Heads of the School
Alan Ball (Australian)
Head of Senior
Alan has had 32 years experience teaching in a variety of educational settings. He has a degree in English and History and a Diploma in Education from the University of New England. He has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Queensland.
He has taught in boys’ schools and co-educational schools in Australia, Japan and the UK. He started his career at St Joseph’s College in Brisbane, before moving to Japan with his wife, Louise, where they both taught English in Japanese high schools. From Japan, Alan and Louise moved to Strathallan School in Scotland, where they taught English, and Alan was a Housemaster.
They returned to Australia when Alan was appointed Director of Boarding at Brisbane Boys’ College. Alan went on to be Deputy Headmaster at Canberra Grammar School, before moving to his current role as Principal of Bishop Druitt College in Coffs Harbour.
The greater part of Alan’s career has been in boarding schools. He is passionate about the unique opportunities boarding gives pupils and teachers. His experience in boarding saw him travel widely in Asia to recruit pupils, and build community with school families.
Alan believes that ‘Rugby School Thailand will be an outstanding international boarding school in Asia. Its close links with the ethos of Rugby School UK, its extraordinary location and facilities, and the passion of its Thai owners, the Teepsuwan family, will ensure its success.’
Alan and Louise have two adult children. Alan and Louise will move to Thailand in September 2017, and will then spend some time at Rugby UK, where recruitment interviews for Rugby School Thailand will be held.
Nigel Westlake (British)
Founding Head and Head of Prep / Pre-Prep
Nigel has had 30 years experience in the UK private education sector, 15 years as a Head. He has a Law degree and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from the University of Exeter. He qualified initially as a lawyer, before switching careers to become a schoolmaster at three private prep schools – Sunningdale, The Old Malthouse and Aldro. His roles have included Head of English and Drama, Director of Sport, Boarding Housemaster and Deputy Head. Whilst Headmaster at Packwood Haugh and Brambletye Prep Schools, he oversaw significant increases in pupil intake and record scholarships.
As both a schoolmaster and headmaster at well-known UK boarding schools, Nigel has had a great deal of experience in the education of children from countries across the world, including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, USA, South Africa, Nigeria, Germany, Spain and France.
By the time Rugby school Thailand opens, Nigel will have been involved in the development of the project for two years. He believes that “Rugby School Thailand offers a unique opportunity to bring the very best of the UK private sector to Thailand. The quality of the site, the quality of the appointed teachers, the commitment of the owners, and the support of Rugby School UK combine to offer something very distinct and very special.”
Nigel is married with two boys, aged 8 and 7, who will also be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Prep School Senior Management
Sara Howell (British)
Deputy Head Academic
Sara is in her 12th Year of teaching and is currently Assistant Head Academic, Modern Languages Teacher and a member of the Senior Management Team at Northcote Lodge, a private Prep school in London, UK. Her roles include Curriculum review, Staff Development, diagnostic testing and coordination of internal and external exams. Previously she been Head of Modern Languages and Director of Studies.
Sara has a degree in French and German from the University of Liverpool, and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and a Master’s in Learning and Teaching from the University of Nottingham. Sarah believes that “happiness and innovation lead to a vibrant and enjoyable teaching and learning atmosphere, which is vital for achievement amongst staff and pupils”.
Sara is keen and capable skier, and a PADI advanced diver. She is married and has two children, both of whom will be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
David Dawson (British)
Deputy Head Pastoral, Humanities Teacher
David’s current role is Director of Studies, Geography teacher and Boarding Housemaster at Fettes (‘Eton of the North’) Prep School in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has been Activities Coordinator and sits on the Fettes Joint Consultative Committee with Governors and Senior School Head. David’s early career took him to Tanzania and Malaysia and he remains a Trustee of two East African charities.
David has a degree in Agriculture, a Master’s in Rural Estate Management and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Edinburgh University. He coaches sport (rugby, cricket, basketball, badminton, and squash), and enjoys diving and water sports. David believes that Rugby School Thailand’s “holistic approach will inspire children to challenge themselves both inside and outside the classroom,”and that “children should be instilled with a love of life and a love of learning.” David is married with three older children.
