Located in the beautiful and high-prestige green area of district XII in the Buda Hills, Britannica International School is a multicultural British style primary and secondary school offering education at the highest standard for children aged 5-18.
Britannica was established in 1993 and since then it grew from year to year – now it caters for over 340 students representing more than 40 nationalities from all over the world.
In 2008 the school became part of the Orbital Education Group, the company has long standing expertise that runs British and traditional style international schools in China, Spain, Russia and in Hungary.
Mr. Richard Vaughan is the new Principal of Britannica International School and successor of Mr. Ken Baines, who retired at the end of the last academic year. In an interview with The Budapest Times Mr. Vaughan talks about the nurturing environment at Britannica.
Where do you come from and what did bring you to Budapest?
I come from England but previously I worked as Head of Primary at the British International School in Ho Chi Minh City. So it’s a very different world and a new experience for my family and I. It takes a little while to get used to Europe again having had five years in Vietnam. But Budapest is a beautiful city, so my family and I are enjoying all the culture and the excitement of a European capital.
As the new principal of Britannica do you have certain things in mind that you’re planning to work on, maybe something you want to change or improve?
Well, very much the process for me is identifying what is happening here in terms of the school, looking at the strengths and looking at the weaker areas as well. Every school, however good it is, has both things to celebrate and areas of weakness. Over the next months I will spend time looking, listening, observing and meeting with people, so that we can sort of piece together a jigsaw in order to understand what we need to do to go further forward. I have lots of ideas and I bring a lot of experience but at the same time what’s very important for me is knowing what’s right for Britannica, and so for me it’s learning what their particular needs are here and how we can maximise all that we are doing, so the learning experiences for the students are the very best that they can possibly be. It’s very much an exploration. I have an end point which is always moving further away. It’s like the horizon, it’s not a fixed point, because as an organisation we want to grow and develop. Of course, that starts with the students themselves.
In this process, who is it that you’re involving and communicating with?
It’s all parties actually: students, their parents, the staff. Just before you came I was meeting with the students in secondary. I’ve been challenging them to begin the year and set out to achieve the best that they can in their subject area. So my job is to try and inspire, to encourage, to challenge and to motivate the students. My role is different because obviously the subject teachers and the form tutors are doing that primarily. I want to try to capture the vision for everybody as a school community, and while doing so nobody is going to be left out. Today we have a “meet the teacher” evening for instance, where I will talk with the students’ parents and hear what their issues and priorities are. But also very importantly for me is building on the work that’s already happened. Britannica has developed wonderfully over the last years and for me it’s an exciting opportunity to take it further forward.
To me both as a principal but also as a parent coming in I think we have a nurturing environment. It’s like a family as a school. Britannica has this collective energy as a learning community. You would’ve felt that if you were in an assembly just half an hour ago. The way that the students come in and they’re ready to learn and bounce off one another. It’s a community that wants to provide the best for the students in their care, and that’s a good working environment.
How are you spending your time here in Budapest when you’re not in the school?
There is no routine at the moment because it’s still early days, but I’m trying to establish it. Obviously for me family is very important and my responsibility to look after my wife and two teenage children. So spending time with them and supporting them is really important to me. My family and I have also attended church within the international community. That’s something I want to do more. And I’ve just begun to find a few restaurants as well to enjoy some Hungarian food. I liked everything so far, the goulash for example was very tasty. I probably just need to watch the carbohydrates though (laughs). So yes, I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family and of course making friends, too. Also I have been enjoying the lovely Buda hills, because I run. I like getting out and about into the forest I have just begun to explore. And let me tell you, the view from the top of the school is absolutely outstanding. Some of the classrooms have the best view of any school I’ve ever worked in – and I worked in eight schools. It’s just beautiful to be in this sort of environment, it’s a truly privileged place to work. An British style international school, with a Hungarian flavour.
Britannica International School
1121 Budapest, Kakukk u. 1-3.