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Getting off to an ideal start

Following his appointment last September, British International School, Phuket is delighted to welcome Neil Crossland to the school in his position as Principal of the Secondary School. He becomes the sixth Secondary Principal since the school was founded in 1996. Neil was formerly the Deputy Head Teacher at Dulwich College Shanghai and will be joined at BISP with his wife, Rachel, and their two daughters. We spoke to Neil about his professional journey and the personal values that have motivated and guided him throughout his career.

Saturday 12 September 2020, 10:00AM

BISP Principal Secondary School Neil Crossland.

BISP Principal Secondary School Neil Crossland.

Could you tell us a bit about your teaching background?

This is my 28th year in the teaching profession and my journey has been rich and rewarding. I initially held leadership responsibilities in the UK state sector working in three different schools, each with a unique culture and ethos. In 2012, I was appointed Vice-Principal of St Joseph’s Institution International in Singapore – a high-performing International School that has a unique license to educate Singaporean students within an exclusive expat market. It was here that I was first introduced to the IB Diploma and the value that it has in developing the intellectual, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of students. I joined BISP from Dulwich College Shanghai, where I held the position of Acting Head whilst the school navigated through a period of re-organisation. I then reverted to the role of Deputy Head with responsibility and oversight of the holistic development of students. I am excited to join BISP as Principal of the Secondary School and look forward to further developing the excellent reputation that our school has in the region.

What values do you hope to bring to your role at BISP?

It is without a doubt that the values we uphold as a family transpose into my professional life, but I endeavour to bring integrity to the way I lead and relate to others in the workplace, which is largely built upon trust and respect.

It is popular and right today for any school leader to espouse 21st-century values. It is equally important to look back and look within before projecting forward.

I recently shared with staff the educational values and beliefs that have resonated with me since entering the profession. They are not particularly sophisticated, but each has certainly held true over the years. I am committed to providing an education where: Students are safe, happy and healthy; Students are academically stretched and challenged; Students are able to follow their passions and interests; and Students are ‘good’ people.

In today’s educational world we would probably consider these ideals to encompass wellbeing; rigour in teaching and learning; enrichment; and character development; and I am lucky enough to inherit a school that has a fine reputation in each of these areas. I also believe that these ideals are pertinent to the situation we have all found ourselves in this year.

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When has it ever been more important to address our own wellbeing, to adjust to new styles of learning, or find purpose in our lives to come through the challenges with a deep sensitivity for those around us?

What are you looking forward to most as you settle into school life?

At the start of any new role, one is excited to discover the quality of the provision we offer to our students and the wider community. I am looking forward to working with the incredible coalition of minds that make BISP operate so effectively. It is already apparent that BISP’s success is not superficial, but is based on real substance and a sense of mature compassion for students. As I adjust to island life, I hope to work with colleagues and the wider community to add further value to the programmes we offer here.

What advice would you give to students, staff and parents as we embark on a new school year?

The last six months have reminded us that nothing is certain in life and that we should grasp each day as if it were our last. I would say the same to students, families and staff, but in grasping each day we should also aim high in order to ‘live a life well lived’.

Lastly, there is always room for kindness in any school and we should always be the person who makes others feel valued and included. On this note, I would like to thank the BISP community for the warm welcome it has offered my family and I since arriving in Thailand.

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