What attracted you to St Andrews Sukhumvit 107?
I was delighted to be appointed as Head of School at St Andrews International School Sukhumvit 107 as I was looking for a school which would be a good fit for me and where I could have a positive impact. The school has a lovely family feel and its immense potential lies in its people; the Sukhumvit 107 families, staff and, most of all, its young people.
It has great facilities and is continuing to develop with a new indoor sports arena being built, ready to open in August 2019. The fact that St Andrews Sukhumvit 107 is part of a group of four Thailand schools (with St Andrews Dusit, Sathorn and Green Valley) and also part of the wider Cognita group of schools also appeals to me as there are opportunities for students, staff and school communities to collaborate.
The Cognita St Andrews schools group in Thailand is also developing some amazing partnerships that have the potential to be extremely inspirational and beneficial to our students. A partnership with Khun Mechai and the PDA to assist with upgrading the quality of education in Thailand is a really exciting project we are currently developing. In the same creative and vigorous way that he has successfully challenged population control and poverty in Thailand, Khun Mechai is working to upgrade education quality in Thai villages and we are supporting this initiative by employing two teachers with whom we will closely liaise.
Our students will be able to visit the Mechai Bamboo School in Buriram province to participate in community service responsibilities and also host visits from the Bamboo School at our school and other Cognita St Andrews schools in Thailand. The education provided at the Bamboo School is unique and our students will learn a great deal from this association as well as having an opportunity to improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves. This is really exciting and projects such as this are so valuable in building character in our young people.
What are some of the biggest challenges this school faces?
I think one of the biggest challenges in a city with so many excellent international schools is ensuring that you celebrate the fantastic things you do and are very open and honest about what your own school will offer. At St Andrews Sukhumvit 107 we have around 450 students from aged 2-18, a lovely size, which means we know our children extremely well.
We can tailor inspiring learning opportunities for them, offer individualised support and we can work closely with our parents to make sure we are doing an amazing job. For our students, the challenge is to balance striving for academic excellence alongside their wider learning in sport, drama, music, community work, extracurricular activities whilst ensuring they also remain happy and healthy.
Where are you from and at which schools were you before St Andrews?
I was born in one of the UK’s mostglamorous towns, Oldham, whose chief claim to fame is that it was the home of the first fish and chip shop (according to historian Eric Hobsbawm) and to the finest football team ever to have played in the Premier League (one of these facts is perhaps more true than the other).
After graduating in History from Leeds University and completing my PGCE in Liverpool, I worked at a comprehensive school in Peterborough before working at Colombo International School in Sri Lanka, at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School (QEGS) in Lincolnshire, at Notting Hill & Ealing High School (NHEHS) and Putney High School in London, Harrow International School in Beijing and, since 2013, Principal at The British School Kathmandu (TBS) in Nepal. The last 5 years in Kathmandu have had so many highlights including winning the British International School of the Year Award in 2017 (which I almost never mention – honestly!).
What attracted you to teaching? How has your background influenced you as an educator?
I am quite a sad case because I absolutely love teaching and there is nothing I do not like about it. I love the fact that I am in a profession that stretches the mind, is never the same from day to day and has endless possibilities. I went to a comprehensive school in the 1980s in the UK at a time when schools were not always well resourced but I was lucky to have a number of teachers who clearly loved their jobs, would go the extra mile for their students and pushed you to do more than you thought you could. I wanted to be like them.
What do you consider your greatest success in schools?
Besides the 4 international school awards The British School Kathmandu won in 2016 and 2017 (which I almost never mention!), I would say the successes I enjoy the most are seeing students and colleagues thrive. The best schools are where teachers are learning alongside the students and children. I could talk about examination results or Ofsted inspection successes but I don’t think you really remember these as vividly. You remember the people who have done fantastic things and how you have been able to support them.
What was the most challenging teaching/administration situation you have faced?
The earthquakes that hit Nepal in 2015 were catastrophic in terms of their impact on a nation that was not equipped for such an event. It was an extremely frightening and difficult time for many of our families, staff and children. However, the school was fortunate in that we were in a good position to re-open quickly, get children learning and playing together, support our parents by freeing them to do their jobs and get on with their lives and support other schools through our community work.
So even though it was a really challenging time it was a great opportunity for our school community and our students to make a real difference. We raised over £350,000 to rebuild 4 primary schools in Dhading, a training centre for girls with specific learning needs in Kathmandu, and various other small scale projects.
“I believe an international education makes young people broadminded, more independent and self-reliant, and more understanding, kind people.”
Technology (which we are bringing into the curriculum fully from 2019) and an increasing range of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Education) activities. Children can undertake special projects and competitions, take individual music lessons and play in bands and ensembles.
We are looking to give young people exposure to those activities that will become lifelong passions and which will make their lives richer and more fulfilling! In addition, we expect all of our young people to be involved in community service and our community partnership links are strong and growing stronger all the time.
So in short, there is a broad creative curriculum at Sukhumvit 107 with everything you would expect to see alongside a wide set of clubs and activities. And if we don’t do something yet that our learners might benefit from, we will find a way to introduce it!
What about life beyond Sukhumvit 107?
There is a careers programme that runs through our Personal Social Health Education provision as well as regular visits from universities and Higher Education institutions across the world. We have specialist Sixth Form Advisers who help students through this bewildering process.
Education Our approach is very much to tailor careers and university advice to each individual with form groups meaning each teacher/adviser has about 10 students to oversee and they will meet one to one to discuss their thinking throughout their secondary school career. As a result students do go to some highly desirable destinations in the UK, USA, Australia and others studying courses from Medicine to Business, Law, Engineering to Interior Design.
Our recent IB results were our highest so far, one of our students gained our highest ever IB points score and is off to study Medicine in the UK and all of our students gained the scores required for their university or college of choice.
Come and visit us at the school for a tour to get a sense of the inspirational education on offer at St Andrews Sukhumvit 107. We are a welcoming community and we will be only too pleased to see you and show you around. We are sure that you will be impressed.
Dr John Moore
T: +66 (0)2-393-3883
Part of the St. Andrews Cognita
Schools Group: Dusit, Green Valley,
Sathorn, Sukhumvit 107