Promoting a Gender-Inclusive Hiring Process

By members of the Carney, Sandoe & Associates International Schools Practice


At Carney, Sandoe & Associates, we are aware of the role that search agencies play in shaping the overall make-up of school leadership, both within individual schools and across the collective community of schools. In short, we know that who we identify and promote as strong candidates who meet a school’s particular needs matters a great deal.


Given the longstanding gender inequities in school leadership — the bias toward white menhat still holds today — we are committed to identifying and promoting diverse groups of highly qualified candidates for every school leadership position. We also see it as our job to educate all school search committees and governing boards about the qualities a range of candidates bring to the job and about the overall value of diverse leadership within and among schools. At the same time, we understand that it’s essential to focus energy on expanding the pool and pipeline of candidates for these positions in the future. This tripartite process is at the core of every search we conduct.


Recently, it has come to our attention that in the world of international schools — a vibrant, fast-growing area of K-12 education — the percentage of women heads and other top leaders has been particularly low. According to data from the Academy for International School Leadership (AISH), women heads of international schools have only improved slightly — increasing from 27% to 33% over the past ten years. While it’s good to see improvement, we submit that this percentage of growth is unacceptable, especially in a profession with so many extremely talented, highly competent women.


Our Focus on Gender Equity

For every search, the members of our International Schools Practice build a database of candidates and analyze it to ensure that we are interviewing for equitable access to leadership roles. Many times, this means we seek out and nurture talent, offering to review résumés and cover letters in advance, and holding one-on-one coaching sessions.


Separate from retained searches, we uphold our commitment to supporting women in education by hosting our annual Women’s (Re)Institute. First held in person in 2017 and now having completed its second virtual iteration, the (Re)Institute draws hundreds of women together to engage in workshops, one-on-one career advising, cohort groups, panel presentations, and keynotes related to female empowerment, skill building, and overcoming the unique challenges women face working in education. The event includes a range of sessions designed to help women educators develop their skills, make connections, and understand their leadership options and possibilities. Among the sessions this year, for example, were: “A Woman’s Worth: The Art of Negotiation;” “Living with Imposter Syndrome and Biased Workplaces;” “More than Conversations: A Feminist Approach to Equity Work in International Schools;” “Women, EQ, and Leadership;” and “Huddle (verb): To Gather Your Sister Circle.”


Given the low numbers of women leaders in international schools, this year’s (Re)Institute also included a topic we consider of utmost importance: “Ever Consider Leading an International School?” which was led by CS&A consultants Deb Welch and Karen Neitzel and included presenters Robin Appleby, Head of School at American School in London; Madeleine Hewitt, Executive Director of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools; and Nancy Le Nezet, Head of School at the Swiss International School in Qatar.


Additionally, Carney Sandoe offers implicit and cognitive bias training for search committees at no extra charge. Our consultants work internally with the Carney Sandoe staff as well, helping us to recognize ways our own identities, cultural perspectives, and biases that may be unconsciously serving as blind spots in our work. To further our organizational commitment to antibias work, Carney Sandoe is also covering the cost this summer for consultants to attend (diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) professional development of their choice.


We are engaged in this work across the board because we know it’s the right thing to do and because we know diverse leadership teams in schools function at a higher level that monocultural groups and, thus, serve the faculty, staff, and students best. Research makes it clear, for instance, that diverse teams focus more on facts, process those facts more carefully, and are more innovative (Rock and Grant, HBR, Why Diverse Teams are Smarter). The bottom line is that, by committing to helping create diverse leadership teams, we are not just committing to equity and justice, we are also helping to create better decision-making in school leadership teams, boardrooms, and classrooms.


Toward the aim of an equitable gender balance in school leadership, we’re proud of our record of recent appointments of women to senior administrative and leadership positions. Of those recent placements, 70% of them have occurred since 2018.


Female Appointments from Recent International School Searches



President, 2022


Primary School Principal, 2021


Superintendent, 2018


Director, 2019


Director, 2020


Executive Head of School, 2022


Interim Head of School, 2016


Head of School, 2018


Head of School, 2017

Director of Institutional Equity, 2021


Head of School, 2020


High School Principal, 2018


Executive Director, 2017


Head of School, 2018


Head of School, 2019


Chief Inspection Officer, 2021

Vice Head of Primary, 2021


Head of Upper School, 2016


Director of College Counseling, 2015


Upper School Head, 2021


Head of School, 2021


Deputy Superintendent, 2014

Middle School Principal, 2014

Elementary School Principal, 2020

Deputy Head of School, 2016


Principal, 2018


Superintendent, 2007

Head of School, 2021


Founding Head, 2022


Executive Director, 2013


Middle School Principal, 2019


Director, 2020


General Director, 2017


Montessori Director, 2019


Head of School, 2019


Head of School, 2018


Middle School Principal, 2019


Middle School Principal, 2017


Director, 2019


Director, 2019


An Invitation

At Carney Sandoe, we will continue to highlight the value of diversity in school leadership and promote diversity in the hiring process. In particular, we are dedicated to finding new ways to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups. In this light, we are constantly encouraging talented candidates to apply for positions of interest, even if they believe it may be a bit of a “stretch.” We also help such candidates establish a connection with a search consultant who can advise them on their suitability for different positions and encourage them to test the waters. Meanwhile, we advise search committees that no candidate will check all the boxes of the desired profile, but that we are adept at identifying areas in which a candidate will be an excellent match for a school. We also advise candidates to work with a variety of search firms, since no single firm does all the searches.


