‘A Term of Firsts!’


The week before Christmas, Leading Your International School had the honour of being invited to Oxford International College Brighton to meet the College’s Founding Principal Tess St Clair-Ford to discuss the school’s recent opening and international school leadership. 

During our visit, we could not help but be impressed with the college’s delicate balance of its wonderful original architecture, coupled with ambitious modern student-centred learning spaces. The walk along the school drive, (even at this time of year) is resplendent. 

Tess was delighted to share back her entire ‘term of firsts’, culminating in a thriving college culture leading up to the Christmas break. What struck me about Tess as a leader was her ‘very deep capacity for optimism and an overall love of human beings’ – two wonderfully important values that support her and the college in all that she does. Founding an International College is an enormous challenge, physically and mentally and Oxford International College Brighton has coped admirably with whatever challenges have been presented along the way.

Demonstrating resilience as a school leader means that staff are more than likely to do the same – particularly important in a start-up. The school has further ambitious plans for its growth and development. 

With a pre-GCSE, GCSE and A-Level Curriculum, ‘specialist teachers develop learners’ knowledge, skills, and understanding across the curriculum, with its ground-breaking “Super curricular programme” unlocking exciting possibilities outside of classes’. These vibrant activities are driven by the interest and curiosity of its students and their thirst for deeper academic knowledge. As one teacher told me – “I love teaching international students, as they are so dedicated to their studies”.

The college is very fortunate to be situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and has already begun exploiting its location and forging highly successful partnerships with other schools, particularly in sports. As the UK Commercial Director of Nord Anglia Education Gregory Biggs told me “With 87 principals, and over 15,000 staff, the cumulative experience of our schools and their leaders is incredible; we continue to be pioneers in what we do and how we do it”. As I learned from both Tess and Gregory, Nord Anglia is ‘committed to entrepreneurship and an open-mindedness to explore other ways of doing things’ and through its wide number of innovative approaches, it is certainly doing that. 

Leading Your International School would like to extend its warm appreciation to everyone at the Oxford International College, Brighton for our visit, and for making us feel so welcome. 

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