What does GAIL mean to you?

We asked teachers, Principals and student delegates to tell us what GAIL meant to them, what changed compared to their expectations going in, and what they took from the Conference and experience – here are some of their testimonials.

“For me personally as a school Principal, GAIL is an opportunity to interact with like-minded fellow heads in a small, supportive and collegial setting.  Weary of the impersonal nature of large conferences and the fact that the most useful take-aways were often from informal dialogue, GAIL offers an opportunity to forge deep and meaningful links with a small and highly manageable group of other schools.  I found it refreshing, stimulating and extremely enjoyable. 

It has largely affected me as a catalyst for thought and reflection around a number of varied themes.  I have also found it has provided me with personal and professional support, inspiration and idea generation. 

What has been especially great so far has been to see the benefits of a small group working in very collegial and effective ways towards worthwhile goals.  I have also valued the light touch as far as cost and paperwork is concerned when it comes to the organisation of GAIL.”

Dr Jonathan Long, Head of Woodstock School

“For me, GAIL means a gathering of like-minded students, staff and leaders who do not believe that education is simply a commodity or a mechanical process, but a transformative experience that can create positive change in the world. 

It has given me access to non-competitive schools with whom I can talk, and from whom I can learn so my own College’s educational offering can be distinctive and impactful.

What has been great has been the growing sense that we are onto something very special. Our size, the culture and relationship developing between us has meant that we sincerely grow and change. Our schools are better, more focused, more innovative and more attractive as a result.

What needs to go better is the involvement of a GAIL convention in the normal school life of the receiving school. It still needs to affect more students, more deeply.”

Dr John Newton, Head of Scotch College

“Our learners and staff need to get some form of affirmation of their academic knowledge and skills by comparing themselves with learners from all over the world by attending at those schools and have the opportunity to experience learning themselves.

Being part of different nationalities, learners and staff need to see, experience and understand the views and practices of others educationally, politically, religiously and socially to have a global awareness and acceptance of others and have the appetite to bring what they have learnt back to their own school.

As Head, I believe that our school is there to educate, enlighten and create opportunities for learners and staff which they otherwise would not be exposed to under “normal” circumstances. GAIL is the perfect opportunity for that. I learn from every Head of the GAIL schools something that I can apply at my own school to improve what we have or even start something completely new that lift our staff and learners to a next level.

ALL: Global awareness is just so important socially and politically as I believe it brings a softer approach to other people that you know nothing about but get to know them as friends. We learn not to look down on others but to create relationships that are long lasting amongst teachers, learners and heads of schools from 8 different schools globally.

ALL: The type of experiences we have had during GAIL conventions and Heads’ meetings up to this point is of such nature and quality that we cannot imagine where else (on what other platform) in the world we would have experienced the same quality and depth of any educational experience for heads, learners and staff. “

Mrs HC Pienaar, Executive Head at Prestige College

“GAIL is an amazing opportunity for teachers to build a global network of international friends and fellow teachers. 

Through GAIL we are able to share ideas and challenges with fellow teachers from all across the world, which opens up a world of resources, knowledge, collaboration, exchange, fellowship and support for teachers.

It is a great benefit and comfort to know that the solution to challenges you might face as a teacher is just an email or skype call away.”

Frieda de Bruyn, Champion at Prestige College

“Going into GAIL, I had no idea what to expect. I prepared myself for a week full of leadership and decision making workshops as well as meeting new people. However, I had no idea the affects these workshops and people would have on me. Each workshop gave me the opportunity to understand and respect the ideas and cultures of the other delegates. Similarly, each school’s cultural activity allowed me to immerse myself in the different cultures. Throughout the week, we all started to realise that despite our different religions, races, backgrounds, beliefs, and even accents, we are not all that different. We became really close as a diverse community to tackle many different ethical dilemmas and worked together to discover more about ourselves. Within a week, we all became best friends and built bonds that I am sure will last a lifetime. Never before did I even believe it possible to cry so much while saying bye to people I had only met days before.”

Kyra Russman-Araya, KUA student delegate

GAIL is a vital component in our educational delivery at Robert Gordon’s College. We believe that international educational links and enhanced global understanding is an essential part of our educational experience for pupils of all ages. This is becoming more important year on year. The opportunity to engage with other pupils in linked schools through the GAIL partnership in different continents is a huge opportunity to grow in cultural understanding and awareness of both differences and similarities. The world is increasingly tightly knit together and our learners will be engaged in international teams, businesses and global issues in their futures. It is absolutely vital that there is an early appreciation of the importance of global understanding, effective communication and international teamwork from an early age. 

