“We count on the stakeholders to agree on the school’s strategy and values.”
Cognita is a worldwide leading educational group consisting of 72 schools in 8 different countries around the globe. The most important school in Spain is The British School of Barcelona. Mr Jon Locke has been its Principal since September 2018. We spoke with him.
La Vanguardia, 25th January 2019
Especial “Mejores Centros Educativos de Catalunya” (Best Educational Centres in Catalonia)
After a lengthy successful career as Headteacher of a Sixth Form Business and Enterprise Academy in the UK, what motivated you to move to Spain and become the new Principal of The British School of Barcelona?
After working as Headteacher at an English school for 10 years, developing policies that allowed us to grow, extend the existing facilities and obtain the national accreditation as a training school for teachers and other schools, I decided that it was time for a new challenge, and I considered the possibility of an international experience. After evaluating the position of Principal at The British School of Barcelona, meeting the Cognita team, and finding out about their history and educational project, I decided to move to Barcelona with my family.
What effective practices would you like to transfer from your experience in leading school communities through change and innovation?
After 15 years of innovation and changes in the previous schools where I have worked, I have concluded that the best way to develop and improve as a school is by involving all the stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, and support staff. In order to do this, it is necessary to listen to their opinions, provide my own vision, and jointly agree on a strategy and common values for the whole school. In my experience, when there is consensus, everything else flows.
Would you consider yourself a transformational leader? Do you focus on incremental change?
I believe that quick changes are often superficial. This is why I prefer long-term improvement plans, which are more sustainable in time. All the stakeholders should take part in the design of this improvement plan, and the senior leadership team must be able to share the responsibility of making decisions. The figure of the headteacher as the unique leader of a school , so prevalent in the 80s, has no place in our system today.
The BSB has a growing, international community. How do you strengthen the sense of belonging in a large, diverse school like BSB?
We believe this is fundamental. Our curriculum offers the students different opportunities to appreciate interculturality and respect everyone’s individuality. Students from different age groups work together in music performances, drama productions, sport competitions, and social responsibility actions for the benefit of the local community, among others. Thanks to our peer tutoring programme, older students act as tutors for younger ones, organise activities for them and explain the projects they are running in the school, such as the fundraising activities in benefit of a Ugandan orphanage.
The 21st century sees us facing a fast-changing, challenging environment. How does the BSB equip students to prepare for this highly competitive future?
We strive to provide our students with the necessary skills, so they can achieve the best academic results, but also learn how to be independent and creative, and develop critical thinking and lifelong learning habits; something which we consider vital in order to face the future when they leave school.
What are the short- and long-term goals for BSB? Are there any interesting developments we can look forward to?
In the short-term, we will continue working to keep the high-quality standards of our education and to ensure our provision is both engaging and challenging for our students. In the long-term, I believe there are ample opportunities for collaboration beyond our school, such as networking with other Cognita schools around the world, as we are currently doing with our sister schools in Spain. This will help us create a global enriching educational offer both for the students and for our staff.
View the interview in La Vanguardia: