There is a lot of power in a name. When you get things right, a name alone can be used as a benchmark of quality, a synonym for speciality, a symbol of so much else. In the fashion world, you have Cartier or Dior; in the hospitality sector you have the Hilton or the Ritz, and we like to think that in education the name "King’s College" has a similar weight.
This is why we have refused so many requests to lend our name to international schools – the fit has to be just right and we have to be comfortable that all the work we have done to secure our brand will not be tarnished. An approach from Bangkok, though, managed to meet our requirements – and we have taken the leap.
The Bangkok proposal had a real focus on quality education and engaging in British educational ideals – creative and critical thinking, access to art rooms, science labs, design and technology and much more – to provide a truly rounded education. Parents in Thailand are seeking this offer because many of them were educated overseas, particularly in the UK and US. Many also work in large international firms and so they understand the importance of this kind of educational offer – they don’t want rote learning and simple memorisation because they fully understand their children will need more in the global jobs market.
Another aspect of the proposal that appealed was that children will be accepted at the school from two years old through to Year 6. It is now widely accepted that starting children on their educational journey from a young age means they can be properly supported to be the best they can be.
In addition, we have committed to the extra expense of having a teaching assistant for every classroom – it will mean pupils, and their parents, know they are getting looked after and their education is being given strong care and attention.
It is not just the academic offer that appealed to us, though: the Thai culture of valuing humility and rejecting arrogance or boastfulness meets our own values of kindness, good manners and wisdom.
Kindness is very much a central focus of our school and good manners is about learning to be humble and treating all people with respect, something we have always strived to cultivate in our pupils in Wimbledon. Meanwhile, wisdom means we will always avoid creating a "cookie-cutter" learning environment that every child has to follow, but instead we will personalise the learning of each child to help them succeed in a way that suits them.
Of course, a good fit is not the only metric we looked at when deciding to support the Bangkok school. We all recognise the recruitment challenges in both the domestic and international teaching markets and so we needed to be sure we could attract the best talent to the school. We are certain that this is a city that the best talent will flock to.
Bangkok has food to die for, fantastic culture and wonderful people who will look after you and make you feel welcome. The weather is also warm and dry for long periods of the year – making it easy to get children outside to learn and play.
The school itself will be situated right in the heart of the city, which means staff can live and work right in the capital rather than having to travel a long way out, which some staff at international schools find tough.
The other great thing about Bangkok is that it’s a major travel hub for the region and the world at large. This means it’s possible for teachers to come and live here, explore this fantastic part of the world and retain good connections to home, whether that’s the UK or elsewhere.
It’s not just the city that will attract the right staff, though: we are seeing is that the start-up nature of the school has been a strong appeal. Some notable candidates are those that have been involved in start-up schools before and want to go through that same experience again.
For myself, working as the founding head of the new school, it’s really exciting to take on such a fantastic opportunity to grow and shape a new school in this way in such a vibrant, exciting and welcoming part of the world.
As more high-quality teaching staff come on board we will be able to bring together the best that Wimbledon and Bangkok have to offer to provide a world-class teaching and learning environment.
Thomas Banyard is founding head of King's College International School Bangkok