Wednesday 29 March 2017

The importance of extra-curricular activity and developing students as future leaders and citizens was a key focus at the recently concluded Schools Now! Conference held in Sri Lanka. Organised by the British Council as part of a continuous effort from the organisation to spearhead thought leadership and innovation in education, the two day conference – centered on the theme: ‘Teaching, learning, and life beyond school’ - attracted vibrant participation from respected international leaders across multiple disciplines in the field of education, including 300 school teachers representing 16 countries of the British Council Partner Schools Global Network.  

‘The Partner Schools Global Network works closely with schools around the world to help ensure that students to get the most out of their education and reach their potential, not only in their school studies and examinations but also in their life beyond the classroom’ British Council, Sri Lanka, Country Director, Keith Davies said. 

Speaking at the inauguration of the conference, Chief Guest and Deputy Minister of Private Education, Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Saad Saud Alfahaid encouraged attendees to make optimal use of the international platform created by the event by engaging in open dialogue with their counterparts from across the globe with a view towards creating collective solutions. 

‘Today’s world is witnessing major societal changes that affect all aspects of life, at international, regional and local levels. Due to the acceleration of these changes and their lasting impacts, countries and governments are counting on quality education and capable institutions to develop human power, in an attempt to adapt to all economic and social conditions and deal with its repercussions.

‘This human power will assist governments and institutions to achieve their visions, and goals as well as overcome their crises and challenges.’

During the course of this year’s conference, participants were given unprecedented access to ideas and concepts developed by prominent international thought leaders like Ormiston Academies Trust, Chief Executive, Professor Toby Salt, who spoke with delegates about the importance of school leadership and ensuring high quality teaching and learning from the context of the English education system while elaborating on lessons learned following significant structural reforms undertaken during the last decade. 

Numerous other prominent speakers also delivered presentations at the event, including Pearson Director of Research and Efficacy, Dr. Grace Grima, Cambridge International Examinations Senior Manager for Bahrain and Qatar, Raed Omar Brahedni, and Principal of the Rosary School-Marj Elhamam, one of Jordan’s most academically and socially successful schools, Dr. Muna Lilia Al Nemr.

Participants at Schools Now were encouraged to interact and network with their global counterparts, with a view to facilitating an open discussion around some of the most innovative teaching models currently being implemented. Teachers were also given an opportunity to offer feedback on all aspects of the conference and discuss some of the most significant lessons that they took away from this year’s conference. 

‘Particularly from the context of Eastern cultures, we believe that we will need to re-examine the relationship between the family and the school in the context of giving our students a greater sense of autonomy and personal responsibility. This can sometimes cross into areas that our cultures might consider taboo however based on what we have heard over the course of the conference, I think it is clear that if we are able to bring all of our students’ senses alive through learning, this will make them into better learners and later into dynamic leaders. Our role isn’t only to teach them but to also make them feel protected and loved, and if we do this, then I’m confident that our students will be able to accomplish wonders,’ a participant at the event explained. 

A key taking from the conference centered on the need for a shift in education, from teaching students to follow the rules, to preparing students to identify and solve problems in line with the trend towards innovation and entrepreneurship. Employers are increasingly on the look-out for an entirely new set of 21st century skills in their employees. 

Employers value employees that are more thoughtful, collaborative and skilled at problem solving. Current methods of assessment are not deemed by employers as adequate to identify and develop those skills. The conference highlighted several challenges, but also explored unprecedented new opportunities to drive change. 

For more information, videos and content on Schools Now! please visit

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. 

We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. 

We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. 

Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. 

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.

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