For educators aspiring to leadership positions in international schools, this is a particularly good time to be looking. The number of international schools continues to grow at a remarkable rate and all of these schools are searching for administrators (and teachers) who are native English speakers. For those educators who are our candidates, we encourage you to let search committees know where your strengths and interests lie — so we can better align these strengths and interests with the needs of schools. Mostly, though, we encourage educators aspiring to school leadership to step up, cast your net wide, and believe in yourself. We know from experience that the right position will come.



This article was contributed by Art Charles, John Chandler, Karen Neitzel, and Deb Welch of the International Schools Practice.


As Managing Associate for the International School Practice, Art Charles has done more than 140 senior administrative searches, both in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to coming to CS&A, Art worked in five international schools, most recently as President of International College in Beirut, Lebanon. He also worked as an administrator and teacher at the American College of Sofia, Academia Cotopaxi (Ecuador), The American School in Switzerland, and the American Embassy School (India).




John Chandler is a senior consultant. The majority of his work has been in leadership searches for international schools. He has also led searches for U.S. independent schools and has consulted on governance. He has completed more than 120 searches. After several teaching and admissions roles, John served as Head of School at Pingree School (MA) for 14 years before becoming General Director of the Koç School in Istanbul, Turkey. Following Koç, he served as Head of School of Robert College, the oldest American school outside the U.S., also in Istanbul, for seven years.




Karen Neitzel is a search consultant for the firm’s Head of School, Key Administrator, International Schools, and Catholic Schools Practices. Karen joined CS&A from ‘Iolani School (HI), first serving as Dean of Studies before becoming Associate Head of School. Prior to ‘Iolani, Karen held several leadership roles in the Hood River County School District (OR), including Vice Principal and Principal. She also worked at The Archer School for Girls (CA), where she served as Assistant Head of School, Academic Dean, and Director of Technology.




Deb Welch is a senior consultant for the International Schools Practice. For five years, Deb served as CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH), a leading organization among international schools. Her experience working in independent schools is deep and varied. She was the Director of American School of Doha in Qatar, as well as Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Professional Development; then Deputy Head of School at International School Bangkok. She also has significant consulting experience, having worked as an independent consultant for various international schools and organizations.

Moonshot Thinking from the Sidecar


Debra Lane, Ed.D., CEO, Lane Leadership Group


I participated in an adventurous Sidecar Summit in Red Lodge, Montana sponsored by Sidecar Counsel. Fourteen international women leaders gathered at The Pollard Hotel to do some Moonshot Thinking on July 7 with Lakshmi Karan, Co-Founder of Future Frontiers Institute, and Bridget McNamer, Chief Navigation Officer of Sidecar Counsel.

Photo credit: Brian Korzenowski

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, ‘moonshot’ actually means a type of thinking that aims to achieve something that is generally believed to be impossible. Moonshot or stretch goals are goals that seem impossible to achieve. They should force teams and individuals to rethink how they work and take you out of your comfort zone. In the literal sense, President John F. Kennedy invented moonshot thinking in 1962 when he challenged an entire nation to set an incredibly audacious goal of sending man to the moon in fewer than 10 years…50 years later, Astro Teller has taken this discourse and transformed it into a philosophy, a certain mindset. Teller is the Director of X (formerly Google X), Google’s disruptive innovation division where they ideate, test and launch projects that use cutting-edge technologies to build solutions that can radically improve the world. Literally a Moonshots factory.


Lakshmi shared her vision and task. She reminded us how space travel was about to take off and asked us to think of the galaxy and what this means by 2121. She said, “We are in the midst of a new space race. Driven by political and economic incentives, with a focus on settling on the moon. We want to see a learning institute first before a military base. We want an advisory composed of humans (Monks, Scientists, Teachers, Students, Nurses, Data Scientists and many more humans). Her task is to help create the ecosystem that will enable us to explore and stay in a sustainable, equitable and responsible way.


As women leaders in education, we started to brainstorm ways to embark on this journey. How will success be measured by our own values and what is the process to get there? Who sets the rules and who is accountable? How will this learning benefit us back on Earth? Bridget and Lakshmi asked us to take this moonshot thinking back to our present roles and do the following:


Identify a huge problem that affects the entire organisation.

Most of us identified the issue of a need for more gender equity and women of colour in leadership positions. According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 study, for the sixth year in a row, women continued to fall behind in moving into first-level management positions. According to the study, for every 100 men promoted into a managerial position, only 85 women were promoted—and this gap was even larger for women of colour.


Identify a big, bold, seemingly impossible goal.

In the case of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), consider taking broad aim at diversity (for example, “We will achieve gender and racial parity at all levels of the organization, including our board of directors, by 2030.”). Your colleagues may jump to why this cannot be done at all levels or within the timeframe, but this is not the point. Moonshots are not designed as feasible goals; the point is to push the collective mindset beyond the gravitational pull of small incremental changes.


Craft breakthrough new approaches to tackle the challenge.

