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BSME is grateful for the opportunity it was given to contribute to the “co-creation” of the strategy at three BIS workshops devoted to this task. We welcome and support the strategy and look forward to playing an active role in the development and realisation of the objectives, as they relate to the overseas schools sector.
The UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Department for Education (DFE) have launched a policy statement under the title: “International education strategy: global growth and prosperity.”
The strategy describes how the government and, in particular the education sector, intend to take advantage of opportunities outside of the United Kingdom. The strategy “aims to build on our strengths in higher and further education, in our schools overseas, in our educational technology and products and services, and in delivering English language training”.
Of particular interest to BSME schools and other overseas schools with a British nature, is that amongst aspects addressed by the policy are those expressed as follows:
The strategy covers: "...supporting transnational education: supporting British schools and colleges operating overseas, developing ‘end-to-end’ English language training, and strengthening quality assurance.”
And “...building the UK brand and seizing opportunities: developing a new ‘Education is GREAT Britain’ campaign.”
Both of these areas, together with an assurance of a “warm welcome for international students”, address significant matters raised in the BSME paper ‘Extended position paper on the need for Government support for BSME Schools’ document submitted to UKTI, BIS and DFE in late 2012 and, in a slightly revised form, in early January 2013.
In early 2013, BSME, through the attendance of Chairman Ed Goodwin, participated in three BIS workshops concerned with, the “co-creation” of the strategy. He was able, at these events, to indicate common areas of interest from other regional British overseas schools bodies (NABSS, FOBISSEA and LAHC) and to suggest content related to such schools. This, in concert with the BSME position paper, has clearly had an impact on government thinking about British Schools Overseas, which has found expression in the BIS / DFE strategy.
Whilst the strategy is an excellent and useful step forward, it does not meet all of our needs. The industrial strategy, quite rightly, concentrates on the economic benefits to the UK that might accrue from educational activity involving foreign students – and supporting our schools will help to achieve progress on this criterion. For example: it is estimated that each year around 50% of Year 13 BSME students go on to enter UK universities; increased support could raise this number significantly.
It is a fact, however, that our schools, students, staff and parents have needs that, whilst not directly linked to economic benefit, are important to British nationals living overseas and their children’s future. British teachers – and would-be teachers – would also benefit from enhanced levels of support to our schools. BSME intends, therefore, to continue to work towards increased support from the UK government in specific areas described in the extended position paper.
Going further, there needs to be a greater recognition of the influence that will be wielded in the future by those we teach who will become leaders of countries and powerful businessmen throughout the Middle East. The fact that they are educated in schools with a British flavour means they are more likely to attend British universities. These students, through having developed a deeper understanding of our ways and culture and of the strengths of the United Kingdom, will generally be favourably disposed towards the UK in their activities as adults.
Returning to the strategy itself; the paper includes many other interesting and important ideas. For example: “leading the world in education technology: actively encouraging development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)” and developing “a new relationship with emerging powers: prioritising UK engagement with key partners, doubling investment in development higher education partnerships and expanding the number of Chevening scholarships for study in the UK.” All of these, although less directly relevant to the schools sector, are interesting, important and supported by BSME.
The full text of the international education strategy and supporting information can be found here: … https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/international-education-strategy-global-growth-and-prosperity
Alternatively, the following are direct links to the relevant pdfs.