What is the British Connection?
On arriving in Bangkok, anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the UK independent school sector cannot help but be taken aback by the plethora of familiar names in the city. Names of schools that have spent years, literally hundreds in some cases, building their reputations in the UK. A quick glance at their websites and you can see pictures of pupils and facilities from their ‘sister’ schools in the UK, and links to their websites, so that prospective parents can get a feel for the history and ethos that they are buying into as they look for an authentic UK independent school education in Thailand.
Obviously, the latest addition to this list is Brighton College, arguably the leading co-educational, independent school in the UK, but uppermost in our minds and understandably the key question on the lips of prospective parents is; to what extent do we and other ‘British’ international schools have the right to be trading on the long-established reputations of their UK counterparts?
Pupils at Brighton College in the UK may achieve the best academic grades in the country with the enviable quality this is not achieved through hothousing, but through a genuinely balanced and holistic education that allows them to be happy and the very best versions of themselves. But the question is this; can a prospective pupil to Brighton College Bangkok truly expect to get the same opportunities?
The answer to this question is a clear and unequivocal ‘yes’, but with the imagined chorus of ‘well you would say that wouldn’t you’ ringing in my ears, let me try to help you understand why this is absolutely the case.
Not every international school that bears the name of a UK independent counterpart sets out to establish a local version of that school, but this is very much the intention of Brighton College Bangkok, and not simply in terms of academic standards. The ethos of kindness, the focus on the individual pupil, the partnership between home and school, the traditional house system where pupils are supported by their peers and staff in smaller communities and extensive opportunities outside of the classroom to develop skills for life, are all part of the Brighton College DNA. Yes, there are aspects that are adapted because of where we are, and quite rightly too. But fundamentally parents and pupils can be assured that the intention is, an authentic ‘Brighton College’ education.
We are obviously not the first international school that Brighton College has established and our Colleges in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain have quickly established outstanding reputations. Again, it would be too easy to focus on their ‘headline’ achievements about IGCSE and A level success but most people understand that there is much more to a quality education than this. Certainly, anyone who has visited these schools will tell you that there is something very special you can sense almost as you walk through the gates.
Mission statements, policy documents and websites are fine, but what actually counts is what is going on in classrooms, in rehearsal rooms, on sports fields etc. and, as such, Brighton College actively looks to recruit the very best teachers from within its family of schools. For example, our founding Head was also the founding Head of Brighton College Al Ain. Our founding Head of Prep was the founding Head of Prep at Brighton College Abu Dhabi. Our newly appointed Head of Languages and Head of Science for the Prep and Senior Schools join us from Brighton Colleges in Abu Dhabi and the UK, respectively. These are outstanding teachers in their own right, but the fact that they understand what a Brighton College education is, and have contributed directly to the outstanding achievements of other schools in the family, will undoubtedly help us to recreate that magic here.
Today sees the second of four visits in this academic year of Mr Richard Cairns, Headmaster of Brighton College UK. Mr Cairns serves on our Board of Governors (as do a number of other senior leaders from the Brighton College family of schools) and, as much as it is always a pleasure to welcome him, he is not just coming for a proverbial ‘jolly’.
Amongst other things, he will observe lessons, interview members of staff and generally try to get a feel for the College, all with the intention of helping us to ensure that what we are doing reflects the quality, values and ethos of Brighton College UK.
Quite apart from our formal inspections (that will include the UK Independent Schools Inspectorate; the benchmark for all UK independent schools), this role of a ‘critical friend’; quite literally our ‘British Connection’, will help to guarantee our pupils a truly first class educational experience.
Jon Wingfield, Deputy Head of Senior School
For more information about the Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior Schools at Brighton College Bangkok please visit www.brightoncollege.ac.th/home