Remarkable educational leaders are focused on educating students and preparing them for a bright future. They are driven to transform education and possess a strong learning attitude. They always support their colleagues and focus on uplifting education.
One such dedicated and enthusiastic leader who is motivated to uplift education is Simon Spencer, the Founding Head of King Henry VIII College. He was always interested in English language and literature. Accordingly, he graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English and took up his first teaching post at a small private school in Clifton, Bristol. Simon eventually joined Christ College, Brecon – the very school he passed out from just a few years before. He spent the next 31 years teaching in Brecon, where his wife also taught throughout and their three sons were educated.
A Dedicated Educator
Simon spent a decade of his tenure in the school as the Deputy Head, and from 2005, he took up a leading role in international promotion and development. He explored various countries such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Spain, and Germany, while promoting Christ College. These trips not only provided promotional opportunities, but also gave him the opportunity to gather knowledge of their educational scenario and context, especially in Asia.
Simon has attended various educational fairs and exhibitions, and has participated in several trade missions in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He has organized many school trips and initiated ongoing cultural exchanges with schools in China and Japan. The project to establish King Henry VIII College in Malaysia began in 2015. Simon says, “By 2017, when the ground-breaking took place, my wife and I had moved to Malaysia. The initial leadership team was put together in that year and we watched the campus take shape, and prepared for the opening in 2018”.
Simon says that at many places in the UK, there are still actual blocks of inscribed stone at the side of the road, indicating the distances between the two nearest villages or towns. These milestones suggest that one is proceeding towards their destination, and is focusing on traveling the rest of the distance. He believes that he has achieved quite a few milestones throughout his career. However, performing as the Founding Head of King Henry VIII College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia acts as a significant achievement.
Simon has contributed vastly in the field of education throughout his long tenure in the school. He went on to broaden his experiences by exploring South East Asia. He believes that throughout his tenure at Christ College, he had made positive contributions towards the operation and ethos of the school through which hundreds and thousands of children attained quality education.
“Whether as a classroom teacher of English, a Houseparent, a Deputy Head, a Sports coach, or directing school plays, my aim in Brecon was always to ensure students gave their best, challenged themselves, and made the most of their opportunities,” says Simon. Through his international role at Christ College, he got the opportunity to develop his own international understanding alongside that of the school community. He developed links with schools in China and Japan, and the exchange visits and cultural tours were a highlight of many Christ College students’ time at school. The promotion of a global perspective and international experiences is very much part of the provision at King Henry VIII College as well. The school also has regular exchanges with Meikei High School in Japan-one of the first exchange schools that linked up with Christ College. “Reciprocal exchanges and visits by students and teachers are already part of the annual KH8 calendar, and I am convinced of the significant educational value of these activities,” says Simon.
About the College
King Henry VIII College Malaysia was established in September 2018. It is a British International School, educating students from the age of 3 to 18. The school accommodates day students and boarders. It keeps its head high and is proud of its ancient lineage and history, stretching back many hundreds of years. It has a more futuristic and urban setting in the global tech hub of Cyberjaya. This is a rapidly-developing planned township, mid-way between Kuala Lumpur City Centre and KL International Airport.
In Brecon, two of the original friary buildings that date back to the 13th Century – the Chapel and the Dining Hall – are still in daily use by students. The all-new KH8 campus in Cyberjaya is a quadrangle built on a 10-acre site with a playing field at its heart. Around this are impressive teaching blocks, an indoor swimming pool and sports hall, boarding facilities, and a highly distinctive administration block, reminiscent of one of its sister school’s ancient structures.
King Henry VIII College aims to provide a balanced all-round education firmly based on the UK National Curriculum; within a disciplined and caring framework. The school offers academic support and challenge, close pastoral care, and broad-ranging co-curricular opportunities, in an environment where students can explore, achieve, and thrive.
Overcoming Challenges with a Positive Attitude
Simon feels that he is fortunate enough to have found new challenges throughout his teaching career. His time at Christ College gave him numerous opportunities to explore various arenas of school life including academic, pastoral, and also the international sphere. In 2015, he got the opportunity to be part of the collaboration to build a sister school in Malaysia. “Gradually that project took over, and from 2016, it has been the biggest challenge, but also an enormous privilege,” he says. Simon feels grateful that he got the opportunity to go back to the school that educated him for 7 years as a student. He is thankful to play a part in the lives of hundreds of students, then teach the children of alumni they had taught years before. Simon feels happy that he got to assist in the building and establishment of a new sister school thousands of miles away in South East Asia.
Ensuring Quality Education
For Simon, education is all about respect. He aims at creating an environment, where the staff should feel challenged and supported. His prime objective is to ensure that every individual should understand the ethos and culture of their workplace. Simon believes that working together as a cohesive unit can build synergy between the teachers’ personal values and goals, which will, in turn, build a fertile ground for education.
Message for the Emerging Students
Simon states, “Everyone knows that our world is in a state of flux. Educational institutions like KH8 will say that they prepare global citizens equipped for such a world, and an uncertain future. There is truth in this, of course”. With nearly 40 years of experience, Simon has always dedicated himself to prepare the students to explore and bring out the best in themselves. He concludes by addressing the students, “They should leave school without regret: not wishing they had tried harder, done more, tested themselves, or really grabbed their opportunities”.