When it comes to driving increased diversity, it is imperative to start with data. Invest in a thorough collection and analysis of everything impacting representation, including recruiting sources, hiring processes, and promotion practices. Enact sweeping changes to talent acquisition, sponsorship, and performance review practices to include a much more diverse talent pool from which to draw. There are countless examples: Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos or Virgin Galactic in the space world; JUST or Impossible Foods in the gastronomy universe (trying to eliminate animal suffering) or cell-based chocolates; these are just a few examples of creating breakthrough approaches.


As we finished our morning with Lakshmi Karan and Bridget McNamer I had a number of ideas fleshed out on how I would like to push some big, bold goals and craft some breakthrough approaches to tackling those challenges. What are some of your moonshot thoughts going into the 2021-2022 school year?


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Debra Lane, Ed.D.

Dr. Debra Lane has been an educator for more than 25 years as a teacher and administrator in the U.S. and abroad. She has led several schools as principal, including most recently at Shanghai American School. She taught grades from pre-K through middle school, as well as ESOL, Literacy, and Gifted and Talented classes. Currently, she is working on federal grants focusing on transformative leadership and increasing teacher’s leadership and instructional roles across the U.S., Central and South America. She is also the founder of the educational consulting firm, Lane Leadership Group, LLC.

Living with Asperger’s – an interview with SEN professional Beverley Williams


Aimee Haddock
Marketing Executive, Real Group Ltd.



Beverley Williams is a former delegate of Real Training. She has had an expansive career, influencing the lives of many young people with SEN. Not only has Beverley completed multiple courses with Real Training and gained a vast amount of professional knowledge through SEN and safeguarding roles, but she was also diagnosed with Asperger’s at around 50 years old. We thought it would be useful to share Beverley’s story, not only for those delegates looking to have an impact but also for those with Aspergers who may be looking for some advice.

Discussing Beverley’s early life, there was a common challenge that she faced almost every day – being able to build meaningful friendships and understanding how to behave in certain social situations. During her time at primary and secondary school, Beverley found herself feeling exhausted by social politics. Something she also experienced in some of her job roles in later life. She acknowledges her personal daily struggle with this and now understands this to be part of her Asperger’s. Explaining how she felt after her diagnosis regarding those social challenges, Beverley said,

“It has been really releasing on a personal level… I don’t feel I need to explain things to other people but it explains to me why I find situations hard.”

Since her diagnosis, Beverley has felt a lot more confident in building relationships, explaining that now she knows what she is going to find tricky, she can prepare herself and put certain strategies in place to help her deal with different situations.

I wanted to understand a little more about how Beverley thinks her experiences in early life influenced her approach whilst working with SEN children. She explained that she has always resisted stereotyping young people and children by their diagnosis. She explains that not everybody with the same diagnosis has the same limitations, behaviours and challenges. Her focus remains on the individual and she is highly conscious of the social isolation of SEN children, constantly working to combat this. Through her work, Beverley has noticed her ability to acknowledge each individual, recognising those who are on the edge of the social group and understanding that they may be happy there. Highlighting that this approach is strongly influenced by her experiences.

Following her own diagnosis, I wanted to know if Beverley felt her approach was influenced or changed in any way. Beverley explained the biggest alteration was a new awareness of females, acknowledging the likelihood of masking – not just Aspergers but all kinds of challenges. She feels this made her look more deeply into triggers and behaviours and spend more time getting to know each individual.

Beverley’s learning journey with Real Training has seen her complete CCET and NASENCO. She is also currently working on the Autism Spectrum Conditions module. After gaining knowledge through her lived experiences with Autism and her varying professional pathway, Beverley continues to expand her knowledge. When asked about her time studying with us Beverley said,

”My NASENCO tutor was fantastic. I explained about my Aspergers and she was really supportive. That gave me quite a lot of confidence to go onto the next course. I acknowledge that her support helped me to keep going and gave me the encouragement I needed. I never felt that she was making allowances nor do I think she was, but I did feel my tutor had an understanding of how I work best.”

I asked Beverley to provide us with some of her top tips, not only for other delegates working with SEN children but also for young people with Autism, highlighting the kinds of things she wishes she knew in her younger years. Although Beverley had not yet been diagnosed while she herself was at school she now understands, through her diagnosis, why she found school hard.

Beverley’s Top Tips for working with SEN children

  1. Don’t stereotype people on the Autistic Spectrum, they are as individual as everyone else.
  2. Provide a range of strategies to mirror the range of people.
  3. Give students the opportunity to work in a calm area, avoiding sensory overload. Always tailor these strategies to their individual needs and preferences.
  4. Look for those on the edge of the group who don’t feel they fit into any specific group.
  5. Focus on an individual’s interests and strengths and then build these into your learning strategies for them. In my experience, people on the Autistic Spectrum are more likely to be engaged in their learning if you encourage them to go deeper with specific interests instead of broadening their general knowledge.
  6. Understand, if you can, that what is important to you may be totally irrelevant to someone on the Autism Spectrum and they, therefore, may not see the point in learning about some things, which may seem trivial and pointless to them.
  7. It is often exhausting for children on the Autism Spectrum to comply with expectations. If they comply at home, they might not have the energy to comply at school and vice versa. Provide opportunities for the individual to restore and refresh using whatever strategies work for them- don’t make assumptions about what these are.

