SIXTH Form students at Shrewsbury International School are again setting their sights on exciting futures at some of the world’s leading universities and colleges. Students have already secured over 230 university offers to top institutions in the UK, USA, Canada, Thailand, China, Japan, and the Netherlands, and whilst the full list will not be known for a few more months, 2017 is already shaping up to be another very successful year for the school’s graduating students and Higher Education team.
A brace of offers for Wannakorn (Ki-Ki) Tapanakornwut (Engineering) and Tachakrid (Earth) Tachatirakul (Medicine) to Cambridge University – ranked as the worlds’ 4th best university – head the UK offers to date.
Early news from US colleges is also extremely promising, with Head of School Carlos Romero Jantacomma securing a place at top-ranked Yale University, and fellow Year 13 student Pira (Pip) Srivikorn accepting his place at UPenn’s Wharton Business School. Meanwhile Sorawan (Tammy) Vesvarute has accepted her place at Mount Holyoke College – part of the highly regarded Seven Sisters consortium – also attended by her own sister Tat (Shrewsbury Class of 2016, now at Smith College).
Offers to well-known UK and US universities and colleges form only part of the picture, however. The British curriculum offered at Shrewsbury leads to qualifications that are recognised and respected by universities and colleges around the world, and it is no surprise that the list of offers to date also include a number of new institutions in several different countries; a reflection of the efforts made by the Higher Education team to encourage students to broaden their horizons, to research alternative options, and ultimately to select universities and courses that are the ‘right fit’ for both their academic aspirations as well as their personal interests and overall university experience.
For many students, the right choice is here in Thailand and we are again pleased to report on a number of offers to prestigious engineering and medical courses to the likes of Thammasat, Mahidol, and Chulalongkorn universities for both Year 13 students in their final A level year, and Year 12 students, whose applications are supported by internationally recognised GCSE and IGCSE qualifications. In addition to her place at Mahidol, Head Girl Pearl Yodwongjane has also earned an offer from St George’s University, London.
Meanwhile, the ongoing work of the Higher Education team to build links with universities around the world is underlined by several offers in other countries, including a trio of offers to the prestigious University of British Columbia – ranked 36th in the world – and which the Higher Education team visited last May; part of an intensive study trip to universities and colleges on North America’s West Coast. Similar trips to universities in Japan, UK, and USA are planned over the coming months.
Seal of approval for Shrewsbury’s new principal
In August 2017, Mr Christopher Seal (currently at Millfield School, England), arrives in Bangkok to take up the position of school Principal at Shrewsbury International School’s Riverside Campus.
Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, just 5 minutes from Saphan Taksin BTS station, Shrewsbury prides itself on offering an inspirational academic programme for over 1,600 boys and girls aged 3-18 years that is based on the English National Curriculum, adapted throughout to meet the needs of its international, multi-lingual community. Classroom learning is supported by an extensive programme of extra-curricular activities.
Under the 12-year tenure of current Principal, Mr Stephen Holroyd, Shrewsbury has established itself as one of the leading International schools in South East Asia, achieving public examination results that rank amongst the very highest achieving schools in the region and alongside the very top-performing independent schools in the UK; internationally recognised GCSE and A level qualifications that enable Shrewsbury graduates to progress to leading universities around the world.
Mr Holroyd himself will remain a central figure in the wider Shrewsbury organisation, where he will oversee the foundation of further schools in Hong Kong (opening September 2018) and China, as well as a brand new Shrewsbury primary school here in Bangkok (opening August 2018), and significant redevelopment of the original Riverside Campus.
While in Bangkok for a week-long visit meeting with staff and parents at Shrewsbury, The BigChilli interviewed Mr Seal about his new role at Shrewsbury.
I was born in the Southeast of England, but I went to school in Kent and I currently work at Millfield School near Glastonbury.
Why did you choose to become a teacher?
When I finished school I went on to Loughbrough, one of England’s great sporting universities, with the dream of becoming a professional sportsman. It was at this university, however, that I started to seriously consider teaching as a career. I remembered how I looked up to my own teachers when I was at school – people who continue to shape my life even today – and the incredibly positive way in which friends who had already moved into teaching would talk about the profession.
What do you enjoy most about working in a school?
The people. It’s an incredible privilege to work with young people – to help them discover their true potential and to share in their success. I’ve been lucky to do this alongside committed teachers and supportive parents, all working towards the same goal; being immersed in an environment like that, helping to create a culture of success is extremely fulfilling, and often humbling too.
Why Bangkok, and why Shrewsbury?
On previous visits to Bangkok, my wife and I have been struck by the vibrancy and authenticity of the city. There’s also the real sense that this is a city that values its traditions and cultural heritage and that also embraces development and change, not least terms of education. I have known Shrewsbury’s UK school for many years, and have visited it several times. I have tremendous respect for the way in which the students and teachers there conduct themselves, and the exceptional standards that the school has achieved. The opportunity to lead this school was something I felt compelled to explore, and having now spent a fair bit of time here – enjoying musical recitals, drama performances, seeing the student and parent leaders in action, athletes training dawn till dusk – this place really does have an amazing energy. I can’t wait to get stuck in.
What have you done and what will you bring to this role?
I’ve worked in education for my entire professional life. Having cared for pupils around the clock, I really understand the difference that sound guidance and emotional support can make to a young person’s wellbeing, and in turn, to their progress and development as a student. My focus will always be on ensuring that students are happy at school. If a student is happy, success will follow, and the sense of fulfilment I personally get from seeing young people achieve their potential is what motivates me every day.
As a parent, why do you think parents in Thailand should consider international school education for their child?
There are many excellent schools all over the world, of varied types, and I would not seek to argue that one is necessarily better than another. The key thing for any family is to make the right decision based on their children’s needs, and also the situation they find themselves in as a family. Whilst the focus on academic performance is ever-present, I think that the very best international schools like Shrewsbury understand their responsibility to offer much more than that: to provide strong pastoral care and counselling, to balance linguistic needs and priorities of the international community, to focus on the development of skills and qualities alongside academic grades, and understand that offering a broad and varied co-curricular programme serves to complement learning, rather than distracting from it.
What will be your focus when you arrive in Bangkok, and what changes would you like to implement at the School?
I’m a great believer in avoiding ‘change for change’s sake’. My first task is not to change but simply to understand; to build an effective understanding of all aspects of the school, to enable and empower staff to continue their excellent work and inspire pupils to give of their best in everything they do. There will be change, of course, and it seems to me that one of the great strengths of this organisation is the willingness to learn from experience, to embrace best practice, and to manage change in an assured, effective, and purposeful way.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Family is my real focus, and we all enjoy spending time together – dining out, going to the cinema, or travelling new to places. I’ve spent much of my time on the sports field over the years, but the body is no longer able to cope with cricket, and certainly not rugby. I’ve been working hard at my golf recently and so I look forward to playing on the beautiful courses around Thailand. Away from sports, I am an avid reader.
What is a personal philosophy / a mantra you live by?
For a number of years I worked with a cricket professional who lived by the mantra, ‘just do better’. I quite like the open-ended nature of it, and it fits nicely into the more recent literature on the benefits of ‘marginal gains’. Small improvements in many areas make a real difference. I also take inspiration from Norman Croucher, who had both legs amputated at the age of eighteen. Fitted with prosthetic legs, Croucher first walked the length of Britain, then climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world. When asked how he did this, he replied ‘one step at a time’. So taken together my own mantra is probably 'doing better, one step at a time'.