Hello from the Pre-Prep teachers!

This academic year hasn’t exactly followed the normal patterns of a school year and we’ve had to think on our feet about giving our pupils the most enriching and supportive experience possible.

One important part of our ‘year-end’ is preparing the younger years for the next step up – especially at seminal jumps, such as Reception to Year 1 (EYFS to Key Stage 1) and Year 2 to Year 3 (Pre-Prep to the Prep School). With school re-opening for the final weeks we’ve been able to do some of our transitional programme with the children in person. However, to help with the transitions further, and for general settling in after remote learning, we’ve put together a series of videos from the teaching teams.

We hope these videos help the Pre-Prep children feel familiar and comfortable with their class teachers ahead of starting a new school year in September. We may be a little biased… but they’re a brilliant bunch!

Our Pre-Nursery Teachers
Our Nursery Teachers
Our Reception Teachers
Our Year 1 Teachers
Our Year 2 Teachers
Our Specialist Teachers
Our EAL Team
Our Leadership Team

Remote Learning: Sport

Kieron O’Brien, Helen Miller & John Holland talk about how they’ve kick started students into action and inspiration for remote learning in sport

How have you continued to teach sport during remote learning?

John Holland: The whole world has been encouraged to stay active and complete daily exercise during this pandemic. Our first focus when online learning started was to encourage different ways students could stay active and gain the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. This term the focus has been much more student-centred, building their knowledge through research and completing different tasks, whilst being encouraged to be creative in designing a personal training programme.

Helen Miller: From an academic perspective, I have enjoyed finding new ways to help the GCSE and A-level pupils engage with topics ranging from the Ancient Olympics, Participation in Physical Activity and Sport development in the UK. These topics work well with research projects and we are starting to build an RST Academic PE website to benefit future students. The pupils have used lesson time to build a page, using their own ideas and formatting skills, and populate it with content from their research. This will stretch the ablest in the group and encourage any EAL pupils to write using sentence structures. The end result will incorporate ‘keywords’ from the syllabus and link to ‘quizlets’ to check their understanding!

Sport is a popular part of RST school life. Have your students engaged well with the online adaptations?

John Holland: Yes, they have! The variety of tasks set has kept students engaged and interested throughout. The current focus is on students building their own sports specific exercise programme, which aims to actively engage and build their PE knowledge and physical fitness, specific to a certain sport.  

Kieron O’Brien: The students have engaged really well. They have left behind more than just their classes and academics, and sport / fitness is a good way of bringing back a sense of community. As teachers, we’ve all encouraged students to share what is happening in their lives, especially given the stress, fear and strains in these uncertain times.

What has been the most challenging part of providing online sport?

John Holland: Ensuring the work set is adequate for all abilities and ages, and that students are focused and interested to complete the work to the best of their ability.

Kieron O’Brien: Perhaps the most common challenge teachers face in online is the lack of face-to-face engagement with students and other colleagues. It’s also been a challenge balancing diverse learning needs.

What have you learnt from this new way of teaching and learning?

Helen Miller: I have developed my technology skills tremendously through the online google training (Level 1 and 2). This has opened up lots of new platforms (and therefore ideas), including Google Scholar, Google Sites, Google sheets and a better grasp of Google classroom.

John Holland: Firstly my level of ICT has hugely improved. I have become much more competent in using online resources and have even learnt how to edit and create videos. Similarly, in times like this I think everyone has developed an understanding of the importance of exercise and physical well-being in their daily lives.

Kieron O’Brien: Students appreciate regular communication. Students need extrinsic motivation Share ideas, collaborate about online teaching experiences.

How do you think the current situation might benefit your department in the long term?

Helen Miller: The resources we are building up to support all pupils, but especially the EAL students who choose Academic PE (GCSE and A-level) will put the department in a much stronger position.

John Holland: Our department will certainly never take for granted the excellent facilities we have on site and how our curriculum allows students to maximise their learning by using these. Our improvement in knowledge of ICT learning tools will certainly aid the quality of lessons delivered in the future and also how these tools can track student progress and attainment.