The GAIL schools are developing very good levels of trust and communication that are enhancing effective classroom projects through the school year at Junior and Senior School levels. These help benefit the pupils who are not able to attend a GAIL Pupil Convention. The senior pupils who do attend the Convention act as international ambassadors on their return and further assist the work of global understanding with the school community. The level of personal change and impact for all the senior pupils attending each Convention has been very significant due to the well organised programmes, strong personal relationships formed and the impactful speakers and activities.

We value the opportunities for some staff to undertake Staff Fellowships with other GAIL Schools. The experience they bring back and the research reports they have created continue to be of great use in advancing our school development as we share ideas across the GAIL partnership. This offers strong professional development opportunities and enhanced benefit in the areas of study, including pastoral care, pupil transition, mental health, House activities/ethos and financial development/alumni work. Our staff feel the benefit of these professional development opportunities which are shared with parents, other staff and Governors.

Our parents appreciate the global network of schools we are partnered with understanding the importance of international awareness and global connectedness they find in their work lives. Other Headteachers and Principals in our country are also keenly aware of the benefits of this close fellowship of international schools that helps deliver great benefits to the school community for a modest annual investment. There is a marketing benefit which should not be underestimated as the schools demonstrate their commitment to working together on international dialogue, education and awareness.

As Heads those involved in the GAIL partnership appreciate the close working relationships and ability to offer challenge and share experience with each other. This confidence and the benefit of sharing together has increased over the past years. The opportunity to spend time at the other GAIL schools has been very helpful in stimulating new ideas for implementation in the home school context. It helps prevent our schools from becoming too insular, focused on a national agenda and assists in opening up new horizons and viewpoints which are very helpful to educational development in our schools. The focus on innovation is very important as it encourages all the GAIL schools to challenge themselves and look anew at the teaching and learning process.

Simon Mills, Head of Robert Gordon’s College

“When I first got to GAIL I had no idea what the week would have in store for me. I felt extremely blessed that during the week I was able to make long lasting friendships with students from all over the world. Without GAIL, I would not have been able to learn as much as I did in a short period of time and make as many connections that I did. When I got in my mom’s car after a bittersweet goodbye to all my friends, with tears streaming down my face I said “I’ve never met a group of people that I connected with so much”.

When I got home and saw my brother I said, “If you have the opportunity to do something like GAIL, you have to take that opportunity”. 

The week was so much more than I ever anticipated and I am so grateful to my school for the thought provoking conversations and the new experiences. I would recommend GAIL to anyone at KUA who wants to broaden their worldview, make lasting friendships, have stimulating conversations and learn valuable lessons.”

Eleanor Ashton, KUA student delegate

“Great to step out of my comfort zone. Awesome memories with new friends. It was a journey of discovering ourselves. Let’s do it!”

Student delegate

“GAIL has been a truly invaluable experience with so many amazing activities. The workshops were so informative and an immense amount of planning went into them. It really paid off and was truly appreciated”

RGC student delegate

“The conference made me more comfortable and confident in meeting new people. I have now met more people from all over the world that I will continue to chat to.  The ethical dilemmas (2018 conference) helped me open my eyes to modern problems and my opinions and views towards things I’ve never thought about.”

RGC student delegate

“GAIL has been a life-changing experience for me meeting such confident people from all over the world has really broadened my perspectives. I have gained so much self-confidence and respect for cultures different from mine. I cannot thank everyone enough for making this possible for me.”

Kuhu Singh, Woodstock School student delegate

“GAIL to me means meeting people who are different from me in terms of culture, language, etc and learning from them. It’s a platform for us learners to come together and tackle problems experienced worldwide. It gives u an opportunity to meet new friends and form connections with them and hopefully the connections will last for a long time.”

Lesego Madise, Prestige College student delegate

“GAIL is a way of coming together, learning about new cultures, enhancing your knowledge and positively altering your perspective.”

Julietta Rubio-Jones, WISS student delegate

“GAIL to me means creating new friendships with people from around the world. As well as developing leadership skills and learning about different cultures.  Most importantly, accepting everyone.”

Shai Seger, WISS student delegate

“GAIL has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It has given me a great sense of decision making. According to me the best part was the culture night because that’s where I saw the diversity of GAIL.”

Anchal, Woodstock school student delegate

“GAIL is an opportunity that has taught me how to think ethically and has given me the chance to make new friends. It has helped to understand different cultures and how others live their lives. My experience has been a rewarding one which has taught me how to go out of my comfort zone. I have enjoyed all of the lectures with friends and being bale to make new connections.”

Scotch College student delegate

“GAIL is a special learning opportunity for global students, not only to learn from each other but to bond and become one. It is a small and unique place where one can feel special and appreciated. A family for enhancing skills but most importantly, it is an international family to love.”

Omolemo Tsomele, Prestige College student delegate

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