Beverley’s Top Tips for young people in education with Autism

  1. It’s ok to be different, everyone is!
  2. You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. It’s exhausting.
  3. Find a teacher or other member of staff you can talk to.
  4. Ask for a quiet area you can go to if you need to take a break from the noise or light, etc. If you feel embarrassed to ask for this perhaps you could find a ‘job’ you need to do.
  5. Don’t let people ‘pigeon-hole’ you or put you in a box to fit their expectations.
  6. It’s ok to make a mistake because it’s all part of learning. Getting something wrong isn’t a failure, it simply means you have learned something new.

Many thanks to Beverley Williams for her insightful thoughts.

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.


Aimee Haddock is the Marketing Executive at Real Group Ltd.

Talkin’ ’bout my Generation: Ageism in International Education


Sidney Rose & Michael Thompson

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we got around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I didn’t die before I got old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

(With apologies to Pete Townsend).

The Who sang something like that in 1966 – when even we were just kids. It was a snipe at the “older” generation and their lack of understanding about what’s new and cool…. We reverse the lyric to take a snipe at the “younger” generation and their disregard of the wealth of experience and expertise we gained in those 55 years.

Yet, Mark Twain is said to have once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” 


But in international education it obviously does… we hear of many highly experienced and highly skilled senior educators being passed over by recruiters, agencies and schools because of their date of birth.


“International schools need great educators and leaders who are skilled, experienced and have the right personality and attitude” … TES


Ok Yes… really?… So?


Summary of our leadership careers from an Age perspective

As can be seen from our respective biographies at the end of this article, we are experienced heads of international schools and consultants. We have the first-hand experience of the relative ease of finding new and appropriate positions up to about the age of 55 years. From then on, securing a new position has become more difficult annually. Sid states:

I am often head-hunted based on my profile and then the prospective employer backs out when my age is revealed. It’s happened at least a dozen times, now.

Mick has been very fortunate in that his current and previous positions valued experience but this is an anomaly to the trend.

These facts are stated to set the scene in which we outline the many and varied skills and attributes that a motivated and experienced person brings to the roles of international leadership and consultancy.


There is Ageism in international education … Why is that?

There’s a lot of talk about gender bias, racial bias and culture bias in society and at the workplace and each are important for many reasons. But perhaps one of the most hidden, biggest and most problematic types of bias we face is the bias of age: Recruiters often evaluate candidates based on age rather than experience – or expertise for that matter.

Is it just the recruiters or are they doing what they are instructed by the school owner or board?

In India, we had the experience of several teachers over the age of 60 who had considerably fewer days absent during the year than their younger colleagues but there was prejudice from the board, (locals with a forced retirement age of 58). We propose that these “golden oldies” had fewer distractions than their younger colleagues, paced themselves better and probably contributed more to the school’s development.

Some recruiters will argue that many countries do not give visas to older candidates but according to a recent survey released by The International Educator (TIE), which asked about hiring restrictions at international schools, over 65% of the 176 school heads interviewed reported that their school’s host country does not have age restrictions for issuing a work visa.


So, what’s the issue then?

We argue that organizations and schools can and should, employ older educators as leaders, teachers or consultants and give them meaningful, important jobs.

The myth propagated by the retirement industry is that people over the age of 65 should retire. Despite the billions of dollars spent convincing us that our “golden years” should involve more travel, golf, sitting around the pool or pottering around the garden. Research however shows that people who stop working and retire may suffer from depression, heart attacks, and a general malaise of not having as much purpose in their lives. Many people, particularly those who have enjoyed long, and meaningful careers like to work. In the wise words of Stephen Hawkins…: “Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.” It represents an opportunity to give value to others and the community, and it gives you something to do with your intellectual and physical energy.

Why would we want to retire if we love our work and can still contribute?

Many very experienced educators, school leaders and international education consultants and advisors find it more and more difficult to get work in their older years.  Virtually impossible actually. Why is that?

The average life expectancy in many developing countries is about 60 years and so it is difficult, perhaps even seen as biased and prejudiced if the country allows older internationals to work there.

If you are older, you are likely to be considered less capable, less able to adapt, or less willing to roll up your sleeves and do something new than your younger peers. They say we cannot use Technology but recent evidence during the current global pandemic has shown that the experienced leader has the ability to adapt and often lead schools when forced to work from a different time zone.


There is an assumption “oldies” are slowing down, are not flexible in their thinking and their health may deteriorate rapidly.

It can be expensive for medical insurance for older candidates and it might be assumed that there is a danger of a “lame duck” not fulfilling the contract?

Many international schools express concern over health issues for the older candidate and the associated costs of insuring them: “Health and health insurance are big issues. Disability coverage is not allowed over 60 and health insurance skyrockets,” reports one school. Another school in Africa, agrees, “I think that an older candidate must demonstrate physical fitness…I really feel that that is the main issue. A fit, active (coaching?) older candidate would have a good chance.

What could be worse than a much-loved, grandfather type leader, dying whilst working for the school?

But the facts are that we are living longer. The average longevity of human life increases each year. Life expectancy was around 50 at the beginning of the 20thCentury in the West. It is now 79 years – many of us are healthy and are in good shape and last much longer, and by the end of the century, it should reach 100!

International schools can appoint cheaper alternatives – and more often than not do.


