Name – Daryl Orchard
Position – British
Position – Headmaster
MI: Please tell us briefly about yourself.
I grew up and was educated in England but have spent the past twenty-six years working at British international schools in Asia. During this time I have been lucky enough to live and work in the Philippines, Thailand, China, South Korea and now Myanmar. My wife is from the Philippines and we have four children. Outside of work I enjoy coaching and playing sports, especially football, reading lots of books on history and international relations, with a focus on Southeast Asia, as well as collecting music.
MI: How did you begin your career in the Education sector?
When I was a junior school pupil I remember helping out at a kindergarten where my mother worked, and the staff often commented on how good I was with the younger children. After this I have always enjoyed being in a learning environment and studying. After a short time working for the Civil Service in the UK, I volunteered for teaching adult literacy in a prison! This made me appreciate the tremendous impact that teachers can have on people’s lives, so after a History degree at university I studied for my post-graduate diploma in education. Helping to shape the way people learn obviously has a huge impact on their futures and I have always been motivated by the great responsibility that this brings.
MI: What are your duties and responsibilities?
I am currently the Headmaster designate of British College Yangon which will open in August 2017 at Star City in Thanlyin. Until then, I am also advising on the development of our Pun Hlaing International School, which is tremendously exciting as I have the opportunity to shape the growth of our two sister schools in Myanmar on behalf of Dulwich College International
MI: Could you please tell us more about Dulwich College International?
Dulwich College International (DCI) holds the worldwide charter to establish Dulwich Colleges overseas. Dulwich College itself is one of the U.K.’s oldest and most prestigious schools having been established in 1619. Since then Dulwich College has been at the forefront of independent school education in the U.K., producing many famous alumni, such as Ernest Shackleton, P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and English rugby player Andrew Sheridan, just to name a few.
The first Dulwich College International school campus was opened in Shanghai in 2003 and since then we have opened Colleges in Suzhou, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore. We also have high school programmes in Suzhou and Zhuhai. Altogether we educate more than 6,000 students across the 2-18 years old age range and employ more than 1,000 members of staff in Asia. DCI will operate and manage both Pun Hlaing International School and British College Yangon, with Dulwich College, London acting as our educational adviser.
MI: How does working here in Myanmar compare with other countries?
Twenty-one of my 27 years in education have been spent in Southeast Asia. By now I am very used to adapting to different working environments, but I have found the people of Myanmar to be particularly welcoming and most receptive to our vision of bringing a top tier international school to the country. Of course there are some issues such as the relative lack of basic infrastructure, the slow speed of the internet and the traffic, which provide us with challenges. However, these are all similar problems to those I have faced in other developing countries. What has impressed me most about this country is the desire I have seen to create a better future, as everybody seems to be looking forward to new opportunities. I am very excited to see what happens here during the next four to five years.
MI: What are the long term objectives of the School in Myanmar?
As we have done in the other countries in which we operate, our long-term vision is to raise the bar for international schooling in our host cities. Ultimately, our aim is to inspire students to reach their full potential as young people, supported by state-of-theart facilities and a curriculum that embodies the Dulwich ethos of a holistic education. At our schools the students always come first and by ensuring that we provide excellence in everything we do, they will go onto obtain outstanding examination results as well as excelling in extracurricular areas such as music, sport, the performing arts and community engagement.
MI: What are the forte points of Pun Hlaing International School to compete against the other private international schools in the country?
As previously mentioned, we are a member of Dulwich College International, a family of schools with a vast experience of operating in Asia and a tremendous academic track record. Our schools also excel in other areas such as sport, music and the arts. We draw on the vast knowledge and resources of our educational advisor Dulwich College, London boasting 400 years of educational experience. I believe we are the only school in Myanmar with a direct link with a renowned independent school in the UK. Regionally DCI’s academic track record is exceptional. In 2015, one in every 32 DCI International Baccalaureate students achieved a perfect score, comparing most favourably with the worldwide average which sees one in every 428 International Baccalaureate students achieve this distinction. I am also very excited to share the news that our new state of the art PHIS Middle School campus is scheduled to open its doors to students for the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic year, coming after the expansion of facilities which will take place during the coming summer. The brand new, purpose built campus is situated on a 40,000 square meter plot adjacent to our existing Pun Hlaing International School campus. We have the wonderful advantage of being outside of the hustle and bustle of central Yangon, and having our facilities situated alongside the beautifully landscaped grounds of the nearby Pun Hlaing Golf Estate. The new campus will continue to expand its world class facilities to include the purpose-built Early Years, Primary and Middle School buildings, comprising a 350-seat black box theatre and suite of music rooms, science laboratories, art and design studios, libraries, gymnasium, swimming pool and sports fields. Upon completion, the new campus will have the capacity to accommodate more than 400 students across its Early Years, Junior School and Middle School year groups.
