Tell us about yourself.
I am from Melbourne Australia, but I spent many years living in the UK. I have been in Beijing for just one month. My wife, Franziska, is from Leipzig in Germany and we have two boys who both attend Harrow!
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Who was your childhood hero? I desperately wanted to be a cricket star and Greg Chappell, former Australian Captain, was my childhood hero.
What kind of student were you as a child?
I had my fair share of visits to the heads’ office for being naughty, but once I hit secondary school I was pretty straight and worked hard.
What was your image of the school headmaster when you were a student? How do you describe your image now?
I remember my headmaster as being quite strict and difficult to approach and talk to, so I try hard to smile a lot and talk to as many children in a day as I can.
Did you ever get sent to the headmaster’s office?
Many times – I got the cane once for getting into a fight on a school bus.
What kind of jobs did you have before becoming a headmaster?
I worked for a summer when I was at university as a furniture remover – very hard work indeed, especially in the hot Australian sun.
What is a typical day like in the life of a headmaster?
There are lots of meetings and much correspondence to take care of, as well as talking to lots of people and trying very hard to always be around the students. It is busy but very rewarding.
How do most people respond when they find out you are a school headmaster?
How do your kids or your spouse introduce you to their friends? I don’t think people treat me differently because I am a headmaster. My boys disown me at school though and I leave them to get on with things too.
What job would you want to do if you were not a headmaster?
I would really like to go back and be a student again – I think I would make much more use of my time at university if I could go back again, but I love being a teacher and can’t imagine doing any other job.
In all your time as an educator, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Listen first. This is the most important lesson I have learned not just as a head, but also as a teacher. This is particularly important in the context of working in different cultural contexts, but I have found it most useful when teaching math; you really need to understand what the student knows before you can challenge them with deeper and more complex ideas.
Meet the Principal/Headmaster is a new beijingkids blog series designed to give the Beijing community a better understanding of who our education leaders are in our city. If your school is interested in being featured in our Meet the Principal/Headmaster blog series, please contact the School Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.