What do we silver-haired “Golden Oldies”, have to offer?

Many of us are still fit and healthy. Many of us are fitter than our 45–50-year-old colleagues actually.

We, along with many other international education dinosaurs, have a wealth of experience, expertise and wisdom – gained from years in schools. We have the ability and expertise to train senior management and boards, based on acquired experience and expertise.

Adaptability: we have already “been there” and adapted to different circumstances, cultures and scenarios several times in our careers.  International schools vary dramatically, in location, size, student intake, staffing, curriculum, philosophy, and more. The best international teachers are willing and eager to adapt and embrace new circumstances and unexpected challenges.

In one specific area, age can benefit the school; the older educator will probably have a grown-up family that is not in need of subsidised tuition places in the school, annual home leave, larger accommodation, medical insurance etc. because they would not accompany him to the post. These savings, let alone the lack of “distractions” will allow the senior educator to focus most of his /her time and energy on the development of the school and more than offset the increased medical insurance of the educator.

With changes caused by the global pandemic, many older educators have displayed their ability to adapt and are abreast of recent changes in education. Many of us have been using technology since the 1980s and we are lifelong learners.

In order to be employable, we would suggest:

An annual review including a medical to confirm that we are still physically able to perform the tasks needed as head of school or consultant.  We always need a medical to get a visa for each country – and have always passed with flying colours.


What do we golden oldies have to offer in School Leadership/ Consultancy?

In addition to all the examples listed above, there should be no restriction on this as;

-health and fitness are not so important, the experienced educator will work within his/her capability and pace her /himself. Mick comments that “As a 26 years old newbie Head, I was constantly running around trying to fix everything myself, whereas the older, more empowering me as Head is far more efficient, effective and successful”.

– the only negative might be the perception of a: closed mind: but this would be eliminated by the consultant’s bid for the job. We are wise enough to know and understand our limitations.

-vast experience, network, knowledge of education, cultures etc.

– several “golden oldies” have shown their experience by leading schools as Interim Heads,  from afar during this pandemic; jobs that less experienced people could not do with the same level of competence.

There should really be no negatives as consultants are;

-paid by results, the short term usually. Sid’s school set-up projects have always been short-term to do the nitty-gritty work and use connections and network.

-none of the benefits that a head requires. Pension scheme, dependents etc.

It really is a win-win situation for the school and the consultant as the consultancy business is, realistically, “survival of the fittest’ as many of us have turned to consultancy as a way of giving back to the educational world that we have loved.

The “only” problem is they don’t want what we offer!!!! Ageism is rife!

The International Educator, a leading resource for teachers looking for jobs at overseas schools, has recently mandated that schools indicate if there is an age requirement when filling out their job posting form on their website.


What we have to do is point out the benefits to the schools of employing capable people who have a lifetime of experience. The most important job in the U.S. – and perhaps the world goes, often, to people who would generally be considered “too old” to be productive in most employment.  Joe Biden is 78 and deemed fit to run a country with the world’s largest economy and 328 million people. Many other national leaders are ancient; they are expected to use their wisdom, not their athleticism!


You can’t have 40 years of experience in a 30-year-old body! Or even a 50-year-old.


Besides the value and competence older employees can bring to an educational organization, there is the issue of cognitive diversity. Few things of value have ever been accomplished by individuals working alone. The vast majority of our advancements — whether in science, business, arts, or sports, or education— are the result of coordinated human activity, – people working together as a cohesive unit. The best way to maximise team output is to increase cognitive diversity which is significantly more likely to occur if you can get people of different ages, experiences and expertise working together. We, older heads have” been there and done it all” before, so don’t need credit for leading. Our aim is to develop the skills of the middle managers to be able to take over.

Career systems, pay systems, and recruitment and assessment systems are designed against hiring older people. Many companies believe older people are “overpaid” and can be “replaced with younger workers” who can do the job just as well. People like Mark Zuckerberg and others publicly say that “younger people are smarter.” We have an entire media and publishing industry that glorifies youth.

We must acknowledge that there is a limit for paying for an experience; the educational system which pays people more because they have done the job longer is not generally accepted by board members from industry. Oldies should be prepared to accept a salary similar to, for example, a 55-year-old.

Scientific evidence shows: For most people, raw mental horsepower declines after the age of 30, but knowledge and expertise — the main predictors of job performance — keep increasing even beyond the age of 80. There is also much evidence to assume that traits like drive and curiosity are catalysts for new skill acquisition, even during later life. When it comes to learning new things, there is no age limit, and the more intellectually engaged people remain as they age, the more they will contribute.


We should encourage schools and recruiters not to discriminate by age – or in any other way. This includes tackling implicit biases, which is an illegal practice. Many of us — no matter our age — do not have enough money to retire (even if we wanted to). This said people of every age are motivated to work and have a right to do so. If employers can create an inclusive, fair, and meaningful experience for older employees, as well as younger ones, the company becomes more innovative, engaging, – and profitable – and it benefits society at large.




What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.





Sidney Rose was born in Cheshire, England and studied at Manchester University.  He began teaching in 1974 in a Community College in Cambridge, followed by a Head of Department position in Hertfordshire before he was contracted by the UK Ministry of Defense to the British Services School in Hong Kong in 1980. Forty years in international education later in many countries, cultures and settings (Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Sweden, Qatar, India, China and Vietnam and well as consultancies in many other countries) as a school leader and international education consultant and advisor, he finds himself “on-the-shelf” and considered past-the-sell-by date.


