SCM and GG Survey article image

I am excited to finally share one of the big projects I’ve been working on in 2018.


Announcing the launch of Sea Change Mentoring and Globally Grounded’s  independent research project into transitions support at international schools

International schools are the most popular educational platform for families in global transition. While recent years have brought changes in the international school population such as an increase in local students and prolonged stays for foreign students, the impact of transitions on well-being and learning remains a serious concern. In fact, more and more school leaders are coming to the understanding that we cannot afford to ignore the role cross-cultural mobility plays in our international school communities. This is evidenced by the development of the Council of International Schools’ latest Accreditation Standards and SPAN’s work on uniting schools towards best practice transition support.

Ellen Mahoney from Sea Change Mentoring and Jane Barron from Globally Grounded have long been champions of this cause. After observing the difficulty in knowing what is being done to address transitions, the reasons why some transitions efforts never get off the ground and others do, Ellen and Jane have joined forces to spearhead an independent research project. They are collecting data from international schools around the world, to equip school leaders in forging a logical pathway towards providing optimal transitions support to students, parents and educators.

Foundational Research

Twenty-two years ago, pivotal transitions-support researcher Dr. Barbara Schaetti declared,

“addressing student mobility is an essential component of an international school’s mandate. You don’t have the luxury of focusing on academics alone. An international school must take into account the environment in which students are living, one in which students and the school community are in a constant state of transition.”

What has transpired in the international school transitions-support landscape since then? What are schools actually doing? What are best practices and what keeps schools from doing what they can to support their young people in transition today?

Building on the foundational research of eminent figures in the global mobility field such as the aforementioned Dr. Barbara Schaetti, Mary Langford, Dr. Robert Risch, Ruth Van Reken, Drs. Douglas Ota and the Council of International Schools (CIS) International Accreditation Standards, this research will provide a deeper understanding of the transitions-support practices, challenges, and opportunities that the international school community faces today and beyond.

Data Collection

Data will be collected and analysed using a research-based online survey tool that has been vetted by internationally respected researcher Dr. Carla Herrera and an advisory group made up of international school counsellors, administrators, and admissions officers. “I found the survey thought-provoking and useful as a reflection tool,” said Claudine Hakim, Head of Admissions, Transitions and External Relation & Head of Student Support at International School of London, Surrey.

Findings and Reporting

Survey results will be described in a published report, which will be publicly available so that international schools can provide improved, informed and ethical support to their students, staff, and parents. Early findings will be presented at the 2019 Families in Global Transition Conference, hosted by NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. Data will also be used to support the researchers’ professional development work with international schools. Aleka Bilan, Head of Department and High School Counsellor at Jakarta Intercultural School, said, Thank you so much for doing this important work for all of us in international schools. I will be intrigued to see the results.”

“Our findings and final report will come at a critical juncture in international education,” says researcher Jane Barron.

“Thanks to the research of others, often conducted by Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs), and participated in by ATCKs, Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and local students at international schools, we are the most informed generation about the impact of unmanaged mobility. In a position to use those students’ stumbling blocks as stepping-stones, international schools are poised to transform the international education landscape, the learning and the lives of cross-cultural students, families and staff.”  

In agreement on the importance and timing of this research project, researcher Ellen Mahoney says,

“schools are embracing social-emotional learning, exploring the notion of global citizenship more authentically than ever before, and seeking solutions to support the wellbeing of students who are navigating multiple cultures and multiple goodbyes each year.”

International schools have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the learning and lives of their community, both now and in the future. “It is our hope that this research will play an informing and supporting role in transforming the international school transitions-support landscape,” assert Ellen and Jane.

Research Team

As two dynamic women impacted by mobility as children, adolescents and adults, Ellen and Jane bring empathy, experience, knowledge and a deep commitment to supporting and empowering international schools and their community members, both to this project and to their work. Having first worked together in helping to launch Doug Ota’s SPAN (Safe Passage Across Network), they immediately developed a connection and collaboration based upon their drive to improve emotional, social and educational outcomes for cross-cultural students, their families and those who educate them. Ellen’s personalised approach to transitions support and her relationship-based learning framework are pivotal to placing globally mobile individuals in a position to succeed in learning and life. As a former international school teacher and parent to two TCKs, Jane has seen first hand how frequent arrivals and departures in young people’s lives can negatively impact their learning, and firmly believes that managed mobility can activate and enhance learning and life.

How You Can Contribute

If you are a member of an international school community, please forward this survey to your school leadership. If you are in a school leadership position at an international school, please join your associates across the globe to complete the survey now.

Taking approximately 15 minutes to complete, the content of the survey includes multiple choice, Likert scale and open-ended questions about the state of transitions support in your school.

The survey will remain open until December 22, 2018

Begin the survey now

We thank you for spreading the word and for contributing to this important global research. For more information, please contact:

Ellen Mahoney

Sea Change Mentoring

Jane Barron

Globally Grounded



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