Prep School Teachers
Ellen Barnes (British)
Art, Design and Drama
Ellen is currently Arts Leader at a UK Primary School, where her multi-faceted role includes delivering lessons in both Art and Drama. She has overhauled the Arts curriculum achieving ‘Artsmark’ status for the school, and arranges Art exhibitions and open air Art galleries. She writes and direct school plays, choreographs ‘flash-mob’ dance events, and runs drama workshops for both pupils and staff.
Through Ellen’s efforts, her school is the only school in the UK to be part of the ‘Discovering Europe’ Erasmus project, which aims to develop children’s understanding of other nations. At her interview, she spoke of translating this project to Rugby School Thailand with a focus upon the SE Asian countries.
Ellen holds a BA degree (1st class) in English in Education from the University of the West of England, and has completed a Fine Art Foundation Course at the University of Derby. Ellen is married with three children, each of whom will be joining Rugby School Thailand.
Margarita Betanzos Alonso (Spanish)
Head of Modern Languages
Margarita has been teaching for 16 years, primarily in the UK, and for the past 6 years she has been a teacher of Spanish and French at Windlesham House, a well-known private prep school in the South of England. Described as ‘a true professional and an outstanding, reflective practitioner’, she teaches from Reception through to Year 8 and has particular responsibility for the Spanish curriculum. Previously she has set up her own business teaching Spanish to children of all ages and has also had experience teaching English as an Additional Language.
Margarita has a BA degree in Business Administration, a BA degree in Modern Languages Teaching from Cadiz University, and a Certificate in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language. She is familiar with the most up to date teaching resources and technology, and says that she ‘enjoys working with children and helping them achieve their best in both knowledge of language and social skills’.
Margarita is married with two children aged 7 and 5 who will also be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Helen Bowery (British)
Head of Girls’ Sport
Helen has coached sport both in the UK and overseas, and for the last eight has been at the British School Al Khubairat in Adu Dhabi where she is Head of Physical Education and Girls’ Games. She has experience from Nursery through to A level, and has introduced a Sports Scholarship programme. Recently her teams – Swimming, Athletics, Girls’ Touch Rugby, Football, Volleyball and Netball – have been championship winners in highly-competitive Dubai, BSME and COBIS events. Helen aims to ensure that “girls of all ages and skill level are given the opportunity to participate, learn, develop and compete at a competitive yet appropriate level.”
Helen has a BA in Sport in the Community with Qualified Teacher Status (graded ‘Outstanding’) from Durham University, and an MA in Education from the University of Liverpool Hope. She has herself played several sports to a high level, including women’s football, hockey and gymnastics. Helen has travelled extensively throughout Thailand, and is married with one young child, who will also be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Corinna Dawson (British)
Head of Learning Support and EAL
Corinna currently provides learning support to children with a variety of needs, including dyspraxia and dyslexia, at Fettes Prep School in Scotland. She has a BSc degree from Edinburgh University and holds a Diploma in the Teaching of Children with Specific Learning Difficulties. Prior to Fettes, she worked with children with significant needs at a Scottish Primary School. She says that she “loves seeing the pupils’ confidence increase, particularly when those who struggle in the classroom excel in concerts, on stage or in extra-curricular activities.”
Corinna has a TEFL certificate and taught English as a Foreign Language in China, Malaysia and Tanzania. She now helps develop the English language skills of foreign pupils at Fettes. She also has a wealth of pastoral care experience as Girls’ Boarding Houseparent (SVQ in Health and Social Care), and she is member of the Fettes Senior Management Team. She enjoys surfing, climbing (she is a qualified climbing wall instructor), diving and supporting a range of charities.
John Gore (British)
Head of Science
John is an experienced teacher and Head of Science at Ardvreck Prep School, a private school in Scotland. He incorporates as much practical and investigative work as possible and is skilled in the use of modern technology. He organises an annual science fair, has chaired meetings for local science teachers, and has been the Scottish Prep School Science Coordinator.
Previously Director of Studies and a member of the Senior Management Team, John is currently a boarding Housemaster. He coaches sport, particularly rugby, hockey, cricket and volleyball. He runs a Debating Society, and is keen on outdoor pursuits such as hillwalking, kayaking and skiing. He enjoys engaging the pupils with video production and photography.
Having achieved a BSc degree in Biological Sciences, John qualified as a teacher with a PGCE from the University of East Anglia.
