Sarah Turner, Head of Professional Development Qualifications, Cambridge International
You recently visited Serbia on behalf of Cambridge International, which is part of the University of Cambridge. What was the purpose of your visit?
Sarah: We are excited at this opportunity to use Cambridge Professional Development Qualifications (PDQs) to build numbers of effective classroom teachers in Serbia. Lana, the CEO of Teach for Serbia, has a long-standing relationship with Cambridge International and this visit enabled us to explore options and discuss how we can work together going forward.
It is interesting to learn that you plan to establish a fruitful business relationship with a Serbian ecosystem. What are the opportunities and challenges?
Sarah: Cambridge PDQs are proven to have real impact around the world as they support teachers to become truly effective classroom practitioners as well as giving them the opportunity to hold a Cambridge qualification at the end of the programme. This represents a real opportunity for Serbian teachers and Serbian classrooms. The challenge will be to build support and recognition for Cambridge PDQs, and this is why forging relationships with colleagues in organisations such as the BSCC is so important to our vision and mission.
The British-Serbian element of your programme is evident in your concept. What do you hope to achieve?
Sarah: Cambridge PDQs have been designed combining international knowledge of best practice in the classroom with Cambridge International’s experience of working in international education contexts. This is then paired with Lana’s career-long knowledge and experience of learning and teaching in the Serbian context. We will work together to contextualise the Cambridge PDQ for Serbian teachers, including delivery and assessment in the Serbian language.
We are thrilled to hear about Teach For Serbia's partnership with Cambridge International. Can you tell us more about how this collaboration came about?
Lana: I have long been associated with Cambridge International as my PhD thesis was inspired by professional learning in Cambridge International Schools. Having been able to see how the PDQ programmes unfolded in the international teacher community, I hoped to bring such an immersive learning experience to the Serbian educators and help them acquire new skills and competencies so that they can re-invent their pedagogies, get enthused by the innovative teaching approaches, embrace the transformation and respond to the demands of the future of education. I am proud to say that Cambridge International was receptive to my vision and adapted their teacher training syllabi to fit the needs of Serbian schools - in the Serbian language. This has enabled us to provide a tailored and impactful learning experience for educators in Serbia, and I am thrilled to be part of this partnership.
Your programme seems to be very ambitious and transformative. How do you think it would improve a Serbian education?
Lana: Teach For Serbia's mission is to inspire transformation in education by placing Serbia's brightest young talents as teachers in public schools. Following a very rigorous selection process, our fellows spend six weeks in an immersive residential summer institute, where they explore pedagogical concepts and experiment with teaching approaches. While unlearning and relearning, they shape their own educational philosophies, reframe their habits of mind and reimagine education. This is all packed in the rich content of the Cambridge PDQ programmes, which guide them in their transformational efforts so that they can grow into changemakers, enablers and social entrepreneurs. By infusing innovative teaching approaches and a new perspective on education, our fellows have the potential to significantly impact the Serbian education system. I firmly believe that Serbia is ready for this transformative change in education, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this movement.
In your opinion, what do you think is the future of education?
Lana: The Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought many technological delights to education. The recent evolution in the use of artificial intelligence and robots in classrooms questioned the role of teachers in the learning process. However, it's important to recognize that teachers play a critical role in the learning process beyond just transferring knowledge. Following their promethean sense of purpose, teachers assume new roles as mentors, coaches, facilitators, supporters and motivators. A teacher is not a sage on a stage but a guide on the side, who enables students to construct their own knowledge. As we look to the future, I believe that teachers will continue to take on new roles that focus on shaping growth mindsets, creating awareness, and upholding values. At Teach For Serbia, we are empowering our fellows to become agents of change who can not only transform education but also transform themselves through contextualised and personalised lifelong learning trajectories. It's an exciting time to be in education, and I'm proud to be part of a movement that is dedicated to driving positive change in this field.