Telford's Rob helps shape education in Moldova
A Shropshire headteacher running a school in Moldova has been helping the government shape education in the nation.
Rob Ford, from Madeley, Telford, is head at Heritage International School in Moldavian capital Chisinau, and was visited by Corneliu Popovici, the minister of education.
Rob, who was born and bred in Shropshire, lived in Madeley until he was 18 and went to university from Madeley Court School and New College, Wellington, said: "The state secretary of the Ministry of Education had requested an urgent meeting with me and the leadership team of Heritage International School on Saturday morning.
"She wanted to discuss our distance-learning plan, which had been running successfully for the past couple of weeks. Oh, and the minister of education, Mr Popovici, would be coming too."
He added: "Heritage International School is the first truly international school in Moldova, based on the IPC and Cambridge International curricula, and has a different approach towards education than the state system in Moldova, still slowly moving away from the legacy in the post-Soviet period.
"Our campus is three years old and doesn’t look like or operate like most schools in Eastern Europe.
"As such, my team and I realised the importance of the moment – here was an opportunity for us to engage with our national education community to develop a common strategy for all children in Moldova, state or privately educated, share expertise and ideas and build a collaboration that could benefit us all.
"When the day arrived, though, there was, of course, that awkward moment when you suddenly realise you have the government in your meeting room.
"So as we sat with minister Popivici and the state secretary, the only way I could think to break the initial awkwardness was to offer to make tea for everyone – with the local press watching on.
"But minister Popivici immediately smiled and saw that Heritage was genuine in its full support and recognised what we could do here for the national education community.
"From here we were off and my colleagues soon took over – discussing our distance-learning plan, how we operated our daily schedule of synchronous lessons, and the training we had undertaken.
"We also went through some of the issues schools would have without such a digital platform in place and how offline and asynchronous learning would work.
"Ultimately, we made it clear – over many cups of tea – that doing nothing for the country was not an option.
"Minister Popivici even quoted me on his Facebook page when I repeated this in an interview with Radio Free Europe.
"Lockdown would last for months, so students needed routines, learning, support and, above all, hope. In a country like Moldova, our people are our assets and our young people are our future assets who don’t always want to stay here.
"Flying the flag for Moldova and our education was a proud moment for all and we have seen a paradigm shift as we prepare for the new academic year with cases still rising.
"The ministry worked with all schools over the summer and allowed seven options for school leaders and communities to decide how they planned their response for the “next normal”.
"We are all facing the new academic year with apprehension and uncertainty, but, as a national education community, we have shown what we can achieve when we put aside differences, labels and even history and collaborate around hope for the one central thing that unites us all – our young people and their futures."
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