for school reviewers, team leaders and review trainers. Training is very practical and hands-on, in line with the premise that doing something is more effective training than being told how to do it. Training courses are run regularly across the region and are considered to be excellent professional development, independently of whether or when the trainee is called onto a review team. There is no cost for review training.
If a school or group of schools requests specific training beyond that offered for the review, the association will seek to find the appropriate expertise within the association and help to set up the course. The association also develops links with external providers of training and helps to facilitate the organisation of courses on request.
With over 5,000 professional educators within the association there is expertiseon almost every aspect of education and school leadership and management. One of the key objectives of the association, through its Executive Officer, is to identify and deploy this expertise for the benefit of member schools. This normally consists of an “expert” member of staff from one school spending up to a week in another school, working with colleagues to help them improve their practice. Such consultancy carries no fee, with the only cost being the expenses of the visiting consultant.
All member schools receive a visit from the Executive Officer once a year. The primary purposes of this visit are to identify the areas of expertise within the school that could be shared with other schools and to identify the areas of opportunity in which the school could derive benefit from the expertise within other schools in the association. It is also an opportunity to identify and explore areas of common concern within the membership, which could lead to the organisation of an activity aimed at addressing the concern, and to provide general guidance and advice to schools and their leaders, where appropriate. Finally, it allows the Executive Officer to know and understand the school better, to make LAHC a visible and tangible presence and to help the school reap maximum benefit from the association.
In addition to visits by the Executive Officer, many schools arrange for members of their staff to visit other schools to observe good practice and learn things to take back to their own school. Given the concentration of schools in major cities it is possible to arrange a "fact-finding" tour of several schools in the space of a few days and return with a wealth of ideas to try out.
This service can be provided for a head, a senior leader, or even a leadership team, with the role and scope of the service being defined by the school requesting it. The original Heads Appraisal model has evolved into a flexible framework which can be tailored to the needs and circumstances of each individual case, such which aspects of the job to focus on, which members of the school community to collect evidence from and what type of evidence to collect.
The Executive Officer helps the school to find an appropriate colleague from another LAHC school, who puts themselves at the service of the school requesting the service for a period of two or three days and provides confidential, objective and constructive feedback at the end of the process. This is an incredibly valuable experience for both parties as the critical friend also learns a tremendous amount from spending a few days in another school.
In the spirit of all of LAHC services, there is no fee charged – the only costs are those of travel and accommodation – making this tremendous value for money.