The WIS Board is proud to announce the appointment of a new Head of School – Mr Anthony Baron – who will commence at the end of August 2017.
Following the early departure of Mr Dwight Mott in December 2016, the Board undertook a recruitment process to identify the new Head of School. After careful consideration of the attributes and skills required to lead Woodford and thrive in our unique context in Solomon Islands, the position was advertised internationally and locally from March 2017. Thirty-two applications were received from around the world. From this group, eight applications were shortlisted and five very strong candidates were invited to interview.
Anthony (Tony) Baron was a ‘stand-out’ candidate. He is an experienced international school leader with over 30 years working in international schools in seven countries over four continents. His first Head of School post was over 20 years ago. Since then, he has led schools in introducing and developing international programs, including IB and Cambridge programs, and has vast experience in strengthening the management and financial resilience of schools like Woodford. Tony has an excellent track record in ‘staying the course’ at schools he has led – he was at his most recent school in Angola for eight years and before that had five years at an international school in The Bahamas and four years at an international school in Malawi. Tony is passionate about prioritising the development of both staff and students, giving them the tools necessary to empower them and the space for them to express themselves. He also believes in celebrating the diversity of international schools while maintaining a community school atmosphere. His track record demonstrates his capacity and commitment to follow through on such passions and each school’s strategic priorities. The Board has full confidence in Tony and looks forward to introducing him to students, parents, staff and the Honiara community late in Term Three.
The Board takes this opportunity to extend a special thank you and heartfelt appreciation to Ms Rachel MacKinnon for stepping up into the Acting Head of School role in challenging circumstances following Mr Mott’s sudden departure. Ms Rachel embraced the challenges and worked with enviable determination and passion to ensure Woodford started 2017 without missing a beat. She restructured leadership and streamlined management to better align the school’s structure with its strategic direction and to enable the most productive use of staff and other resources. She stewarded the school from a position of financial uncertainty to one of stability and growing strength. Further, under Ms Rachel’s leadership, the school has strengthened its connections with the broader Honiara community, including a new inter-school sports program and the inaugural Careers Market, both initiated and organised by Woodford. Our engagement with Solomon Island Government ministries and other stakeholders has also strengthened. Student learning has benefitted from the school’s revitalised and modernised systems for class planning and staff development and appraisal, both of which more effectively draw on the expertise of the Woodford Educational Support Team (WEST) and senior staff to ensure continuous improvement in every classroom. Also under Ms Rachel’s leadership, the MAP standardised testing system has been introduced, improved student reports have been developed, ICT systems have been upgraded, safety procedures and business systems have been strengthened and a new library building has been donated to the school, the latter reflecting Ms Rachel’s powers of persuasion and persistence. She has done an outstanding job as Acting Head of School. Ms Rachel will continue as Acting Head of School until the end of a brief handover period with Mr Baron. She will then resume her substantive position as Deputy Head, where her expertise in ‘teaching and learning’ will enable an even greater focus on ensuring Woodford International School students receive high quality, engaging and effective teaching and enriching opportunities to develop and dream, both inside and outside the classroom.
A Welcome Message from Mr Anthony Baron
My name is Anthony Baron and I am delighted to be writing to you all as the newly appointed Head of School at Woodford International School.
Firstly, a big thank you to you the parents and staff for your continued support for the school. It is this support that has clearly been instrumental in in enabling Woodford to reach the position it is at today. It is a privilege to be appointed as the Head of School for such a successful, ambitious and popular school. I am very keen to start work with all members of the Woodford community to build upon the strengths of the school and to secure its position as one of the leading schools in the Pacific region.
As to my own background, I was born in London, U.K and studied Economics at the University of Essex obtaining both BA and MA qualifications. I also gained a PGCE from St. Mary’s College, then part of London University, and a further MA in Educational Planning and Development at the Institute of Education, London University. My first teaching post was at a comprehensive school in Neasden, London and my latest was as Director of Luanda international School, Angola. I served for eight years in this latter role, during which time the school developed into one of Africa’s leading schools, driving the academic and all-round achievement of the school and gaining exceptional reviews from IB, CIS and NEASC visitors. Prior to this role, I have been a Head of School in the Seychelles and The Bahamas and have had other senior roles in Malawi, Bahrain, Cambodia and the U.K. I have, for family reasons, been out of full time education for two years but am back and raring to go.
As you will be aware, the school will be introducing the Cambridge International A Level program and examinations from the beginning of the next school year. This and other initiatives bring with them challenges but also new opportunities, not only for Woodford but also the whole Solomon Island community. Drawing on existing relationships with parents is an integral part of this change and I will meet as many of you as possible at upcoming parent forums, at the school gate or in my office to listen to your thoughts and ideas and to see how we might best report details of progress in the months ahead.
The clear and distinctive strategic plan will guide my team with regards to what happens in the classroom, in extra-curricular activities and in pastoral care within the school. Our Mission at WIS is to “build a community of learners that builds on each child's strengths, draws from our diverse local context and a rich international curriculum, to develop globally ready learners equipped to shape their future and achieve their dreams”. To fulfill the Mission will involve high expectations of students and teachers; excellence in academic work; excellence and a high degree of participation in extra-curricular pursuits; high quality pastoral care; a genuine focus on the individual; and the development of leadership skills and lifelong learning. Underpinning all of this is the essential partnership between parents and teachers. I will work hard at establishing strong bonds within the school communities and across the School. The opportunities afforded by the “all through” nature of Woodford are considerable for both younger and older students.
Above all though, I aim to ensure our students feel happy, secure and valued. The community is key to this and I am so looking forward to discovering the country with the cleanest air in the world and its wonderful beaches. And most of all, I look forward to meeting the students, teachers and parents of Woodford, as well as the broader Honiara and Solomon Islands community.