Aug. 13 (Jeju Weekly) The principal-designate of North London Collegiate School Jeju brings a wealth of international experience to the position, although he is a newcomer to Korea and Asia. Peter Daly is currently at Dubai English Speaking College in Dubai where, as founding head teacher of the secondary school for the past five years, he has helped the college become one of the highest achieving schools in the region. Prior to that, he was head of the senior school at St. Christopher’s School in Bahrain, which is a British international school that caters to 1,700 students.
Daly and his wife, Sue, visited Jeju Island for the NLCS ground-breaking ceremony on Aug. 4 at the Daejeong-eup site and the next day he explained his reasons for pursuing the job founding the first international school to open in the Jeju Global Education City. He had a personal connection to NLCS while teaching at Sacred Heart High School in London, where he was initially head of the history department before becoming assistant head then deputy head. He said NLCS itself was the primary attraction for him.
“North London Collegiate has got a superb reputation in the U.K.,” he said. “It was always one of the most recognized schools in London for the quality of the academic education but also for all the other aspects that it offered.”
The second factor in his decision was the involvement of the Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) in the ambitious project. “When you looked at what they had on their Web site and associated materials that were sent, it seemed to be very well organized and professional – a very far-thinking group,” he said. “Very impressive. Often when looking overseas, when you get behind what some schools are offering, there’s not much substance, but there certainly was with this one.”
“This is a quality organization and it’s their first venture into it. I just thought it very exciting. This is new, this is different. If you went with one of the others, it’s all a bit ‘they’ve done it before, they’ve seen it before,’ whereas with this there’s a difference, there’s a uniqueness about it.”
Relocating was also a positive for Daly and his wife. “After five years [at DESC], I was planning to go to Southeast Asia or the Far East anyway. We had decided that, so this was just the perfect job.”
Daly first came to Jeju for an interview in June and signed a contract in mid-July. He said the island is “a lovely place to educate children.”
“Jeju Island attracted me. I wasn’t too keen to go to one of the big Asian cities. I know a lot of the Brit schools have gone into the cities but I wasn’t so keen on that.
“It’s a beautiful island. It’s a really nice place to live. It’s got lots of things to do and seems a very healthy climate. That was important to me. I lived in London for 15 years and I didn’t realize until I left how much it was possibly affecting my health.”
He has given six months notice at DESC but hopes to be able to leave earlier as there is much to do before NLCS Jeju is scheduled to open in September 2011. His experience in Dubai, where he was involved in the design and construction of the school and oversaw all staff appointments and student admissions will stand him in good stead. Fifty to 60 teachers will be needed at the campus, with recruitment taking place in the U.K. and internationally. Daly also plans to be heavily involved in student selection. “I’ve always been very hands-on on admissions in terms of interviews with parents, meeting children, looking at test scores, looking at suitability for the school,” he said.
There are many other aspects involved in establishing a school, “from uniforms to resource orders” and Daly welcomed the role JDC will play in smoothing the way. “In terms of ministry permissions, it’s great to have JDC supporting us because they can obviously do a lot of that work which I’ve previously had to do myself,” he said.
NLCS Jeju will base its curriculum on the model that has resulted in the parent school consistently being ranked the U.K.’s top International Baccalaureate school, with a high percentage of graduates accepted to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. This will include a focus on co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, he said. “We feel that we not only develop highly academic and high-achieving and high-attaining students, but we also develop students who have a variety of other skills, which is so important in this day and age.”
The Jeju school will not “in any way … go down the cramming route or the view that students should be working till midnight or be constantly at their studies,” Daly said. “We believe there is a time that they should be pursuing other things.” A “too-staid curriculum that is focused entirely on knowledge retention” and rote learning is not enough to survive and compete in an increasingly globalized environment, he said.
“The thing about North London is you see students who have high self-esteem and are very self-confident – people who are able to express their ideas and are able to analyze. People who can interpret, people who can communicate expertly to a range of audiences. I do believe that they’re the skills that people are going to need, not just in the employment world but in the whole satisfaction of life.”
“One of the big things about North London is that it believes that every student, every child, has a strength, has some sort of forte at which they can develop and it’s a matter of finding that through all the different activities we can provide. And that’s another thing about Jeju is that it seem the perfect place to do it because there are so many other things you can do here in terms of recreational activities and sports. So that’s our mission, that’s our vision.”