What does it mean for you to be the new Head of Primary at BSKL?
It sounds a cliche but everyday I wake up and have to remind myself how lucky I am to be working for such an outstanding organisation. The children and parent community are amazing, the staff fantastic to work with and the facilities top class (and much better than we have at the vast majority of schools in the UK). When coming to interview for a new role, or even once I am working at a particular school, I have always asked myself: ‘Would this school be somewhere I would send my own children?’ but this time when I came for interview this was genuinely the case! The school is a high performing school and rightly one of the jewels in the crown of Nord Anglia Education but first and foremost it is a school that I am absolutely proud to send my children to- I hope other parents feel the same way too.
Please tell us a bit more about your background teaching experience?
I have worked across the entire Primary age-range in four different local authorities in England and also worked for a period as a Lead Practitioner for the Bedfordshire Schools SCITT, a senior role in the education of trainee teachers.
I have experience as a Senior Leader and then a Headteacher, raising standards in schools across the UK, securing children’s future prospects and developing a curriculum which develops learners into well-rounded members of our society.
How have you found your first year in the new role?
Busy! It is completely different from the school I was head of in the UK; we had 230 pupils and a much smaller site. No two days are the same. I have especially enjoyed getting into classrooms as well as participating in lots of school events and getting to know as many children as possible. It has certainly been a much harder job to learn everyone’s names in a much bigger school. Working with our amazing teachers has also been a highlight. We have some brilliantly talented teachers right across the Primary School and so sharing, collaborating and learning from each other has been a fantastic experience.
How does BSKL differ from other international schools?
Considering BSKL is a large school, we have a wonderful community feel; every year group is its own community and we have extremely close links with our parents.
Being the only school in Malaysia which is part of Nord Anglia Education means our curricula is being enhanced through collaborations with the world’s best including Juilliard, MIT and UNICEF. Our students have access to a wide program of events and expeditions and our online Global Campus platform connects over 50,000 students around the world.
What are the most important things parents should consider when choosing a school?
I think the most important thing to consider is whether you and your child is happy when they walk through the door. The way a child smiles says a lot more about the school than conversations with the Headteacher. When you go on a tour of the school ensure you see as much as possible, because if the tour guide avoids certain areas, you might question what they are hiding. You should also be able to speak to staff, students and other parents as you walk around and not just the Admissions or Senior Leadership Team.
Of course it is also important to understand what the school offers in terms of the curriculum. At BSKL we offer a breadth of subjects in Primary, including languages, music, sport and extra-curricular activities. The curriculum tells you where the school’s focus lies and I firmly believe that a broad curriculum produces excellent exam results.
What are your plans for the coming year for the Primary school?
There are two main goals I am focussing on this year. Firstly, I want to firmly integrate the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects through our link with MIT to ensure it is part of a cohesive curriculum. STEM is a growth area where a lot of future jobs will exist, so we need to be developing our curriculum now.
Secondly, I want to build on the positive education message of self-awareness and self-evaluation for a healthier, happier life. It is about understanding how children affect themselves and others, recognising what their strengths and weaknesses are and being able to create and develop arguments and reasoning. This is often taught in later years but I believe these learnings should be instilled at a younger age.
Describe your leadership style in three words?
It’s about the children (okay so that’s four- can I have that?)
What are you looking forward to the most about living in Malaysia?
Lots of things! My family getting to experience the mix of different cultures and festivals, the weather, opportunities for travel both within and outside of Malaysia, the food, being able to go in the pool when we like to… What has struck me most is the mix of urban and rainforest right on our doorstep: we have enjoyed exploring KLCC, TTDI, Bangsar and Batu but also FRiM and Kota Damansara Community Forest reserve.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of school?
Outside of my working life I enjoy going for walks with my children, travelling, reading books and continuing to support my American Football Team - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Finally, as you probably know, Malaysians love their food! What is your favourite dish?
I love food so this is a really tough question. However, there is one food I can't do without, even if I should only have it occasionally: ice-cream!