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The switch from Qatar to Romania – a Scotsman takes the lead of an international school in Bucharest

Scotsman Grant Gillies flew from Qatar at the beginning of the summer, after spending three years in Doha, where he was the vice-principal of one of the most successful international schools in the world. The destination of his flight: Bucharest, Romania. 

He landed in Bucharest with his wife and their two children, and they settled in quite fast, while he took over as Headmaster of the British School of Bucharest (BSB). 

"We have settled really well and, in a short space of time, have been all around Bucharest and into the mountains. It’s a fantastic place to call home!"

For the Gillies’, it’s their third international posting after Thailand, where Grant was for two years Head of Primary and Acting Principal and after his three years in Qatar as Senior Vice Principal at Doha College.  

Why did he choose Romania? The School’s reputation around the world mattered most in taking the decision to move and continue his career here. He also made sure the School he’d be leading was among the only 19 COBIS Training Schools, like the school he left in Doha, meaning it was vetted by the Council of British International Schools. 

When thinking about his experience in Doha and the start in Bucharest, Mr. Grant Gillies says: "Both schools are top tier schools and leaders in the market. The students are similar in that they both have excellent support from home and parents with high aspirations for their children. What I love about BSB is the setting. The rich educational context for learning and supportive family feel ensures our students achieve." 

However, whilst both schools were British Curriculum schools, "the context for delivery is very different. Romania is such a fantastic place for our students to learn", says the BSB Headmaster. 

Before settling into his international journey, Mr. Gillies had been a Headteacher in the UK for many years. He studied at Edinburgh University and has worked at national level in the UK, writing policy and being involved in writing the teaching standards for all Scottish teachers ensuring the highest expectations across all schools. Recently, he completed his National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders (NPQEL). 

"I set high expectations. I hold everyone, including myself, to account. Details matter and we have an obligation to collectively hold high expectations. It’s also important that we, as teachers, keep learning and openly share the success with our community as well as the challenges", he says. 

He likes to lead by example. "I need to be open to learning and show all staff that this is an expectation. I need to convey our expectations and ensure staff feel involved and empowered in decisions. Our School is amazing, and we need to make sure we keep that atmosphere. A positive School culture is a learning community where developments happen across all sectors and people pull together", added the BSB Headmaster. 

He believes in teachers encouraging students to grow and in nurturing each and every individual. In his new posting, his aim is for the team of 75 teachers and 115 teaching staff to provide tailored learning for students who come from all over the world and bring a cultural richness in a spectacular Romanian context. 

He is surrounded by 650 students of 50 nationalities, all of whom "achieve and show concern for others, as they are given leadership opportunities throughout the School", says the new Headmaster. 

Although he took over the helm of the School during a tough period because of COVID, he has seen professionalism and creativity in action every day from teachers who design and plan lessons to stretch the students. He has also seen fantastic support from parents and together has made sure their students have not suffered. 

"Parents need to feel that they work in partnership with School, and they pass the baton every day as a shared responsibility. It needs to be smooth, so the child is at the centre. The most important thing for me is being visible and building relationships so big issues do not build. I want staff at all levels to be the same. We must be open to dialogue and make sure our parents feel reassured if they are uncertain. This is especially important at a time of challenge with COVID", says Mr. Grant Gillies.

The biggest thing he has learned about leadership is that change must be well managed, and everyone needs to know why something is changing. 

"To buy-in, it needs to be something that makes sense and is clear. I am also happy to admit if I get it wrong and accept my mistakes. I take responsibility for our School and I am not afraid of this accountability. It is vital. In this sense I hope this is modelled across all leadership in our School. I often draw on the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Everyone in the School has a role to play in ensuring our students achieve", added the new BSB headmaster. 

What drives Mr. Gillies as he takes on this new professional adventure? "Fantastic schools are about relationships and I value these. I love learning new things and listening to people. Working within a School community like ours, there are so many inspirational people we meet I always get a kick out of learning something new and there are always things to learn".

