A day in the life of Susan Carpenter

This principal's international school is still under construction in Dubai. But there's no time to put her feet up: she's busy meeting prospective pupils, interviewing staff and planning for the future

Tes Editorial

My day usually starts at 6am. Checking my email is always a priority; my husband and children are in the UK with a four-hour time difference and some days this is the only way we are able to communicate.

I was recently appointed principal of a brand new school called Dubai British Foundation, which is due to open in September. As the school is still under construction, I am working from a temporary admissions office in another of the schools in the Taaleem chain (taaleem is the Arabic word for education). This project is an exciting one and my work is varied. I am currently recruiting staff, helping in the final stages of building design and planning the curriculum.

It's a short drive through the city of Dubai to the office. I begin by checking my schedule for meetings with parents and children to assess them for admission. It is heartening to see so many applications arriving when we haven't even launched the school website yet.

The growth of Dubai is phenomenal and the fact that the city has been selected for the international Expo 2020 exhibition has certainly led to greater interest from businesses and expats. I am told that 100 new schools will be built in the emirate in the next few years.

Some days are easier than others. A couple of weeks ago, I was summoned to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority for an interview. Principals in Dubai are not only interviewed by school owners and governing body representatives but also by government officials. It was a thorough process - I was well and truly grilled. The wait for the result was like the sword of Damocles hanging over me, but thankfully I passed.

After a late lunch I am back in the office, looking at resources and working with our design team to find innovative ways to promote effective learning in the school. The owners are generous in funding this project and are receptive to my ideas and vision for the school. My husband works in the Western Isles of Scotland, where several new schools have been built with support from the Scottish government. The layout and design of these schools is proving successful, so I plan to ask the local authority for some ideas and photos to inspire us further.

Towards the end of the day, I have a couple of second interviews with teaching candidates who have impressed me. I am on the verge of offering positions to both, as they are positive and friendly and have the skills and talents needed to establish an excellent school.

At home, I have a short Skype chat with my family before a late meal and bed. Tomorrow will be equally varied, just as I like it. I never quite know what to expect, but I am fortunate to meet such interesting people and such delightful children of all nationalities. As each new parent registers a child, another piece of the jigsaw slots into place and Dubai British Foundation comes a step closer to reality.

Your day

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