Is there anything you would like to say to the school community?

Helen Miller: As we reflect on the world around us, our lifestyles and our happiness, make sure that you take time for yourself. Whatever this may be – art, poetry, music, exercise or reading!

John Holland: It has been a great effort by all the community to keep going through these difficult times. The teachers have worked hard to plan and develop engaging activities and the students have shown excellent determination and perseverance to continue their learning journey. All the RST teachers are looking forward to welcoming the students back to school and hopefully the students will be rewarded for their hard work with the unveiling of our new sports hall.

Reopening Protocols

(based upon OPEC’s “Measures to Support Educational Management during the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak for the Private International Schools”)

Prior to Opening

  • All visitors and members of RST community must complete a Health & Travel Declaration prior to entry
  • All spaces at RST will be arranged in order to ensure social distancing of not less than 1 metre between each individual. Classrooms will have desks/tables suitably separated and pupils will be seated apart during lunch. One-way systems will operate in walkways and there will be separate entrances and exits. Clear signage will be evident around the school.
  • Prior to each day, RST will disinfect all spaces and surfaces, including learning resources and equipment.
  • Any individuals arriving at RST will have their temperature taken.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs will be available at the school entrance(s), in every classroom, restroom, activity area and in all buildings/spaces around the school.
  • RST will provide all pupils at school with basic information about COVID-19, in particular how to prevent transmission.
  • Child-friendly mataerial and posters re COVID-19 will be placed around the school.
  • Where necessary to ensure 1m social distancing, some classes have been split, with pupils coming in to school on alternate days. And drop-off/pick-up times have been staggered.

During School Day

  • Before leaving home, parents/carers must

    a) check their child’s temperature. If the child displays a temperature on or above 37.5 degree Celsius, he/she must not come to school.

    b) check for signs of respiratory symptoms such as cough, sneezing or runny nose. If any such symptoms, he /she must not come to school.
  • A modified version of our Montri School Bus will operate.

    a) Montri will ensure that its bus monitors and drivers undergo a temperature check before they commence work. They shall not be permitted to work if their body temperature is on or above 37.5 degree Celsius.

    b) A face mask will always be worn by monitors and drivers

    c) Buses will be fully cleaned and sanitised prior to every round-trip
  • Bus monitors will check the temperature of every pupil before he/she boards the bus. Pupils with a temperature equal to or higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius will not be allowed to travel. All bus pupils must wear a face mask while on board.
  • Anyone entering the school campus will be screened for fever at the entrance. Any individual with a fever of 37.5 degree Celsius or more and/or displaying signs of respiratory symptoms such as cough, sneezing or runny nose, they will not be permitted to enter the school. RST will keep a record.
  • Everyone must wear a face mask while on campus.
  • a) RST will ensure good ventilation and circulation of air in teaching spaces.

    b) All pupils will take shoes off before entering teaching spaces, except those spaces (eg DT, Art) where safety and cleanliness is a factor.
  • At the end of every day, or more often, all areas of the school (eg classrooms, toilets, play areas, dining hall) and all school equipment/resources (eg sports, music, science) will be cleaned and disinfected. Any intimately shared resources (eg music mouthpieces, piano keys, safety glasses, safety gloves) will be cleaned before and after use. Pupils may only bring in their own pencil case with required stationery.
  • RST will ensure that food preparation and food safety are maintained at a high standard. RST will provide safe drinking water dispensers.
  • RST is required to cancel all activities, clubs and extra tutorials. The school day will accordingly finish earlier (see specific information for each section of the school).
  • RST will not hold any meetings or activities that involve ‘a large number of people’.
  • Only sports that do not involve close contact of participants may take place.
  • Teachers will remind students to wash their hands at the end of every lesson or activity. Hand sanitising gel will be present in all teaching spaces, at the school entrance, in restrooms, and in the Dining Hall..
  • Pupils and staff must have their own water bottle.
  • Should a confirmed case of COVID-19 be reported in school, RST will isolate the individual immediately and will notify a public health official for further disease investigation, quarantine and treatment.
  • RST will ensure that individuals are not in an air-conditioning space for more than 2 hours.
  • The decision whether or not to send children to school is at the discretion of parents/carers.

