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ESF seeks top teachers for long haul
Published on Thursday, 23 Feb 2012
Charles Caldwell
Director of human resources, ESF
Photo: Berton Chang

Secondary school teachers are being sought by the English Schools Foundation (ESF) for the beginning of the new school year in September 2012. At ESF secondary schools, 43 positions are open, with an additional 22 vacancies in the foundation’s two private independent schools. More opportunities will soon be available at Discovery College, which will start Year 12 and Year 13 classes in the academic years of 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively.

“The abilities we seek include adaptability, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and self-reflective and team-centred behaviour,” says the ESF’s director of human resources, Charles Caldwell. “ESF teachers are able to form an allaround perspective of how the students they teach can – and do – grow as budding young adults.”

Teachers should also excel in planning and organising work, translating strategies into plans and actions, and leading change. They should also value diversity and support ESF’s mission of developing young people who are internationally minded and recognise a common humanity.

“Teachers need to have a university degree, a recognised teaching qualification and several years’ teaching experience,” says Caldwell.

Since the foundation mostly employs native speakers from overseas, it has put together a comprehensive plan for assistance to those who are settling into life in Hong Kong, with information on how to rent a flat, open a bank account, buy furniture and Western grocery items, or get an ID card and driving licence.

A few Cantonese words, some information on the city’s history and an Amazing Race-style treasure hunt aid the cultural-side of orientation.

“We explain to teachers the ‘cultural adaptation curve’. About three months after arrival, we conduct a follow-up session with a shift more towards the ESF pedagogy. By this point, new teachers are settled and in a frame of mind where they can better absorb information about ESF philosophy and values,” says Caldwell.

Teachers’ performance is reviewed twice a year against goals set with the head of their respective departments, and they receive regular feedback and support during the year. The foundation also backs continuous professional development.

Mark Poulsum, head of geography at King George V School since 2008, says the students, the collegiality of teachers and the excitement of Hong Kong make the job interesting.

“The energy and enthusiasm of students in Hong Kong never ceases to amaze me. This gives a teacher a huge amount of freedom to engage students,” he says, advising applicants to research both the school and Hong Kong. “Each school [has] its own unique characteristics and the different areas offer very different lifestyles,” he adds.

The voluntary attrition rate across the foundation’s schools is just under 8 per cent, with some teachers having worked with the ESF for 20 or more years. On average, teachers stay around eight years.


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