A Career in Education
Originally from the United Kingdom, I have been a leader for over 40 years during which time I have been very much a global educator, having spent time in the United Kingdom as an advisor, whilst leading schools in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean. Over the last ten years, I have been heavily involved in starting international schools across the region and it is something I am very passionate about – building schools that reflect the needs of a 21st century education.
What is your opinion on the current international school landscape in Malaysia?
There are many choices of international schools offering a wide variety of curriculums such as the Cambridge Curriculum, British National Curriculum, the International Baccalaureate (IB), the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), Australian Curriculum, Canadian Curriculum and the Malaysian National Curriculum. Parents are becoming more aware of what they need and want from a school for their children’s future. However, because of the variety, there is still a need for more information to be provided to parents about the differences in the curriculum and how it impacts students’ tertiary education.
Also, the teaching methods employed vary from school to school. This is one area that more communication needs to be done as many parents are less informed about how inquiry-based models differ from rote learning methods. The biggest concern is the availability of excellent teachers who have 21st century skills that can guide, encourage and develop students to excel in their studies. This is crucial in achieving student success. The first and foremost consideration of any school should be education, the investment in education and the essential resources necessary to deliver a first-class education. This is where the focus should be for any international school.
Malaysia has the highest number of local students in international schools. What does Peninsula International School Australia offer in comparison to other schools?
As a school we are in a unique situation given that we are the only school licensed to teach the Victorian Curriculum in Malaysia, and to have a direct partner school (Peninsula Grammar in Mornington, Australia). The partnership allows us to share resources, ideas, staff and the exceptional pastoral care and Positive Psychology programmes that are successfully used at Peninsula Grammar. Our teachers are all highly experienced teachers from Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries and have direct knowledge of the Victorian Curriculum and how it should be delivered.
The school also allows for some of our students to attend the final years of their studies at Peninsula Grammar in Mornington before attending a college or university of their choice. As a new school, we are also very aware of the need to provide technology as a learning resource and we are looking at becoming a registered Apple School, and we consistently use educational software to enhance the learning experience. The world is and will continue to be a rapidly changing one. Peninsula students will be confident in themselves, creative, independent learners, self-directed, ethically centred and emotionally intelligent. This is what the education of the students who attend Peninsula International School Australia is about. Our priority is to provide a safe and secure environment and high expectations, and an ethos encouraging strong values and a sense of service to others.
In an age where the pressure on students is intense, particularly for good grades, what advice would you give potential parents regarding the need to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities?
Academic achievement is essential in any school. At Peninsula International School Australia, we not only place emphasis on supporting and preparing students to achieve the highest possible academic outcomes, but also collaborative learning with plenty of opportunities for students to develop their leadership, communication and teamwork skills – important 21st century skills for the next generation of graduates. Our graduates are encouraged to develop into global citizens and prepared to enter higher education and the workplace with confidence.
There can be no doubt that a holistic approach to education is a far more effective way of preparing them for the rigours of higher education and the modern workplace. My advice to parents is to support, encourage and allow their child(ren) to try all aspects of school life and look at school as a journey towards academic and personal growth.
Tell us why the VCE is such a good certification to have when applying for universities and is it accepted globally?
The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is accepted worldwide and in top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom. It aims to provide students with both the knowledge and skills our young people will need to be life-long learners. The VCE considers that all young people should be informed citizens who are active in their local, national and international environments. The curriculum also emphasises that social and emotional development is just as important as academics and therefore focuses on a ‘holistic’ view of education.
Pastoral care is integral in an international school system. How does this help a student perform better?
Peninsula International School Australia, in partnership with Peninsula Grammar, has developed a first-class Pastoral Care programme. We provide age-appropriate programmes to all students. It is through these personal and life skill development opportunities that we monitor the overall educational experience and development of each child in our care.
We feel it is important for all students to feel a strong sense of security and connectedness within the school community. Peninsula facilitates this through formal and informal approaches.
Pastoral care falls naturally to the class teacher in the Foundation stages and Junior Years. In the Middle and Senior Years, where students move from one teacher to another during their daily timetable, pastoral care is facilitated at the respective year levels by House Tutors, in conjunction with the mentors and respective Principals, all of whom support students seeking encouragement, assistance and support.
Tell us about your future boarding facilities.
The school will be developing a boarding facility and care system that fosters a home-from-home ethos. The facilities will be modern, very comfortable, offer personal space and a variety of entertainment. The idea is to create a sense of family whereby highly qualified staff can attend to the boarders’ needs on a 24/7 basis and allow them to grow independently whilst the students focus on their studies. The Boarding facilities will be attached to the main school and have state-of-the-art student services.
For more information on Peninsula International School Australia, head to www.peninsula.edu.my.