End of School Day

  • RST will ensure that all pupils are picked up immediately at the end of school day. It will not be possible for children to play in the playgrounds. At the end of the school day, Scrummies will be open for takeaway only.
  • An RST COVID-19 committee has been in existence for several weeks. It will continue to evaluate the school’s preventive measures on a daily basis and will report daily to members of the school Executive.

Welcome to our new Director of Aquatics

Rugby School Thailand is pleased to announce the appointment of Sebastian Marko-Varga as our new Director of Aquatics and his wife, Ida Marko-Varga as one of our key Swimming Coaches.
Sebastian is currently Head Coach of Swimming Club Poseidon in Lund, Sweden. He has previously been an elite coach in Malmö in Sweden, Stavanger in Norway, and Kastrup in Denmark. He has elite coaching qualifications from both the IOC and Swedish Swimming Federation. Alongside these prestigious accreditations, he has also trained numerous athletes to elite level at competitions such as the World Short Course Championships, European Championships, and the Olympic Games. He has additionally been a national level coach in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
His wife, Ida, is a four-time Olympian, having represented Sweden at Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio, and prior to COVID-19, was preparing for the Tokyo Olympics too. Her specialist strokes are freestyle and butterfly! 

Sebastian and Ida are excited about the move to Rugby School Thailand and will be accompanied by their two children, Vincent and Evelyn, who will join our Pre-Prep.

Our new swimming coaches will be continuing on with the great work Craig Wood had done as Director of Aquatics with us for so many years. We are very excited to welcome them to our Rugby family and look forward to the incredible guidance they will offer.

"Coaching and swimming has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have been a part of every step there is in a club. "

When asked about his coaching career, Sebastian said:

“I started out my coaching career in the learn to swim programs and today nearly 18 years later I have worked my way up as the Head Coach of Swimming Club Poseidon in Lund, Sweden. My biggest inspiration and source of information has been the journey with my wife as a professional swimmer and her four consecutive Olympic Games. The challenges and the success on the way has been both inspiring and educational. I know what it takes because I have lived 24/7 with a world class swimmer for over 13 years.

My Scandinavian coaching experience (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) and my Hungarian heritage has given me even more proof of the concept: “All roads lead to Rome”. Despite the cultural differences between the Scandinavian countries and Hungary, swimmers still get great results in the pool. As a coach, I have to do whatever I can to find the right pathway for every individual despite their differences. That’s the real challenge, and what I love about coaching. It’s dynamik…”

Sebastian Marko-Varga
Director of Aquatics
  • Swim Teacher , age group 5-8 years of age – 2001-2003
  • Swim Coach, Group E, D, and C (SK Ran, Malmö Sweden) – 2004-2006
  • Swim Coach, Group B , Junior Elite Group (Sk Ran, Malmö Sweden) – 2006-2008
  • Swim Coach, Group B (Age group) “KVIK”, Kastrup, Denmark – 2008-2009
  • Assistant coach, Group A (Junior-Senior), “KVIK” Kastrup, Denmark – 2008-2009
  • Head Coach, Stavanger Swimming Club, Stavanger, Norway – 2009-2012
  • Assistant Head Coach, KVIK Kastrup, Denmark – 2012-2013
  • Elite Coach, KVIK Kastrup, Denmark – 2014-2017
  • Head Coach Swimming club Poseidon Lund, Sweden – 2017-2020
Ida Marko-Varga
Swimming Coach
  • 4-time Olympic Finalist; Athens 2004 Olympics, Beijing 2008 Olympics, London 2012 Olympics, Rio De Janeiro 2016 Olympics
  • Youngest swimmer in Swedish history (13 years) to win a Swedish senior swimming championship, 1998 in Sundsvall.
  • Been part of the Swedish Senior Swimming Team for over 18 years.
  • Multiple medals at the European and World Championships
  • Trained Mental Trainer Practitioner. Within the last term to become a licensed Mental Trainer.
  • Youth and Junior Coach the last 10 years

History Activity: What’s Your Story?

