This year’s conference was the first since the organisation changed its name from BAISC to BAISIS (British Association of Independent Schools with International Students). This small but significant change reflects more closely the membership and aims of the organisation and makes it clearer that BAISIS represents the interests of all UK independent boarding schools and colleges which have international students at primary and secondary level. Five new applications for membership from leading UK independent schools were approved at the AGM which preceded the conference, bringing the current membership to 41. The value of membership is being recognised by more and more schools and the BAISIS Chairman, Caroline Nixon, is confident that membership will hit 50 by the end of 2015.
The conference was attended by teachers, pastoral staff and senior managers from 48 member and non-member schools. This year’s keynote speaker was Amanda Bailey, Chief Operating Officer of the Bright Futures Educational Trust. Amanda’s talk introduced delegates to the concept of Mindfulness and its role in directing attention to our experience as it unfolds moment by moment with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, it trains us to respond skilfully to what is happening right now.
Having participated in a practical demonstration of Mindfulness techniques, delegates then directed their attention to a full and varied programme of speakers which included Matthew Burgess in his final engagement as General Secretary of the ISC before taking up his new role with Veale Wasbrough Vizard, Professor Hilary Nesi from Coventry University, Victoria Everett from UKCISA, Suzanne Rowse from British Boarding Schools Workshop, educational psychologist Julia Jennings and Joanna Norton from Key Words English. A special focus of this year’s conference was the Transition From Sixth Form to University which generated much discussion and was supported by Leeds University Education Outreach Officer, Jess Heaney, and an inspirational presentation by Daniel Austin from D’Overbroeck’s College. Other topics covered by the conference included The Power and Purpose of Linked In for Schools, Meeting the Needs of Younger International Students, Creating a Culture to Support Students’ Well-being and Performance Management.
Feedback from the day scored the conference a resounding success. The next conference takes place in March 2016 so keep checking www.baisis.org.uk for information as the programme takes.