I joined the British School of Beijing, Shunyi as Assistant Headteacher – IB Coordinator in 2019. This is my third overseas role and second time in China.
I have more than 15 years experience as a teacher and leader. I graduated from the University of Hull with a BA Joint Honours in English and American Studies, and then completed a PGCE in Secondary English in 2004. I began my teaching career in Devon state schools. Passionate about English, I quickly moved into middle management, first as Deputy Head of Department, and then Head of Department. I was also fortunate to be given the opportunity to work for the publisher Heinemann: I contributed to a KS3 English textbook and wrote two GCSE English teacher guides.
Growing up in England, Scotland and the Netherlands, I developed a taste for living in different countries as a child. In 2010, a desire to see more of the world prompted a move to China to work at The British International School Shanghai, Pudong (renamed Nord Anglia International School Shanghai NAIS Pudong). Beginning first as an English teacher, I quickly became Head of Department again. I also became part of the whole school lesson review team, a group who supported teachers across the school with improving their practice.
It was at NAIS Pudong that I first experienced the IB Diploma (IBDP), a curriculum I truly respect. Coordinating the curriculum for the English department, teaching English Literature and being an Extended Essay Supervisor, as well as being an IB examiner, all instilled a deep appreciation for the IBDP values and approaches. The characteristics encouraged in the Learner Profile, the holistic design of the course, and the emphasis on international-mindedness, are all elements of the IBDP that I believe lead to excellent educational outcomes. My experience with this program has certainly informed my teaching practice and helped shape my educational philosophy.
My commitment to my own learning journey led to me taking a year out in 2014 to pursue a Masters Degree in Philosophy and Education at Columbia University, New York. While there, an exciting opportunity came my way: I was offered the role of Head of Middle School at Nord Anglia International School, New York. A unique project, my job was to set up a Middle School Phase and add it to the existing primary school. A member of the Senior Leadership team, I was in charge of both academic and pastoral well-being of the Middle School students.
Throughout all of my experiences, my commitment to helping every student succeed has never wavered. Part of that is to support students in recognising what personal success means to them- to help them identify their strengths, talents and interests, and to learn how to channel their energies into reaching their own goals. Overall, I always aim to encourage a growth mindset, to inspire curiosity, and to cultivate open-mindedness. I believe approaching school, and indeed life in this way, is what will bring personal flourishing and fulfilment.
Click here to read an interview with Sarah.