What’s your story? Whether you are a history boffin or not, it’s great fun to find out about your own personal family history. That’s why our Senior School history department have put together this activity to help you discover the who, what, where and when of your family tree. It’s easy and will no doubt throw up some interesting discoveries. After all, without those before you, there wouldn’t be a you!

To enjoy this history activity, start by watching the simple ‘how-to’ video guide then download the assets below to get started. 

Remote Learning: Art

We caught up with Mrs Barnes, Head of Art (Prep), to find out how she’s designed a successful remote learning programme for her subject.

How have you been teaching art and design remotely?

We are using a combination of instructional videos made by our own art teachers, as well as ones by online artists. Both help the children understand the new skills they are learning, but then the main part of every lesson is producing independent artwork in their sketchbooks. We are really trying to use art lessons as a break from the screens and a chance to unwind. We use an app called ‘Seesaw’, which acts as an online portfolio where the children all upload their work for their classmates and teachers to see. We use Google meet for anyone who is stuck (or just wants to show us how their work is progressing!).

How have the pupils responded to the online programme for this subject?

The pupils have been amazing! Many spend their free time finishing work because they want it to be their very best work. I have also seen a rise in the artwork produced outside of lesson time; many children are creating quite spectacular pieces by following their own interests or learning from YouTube. I will have a very hard job to decide who should win the end-of-year prizes for art this year because of the amazingly talented pupils and their dedication to the subject.

What have been the biggest challenges of teaching art and design online?

One thing I love about teaching art is walking around the room and seeing the pupils engrossed in their work. This is the time I ask them about the choices they have made, discuss their progress with the skills we are learning and check if they need any support. Online learning is so different; the biggest challenge is working out how to offer guidance whilst they work. Generally, once they understand the task the communication stops and they get busy (which is great for their independence), so the feedback I give them has to come after the lesson, once they have uploaded their work for me to see. Research shows feedback and comments are more effective given in the moment, so this is something I am continuing to think about.

What’s been the most positive outcome of this temporary change to teaching and learning?

Many very inspiring organisations have overwhelmed teachers with access to learning resources and training. I now spend a huge amount to time learning new skills as both an artist and a teacher. Of course, my technology skills are improving too, but I have found time to study oil painting methods and have further explored the realms of digital drawing, which is just incredible. The website I have used most is called Skillshare (and has a free trial, if you’re interested!). I have enjoyed learning from many artists on there, who offer styles which are completely new to me.

It is easy to get stuck in a routine, especially as we are usually all so busy, and I have enjoyed the change to how I organise my time. I hope that my exchange of shopping centres and trampoline parks (for my children, not me!) for this wonderful personal development goes beyond the end of this strange time that we are in now.

What are you doing as a department to keep children engaged?

We are keeping the focus on art skills each lesson, as well as teaching about amazing artists from the past and today, so that the pupils stay on track with the curriculum. We also have many art competitions and activities (in a dedicated ‘Fun Tasks’ section of the timetable) to lighten the mood a little. Currently, we are asking families to recreate famous pieces of art in real life and share photos of their recreations; the prize for the best entry will be a family sized reward of art goodies and tasty treats, delivered to their door!

What one piece of advice might you give to fellow teachers, based on your personal successes within online teaching?

Make instructions as simple as you possibly can and provide clear examples of what the outcomes should be. Sounds just like normal teaching!

Is there anything you would like to say to the school community?

We will help develop a cohort of resilient, independent, problem solving pupils in this challenging time – so keep persevering, the rewards will benefit us all in the long run.

Remote Learning: Music

We spoke to Mrs Westlake & Mr Collings in the music department to find out what they’re doing to get pupils to tune into their subject.

How are you teaching music online?

We are using a variety of different media including interactive worksheets, listening and watching exercises, interactive song and dance and lots of cross-curricular activities (for example, science with sounds and dynamics, geography and history to learn about world music and historical eras and different musical styles emerging).

