Black Sea Conference

Leading Change, May 31 – June 1 2019

 It’s a sign of the times that as new international schools open, they are coming together to cooperate, share ideas and organise events for staff and students. Stephen Priest, Principal of the British International School of Tblisi reports from the new Black Sea Schools group, who have just held their first teachers’ conference.

The schools

The Black Sea Schools Group is a loose grouping of COBIS (Council of British International Schools) schools in countries around the Black Sea Region (Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine). The group works together to further enhance regional student engagement and staff professional development and networking. As well as this conference and various other CPD events hosted at member schools, BSS in 2018-19 have seen a Principal’s meeting in Kiev, the multisports Key Stage 3 Black Sea Games in Tbilisi and a skype-based Maths Challenge. 2019-20 will see BSS events include J-MUN and Primary Games in Ankara, Maths, Science & Debate in Kiev and the KS3 Games and a Performing Arts Festival in Tbilisi.

The conference

On Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st June 2019 over 50 teachers from Black Sea Group and Tbilisi schools gathered at BIS Tbilisi for the inaugural Black Sea Teachers’ Conference. The positive engagement and willingness to contribute to discussion was at the highest of levels according to the workshop providers. The workshops, learning and thought-provoking discussions were equally highly praised by the delegates.


Forest Schools and non-judgemental coaching

Friday began with a welcome from host Steve Priest of BIS Tbilisi and a keynote by him on current trends and future developments in international education. Delegates could then choose between two whole day workshops. Janet Green, Forest Schools Leader at Lime Tree School in Manchester lead delegates through a day of Outdoor Learning which focussed on the why and the how, but also involved a number of role play and game situations for teachers to experience outdoor learning just like the children do.

Meanwhile, Helen Woodward and Rafik Iddin of the Motus Partnership in the UK lead delegates on non-directive and non-judgemental coaching through modelling, discussion and practicals.

Saturday sessions

Saturday began with a fascinating and entertaining keynote address by Kiwi Milton Haig, the Georgian National Rugby Coach. His speech on motivation in competitive sports was insightful and his delivery was powerful, but humorous. Delegates who had missed Outdoor Learning on Friday were able to take this option on Saturday. The other workshops on Saturday saw Helen and Rafik examining emotional intelligence and also committed and challenging conversations. James Costain of BIS Ukraine ran two fascinating workshops on effective leadership and on reciprocal learning. Our host, Steve Priest of BIS Tbilisi also ran two workshops on reflection and on crisis management.


The day’s final workshops were incredibly useful and lead by Stuart Downing on running a Junior Model United Nations and Rafik Iddin on UK safeguarding updates. At the end of the day, Helen, Stuart and James joined Steve in a panel discussion on international education fielding questions on such issues as dealing with student turnover and the impact of Brexit. Finally on Saturday evening, delegates and workshop leaders enjoyed a traditional Georgian Supra of local cuisine and wines.

 Stephen Priest is the Principal of the British International School of Tblisi

Black Sea School Group



For more about the Black Sea Group, see their Summer 2019 Newsletter: click the logo


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