David Butcher has been appointed Principal of British School Jakarta (BSJ) this year. One of 12 heads on the International Baccalaureate council, his recent post was Principal of Secondary at the International School of the Hague. NOW! Jakarta spoke to him about his career and his philosophy on education.

David Butcher is the new Principal of British School Jakarta (BSJ). Photo courtesy of BSJ/NOW!JAKARTA

You’ve just started in this position. How has the settling in process been?
I accepted the job back in November. I am grateful to the Board of Governors and the leadership team for involving me in recruitment, since then, so I could help build a team ready for this academic year. It has been seamless. My wife and I arrived in Jakarta in late July. The school has supported us fantastically. Everything is going really well.  We've also had a smooth start to the academic year, which is always, as a new principal coming in, something you always want.

We've all heard the qualities of British education. How do you see BSJ conveying those ideals?
If you take modern Western education, the foundations can be traced back to prior to the industrial revolution, so what you have is an education system that is tried and tested, and which has been exported successfully across the world. We take the identity of a British international education and then make it bespoke.

It’s also about understanding what the values are of a good curriculum, and being able to design it without constraint. We add to the curriculum with the specific offering of the school, taking in the values of a quality academic education and synergising it with an extensive extra curriculum programme. This is part and parcel of good British international education, so the values and traditions, and the sense of idenity is very strong in a British school worldwide.

The school has moved on from being a place for just British expatriates to a more inclusive student body. How do you think a BSJ education can have an affect on the country at large?
As the principal of the school, part of the role is to listen to all constituents. There's a sense of Indonesia being on the cusp of some very big things  going forward, and that forward momentum will be from both local and expatriate efforts. That's something we have to cater for, and make sure that those who want this standard of education will be provided with it the right way.

What you get from BSJ is an education for now, and a gateway to tertiary education but it's also more than that. So,  the skill set and adaptibility we develop in our students will  see them through their lives. There are clear transitions from one level to another in the growth of knowledge and expertise in a student. You get that right and you put the student in good stead for the future. You create powerful alumni, who go to the right universities, and we're very successful in that regard. 

But we look beyond that, and the needs and characterists of a successful adult, and we try to lay the foundations of that here. For example, if you talk to top executives, they will highlight entrepreneurial skills and creativity as essential components in their success. We develop those strengths in our students. Those are the skills that are called upon repeatedly in the big wide world.  And that's good education for me. 

What is your philosophy on education. How do you channel this into your role?
I realise that I have the responsibility of moving the school forward and ensuring the school is primed to meet the educational needs of future populations. The next 20 years is going to see a dramatic change in society with technological advancements and in some respects, education has struggled to keep up.

We have to do everything in our power to develop the necessary skills, in our students, to thrive. We're going to be forward moving and aspirational in all that we do. An education at the British School Jakarta will be at the cutting edge of technological advacement and academic achievement. It's a very exciting time to be here.

Ranjit Jose

Ranjit Jose

Ranjit is a previous Editor of NOW! Jakarta. A cultural journalist and anthropologist by training, he has reported on arts and culture for a variety of publications in the USA and Indonesia.