Students in Transition: Sustainable Transition Programs
that Reduce the Impact on Learning and
Relationships Caused by Mobility
Shekou International School, Shenzhen
March 7-8, 2020

Co-sponsor with and hosted by:

Workshop Outline

Essential Learning Question: In the face of the mobility and turnover that typify many international school communities, how can we build and maintain the kinds of schools that support optimal learning and attachment security?

Goal: Research clearly demonstrates that people learn better when they feel safe. Research also clearly connects attachment security to better outcomes across the lifespan, in relationships, work, and physical health. This "SPAN Primer" workshop provides a comprehensive understanding of the issues at stake when people move or are moved away from. The workshop starts at the micro level, reviewing the psychological, neurological, and biological issues at stake when the stress of moving strikes. The workshop then "pans out," linking these issues in increasingly broader fashion to the realities of how schools work. Participants examine i) how mobility has affected them personally and why they are invested in building effective transitions programs; ii) how to build and actually maintain such programs for the long term; iii) how networks of schools can and must collaborate in order for any school to be optimally effective; iv) the challenges that exist before schools can collaborate; and v) how SPAN strives to resolve these challenges by developing effective global best practices and policies.

Target Audience: This workshop is intended for those who develop, implement, or support transitions activities or programs at schools or networks of schools: school leadership, counselors and pastoral care specialists, admissions directors, teachers, empowered parents.


Why isn't more being done to address transitions at international schools? Moving hurts, and we withdraw from pain. Transitions programs are difficult to build and even harder to maintain; the programs themselves are subject to transitions: when key players move, programs erode.

David Pollock warned that "you have to grieve well to leave well." But no single school can address grief on its own; how a new student fares at your school depends partly on how well he or she was helped to leave their last school. Developing a program that helps your students enter and leave well should be a primary focus.

Safe Passage Across Networks, or SPAN, envisions a world where students can move to and from (international) schools in ways that support their emotional health. This work is timely. Students at our schools are ideally positioned to continue to develop the capacity to understand those who think differently. Such a capacity will always offer the world a way forward. If we want to increase the chances that international school students will go on to do generative things with their educational experiences - for their communities and for the planet - helping them graduate with intact attachment systems and the ability to successfully transition is a very good place to start.

Workshop Outcomes:
  1. Participants will gain a visceral grasp on why they care about, and are invested in, addressing mobility.
  2. Participants will understand what happens inside the brain and physiology of somebody stressed by moving or being moved away from - regardless of appearances on the outside.
  3. Participants will grasp the empirical connections between this stress and learning outcomes.
  4. Participants will understand what is meant by attachment security, and the importance of attachment security for long-term human health and well-being.
  5. Participants will understand why it is likely that many school practices in the domain of mobility may be inadvertently contributing to attachment insecurity in their students.
  6. Participants will grasp key parameters for building effective transitions programs at their schools.
  7. Participants will craft strategic plans and visions for develop or improving such programs.
  8. Participants will understand why single schools cannot build truly effective programs in isolation.

Presenter Profile

Drs. Douglas Ota is a psychologist, author, researcher, presenter and consultant. Author of Safe Passage: What Mobility Does to People and What International Schools Should Do About It, Doug’s passion is to challenge the educational community to address transitions effectively. He provides training to support, refresh, equip and connect transition-care providers around the globe who are committed to healthy student, family and staff mobility within and between schools. As the Chair of Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN), Doug seeks to support and connect school-based programs addressing international mobility and partner with schools to transform transition-care within the school community. As the lead researcher on the Safe Passage Attachment Study at International Schools (SPASIS), Doug is investigating what happens to student levels of attachment security in the world of international education and mobility.

Jane Barron (MEd) is a youth intercultural transition specialist, culturally responsive educator, researcher, speaker and author driven to improve emotional, social and educational outcomes for cross-cultural students and their families. Her work is informed by 26 years’ experience in both international and local schools, a parent of two cross-cultural children, a child of a domestically mobile family and a repatriate to Australia. She has seen and understands the impact of crossing cultures on individuals, families and school communities.

From Safe Passage Across Network’s (SPAN) inception in 2016, Jane has worked alongside Founder and Director Doug Ota as a Board Member, developing and implementing SPAN’s mission to refresh, equip and connect transitions-care providers around the globe, and to establish processes to certify schools that deliver excellent transitions care.

A Families in Global Transition (FIGT) member, Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA) member and Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency Scholar, Jane is co-author of Insights and Interviews from The 2017 Families in Global Transition Conference - Building on The Basics: Creating Your Tribe on the Move. Her writing has also been published in International Teacher Magazine, International School Magazine, The International Educator, I Am A Triangle and she blogs at

Founder of Globally Grounded and Working With Children Certified, Jane consults to international and local schools, families and students crossing cultures, developing their understanding of the impact of cross-cultural mobility, creating programs and implementing support mechanisms to enhance learning and life. At present, Jane’s research projects include a partnership with Sea Change Mentoring’s Ellen Mahoney, surveying the current landscape to understand the common practices, challenges and opportunities in international school transitions-support and an independent research project investigating best practice programs supporting the transition and wellbeing of international students in local schools.

Host School

Shekou International School
Primary School and Main Office
Jingshan Campus
Jingshan Villas, Nanhai Blvd, Shekou, Nanshan, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518067
Shekou, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518067 China
+86-755 2669 3669

Hotel Reservation

1. Honlux Apartment鸿隆公寓
RMB580/ day/ Single Business Room (10mins walking distance)
Sea world Taizi Road ,Shekou Shenzhen China 深圳蛇口太子路海上世界
Tel: (86) 755 2681 6666
Fax: (86) 755 2681 5533
Lily Zhang张丽丽
Reservation Email:

2. Fraser Place Shekou Shenzhen 深圳蛇口辉盛坊·泰格公寓
RMB828/ day/ Single Deluxe Room (10mins walking distance)
No.1033, Nanhai Road, Shekou, Shenzhen PR China 518067
Tel: (86) 755 2669 8766
Fax: (86) 755 2688 5706
Miro Zhang 张浩东, Sales Manager 销售经理

3. Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai 深圳蛇口希尔顿南海酒店
RMB1224/ day/ Single Business Room (10mins walking distance)
d : +86 755 2162 8888 ext.8901
t: +86 755 2162 8888
m: +86 186 2071 9892
f: +86 755 2162 3000
No. 1177, Wanghai Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, PR China 518067
中国广东省深圳市南山区望海路1177号 邮编:518067
王萍 Jane wang, 高级销售经理 Senior Sales Manager

Notes with hotel reservation:
  • You need to make your own hotel reservation (or for your colleagues who are going to attend the workshop).
  • Transportation will not be provided during the workshop days. You and/or your colleague who registered the workshop will receive a notification email approximately a week before the conference with workshop information and direction to the host school.

Register Here!