Michael Thompson was born in Nottingham, U.K. and studied at Leeds University. He started teaching in Oxfordshire and was head of a co-educational secondary boarding school in Zambia at the age of 26. He then moved on to a career in international education with leadership positions in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Michael has served as an accreditation team leader and was a member of the Education Steering Committee that produced the Government of India’s 5 Years Plan, 2012-2017. After establishing his consultancy, he returned to international school headship in Belgium and now Jamaica.


Image By Jean-Luc – originally posted to Flickr as The WHO, CC BY-SA 2.0

Colouring outside the lines: Using the full palette of our diversity

Colouring outside the lines: Using the full palette of our diversity

Debra Rader, International Educator, Author and Consultant

First published in TAISI Magazine, January 2021.

This is a hugely pivotal time in our world and in education. We have come to value our humanity anew, and to look for and see the humanity in one another. There is a renewed commitment to anti-bias and anti-racist education, and to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in our learning communities. Intentionally teaching about human relationships, and the ability to live, learn and work together with understanding, compassion and positive regard is central to this commitment. Sharing our identities, cultures, personal histories and stories is part this work. Teaching and learning for intercultural understanding enables us to colour outside the lines using the full palette of our diversity.


Equity, diversity and inclusion


The aim of education is to develop the full and unique potential in every student and enable each person to contribute in purposeful and meaningful ways to shaping a better world. Towards this aim schools strive to create equitable and inclusive learning communities where all children and adults, with the rich diversity they bring, are affirmed, valued and thrive.

With a wide range of cultures, languages, identities, life experiences, and personal and cultural histories schools must work intentionally to embrace their diversity and ensure that everyone is seen, heard and included. We aspire to provide a safe and welcoming environment where everyone is represented, engaged, feels protected and cared for, and has a sense of belonging.

Our schools are tasked with establishing and sustaining equitable, diverse and inclusive environments for all members of the learning community, and also nurturing the values of equity, diversity and inclusion so students, as engaged world citizens, will continue to work towards creating more just and sustainable societies.


What is equity, diversity and inclusion?


Equity is a state of fairness and is the continuous goal of inclusion. Equity aims to provide all members of the school community with equal access to the opportunities and resources available and ensure their full participation in the life of the school. This includes students, faculty, staff, parents, caregivers and board members, and it is reflected in the practices, programmes and policies in the school.


Equitable schools aim to identify and eliminate biases and barriers to inclusion, and respect the dignity and worth of each individual. They aim to eliminate inequality and discrimination of any kind. Equity recognises that people bring their individual strengths and needs to the school community and these are ever changing. Achieving and sustaining equity is therefore a continuous process of recognising and responding to the diversity that exists. Equitable pedagogy, practices and policies are developed to ensure fairness in teaching and learning, in the admissions process, and the hiring and retention of faculty and staff.


Diversity refers to the mix of people and the wide range of differences and identities they bring to our communities. These include race, ethnicity, cultures, languages, socioeconomic, ability, gender and gender identification, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, body shape and size, secular and faith-based beliefs, and all other forms. It includes diversity of values, ideas and perspectives. Diversity strengthens and enriches our communities, and provides resources and opportunities to enhance our learning and understanding. Diversity alone does not necessarily lead to inclusion. Inclusive school communities are developed intentionally when all members of the school community, children and adults, work together to live inclusive values and practices.

All schools should actively recruit and retain students, faculty and staff across a wide range of differences that reflect the community they serve.


Inclusion is an approach to education that embraces diversity in all of its forms, increases participation and opportunities for all, and welcomes and values the contributions of each member. Inclusion work is about how we create connection and community in our schools where all members feel a deep sense of belonging.

Inclusion requires respect and appreciation for all forms of diversity, the willingness and ability to engage with difference, openness to different ideas and perspectives, the ability to listen well, and a commitment to ensuring human rights and dignity for everyone. As schools engage in the work of inclusion they consider ways to establish and sustain an inclusive environment that is respectful and responsive to the changing complexity and needs in their community. Inclusion is a feeling of belonging, being seen, heard, valued, and represented and engaged in making a contribution. Inclusion is an ongoing process and involves all members of the school community. We are all both learning and leading. It is critical that supportive and trusting relationships are developed with and between students, faculty, staff, families and board members in our schools. In inclusive schools children and adults work together to create an environment where everyone can contribute fully and learn with and from each other. It is through working together that they can create a culture of inclusion.


Inclusive beliefs, values and attitudes


The work of inclusion is informed by our beliefs, values and attitudes that guide the way we live, learn and work together. In order to engage in the work of inclusion schools must identify and actively promote the shared beliefs, values and attitudes in their community that guide and support all they do. These are reflected in the mission, vision and philosophy statements, written curriculum, strategic plans, newsletters and other published documents in the school. Inclusion is also a disposition and when we value inclusion we help create inclusive spaces for one another. This is the responsibility of all members of the community.

Beliefs, values and attitudes that promote inclusion in schools recognise our common humanity, value relationships and include compassion, empathy, kindness, trust, appreciation and respect for diversity, curiosity and an interest in others, human rights and dignity for everyone, and social justice and equity.


