The British Council recently gathered 42 of the most influential leaders in the education market from across Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait in the UK between November 20 to 27 to explore the future of education leadership across MENA. The trip enabled policy makers, school leaders and academics to collaborate, exchange ideas and experiences on how the education landscape has changed since Covid.
Eye of Riyadh met with Michael King, Director of Examinations & Assessments for KSA, Kuwait and Bahrain at the British Council, to talk more about this visit.
What are the exams initiatives presented by the British Council in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
The British Council has a long legacy in Saudi Arabia with the first office established in 1975 in Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobar. Overall, we work in four key areas: English, education, arts and society, with a focus on young people.
The British Council works closely with schools and universities providing examinations to over 35,000 students a year, as well as enabling 85 international schools to offer the British school curricula and giving over 30 UK professional bodies the opportunity to offer their qualifications to young professionals in the Kingdom.
The British Council’s work in education and training is at the heart of Saudi Arabia's ambitions to develop its young people to be competitive, and to engage internationally. The British Council support the local youth through activities such as the Springboard Women's Development Programme which has helped over 8,000 women fulfil their professional goals, as well as other activities such as Connecting Classrooms. The British Council also support UK academics and agencies to train Saudi university staff in quality assurance strategic planning and management.
What is the importance of this tour for educational institutions that teach in English in the Arab region?
The British Council for the MENA UK Study Tour focused on gathering 42 of the most influential leaders in the education market from across Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait in the UK to explore the future of education leadership across MENA.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education and school leaders were able to network, learn from each other and share knowledge to ensure they are using the most up to date teaching methods from the UK for the students. The trip enabled policy makers, school leaders and academics to collaborate, exchange ideas and experiences on how the education landscape has changed since Covid.
It has been helpful for school leaders to hear key experts from the UK present the latest in education. Representatives were able to learn how schools are building leadership capacity to drive improvement, meet with student leadership teams, and hear about their roles with staff and pupils. During the trip, participants heard about different styles of leadership that have needed to be modelled in challenging times and share their learnings on how to be an effective leader.
Amongst the highlights of the trip was a visit to the House of Lords where the leaders met with Baron Dodds of Duncairn. In addition, the delegates were able to see and meet representatives from Kensington Primary School, Copthall School, University of East London and Heron Hall Academy.
Are you planning to have regular tours like this to include more English-language school supervisors?
The British Council supports the education system in Saudi Arabia and has an aim is to provide expert operational and educational support for our Partner Schools at every opportunity and at every level.
As well as the UK Tour, which recently took place, the British Council hosts a number of other events throughout the year for Partner Schools as well as offers many resources online. Coming up soon is the Schools Now! 2023 conference, a global conference that fosters educational innovation across British Council Partner Schools. Educational professionals from Saudi Arabia are invited to attend (in person and virtually) to learn more about key areas of international education, share their ideas and experiences, and network with like-minded peers.
How do you see the future of education in the Arab region, and what new horizons do such tours open?
In general, education is particularly effective at building trust and understanding because it reaches young people at a formative stage and positive experiences stay with them all their lives. In parallel, the UK’s strength in education makes it an excellent partner for customers, institutions and governments. In the future, the British Council will continue to work with partners in higher education, further education and schools to build lasting ties between the UK and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Through programmes like the UK Tour, we can see how education can create opportunities for people everywhere to achieve their potential by taking UK qualifications and in supporting such tours, we enable policy makers, school leaders and academics to collaborate, exchange ideas and experiences on how to formulate the future of the education landscape across the Arab regions.