After cutting their teeth in Vietnam, meet the Yorkshire couple who found a home in Hungary
In 2003, after several years working in Leeds and North Yorkshire, my wife and I decided to explore international teaching and we haven’t looked back since. It’s a bold step, packing up your belongings and renting out your home, but it’s one we’ve not regretted since we first stepped onto international waters.
Initially, we joined the British International School in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and it was evident from the first moment that in Asia the teaching profession and education was held in very high respect. The two years spent in Vietnam gave us a chance to travel to countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.
Professionally, this was a very exciting time to be in Vietnam, working alongside now lifelong friends in a school that is now classed as one of the most highly regarded schools in Asia. But we wanted more and soon our feet grew itchy once more.
In 2005 we had the opportunity to move to Hungary. At the time, the Nord Anglia Education group had just five schools and The British International School Budapest had a total of just over 300 students. Budapest was a mystical and enchanting city back then, and still is. Its Austro-Hungarian heritage and architecture entwined with a love of the arts and culture makes the city a fantastic place to live and work.
Teaching the British National Curriculum, we follow new initiatives and curriculum adaptations just as we would in the UK. Keeping up to date with recent UK and international developments can be challenging for international schools and so anyone wanting to teach internationally must consider this.
Fortunately, Nord Anglia Education highly values staff professional development with its Nord Anglia University and its range of online courses through to a fully funded Masters in collaboration with Kings College London. Tethered to this is a desire to develop and support people to grow within the organisation. I’ve personally benefitted from this by attending middle and senior leaders courses, which helped me prepare for my current Head role.
At BISB we are fortunate to have a stable Primary staff that enables us to work as a close team, embed good practice and work on giving the children a memorable but challenging primary education. For our non-native students, we help them appreciate the language and history of the region through our Hungarian Culture lessons and we support our Hungarian students with their language development through a bi-lingual support programme.
The Primary school now has just over 400 students, taking the total for the school to over 900. The British International School Budapest caters for children aged three to 18 at which stage they complete their International Baccalaureate Diploma exams and exit to universities across the globe.
My wife and I have had two children since living and working in Hungary who also now attend and love the school. As a teaching couple, the school were very supportive with the birth of our children by allowing us to job share. This meant collectively we could share the childcare whilst continuing to work in the profession and at a school we love.
We are often asked why we have stayed in Budapest for as long as we have. This is truly a mixture of being in a great school that has given us professional challenge and living in such an exciting city as Budapest. The community of the school is a very special one.
We have over 70 different nationalities who combine to create a community of respect for one another and a collective understanding that we can ‘achieve more together than we can alone’. We are blessed with having some wonderful students and supported by a set of parents who want to help enhance and improve the school and community together.
I’m proud of the school, its students, teachers and parents. I have been honoured to be part of BISBs journey into the successful school it is today. I am, of course, equally excited to be part of its very bright future.