Tony Little, Chief Education Officer of GEMS believes that the culture of a school differentiates it from the rest
8/1/2016 3:40:53 PM
|written By : Nithya Subramanian & Shobha Tsering Bhalla|
It is not everyday that you get a chance to interview a former headmaster of 600-year-old Eton College, a British boys’ boarding school set up Henry VI is often described as the world’s No 1 boarding school. Tony Little, is now the Group Education Officer for GEMS Education, a Dubai-based international education group that has over 250,000 students representing 173 different nationalities. He is responsible for the quality of education across the global chain. With his background as an English and Drama teacher, Little has also been headmaster at Chigwell and Oakham Schools.
In an exclusive interview with India Se, Little spoke about bringing some of the Eton ethos to GEMS as well as his vision for its future.
India Se: What was your experience at Eton College where the young British royals and generations of kings before them were students?
Tony Little: Those boys were dutiful and concerned about getting things right. Sometimes people assume that parents of such children are very ambitions, driven and difficult to deal with. But because Eton has been around for about 600 years, the school is bigger than you.
Often people wondered how do you run such a big boys school - like a borstel or military camp? But the environment was free and easy, liberal in values and most of the 1800 students had bought into its culture. Any modern school has to have children engaged and that’s why you have school councils, open debates, questioning, relationships and trust. You can’t run a school by strictures and discipline.
India Se: For newer schools like GEMS that don’t have a historic treasure chest of tradition like Eton, is it easy to buy into their culture?
Tony Little: Since joining GEMS, I realised that creating a school from scratch is harder than what anyone assumes. In an old school, you take for granted any residual momentum. But a new school offers a thrilling opportunity for it allows the leaders of the school to create that ethos. You have to set up your expectations on discipline and other aspects very early for people start to buy into it.