The Lancaster School is a non-profit, private school founded in 1979 and located in the south of Mexico City, catering for approximately 830 children from 3 to 18 years old. It is located on two sites, one mile apart, housing the Primary School (3 – 11 years old) and Secondary School (11 – 18 years old).
The school traditionally offered its students a single, integrated programme combining the Mexican education system with the British, taught through both English and Spanish. In the last few years we have broadened our horizons and although British practice is a cornerstone of our educational philosophy we have introduced the International Baccalaureate Primary Years and Diploma programmes and the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC).
We believe that there is much more to education than training pupils to pass exams and emphasis is placed on the importance of the individual and the development of skills and habits which will serve pupils long after they leave school. Classes are small and teachers are encouraged to use innovative and varied teaching methods in order to motivate pupils.
We do not have a rigid, authoritarian disciplinary code (there is no dress code for teachers or pupils) but prefer to try to foster respect between pupils and staff, pupils and pupils, and pupils and their environment, and treat breaches of this respect on their merits. Relations between pupils and teachers are generally very good and pupils are always given the opportunity to express their points of view, although the responsibility of decision making obviously lies with the management.
The school was founded by a group of parents who sought a truly bicultural education for their children and who wanted to be able to participate fully in the life of the school. As such, the school is constituted as a Civil Association in which every parent has a vote in the Annual General Meeting, which elects the Board of Governors and approves the plans and budget for the following year. The Headteacher reports to the Board of Governors and has overall responsibility for all aspects of the running of the school. There is close co-operation between Mexican and overseas staff and a strong sense of community throughout the school.
The Lancaster Community is predominantly made up of middle class, professional families from a diverse range of backgrounds, with the biggest groups being university academics, doctors and other healthcare professionals, and artists from all branches of the arts. The diversity and richness of the community is a great strength of the school which we try to take full advantage of.
We are committed to the principles of education for sustainable development, applied in the inclusion of students with intellectual and physical disabilities, a strong social action programme with local and regional communities, a scholarship programme that goes beyond legal requirements and programmes directed at environmental awareness and action.
The school has a solid and widely recognised reputation as a serious, forward-thinking and innovative educational establishment which puts the individual at the centre of the educational process. It is an active member of the Latin American Heads Conference (LAHC) and the International Baccalaureate and enjoys a long-standing and productive collaborative relationship with schools of a similar nature in Mexico City.
The school is currently entering its fifth decade and finds itself in a healthy and stable position, ready for the next stage of its development. During the last few years the school has completed the repayment of a long-term loan required to develop the initial phase of the secondary site. In 2017 the school completed a Master Plan project which has set out a path for the development of the school’s facilities over the next decade. At the same time the school completed a joint IB/LAHC evaluation which brought an external perspective on the school’s strengths and areas for development. These two projects have informed the development planning for the school. The school’s greatest strength has always been the community’s support for the school’s unique educational vision, based on a well-articulated philosophy and mission.
The major challenges over the next few years all stem from a commitment to developing the school to support the educational vision. These include: the further development of facilities, the continued work of developing the coherence of the curricula from entry to graduation, continuing to enhance professional development opportunities for all staff, the strengthening of administrative systems and encouraging innovative practices that align with the school’s overall mission and values. In all of this the essential focus remains on the development of our pupils as individuals.
The successful applicant will be expected to lead this process and mobilise the considerable talent and experience in the school community in order to move the school forward. As such the critical aspect of the position is that of inspirational leadership, although of course strong management skills will be required to turn the vision into reality.
Directly accountable to the Headteacher are the Heads of the Primary and Secondary sites, the School Administrator and the Head of Educational Support and Development, each with their own management team, although the management style in the school is very collaborative and most decisions are taken collectively. The successful candidate would be expected to have a very strong visible presence with all members of staff, students and parents, and to teach a small number of classes.
We are looking for an enthusiastic, energetic, outgoing, optimistic and approachable person with relevant senior management experience. They should have a deeply held, personal educational philosophy that is compatible with that of the Lancaster School and a strong commitment to bicultural education, preferably based on first-hand experience. They should be a visionary leader, committed to building thriving educational communities that include all stakeholders, with an understanding and sensitivity to the challenges of working in cross-cultural environments. Experience in Latin America would be an advantage.
Specifically, the key qualities that we are looking for are:
Vision and strategic thinking
- Capacity to visualise the future and inspire others
- Ability to innovate without losing the traditions and ethos of the school
- Creative thinking (outside the box)
Leadership and management skills
- Energy, enthusiasm, optimism
- Capacity to inspire, align and delegate
- Ability to get results
- Judgement – knowing when to consult and when to lead
- Ability to prioritise
- Foresight – capacity to recognise potential problems
- Capacity to build knowledge and share it
- Cross cultural sensitivity
- Ability to convert facts and ideas into messages
- Ability to build community through internal and external communications
Technical skills and knowledge
- Native level speaker of English
- Fluent spoken and written Spanish
- Ability to analyse, synthesise and arrive at conclusions
- Excellent teaching ability
- Knowledge of educational systems and theories
- Understanding of the field of bicultural education
- Understanding of administration and finance
Interpersonal skills and qualities
- Ethical, authentic, open
- Flexible, patient, tolerant
- Excellent listener
- Ability to connect and establish relationships of trust
- Talent for nurturing creativity
- Driven by a constant search for improvement
- Sense of humour
- Able to accept mistakes
- Calm under pressure
- Ability to resolve conflict
The application process
Applicants should send a current Curriculum Vitae and letter of application, together with the names and contact details of three referees, to Elsie Sosa (firstname.lastname@example.org), Secretary to the Board of Governors, no later than September 16th 2019.
The letter should address the candidate’s specific interest and reasons for wanting to live in Mexico and work at the Lancaster School. It should provide concrete examples of past achievements and successes that illustrate the qualities listed in the person profile and it should outline, in general terms, what the candidate would hope to achieve in the first three years in the position and their strategies for doing so.
Applicants should provide the name, position and e-mail of three referees who have worked closely with them in the last five years in an educational context. The referees should be prepared to be contacted by telephone or Skype if necessary.
Candidates will be filtered in the first instance on the basis of their written application and their written responses to a series of questions that will be sent to candidates whose initial application satisfies enough of the selection criteria to warrant further consideration. The second stage of the selection process will be an interview by Skype during the month of October and a maximum of 3 shortlisted candidates will be invited to a face to face interview in Mexico in the last week of November (travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the school).
The successful candidate will be notified immediately after the final interviews and will be expected to take up the position by 1st August 2020 at the latest.