Have the children engaged well with the remote learning programme for music?

We have had some very encouraging responses from children participating each week with our activities. It has been fantastic to see so many flourishing through online learning and enjoying the tasks that we have set.

What have been the highlights so far?

The responses to the ‘virtual choir’ have been fantastic. Despite our geographical distances, it was our goal to bring the RST family together through singing in a virtual choir. Music is an essential part of our school life; it offers an opportunity for the whole community to share a sense of energy together, and the choir demonstrated that so well.

The instrumental programme has really taken off. Numbers are steadily growing each week for virtual instrumental lessons. We would like to say a huge thank you to our visiting music teachers for their professionalism and commitment to making this possible for the students at RST.

What has the feedback on remote learning from music been like? Have you had to make any adaptations to the initial programme?

The feedback has been very positive and the content of students work has been very promising indeed. As you can imagine, it has been a challenge to adapt such a practical subject for remote learning, but we feel we’ve successfully continued to stretch our talented musicians in a fun and dynamic way.

What one piece of advice might you give to fellow teachers, based on your personal successes within online teaching?

The enjoyment for the children must remain the priority.

Is there anything you would like to say to the school community?

Keep calm and ask Mr. Burkhill!

Our Remote Learning Programme

Find out how Mr Burkhill, Head of Computing (Pre-Prep & Prep), has created our school’s world-class remote learning platform.

How has the transition to remote learning been?

Rugby School Thailand was in the fortunate position of having contact with schools from across China and Asia which allowed us to be somewhat prepared for the inevitability of school closure. This preparation made the initial transition much easier than without such help – it has nevertheless still been a huge challenge. It goes without saying that to shift from physical face-to-face learning, to screen-based remote learning, requires a complete rewrite of teaching pedagogy, training and a reliance on technology that is unprecedented in normal teaching. To achieve those aims in a matter of days is challenging for any organisation.

How did you devise the programme?

We put together the programme primarily by liaising with fellow international schools across China and Asia. The sharing of advice and resources was already in effect before school closures reached Thailand and this enabled the best of the existing programmes to be taken, adapted and rewritten to suit the needs of the systems, parents, pupils and staff of Rugby School Thailand. In turn, we are also sharing what is working well and what is not working so well with the wider education community, in the hopes that we can all stay adaptive, flexible and together, and produce the highest quality of remote learning possible for our pupils.

What has the feedback been like?

We are incredibly grateful for the feedback from parents, the majority of which has been very positive. This allows us to keep doing and building on what is working, and change what is not. This is a world-first shift in education, and it is therefore paramount that all parties involved continue to communicate to get it right. It is impossible to produce a system that fits the needs of everyone perfectly, and remote learning is challenging. Thankfully our programme has had a really positive response and it is far more the difficult nature of remote learning that has been commented on by parents. 

You can see some of the wonderful comments we’ve had from parents here.

What have been the main challenges?

The challenges related to converting a school from face-to-face learning to remote learning are numerous, but the key ones we’ve seen are:

  • Change of routines
  • Change of pedagogy
  • Technological disparity
  • Technological infrastructure
  • Training of parents, pupils and staff
  • Merging of work, school and personal lives

From the school’s perspective however, perhaps the greatest challenge is to deliver a programme that will continue to reflect the high standards parents and pupils have come to expect from Rugby School Thailand, whilst still maintaining motivation for all parties involved, to continue the teaching and learning journey for an undefined length of time. The ongoing challenge of course is to identify ways in which a relatively simple physical task in a classroom can be flipped to a ‘virtual’ and remote task online.

What key adaptations have you made since launching in March?

The programme is forever changing. Our main adaptions have been to try and streamline the workflow for all parties involved. This includes regular tutor check-ins to try and maintain as much social welfare for our pupils and tutors as possible, moving to fixed, termly timetables and less clicks to navigate the remote learning website. The more streamlined and routine we can make the programme, the easier it will be for everyone to stay engaged and motivated.

What is unique about RST's remote learning programme?

