Head for change: from Rutherglen to Mexico
Earthquakes, a volcanic eruption and acclimatising to living and working at 8,000ft above sea level were just some of the initial challenges I faced in April, as I took up my new post as head of the Edron Academy, a British International School in Mexico City. After 36 years of teaching in Scotland - the past 16 as headteacher of Stonelaw High in Rutherglen - this is about as different as it gets.
Edron Academy was established almost 50 years ago by two teachers, one British, the other Canadian (one was called Ed and the other Ron, hence the school's name) to provide an inclusive and alternative approach to education.
It outgrew its original site and now caters for children aged 1-18 in three buildings: kinder, primary and secondary built on seven levels down the mountainside, with a total of about 1,000 pupils. It is a bilingual and bicultural school delivering both the Mexican and the English curricula with pupils sitting International GCSE exams and the International Baccalaureate.
Most pupils are from Mexican families who want their children to have a bilingual and bicultural education, particularly with a British emphasis. Since many of the families work in the media, there is a strong tradition in the expressive arts, proven by the number of ex-pupils who have become film and television stars as well as poets and writers.
There are many international schools in this thriving megapolis of 25 million people, which is vibrant and rich in culture and history. The largest is the American school with over 3,000 students but there are also a number of British, French, German, Swiss and Japanese to name but a few. They meet a large demand in the city because of concerns parents have over the uneven quality of the state sector.
As head of an independent school, I have a privileged position since many of the issues encountered in the state system do not exist in our school, but we do collaborate locally to improve the situation. With a growing economy and the Mexican work ethic, there is every chance of the country realising its potential, provided the leadership is there to do so.