• Red Dot Consulting

Meet Sarah Osborne-James, Principal of Regents International School Pattaya

This week we meet with Sarah Osborne-James, Principal of Regents International School in Pattaya, Thailand and find out what she thinks makes Regents such a great school.

 

What was your educational journey to Regent’s International School Pattaya?

I’ve been in education overseas now for 21 years. In fact, it was when I was in my first school in Bogota, Colombia that I had my first contact with Regents International School Pattaya! Over my 10 years in that school, I progressed through various roles as a teacher, Head of Year, Deputy Head, Head of Primary and then Assistant Head of School. We were setting up the Round Square programme and Regents was one of the flagship schools in SE Asia for the programme, so we had exchange students and gap year students go to them. It was just an amazing relationship and put Regents on my radar.


After I left Colombia, I took up another Headship in Cambodia, which was my first Nord Anglia School. When the opportunity came up for the Principal role at Regents, it was too good to turn down really with both the Nord Anglia and the Round Square background and the added challenge of being my first boarding school.


What in particular about Regents really stands out for you?

The school is 26 years old, and has a very strong reputation as one of the leading schools in this area. When I arrived, we did some work around who we were and who we wanted to be. It gave us the opportunity to bring the Nord Anglia, the IB and the Round Square philosophies together and so there are three key things that really stand out. Having the students develop a sense of adventure, having the compassion to make the world a better place and being ambitious, and making sure our students are the best they can be.


But what is also at the heart of the school is the element of community service. This was definitely one of the strong pulls for me. It’s about reaching out to different communities and making a difference. Every grade level has a different community partner and has strong relationships because we’ve been working with them all for a long time. It’s wonderful.


Who or what inspired you into education?

I was actually the first person in my family to ever go to university. I had found school quite difficult. I struggled with both my GCSEs and my A levels, yet I always wanted to be a teacher. My own teachers were always saying I wouldn’t get the grades and my parents would hear this and tell me that I have to accept that it’s not for me. It was my best friend’s dad who told me not to believe them. He said, 'If you want to do this, you can make it work.' He encouraged me to retake my exams and then came with me to support my university applications, helping me to get my offer to join Warwick University.


Without him I don’t know if I’d be where I am today. He believed in me, and it just made me more determined to succeed and to have that perseverance. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why there is such an attraction with a Nord Anglia philosophy of ‘Be Ambitious’, because every child can succeed at something. We want to make sure we provide as many different opportunities as possible and show students that there are multiple paths to what you want.

Regents has a very inclusive philosophy. There is a real acceptance that everyone can be different, but that we all belong to Regents. We are ‘Team Regents’.

How have you had to adapt your leadership approach through the pandemic?

Usually, I would describe myself as being very collaborative with lots of listening and lots of decision-making going hand-in-hand, but with Covid it quickly became apparent that we didn’t have time for all that.


Teachers needed to know what we expected of them. So, I had to become more assertive and move into crisis management mode. To be pre-emptive, proactive, be a role model of being calm and not overreacting. Letting everybody know, ‘It’s ok, we’ve got this.’ That has been what has filtered down through all our leadership team. It is all about relationships. Even when it's virtual, it’s about being aware of people’s well-being and checking in with them.


As a school, we’ve all had to learn to adjust. We don’t just do things because they are in the calendar and we’ve always done it. Now, we have to really go back to, why are we doing this? Is it still relevant? And, if the purpose is to celebrate, then how can we do that in a virtual school?


And lastly, communicate, communicate, communicate, that’s been key. There are a lot of unknowns, but we give our community reassurance. They need to know that there is someone in control when so much is out of their control.


What do you think makes Regents a great school rather than just a good school?

Regents is a place where everyone’s accepted and where there’s a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere. We have 26 years of academic results well above the world average, but we aren’t just a factory. For us, it’s about developing students as people. Of course, it’s about a holistic education and the different opportunities that we can offer, but it starts with making our students feel safe, included and accepted.


Can you tell us about three things on your work desk

I’ve got more than three things so you can take your pick! I’ve got a budget presentation next week, so I’m preparing for that, which includes a really nice early years playground. I’ve been working on redesigning the early years, which is really exciting. I’m working on the calendar as well, so I hope that we can run events and do all the fabulous things that we normally do. And I still need two teachers for next year, a primary teacher and a Thai teacher, so I’m in the stages of interviews and waiting for references. Those are just some of the things I’m doing today.


If you could have a super-power what would it be

One of the students asked me this a couple of months ago, and I thought long and hard about it. I want to have a superpower where I can be everywhere at the same time because the school is so big and there is so much going on, I always feel like I’m missing out. I actually have FOMO because I can’t be in two places at once! I’d love to be able to be everywhere, so that I can see all the great things happening all the time

 

Regents International School Pattaya is a premium international school for students aged 2-18 years old. We offer personalised learning delivered by some of the best teachers in the world so that your child can achieve more than they ever thought possible. To find out more about our school and admissions please click here.

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