Looking forward


The work of equity, diversity and inclusion requires ongoing commitment, collaboration and reflection. It is exciting work. It is challenging work. It is vital work. Given the inequities highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, inequality and ongoing racial injustice, this work is ever more timely. Teaching and learning for intercultural understanding promotes this work and provides a way forward.


Intercultural understanding is the bridge between diversity and inclusion


A diverse community is not necessarily an inclusive one. Intercultural understanding is the bridge between diversity and inclusion. Inclusive learning communities are developed intentionally when all members, students and adults, work together to ensure that everyone is valued, and feels a deep sense of belonging.


Intercultural understanding is a disposition and competence that enables us to engage with all forms of difference and diversity with appreciation and respect, establish inclusive relationships, and work to create inclusive learning communities. We continue to develop intercultural understanding throughout our lives, and as we move through our lives we come to understand it more deeply and live it more fully.


As a disposition it is a mindset or orientation and includes beliefs, values and attitudes; as a competence it includes knowledge, understanding and skills. Together they provide a way of being in the world that enables us to approach and engage with difference in mutually respectful and affirming ways.


In my book, Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding: Engaging Young Hearts and Minds, I present a Framework for Developing Intercultural Understanding (Rader, 2016), which contains these four components:


KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING of topics including culture, language, identity, beliefs and global issues


TRANSFORMATIVE BELIEFS, VALUES AND ATTITUDES including appreciation and respect for diversity, compassion, empathy, curiosity, human rights, social justice and equity


ESSENTIAL INTERCULTURAL, INTERPERSONAL AND LIFE SKILLS including intercultural awareness and sensitivity, communication, adaptability, collaboration, creative and critical thinking, resilience, and the ability to recognise, challenge and resist stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and racism.


ENGAGEMENT IN POSTIVE ACTION that puts into practice what we are learning, aligns our beliefs and values with the ways we live our lives, and makes a positive contribution to our world


These components of the Framework need to be intentionally taught, modelled and practised, and embedded in the curriculum and life of the school. I provide detailed lesson plans based on compelling children’s literature, that integrate the Framework into pedagogical practice.


I invite you to bridge diversity and inclusion in your learning communities through teaching and learning for intercultural understanding, and to colour outside the lines using the full palette of our human diversity.


Free webinar/conversation: Dialogue with Debra: The Nature of Intercultural Understanding

Online via Zoom: 07 October
16:00-16:45 BST (London time)

“I warmly invite you to join us as we explore the nature of intercultural understanding, and meaningful and powerful ways we can encourage and nurture its growth and development.” Debra

We are partnered with Debra Rader, international educator, author, consultant and workshop facilitator to offer a monthly series focused on Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding. Developing intercultural understanding is at the heart of international-mindedness, global competence and global citizenship education, and promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and antiracist education. It is an essential disposition and competence to develop in ourselves, each other and the children we teach.


One Day Institute in Partnership with ECIS: Teaching & Learning for Intercultural Understanding

Online via Zoom: 20 October 2021
09:00 -17:00 BST (London time)


It is a challenging yet exciting time to be an educator. Our world, communities and schools are increasingly multicultural, multilingual and multiracial, and respect and appreciation for difference and diversity are needed more than ever. Intercultural understanding is a vital disposition and competence to develop in ourselves, in each other and in the children we teach, and we all have a critical role to play in nurturing its development.

The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that we are all part of a common humanity and that we have a shared responsibility to take care of ourselves, each other and our planet we call home. We have been given pause to consider what is most important in life and have rediscovered the need for connection and community, love and compassion. Human beings have an enormous capacity to counteract xenophobia and racism. Ongoing events worldwide remind us of the need to teach for compassionate, respectful, equitable and inclusive human relationships.

Intercultural understanding does not occur naturally and needs to be cultivated with intentionality. Bridging theory and practice, and applying research in the field of intercultural competence, we will explore ways to integrate teaching and learning for intercultural understanding in our learning communities. You will be introduced to a Framework for Developing Intercultural Understanding (Rader, 2016) and ways to integrate children’s literature as a catalyst for classroom discussions and inquiry. We will engage our hearts and minds, and work together towards creating a more compassionate, peaceful and inclusive world.

Participants will actively engage in personal and collaborative learning and reflection through a range of activities. We will explore new strategies, activities and resources that nurture and support the development of intercultural understanding for all members of the learning community.


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Debra Rader is an international educator, author and consultant living in Lucca, Italy. She brings years of experience in national and international education as a primary, middle school and special education teacher, primary school principal and educational consultant having worked in the US, the UK, Germany and Italy. She has extensive experience working with inquiry-based and dual language approaches to learning, US Curriculum and the IB PYP.

Debra has presented at Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS), Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS), Alliance for International Education (AIE) and The Association of International Schools of India (TAISI) conferences in Europe and India, and led workshops in international schools in Europe on developing intercultural understanding and international mindedness; understanding international mobility; and implementing transition education and transition programmes that support internationally mobile children and families. She facilitates in-depth workshops for educators on Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding, and has worked with educators from around the world.

