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IH Annual Directors' Conference

Published Bernice on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 1:17 PM

IH Annual Directors' Conference

International House World Organisation held its annual conference for IH school directors last week (7th – 10th May) in London. As the organisation is celebrating its 70th anniversary, it was an opportunity for the schools in the network to commemorate the milestone together.

"It's a momentous year for our organisation and the 2023 Directors' Conference in London was a fantastic way to celebrate with the network,” commented Emma Hoyle, Managing Director of IHWO. “Our line-up of engaging speakers captivated the audience and our social events well and truly entertained. The conferences are a great reminder of what sets IH schools and the network apart."

For many directors, it was the first time they had attended the conference in person since before the pandemic. This event is a highlight in many of their calendars as they get the rare chance to speak to others in the same position as themselves and who make similar decisions on a day-to-day basis. The combination of the 70th anniversary and many people reuniting for the first time face-to-face in years made the event even more memorable.

Other highlights were the three plenary speakers. Grant Leboff from The Sticky Marketing Club regaled the audience with thought-provoking anecdotes to highlight the importance of emotion in decision-making. Alastair Campbell, author/strategist/activist/journalist and host of the UK’s number one podcast, spoke about the far-reaching benefits of learning languages and the importance of advocating for them to be prioritised in education systems. The final plenary speaker, Diana Osagie, received a standing ovation from the audience following her captivating session on ‘Courageous Leadership’. Her mix of humour, powerful messages and mesmerising delivery had the IH directors on the edges of their seats.

The audience attended sessions on a range of topics such as teaching the skills of emotional intelligence through the RULER programme which is currently implemented at IH Bucharest. They heard from the IHWO EDIB chair and IHWO’s Partner International Insurance about creating and maintaining a culture of belonging in schools. Other big topics were workforce evolution and bringing education for sustainable development into the ELT environment.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most touched-upon topics was digital innovation. A digital panel including Alex Asher from LearnCube, Jo Sayers from LearnJam and Tricia Thrasher from Immerse, discussed how digital learning has impacted language schools post-pandemic. They identified emerging trends and how IH schools can harness digital learning to drive enrolment. On a similar note, Shaun Wilden, Manager of IH Online Teacher Training Institute, explored the rise of AI and other digital trends.

This year’s hosts were International House London, they embraced the Coronation celebrations of the weekend and held a Coronation-themed street party at the school to welcome directors on Sunday 7th May. CEO, Mark Rendell, was flanked by Beefeaters as he made his welcome speech and guests enjoyed finger sandwiches and signature cocktails on the 5th-floor terrace as the sun went down.

The first day of the conference took place at the International House London school where the directors participated in a leadership and team-building workshop created by EML. It was based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and emphasized the importance of having different personality types in a team. After a jam-packed first day, delegates headed to The Old Bank of England where the platinum sponsor, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, hosted a charity auction and raffle raising money for the IH Foundation. IH directors brought items from all over the world to be prizes, one of the most notable being an album of stories of Ukrainian women artists and their paintings created in the first 111 days of the war with Russia.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the conference took place at the beautiful venue of BMA House in Tavistock Square. The group came together to celebrate the 70th anniversary with a branded cake which was enjoyed over the next couple of days. As the conference came to a close on Wednesday, delegates made their way to the iconic London landmark, the OXO Tower to enjoy a fabulous gala dinner hosted by platinum PLUS sponsor, PSI Services.

As the programme read, ‘John Haycraft said of the Directors’ Conference, “One objective was to share ideas which might transform a school overnight. It also gave a sense of unity and a chance to find out how everyone else was doing.”

The delegates did just that, they shared ideas, celebrated the unity of the community and looked forward to the future of language education and International House.

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