This is native content supported by the British School of Bucharest

Normal

This is native content supported by the British School of Bucharest

Partner Content

The switch from Qatar to Romania – a Scotsman takes the lead of an international school in Bucharest

Scotsman Grant Gillies flew from Qatar at the beginning of the summer, after spending three years in Doha, where he was the vice-principal of one of the most successful international schools in the world. The destination of his flight: Bucharest, Romania. 

He landed in Bucharest with his wife and their two children, and they settled in quite fast, while he took over as Headmaster of the British School of Bucharest (BSB). 

"We have settled really well and, in a short space of time, have been all around Bucharest and into the mountains. It’s a fantastic place to call home!"

For the Gillies’, it’s their third international posting after Thailand, where Grant was for two years Head of Primary and Acting Principal and after his three years in Qatar as Senior Vice Principal at Doha College.  

Why did he choose Romania? The School’s reputation around the world mattered most in taking the decision to move and continue his career here. He also made sure the School he’d be leading was among the only 19 COBIS Training Schools, like the school he left in Doha, meaning it was vetted by the Council of British International Schools. 

When thinking about his experience in Doha and the start in Bucharest, Mr. Grant Gillies says: "Both schools are top tier schools and leaders in the market. The students are similar in that they both have excellent support from home and parents with high aspirations for their children. What I love about BSB is the setting. The rich educational context for learning and supportive family feel ensures our students achieve." 

However, whilst both schools were British Curriculum schools, "the context for delivery is very different. Romania is such a fantastic place for our students to learn", says the BSB Headmaster. 

Before settling into his international journey, Mr. Gillies had been a Headteacher in the UK for many years. He studied at Edinburgh University and has worked at national level in the UK, writing policy and being involved in writing the teaching standards for all Scottish teachers ensuring the highest expectations across all schools. Recently, he completed his National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders (NPQEL). 

"I set high expectations. I hold everyone, including myself, to account. Details matter and we have an obligation to collectively hold high expectations. It’s also important that we, as teachers, keep learning and openly share the success with our community as well as the challenges", he says. 

He likes to lead by example. "I need to be open to learning and show all staff that this is an expectation. I need to convey our expectations and ensure staff feel involved and empowered in decisions. Our School is amazing, and we need to make sure we keep that atmosphere. A positive School culture is a learning community where developments happen across all sectors and people pull together", added the BSB Headmaster. 

He believes in teachers encouraging students to grow and in nurturing each and every individual. In his new posting, his aim is for the team of 75 teachers and 115 teaching staff to provide tailored learning for students who come from all over the world and bring a cultural richness in a spectacular Romanian context. 

He is surrounded by 650 students of 50 nationalities, all of whom "achieve and show concern for others, as they are given leadership opportunities throughout the School", says the new Headmaster. 

Although he took over the helm of the School during a tough period because of COVID, he has seen professionalism and creativity in action every day from teachers who design and plan lessons to stretch the students. He has also seen fantastic support from parents and together has made sure their students have not suffered. 

"Parents need to feel that they work in partnership with School, and they pass the baton every day as a shared responsibility. It needs to be smooth, so the child is at the centre. The most important thing for me is being visible and building relationships so big issues do not build. I want staff at all levels to be the same. We must be open to dialogue and make sure our parents feel reassured if they are uncertain. This is especially important at a time of challenge with COVID", says Mr. Grant Gillies.

The biggest thing he has learned about leadership is that change must be well managed, and everyone needs to know why something is changing. 

"To buy-in, it needs to be something that makes sense and is clear. I am also happy to admit if I get it wrong and accept my mistakes. I take responsibility for our School and I am not afraid of this accountability. It is vital. In this sense I hope this is modelled across all leadership in our School. I often draw on the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Everyone in the School has a role to play in ensuring our students achieve", added the new BSB headmaster. 

What drives Mr. Gillies as he takes on this new professional adventure? "Fantastic schools are about relationships and I value these. I love learning new things and listening to people. Working within a School community like ours, there are so many inspirational people we meet I always get a kick out of learning something new and there are always things to learn".

This is native content supported by the British School of Bucharest

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