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100 Days in the Hot Seat

01 December 2014

“Excellence in everything we do”

Mr. Iain Blaikie, the new principal of Regents International School Pattaya exclaims when asked about what he would like to achieve while he is in the top job.

It’s clearly not a catch phrase. Oozing ambition, Mr. Blaikie paints a picture of the school he has recently clocked 100 days at, as an environment bursting with potential, a place that is already great, but a place he intends to make the best international school in Thailand.

After spending 23 years as a principal at three different schools in the English school system, he looked at international options to keep the passion burning. “I could have stayed in England, gone grey and still have felt like I was making a difference, but as a principal you get to do a fair bit of travelling and after seeing Thailand I thought it stood out as a place where I could work and be happy.  Here I am”

Despite his wealth of experience, Mr. Blaikie is focused on immersing himself in a myriad of different meetings, conferences, classroom visits and business trips; surreptitiously gathering data required to bring forth an action plan that will see the school become the best it possibly can be.  “I would like to see myself as the pilot of the aircraft. A lot of work went in to get it airborne, I am not the star of the show, but I am the conduit that will take us to where we need to go.”

 When asked specifically how he intends to take Regents forward, the response is swift. “Students.”

“Every decision we make relates to the student and their opportunities for learning. Schools who look past this fact are barking up the wrong tree. To give students the best possible opportunities we need the best resources and the most important resource we have at Regents international School Pattaya is our teachers. Excellent teachers make all the difference. You may have all the money in the world and the best infrastructure but if your teachers are poor, it’s a pointless exercise. Students are happier when they have good teachers who care about them. Happy kids, equal smart kids.”

Is this part of his vision of a perfect school then? “Yes and no.  Everyone knows perfection is unattainable but this is my idea of a high achieving, balanced school where people feel valued and are treated with the utmost respect at all times. A school that both students and staff can be proud of and a place where everyone feels they belong. Regents captures this idea perfectly.”

An occasional misconception regarding Regents is that being the largest school on the Eastern Seaboard (and the most expensive) is a disadvantage, as parents look to place offspring in more ‘intimate surroundings’, erroneously thinking a smaller school will give their kids a more ‘personal’ education. Although Mr. Blaikie sees the logic in this, he says the same rules do not apply at Regents.

“Regardless of size, no one cares more about our students than the staff currently at Regents and I would challenge anyone to ask a parent or student here currently who thinks any differently. In fact, I see it as an advantage. Our size enables more variety, more subjects, better sporting opportunities and an outdoor education programme that is the envy of our competition.”

Getting value for money is clearly the most important thing to a parent considering the prospect of sending their offspring to a specific school. Providing an education worth paying for is clearly a topic that resonates with the new Regents’ Principal. “The school is growing, all the time. If people were not getting value for money they would vote with their feet and I would expect them to. As you mentioned, there are other schools in the region, but Regents is the number one choice. We won’t sit on our laurels and say ‘job done’, we intend to evolve as the needs of our students do.”

Some of the biggest ‘evolutions’ undertaken in the last year can be put down to the massive investment Nord Anglia Education has placed in Regents International School Pattaya since purchasing the school last year. 80 million Baht ($2.4M) in capital investment has been put into projects such as a 400 meter all-weather running track, new playground areas in Early Years (Kindergarten) and a massive revamp in the boarding houses.

“The funds currently being injected into different areas around the school is phenomenal and it really adds substance to a widely held belief in upper-management that we can become one of, if not the best international school in Thailand.”

According to Mr. Blaikie, the overhaul in the boarding houses is the real ace in the hole as it adds yet another dimension to what can be offered to parents showing an interest in the school.

“The boarders at Regents are from all over the place. They’re amazing and because I live on campus I get to see how much they enrich the school with culture, different ideas and talents other institutions I have worked for just don’t have.”

“We really want to grow the boarding school and reach out to as many prospective parents that we have a really good alternative to conventional private schooling on offer.”

With such a massive workload already achieved and so much more still on the table does Blaikie see himself as a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future at Regents International School Pattaya? “You bet! I am here for the duration. I don’t see myself as a flash in the pan; I have no regrets regarding my decision to come to Thailand whatsoever. The days seem to whizz by, I never feel like a Monday is a Monday. With all that we are accomplishing, every day has the potential to be a great day.”