MI: Please explain more about the curriculum you will be adopting.
At Pun Hlaing International School we offer a British independent school style of education based on an enhanced version of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and English National Curriculum. At the same time we also wish to place an emphasis on the history and culture of our host country, and provide the opportunity for our Myanmar students to continue the study of their own language. The English National Curriculum (ENC) provides for progression and continuity in the children’s learning, but we are always seeking for ways to innovate and enhance this provision. For example, if our students are learning about the topic of ‘Rivers’, we would not ask them to open a text book and learn about the River Thames in the U.K., when we can take them on field trips to the Yangon or Ayarwaddy rivers to experience hands-on learning! Whenever relevant, we look to utilize local sources of knowledge to give meaningful context to the acquisition of skills and understanding that are required by the ENC.
MI: What is your target market segment?
As PHIS is an academically selective school, the academic record of our prospective students is an important factor as we want all our children to enjoy an education which is relevant to their level of learning. We also take into consideration each child’s achievements in areas such as music, the arts and sport, as well as expecting them to be polite, considerate and responsible individuals. Generally, we hope to attract both local and overseas students, whether based in the country, or looking to relocate here in the future.
MI: What is your opinion on Myanmar’s education sector?
I have only lived in the country since August, so it is hard for me to comment meaningfully on Myanmar’s educational sector. However, before coming here I had read about the Myanmar people’s great thirst for education, and upon my arrival I have found this to be completely true! I also believe that back in the 1940s and 1950s Yangon was a regional centre for education, with people coming from all over Asia to study here. I find this all very encouraging for the future!
MI: What do you think is the key to a successful education system?
The key to a successful education system is happy children who feel respected and safe in school. To me, that is the number one priority, regardless of whether the student is aged three or eighteen. If your students are happy and enjoying school, they are going to study hard and be self-motivated to learn. Education is not only about learning facts and figures, it is also about equipping children with the necessary social skills to be successful in life, so encouraging character traits such as resilience, courage, curiosity, collaboration, service and empathy are equally as important. Of course the quality and happiness of the teachers are also central to a school’s success. You need committed and articulate teachers who put their students’ interests first, who are passionate about what they are doing and are an inspiring role model for their students. Above all education should provide a legacy for people to make a positive difference to our future world.
MI: What is your estimated number of students for the next three years?
Next year we expect to have around 120 students enrolled at Pun Hlaing International School, but demand is growing rapidly! For 2017 -2018, when we have our brand new facilities, we are looking at about 220 students. For 2018-2019, we are targeting 330 students. We see huge potential in this country and are confident that with our exceptional academic track record we are going to attract plenty of students!
MI: What are your current CSR activities?
Across the entire Dulwich International School family we will soon introduce a new CSR initiative in collaboration with an organisation called Magic Bus. Magic Bus is currently working with hundreds of thousands of children in India, offering learning opportunities, team building, sports and youth development to students from slums and shanty towns. We are introducing this programme to Yangon, working in some of the most impoverished areas of the city. This will be supported by staff and students across the DCI family
We also offer a range of professional development opportunities for our teachers and assistant teachers, and would like to offer this to local schools and universities in the form of internships. One exciting development will be our hosting of the CACHE early years professional qualification from the U.K., which will be instrumental in raising standards across all aspects of learning for this age group.
On a much smaller scale, we are currently running a football programme for the children of the construction workers at Star City. We are also attracting children from nearby neighbourhoods in Thanlyin and now have more than eighty children attending. We are currently raising funds and donations to supply them with the proper football kits and boots.
MI: How are you enjoying your life here in Myanmar?
That is an easy question. My family and I are having a wonderful time here in Myanmar. At the moment, the climate is really beautiful. I have not had the chance to travel around the country yet, but am really looking forward to doing so in the near future. I am a historian, so I love exploring downtown Yangon and seeing all the heritage buildings. I am also a food lover and the variety of food available here is truly mouth-watering, with Shan cuisine being a particular favorite of mine. Like many in Myanmar I am also a huge football fan and have had the chance to watch a few local matches. Commuting can be a problem at times, but overall my wife, children and I have all been made to feel very welcome and are looking forward to the coming years in the country.