I started my career as a music teacher, at Dulwich College in London. Then I moved to become a Head of Performing Arts at a comprehensive [state] school in Sussex, where I grew up. My next move was to become Deputy Head in an all-boys comprehensive school in the outskirts of London. From there, I got my first headship in a grammar school in Gloucester. I joined Kent College around 15 years ago and have seen my own sons attend the school and develop lots of wonderful, lifelong and international friendships as a result.
I am a big believer in lifelong learning. I took a Masters degree when I wanted to become a Head of Department. I took an MBA when I wanted to look at senior leadership in schools, and then a Doctorate when I became a school leader. I’ve been fortunate enough to lead schools for 22 years in total now.
Well, I hope that what unites them is the same focus on the individual child that we have always had in Canterbury. That is something that is easy to say, but not necessarily so easy to deliver! It’s about getting the curriculum right for each and every child. You can see that at Kent College Dubai with the recent introduction of the IB Diploma into the Sixth form, alongside A Levels and BTECs.
Our schools are inclusive schools, and that will always be important to us. The UK school is one of the top schools in the UK and yet it is inclusive…some of the other schools that join us in that top ten list are very highly selective. I think we can be very proud of that fact.
Pastoral care is a top priority in every Kent College school. It’s about helping students in the right way. It is never, in Kent College, a one size fits all approach.
At Kent College we are a family of schools. A culture of tolerance, kindness and simply being together and being connected is really important. We have members of staff transferring from Dubai to Canterbury and vice versa and we want to encourage more of that as the family of schools grows bigger.
The same is of course true for students. When we first considered a school in Hong Kong, one of the important things there was for the Junior school children to be able to move on to the Senior School in Kent College Canterbury. Some other British schools in Hong Kong can’t promise that.
Of course, I am looking for someone with a strategic view, but the most important thing in Kent College senior leaders, middle leaders and classroom leaders is people who have the welfare and the progress of children at heart. I never want to hear about Kent College giving up on a student, that would upset me greatly. I always want to find how we can give each child the extra chance to put something right if it goes wrong.
We still hope that it will become a physical school, it’s a delay in what we wanted to do rather than an end to it. That is why we decided to launch Kent College online, because there was a good deal of demand. It could happen still quite quickly as the school won’t be a new build, it is going to be a redevelopment of an old shopping mall, in fact.
The plan was to be right in the heart of Kowloon, right in the heart of things. We could still open in September 2022 if we wanted to, but I don’t think that is quite going to happen. In the meantime, we thought we would keep the name going, especially as we regularly get lots of students from Hong Kong joining us in the UK. And of course, all our teachers are now experts at online teaching!
We offer a combination of live and recorded lessons, mostly due to the time difference between the UK and Hong Kong. Students take either one programme or a collection of programmes (say one A level, or a group of A Levels). In order to get the ethos right, even online, there are regular check ins with the child’s tutor. It is not just a matter of delivering content. We want it to be more than that in order to truly identify with the physical Kent College schools.
Yes, that is something we are strategically looking ahead to. There could be an online Kent College “arm”, which doesn’t have to be labelled Hong Kong or Canterbury, but could be global. It’s definitely something we are considering.