Debra is the author of Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding: Engaging Young Hearts and Minds (Routledge, 2018), a comprehensive resource for educators complete with lesson plans based on compelling children’s literature. She is also a transition specialist and co-author of New Kid in School: Using Literature to Help Children in Transition (Teachers College Press, 2003).

Debra is a licensed Qualified Administrator (QA) for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a leading cross-cultural assessment tool used worldwide to measure group and individual capacity for intercultural competence, and promote its further development. Passionate about developing intercultural understanding in children and adults, Debra is deeply committed to honouring each other’s cultures, languages, identities, personal stories and histories, and to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice and antiracism in education.


Building a Culture of Inclusion

Anu Monga, Founder & Chairperson at TAISI, Former Head of School, Bangalore International School


When we speak of inclusive education, we refer to an approach in which children with different skills, needs, strengths and weaknesses learn together. The school adapts and integrates the specific learning requirements of students. Not only are differences valued but, more importantly, they are celebrated. As an administrator, I have been trying my best to put inclusiveness into action. While the word ‘inclusion’ can easily be found in every international school setting as part of the vision, mission, curriculum, or learning principles, we need to ask ourselves whether it is reflected in the school itself.


Journey to inclusion


I could say that my journey began very accidentally twenty years ago, when on the day of my interview for the position of Head of School, while walking around the school to get a feel of the space, I saw a boy sitting outside the classroom and felt that something was not right. When I asked the teacher why he was excluded from the classroom, she mentioned that the child was not able to understand anything and that handling him was beyond her capacity. Later on, I got to know that he had cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment. Shaken by the incident, I went inside the office and expressed to the School Board that if I was hired, I would like to ensure that this would not happen again, after which they gave me a green signal to initiate a change.

The first thing I did was to hire special educators, which marked the beginning of the Learning Centre journey. The most important change, however, was to move away from the idea of ‘handling’ children, which we perceive differently to ‘nurturing’ them, and creating real learning opportunities. I could say that was where my journey began, but truth be told, it began when I, myself, was a child growing up in Kashmir. I remember my teachers treating me different merely because I was left-handed. Teachers used to tie my left hand forcing me to use only my right hand.


The inclusive education environment


Although inclusive education is built and advocated on the principles of equity, more than anything else, experience has taught me that it requires a commitment of care. Apart from providing resources such as hiring the right staff, building facilities, and professional development opportunities, it is about building a culture of inclusion which is founded on awareness, sensitivity and resilience.

Every child in my school has an individual lesson plan; in some cases, students are fully integrated into all the classes, and in other cases it is a mix of integration and having their needs met through an individual lesson plan by specialised teachers. The needs can include visual impairment, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder and learning difficulties, along with emotional, behavioural, language, speech, and communication disorders. Students who are unable to cope in the mainstream educational set-up can participate in the IGCSE and open schooling programme.


Cultural change


Working in India especially requires one to be very sensitive since awareness about inclusive education is still very much in its initial stages. The Hindi film Taare Zameen Par (‘Stars on Earth’), which addressed dyslexia, helped in creating more general awareness and acceptance about this, but there is still a long way to go. What we eventually need is patterns to be changed, and I believe that success is connected to our intrinsic motivation. While advocacy is important, we have to be careful not to overlook what drives us. Let us be honest with ourselves: why are we doing this? Is it because it is a trend, because it looks good, or because policies demand us to do so? The reason why this matters is because sometimes the motivation can mould the pattern, and when that happens there is a stronger force that drives change.

There are many instances where I faced parents in tears because they found it difficult to accept their child’s situation, or where parents persistently refused to accept certain learning interventions, or situations in which I or the staff had to deal with anger outbursts. I remember an incident when a parent refused to accept that his child had autism. The child was exceptionally talented in music; whatever anyone would hum the child would be able to translate into notes. I even ensured that the child was admitted into one of the top music schools in India, but all was in vain. The parent did not want this and persisted on his child taking the IGCSE exam which he kept on failing, and slowly we witnessed the child’s confidence fading away. One day the parent called me up in tears: “Who will take care of him after I die?”

Nothing can prepare you for this. However difficult it may be, I always try to keep an open mind, visualise the child and remain compassionate. As an educator you know that acceptance and harmony at home makes a real difference for each child.

Inclusive education includes much more than we initially think of. Once, parents came to meet me and told me that their two children were not getting accepted into any international school because of their gender identity. I chatted with the kids and accepted them on the spot. Today, one of them is a famous artist and the other one runs a chain of beauty salons. Over the years I have witnessed many beautiful stories: from a visually impaired child getting acceptance into Brown University, to a child with severe dyslexia winning the Princess Diana Cup for Art.


Developing a skilled professional community


To build a culture of inclusion takes work and a community-wide approach. The growing demand for Learning Needs trainers led me to develop the professional development platform under the TAISI umbrella where we curate regular, ongoing learning events for teachers, leaders and students within the region. We have organised workshops and training for schools across India to build a culture of inclusion. Beyond India, I am part of the Advisory Board of Next Frontier Inclusion, which supports schools across the world on their journeys towards inclusion. My next step is a new initiative I’m working on called ‘Structures of Joy’, of which one of the main pillars is to promote inclusive education. The journey continues.



Anu Monga is recognised for her leadership of international and inclusive education in India. She has led schools in New Delhi, Kodaikanal, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Contact Anu at or on LinkedIn