According to UNESCO, over half of the world’s student population is now out of school, most engaging in some form of remote learning. Due to the nature of the situation we are in, Rugby School Thailand’s remote learning programme is not unique. Yet, at the same time, has been moulded and adapted to use systems that pupils and staff are already familiar with and can fit into the needs of our community. Every school shares similarities, but every child is unique; such is the case with our programme.

How do you motivate children to work remotely?

Motivation comes from within. Every teacher knows that they must inspire curiosity that provokes a passion, which then motivates. This cycle is hard enough to maintain face-to-face, and is even more challenging in a remote setting. We therefore continue to research, train and trial new ways of doing familiar tasks to keep children’s curiosity flowing. We have adapted the programme to help with this; including a mixture of video recording, live video support, instant messaging chats and a plethora of apps.

How do you think this programme will benefit staff and students in the long term?

There are many different articles appearing through this crisis that detail evidence that people’s attitudes are being changed by current world events. People are no longer receiving instant gratification, patience is a daily necessity, gratitude is being found in the small things. In addition to those points, I think the role technology can play in the classroom will forever be enhanced, people that were not confident before have found new confidence in the situation and systems are developing at a faster rate than ever before. Microsoft recently announced that Teams (used by many schools, particularly in China where Google services are blocked) is now their fastest growing product ever. Google are reporting new levels of system traffic across their services. There are dark times attached to this period, but I also think there is so much good that has, is and will come out from this situation.

Prep School Sustainable Development Murals

As a school we’re passionate about sustainability, which is why the Prep School pupils were so excited to paint the UN’s ‘17 sustainable development goals‘ as murals around the Veraphan Building. Each mural, designed and painted by the children here, beautifully encapsulates the goal with creativity and colou.

1. End Poverty

2. Stop Hunger

3. Good Health & Wellbeing

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water & Sanitation

7. Affordable & Clean Energy

8. Decent Work & Economic Growth

9. Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

10. Reduced Inequalities

11. Sustainable Cities & Communities

12. Responsible Production & Consumption

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15. Life On Land

16. Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships For The Goals

Guiding children through the coronavirus

The new coronavirus pandemic has inflicted a global health concern that young minds will be aware of, but perhaps not fully understand. There is a growing concern for the impact the pandemic will be having on mental health, with increased levels of anxiety in both parents and children.

Here are some ways you can help protect your children in every way:

Good health and hygiene

Regular handwashing should be de rigueur in every household at the moment, as this is understood to be the best way to keep germs away. Self-care, including handwashing, is something we teach our pupils as soon as they join in Pre-Nursery, so hopefully many children already understand the importance of this. A great video to help them learn a fun but thorough technique is here.

This is also a key time to keep vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables part of every meal and offer additional supplements to boost your child’s immune system. Make it a fun experience by reading books about how food helps our bodies (Usborne “lift the flap” books are particularly engaging), getting them to help you cook nutritious family meals, or seeing if you can create a rainbow on the plate together by including many colourful fruit and vegetables.

Give them accessible facts

Children will be aware of something going on, especially if school closes as a precautionary measure. Be honest, with simple facts about the virus that allow them to understand what it is. No fuss, no emotion, no drama, just the basic concept of the virus and what we can all do to keep ourselves and our loved ones well-protected. A great video you can show them is here.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation together

If you’re feeling anxious about the uncertainties of the virus, which is completely understandable, then your child will be picking up on that. Try practicing some mindfulness or relaxation together. Children often focus well on Cosmic Kids Yoga videos, and the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel also offers mindful sessions too. Another good way to instil mindful thinking is lying with your child, each with a soft toy on your tummy, and watch the toy rise and fall as you count your breaths together. You could even simply listen to calm music or audiotapes together. The key thing is to tune into calm moments with your child(ren) where you cut out the noise and anxiety from the world beyond.

We hope everyone can find positive ways through the uncertainties of these times.

As you guide your child though the coronavirus pandemic, take care of your own mental health too Here is a good article from the BBC that we’ve shared with our staff.