Inspiring a new generation of leaders
Belinda Greer – key leader
[Sponsored article] The challenge for today’s teachers is to prepare the current generation of students to be contributors, shapers and leaders in an unknown, but exciting future in a rapidly‑changing world, characterised by technologies, yet‑to‑be‑conceptualised, far less invented.
Belinda Greer leads ESF in responding to this collective challenge, providing opportunities for students and advantaging the wider community, both within and beyond Hong Kong. This educational challenge requires that every day, every teacher in every ESF classroom is inspired, supported and challenged to bring out the best in every student. To achieve this goal, ESF schools need to lead together, co‑operating and collaborating in creating a curriculum, relevant to every learner’s future.
Joining ESF in 2013 as Chief Executive Officer, Belinda brought a wealth of educational experience to the role: five years in an international setting at the start of her career; principal in three schools; five years as Her Majesty’s District Inspector of Education in Scotland; and director of education in two education authorities. It was, she believes, “the perfect preparation” for the “capstone” career move to ESF. However, she laughs at the notion that she is an “arm’s-length bureaucrat”. As a life-long educator, she retains a forensic focus on every student’s learning experience, “If it isn’t happening in the classroom, it isn’t happening,” she remarks.
“ESF nurtures a strong sense of belonging,” she says. “At its best, it feels like an extended family of schools. Although, like all families, we will have our differences, ultimately our default response is to learn together, to trust, to respect and to give support, looking after and out for each other. This allows us to have mutual confidence in the offer our dynamic, world-class organisation makes in Hong Kong and collective pride in our students’ and schools’ resulting achievements.”
Since Belinda’s appointment, ESF has participated in important negotiations with the Hong Kong Government related to the decision to phase-out the historic subvention. Both ESF and the Government parties continue to work closely on plans for funding the re-building of Island School. In order to reinforce the common sense of purpose across the organisation, shortly after joining the Foundation, Belinda led a consultation and review of ESF’s priorities, strategic intent, vision, mission and the core values underpinning its work. This resulted in the formulation of a five-year Strategic Plan for ESF, launched under the title, A Vision for 2015-2020.
“We conducted extensive research into the ways in which ESF was perceived, the relative strengths of our work and, importantly, the areas where we can improve further,” she says.
ESF’s vision is “for every student to be the best they can be”, while its mission is “to inspire creativity and nurture global citizens and leaders” by fostering students as entrepreneurial, active and engaged learners, responsible citizens, good at collaborating and solving problems, with a clear sense of personal and social responsibility.
“ESF is a great organisation, which is doing amazing things, opening up students’ futures,” Belinda says. As examples of achievements, she highlights the recent ESF 50th Anniversary Primary Choral Concert, with nearly 800 students performing, watched by an audience of 1,700 people. She also references the annual Chairman’s Awards, which celebrate ESF’s outstanding recent successes. “No one attending these events could fail to share the collective pride we have in our students’ achievements.”
“It is inspiring to work with colleagues who are so enthusiastic, have high energy and can-do attitudes. I do believe that ESF has some of the best teachers and principals in the world,” Belinda says. “For me, personally and professionally, working with ESF in Hong Kong has widened my horizons and my understanding of what can be achieved. If we remain an organisation in which, every day, our students and their families are absolutely at the heart of what we choose to do, we won’t go far wrong.”