William Howell (British)
Head of Maths
Formerly Head of Maths and Head of Games at Northcote Lodge, William is currently Head of Maths and Head of Year 8 at Thomas’s Clapham, a private day school in London. He has responsibility for over 25 teachers and his departmental leadership has been judged as ‘outstanding’. He teaches across the age ranges and has achieved great success preparing pupils for entry to the top senior schools in the UK.
William coaches football, rugby and cricket, and he has organised several school trips around the world. He says that “whether in the classroom, games pitch or in the staff room, I aim to instil a sense of fun into what I do, but never forgetting that pupils’ progress is at the centre of what I and an excellent school strives for.”
William has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from The University of York, and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education in Maths from the University of Cambridge. He is married with two children, both of whom will be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Lee Irvine (British)
Director of Sport
Lee has worked at both independent and state schools in the UK, and is currently Director of Sport and Extra-Curricular Activities at Wellingborough School, a private school with a proud sporting tradition. He has a BA Degree in Sports Studies, a National Diploma in Sports Development and Coaching (Distinction), a Diploma in Sports Psychology (Distinction), and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Wales.
Lee is qualified to coach a range of sports and has led many overseas sporting tours. At Rugby School Thailand, he plans to “create an innovative learning experience that is exciting and full of opportunity, whilst at the same time underpinned by traditional values such as fair play and consideration for teammates and opposition alike.” He wants all pupils to feel successful, regardless of level of ability, and he wants to nurture the pupils who display real promise and sporting talent.
Felicity Jones (Australian)
Year 3 Teacher
On completing her double degree – Bachelor of Social Science and Bachelor of Teaching – in Australia, Felicity moved to the UK and for the last 5 years has been a Year 3 class teacher, Religious Studies teacher and Girls’ Games coach at St Andrews Prep, a private school in England. Described as ‘an exceptional teacher who is always prepared to go the extra mile’, Felicity has organised overseas school trips and has produced several school plays. She coaches a range of sports, runs half-marathons, and has obtained the UK National Rescue Award for Swimming Coaches.
Felicity is a qualified mentor for newly-qualified teachers, and has led staff training on the fostering of growth mindsets in both pupils and teachers. Felicity says that “each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature intellectually, physically, and spiritually.”
Lucy Ridgway (British)
Head of English
Lucy has taught English at three schools in the UK and is currently a teacher of English at Spratton Hall Prep, a well-known UK private school. Described as ‘an outstanding teacher’, Lucy has had previous experience writing and remodelling the design of an English curriculum, teaching across the age ranges and preparing students for entry into top UK senior schools. She has run early-morning running and fitness clubs and has assisted in the organisation and hosting of sports tournaments and events.
Lucy holds a degree in English and Linguistics from the University of York and qualified as a teacher at the University of Bedfordshire. She says that she is “committed to creating a flourishing environment that inspires and supports children whilst preparing them for a lifetime of learning in a rapidly changing world.”
Jo Westlake (British)
Director of Music
Jo’s first appointment as Director of Music was at Packwood Haugh Prep, a renowned UK private school, where she revitalised the music department and taught music from Pre-Prep to Year 8. Jo subsequently played a significant role in the success of the music department at Brambletye Prep, whilst at the same time taking on a range of responsibilities as a member of the Senior Management Team. Earlier in her career, Jo spent several years teaching piano at Glenalmond College and Strathallan School, both in Scotland, before moving to Thailand to teach class music at Bangkok Patana School.
Jo studied piano at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and completed her postgraduate studies in Chamber Music with Professor Vanessa Latarche at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, one of world’s leading conservatoires. Jo then won a scholarship to continue her studies in Canada as Pianist in Residence at the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts.
Jo is married and has two boys who will also be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Sarah Shuttleworth (British)
Head of Pre-Prep
Sarah has been a very highly-regarded Head of Early Years in three different countries, all following the British National Curriculum. As ‘Head of Early Years’ at Regents International School in Bangkok, Sarah very successfully established and grew the Early Years age group from its inception, whilst as ‘Head of Pre-Prep and Lower School’ at Bromsgrove International School in Bangkok, Sarah overhauled its curriculum and policies to transform the pupils’ educational experience.
