Two Scottish education chiefs head for Hong Kong

Two of the most prominent figures in Scottish education are getting ready to start a new life in the Far East.

Belinda Greer, head of education for Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils, will from 1 September take over as chief executive at Hong Kong's English Schools Foundation (ESF), whose 21 schools educate 17,000 students of more than 50 nationalities.

She will later be joined in Hong Kong by her husband Ken, director of education in Fife, who is due to retire towards the end of 2013.

Mrs Greer, who started her teaching career in Abu Dhabi in the early 1980s, became joint head of education for Stirling and Clackmannanshire in 2011, as the two authorities pioneered the sharing of services across council borders.

She has railed against what she sees as a tendency in local authorities to "become quite insular and focus only on developments where you are" - a conviction that led to her new job. While exploring international educational approaches that could benefit Stirling and Clackmannanshire, she learned of the post in Hong Kong.

Mrs Greer told TESS that, with her children grown up, the move came at the right stage of her life.

She will arrive at a time of fundamental change: government subsidies to the ESF schools are being phased out, and the shortfall will result in steep rises to fees paid by families.

She is most excited about the ESF's determination to improve teachers' continuing professional development, and found that there was considerable interest in Scotland's Donaldson report on teacher education, with its aspiration to make teaching a master's-level profession.

Mrs Greer added that she was struck by the determination of schools in Scotland and Hong Kong to forge international links.

She is keen to broker such connections and believes that Scotland's "1+2" modern languages policy may help to drive that process.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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