Teachers and students are lifelong learners at this Stockholm school

At Stockholm International School (SIS) is isn’t just the students who are valued, challenged and prepared for the future. Teachers are also nurtured, with an intensive programme of professional development throughout the academic year.

Teachers and students are lifelong learners at this Stockholm school
Photo: Stockholm International School

This emphasis on lifelong learning doesn’t just apply to the students at SIS. Teachers, too, are encouraged to undertake professional development opportunities throughout their tenure at the school, leading their students by example.

This year, the teaching staff were offered the chance to attend the Educational Collaborative for International Schools’ (ECIS) ‘Culture of Leadership’ course, taught by Shary Lyssy Marshall. The well-respected course imparts critical skills and knowledge that helps teachers to become more effective leaders.

Principal David Osler says he is honored that Stockholm International School was chosen to host this course in partnership with the ECIS.

“One of the big things we like about having this course happen here is that it allows our teachers a chance to collectively learn. They can then apply their new knowledge within the context of our school.”

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Teacher Sarah Kerwin is one member of SIS’s staff who took up the chance to attend this year’s leadership course. Originally from Canada, Kerwin has previously worked in international schools in Monterrey, Mexico and Milan, Italy. She moved to Stockholm four years ago and relishes the opportunities Stockholm International School offers her to develop her skills on a regular basis.

Sarah Kerwin. Photo: Stockholm International School

“I’m a lifelong learner and I’m constantly seeking out professional development opportunities. I think it’s really worthwhile to further myself in my career and work on my leadership skills to make the whole school community better, especially for our students”, says Kerwin, who is the Head of the Library Department at Stockholm International School.

As well as attending courses offered by the school, Kerwin also undertook an enormous educational challenge of her own.

“This past year I finished a masters of Social Science, so I was working full-time and studying full-time. That was quite challenging but I think it really demonstrated my love of learning and that I really want to further myself and contribute more to the school”, she reflects.

This attitude doesn’t just stop with the teaching staff at Stockholm International School.

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Principal David Osler comes from a family of teachers and was brought up knowing the importance of continually learning new things, whether that’s as a student, a teacher, or a Principal.

“As a school leader I have to demonstrate being open to development. With any occupation things are changing all the time and being in education, we should show that we  are always open to learning, as well as being willing to develop and gain new skills because that’s what we’re trying to instil in our students,” he says.

The ‘Culture of Leadership’ course is very popular and many SIS teachers chose to stay after the school year had finished to attend. Osler says he is proud of his staff and hopes they implement the new leadership skills they have learned.

Photo: Stockholm International School

“It shows the dedication of teachers taking their profession seriously. They take the opportunity to learn even if it’s on the last couple of days of the school year. My hope is that they take away the skills and the tools to effect change and put into practice ideas that they’d like that try as leaders.”

Throughout the two-day course which took place in June, course leader Shary Lyssy Marshall, who is herself the principal of the American International School in Israel, facilitated discussions and took the participants through exercises and course material.

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“The course is designed to help people reflect and get in touch with who are they as a leader as well as what they can work on to be more effective,” explains Marshall.

She adds that some of the qualities that make people effective leaders are also the same qualities that make effective teachers, such as having empathy, listening and being self aware.

Marshall explains that the key to effective leadership is remaining adaptable.

“Effective leadership in schools is highly collaborative. We know that the student experience has changed significantly as has what students need to know to be successful in the future, so teacher leaders also need to be at the cutting edge of their professional practice in knowing what is it that today’s students need,” says Marshall.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Stockholm International School


‘They feel conned’: Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules

Sweden's top universities are to call for doctoral students to be exempted from Sweden's tough new permanent residency rules, arguing that it will damage both academic standards and national competitiveness.

'They feel conned': Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules
At Lund Technical University, a majority of doctoral students are international. Photo: Kennet Ruona/LTU

In a post on Wednesday, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, the chair of Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions, said that Sweden’s universities had agreed to submit a joint letter to the government “very soon”, calling for parliament to put in place a special exemption for PHD students to make it easier to stay in Sweden after their studies. 

The parliament, she wrote, “should introduce an exemption for doctoral students and young researchers from the requirement to be financially self-sufficient”. 

Previously, doctoral students were eligible for a permanent residence permit if they had lived in Sweden with a residence permit for doctoral studies for four out of the past seven years. Apart from a slim set of requirements, this was granted more or less automatically.

But according to Sweden’s new Migration Act, which was introduced in July this year as comprehensive legislation to control the number of asylum applications, they now need to be able to additionally show that they can support themselves financially for at least a year and half.

The new law means that the rules for permanent residency are now the same for all categories of applicants, including doctoral students.

Stefan Bengtsson, the rector at Chalmers University of Technology, said that the change would mean as many as 400 to 500 doctoral students, many of whom have built up considerable expertise, might be unable to stay in Sweden.

“This makes for an uncertain future for those from outside of Europe who have applied to come to Sweden for an academic career, which is cause for great concern and disappointment among those who came here under other circumstances,” he told The Local. “Some of them may, of course, feel like they’ve been conned

But what was even more worrying, he said, would be the impact the change to the law might have in the longer term. 

“This change to the law could contribute to giving Sweden a bad reputation. This will create difficulties in recruiting internationally and damage our long-term skills supply.”


At Lund University, the majority of doctoral students in the science and technical faculties are from outside Europe, while Söderbergh Widding, who is also vice chancellor at Stockholm University, estimated that about half of doctoral students were international. 

Söderbergh Widding told the TT newswire that the change was “a devastating death blow”, which put to waste a “previously hard-won battle to make it possible for doctoral students to obtain a permanent residency permit after four years of studies”. 

She said in her letter that the change contradicted the research policy proposition from December 2020, which stated that the “number of foreign doctoral students who stay in Sweden should increase”, and said that giving residency to doctoral students was a good way to increase this.  

Ole Petter Ottersen, the rector of the elite Karolinska medical university, told the newswire that he thought the change in residency laws would damage Swedish competitiveness. 

“This is not good for Sweden. This will damage our ability to attract and recruit talent from other countries. For a country that lies on the periphery, the goal should be to make it easier, not harder, to recruit competence.”