For the last 5 years Sarah has been an ‘outstanding’ Assistant Head and Head of Pre-Prep at Feltonfleet Prep, a private school in southern England, where she has brought fresh ideas and vision, and ‘total commitment to the personal, social and academic development of the pupils in her care’. Sarah has also worked in international schools in Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Sarah has established a wide range of initiatives in her career, from cursive handwriting schemes, to soft play rooms, to woodland nature areas. Sarah says that she ‘firmly believes that all we do must be for the good of the pupils’, and that she has ‘high expectations in terms of both the quality of work produced and the behaviour expected’.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts degree, with Qualified Teacher Status, from the University of Leeds. In 2011 Sarah qualified as an inspection team member for the CIS (Council for International Schools). She is married with one son who will also be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Joanna Schloemer (British)
Nursery Teacher and Head of Nursery
Joanna has enjoyed a range of experiences as a teacher of Nursery/Pre-Prep children. Her current role is ‘Senior Teacher’ at a London Primary School, with responsibility for overseeing teaching and learning in the Early Years. Previously she has been a ‘Lead Nursery Teacher’, Music Coordinator, and Gifted & Talented coordinator.
Joanna has a BA Arts degree from the University of Durham, a PostGraduate Certificate of Education from Cambridge University, and a Masters in Education also from Cambridge University. She has a Performance Diploma in Piano, and has run school choirs…and a Lego club. Joanna says that “Education is about instilling a deep love of learning that affords children the courage to develop their imagination and explore their individuality.”
Mia Lang (British)
Year 2 Teacher
Mia has UK classroom experience from Reception to Year 3, and is currently teaching at a Nursery and Junior School in Camberley, UK. She feels “passionately about teaching accessibly for all pupils and inspiring both academic enthusiasm and promoting progress and creativity”.
Mia holds a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (1st class), a BA in Ancient World from University College London and an MA (1st class) in Pacific Asian studies (focussing upon the languages, culture and art of Thailand, Taiwan and Japan). Mia has privately tutored in Thailand where she gained experience working with bi-lingual children, and she can speak basic Thai. She runs half-marathons, practises the Japanese martial Art of Kendo and is a member of the British Canoeing Society.
Hannah O’Brien (British)
Hannah is currently a Reception teacher, Key Stage 1 / Early Years leader, and a member of the Primary Leadership team at The British School in New Delhi, India. Previously she has been a Reception teacher at both private and state schools in the U.K., as well as a PE coordinator and a Curriculum coordinator. She has a BA in Primary Education from Canterbury Christ Church University College.
Hannah has a range of interests, and has run an ‘I Can Cook’ activity, a horticultural club, and after-school sports clubs in netball, football and cross-country. Hannah says that “a child’s future choices, attainment, wellbeing, happiness and resilience are profoundly affected by the quality of the guidance and care they receive during their first years of education”. Hannah is married with two children who will also be joining Rugby School Thailand in September 2017.
Carly Pepper (British)
Carly grew up in Africa and is now an Early Years specialist with a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from Chester University UK, and a degree in Psychology from Sussex University. She has UK classroom experience with Nursery and Reception age groups. Carly is currently Head of Pre-School and Year Group leader at the Gulf English School in Qatar, with responsibility for curriculum planning and parental communication.
As a teacher, Carly believes that “learning should be an enjoyable experience” and Carly’s relationship with the children in her class has been rated as ‘outstanding’ in all observed lessons. Carly has been involved with a variety of after-school clubs – art, sport and dance.
Miki Tokumitsu (Japanese)
Year 1 teacher
Fluent in English, Miki was educated at a British curriculum international school in Singapore, and has been based in Australia since 2005. She has experience teaching from Years 1-3, and for the last 4 years has been a classroom teacher at a public school in Sydney.
Here she has been an active member of the Visual Arts Committee, the Concert Committee, the Mathematics Committee, the Technology Committee, and the Environmental Committee. She has mentored trainee teachers, run an Art Club, coached sport, assisted in overseas trips (including Thailand), conducted a recorder group, and has assisted in the running of a computer coding club. And, as a leading member of the School Representative Council, she has coordinated charitable fund-raising.
Miki obtained a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Sydney, and is CELTA qualified to teach English as a foreign language. She says that her priority as a class teacher is to ‘provide a safe and supportive learning environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging’, and ‘where learning is engaging and enjoyable’.