This month in our Bangkok Faces feature, we introduce you to Siobhan O’Brien, the Assistant Principal (Pre-Prep) at Shrewsbury Bangkok Riverside Campus.
What is your nationality and background?
I am British. I was born in Manchester and completed a PGCE in Primary Education before moving to London where I taught in the borough of Hackney. I had a number of roles during my time in London but most recently worked as Assistant Headteacher. Alongside teaching, I have also worked with a number of companies, NGOs and charities developing Early Literacy, teacher training and school environments.
What is your current role?
My role is currently Assistant Principal at Shrewsbury Riverside with responsibility for the Pre Prep school (ages 3-7 years).
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
I view the role in a number of ways. The responsibility for the day-to-day leadership of the Pre Prep school is underpinned by a clear school-wide definition of high quality learning, and I am there to ensure our teams have everything they need to deliver this successfully.
As part of the Senior Management Team, I work to develop our longer term thinking for the school. We constantly address any opportunities for improvement, drawing on best practice from the UK and around the world. In this regard, we have been at the forefront of thinking in EY provision for some years.
Finally, I am lucky to spend a lot of time with parents. We hold regular workshops and meetings to ensure that our parent body is completely up to speed with our work. We maintain a fantastic relationship with our parents, recognising that they know their children better than anyone, and that their input is valuable.
As anyone who works with children will tell you, every day is different and I never quite know what I might face, but that is all part of the fun!
How did you get involved in your profession?
I was told from an early age that I should be a teacher. When I was 15, I spent my school work experience placement in a nursery and since then have been drawn to working with young children. Part of my university degree focused on child development and psychology and I have a huge interest in how young children learn. The early childhood years are vitally important and am really honoured that I have the opportunity to have an impact on so many children’s early experiences.
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience for children?
Ensuring the Pre Prep environment is safe, purposeful and relevant is a very important part of my role. I am lucky to work alongside extremely experienced practitioners and the wellbeing of the children is at the heart of all we do. We focus on developing the whole child and ensuring we give them the skills and develop the characteristics they need to succeed as they continue their education in the Prep and Senior schools. In building these excellent foundations, we work with all aspects of our through school to ensure we are offering the best possible start in life. The experience of professionals at all levels of the school is key to this.
What challenges do you face in your role?
We relish the challenge of staying at the top of our game. The whole team is committed to offering the best possible start to our students’ education; we constantly research and develop our practice so that we can continually refine what we do. We carefully balance challenge and risk taking. We want our children to have experiences outside their comfort zone and ones that challenge them. We have created lots of opportunities for this in a safe and supportive environment, whether it be climbing trees, using saws and hammers or presenting in front of their year group.
What do you hope to achieve as an educator?
I came into teaching to have a positive impact on the lives of young children. I have fond memories of one of my primary school teachers, Mrs Fagan, who had a great impact on me. She had such care and passion, and the ability to make every child feel valued regardless of their academic ability. If one child under my care feels this way about me, I will have achieved much!
We have an incredible team in the Pre Prep at Shrewsbury and I strongly believe that we offer the best provision in Thailand. We intend to extend our international reputation as a world-leading institution, renowned for our outstanding practice and we know we are making excellent progress in this regard.
Who or what inspires you?
On a personal level, since recently becoming a mother, I constantly amazed by other mums. It’s hard enough keeping your child fed, dressed and happy, but the women who do this and more every day are a real inspiration to me. On a professional level, I am inspired by people who are hungry for improvement and seek to do their best every day – we are so fortunate to have many of these at Shrewsbury. Please come and visit our school if you want to see some of them in action!
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