Being Future Ready: An Interview with Dr. Simon Watson of St Christopher’s School, Bahrain


Behind every successful education innovation is a problem-solving leader. From supporting their staff and inspiring a positive culture to envisioning the best outcomes for students – education leaders are at the core of creating enriching learning experiences. As part of Gulf Insider’s Excellence in Education Leadership series, we converse with Bahrain’s leading educators, highlighting their stories, their impact, and the steps they have taken to improve the quality of education for students in the Kingdom.

How would you describe the role of an education leader?

The role of an educational leader is similar to that of leaders in any organisation. What sets it apart is the responsibility of envisioning and shaping the future of young adults. At St Christopher’s, our dedicated and highly professional staff make this achievable. Ultimately, we have to ensure good results in both academics and holistic education. A strong focus is placed on instilling in our students our six C’s, that include courage, commitment, and a profound curiosity for learning. This holistic view of education is something that we embed in our approach to education at St Christopher’s.

What in your opinion is the key to providing enriching learning experiences to students?

An enriching learning experience manifests in two aspects: The first is within the classroom, where it is important to ensure active student engagement and teachers who are compassionate and knowledgeable. This is something we have in abundance at St Christopher’s. The second, outside the classroom, is where we truly excel. Currently, some of our students are in Singapore participating in Formula One for Schools. We are also sending a team to Yale for the Champion Tournament of the World Scholars Cup. We are hosting in January the Young Musicians of the Gulf, a well-known music competition where the very best students in this region participate. We have two groups of students visiting Thailand for an ongoing service learning opportunity; this has been part of the curriculum for many years. These students have built schools and are supporting the local community in Thailand. These are examples of the kind of activities that enrich students’ learning experiences.

What are some of the innovations at your institution that promote quality education?

We have introduced several innovations. First, our “Future Ready Curriculum” focuses on six crucial competencies that will equip students for their future. This has been in place for a couple of years and is gaining traction.

We also have a professional learning programme, launched in response to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It facilitates high-quality training for teachers and support staff delivered by global educationists, such as Sir Tom Sherrington from the UK and Ollie Lovell from Australia. This year, we are hosting around 30 speakers.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the unveiling of our new senior school, which is going to be amazing. Stay tuned to our social media as we unfurl more details about it. The facilities that we’ve designed for this new school are outstanding.

Technology and AI are changing the world. How are they changing education?

AI is set to have a huge impact on education, and it’s just the beginning. At St Christopher’s we are already utilising AI to mark and grade students’ work. But I believe it won’t be long before software companies like Google develop such capabilities. This is one area that is changing rapidly.

On the other hand, AI does not replace the need for learning. One cannot learn without knowledge or skills. Students still need to focus on a building a strong foundation.

Can you describe a recent student success story from St Christopher’s?

It’s difficult to choose between the many success stories at the school, whether it’s about the students who received the Crown Prince Scholarship or those who performed exceptionally well in their exams. But, what’s truly inspiring is to see students who face and overcome adversities in life. Some have battled cancer, but continued school, while others have coped with the loss of a family member during important examinations. It’s challenging as well as rewarding to support these students, and it is heartening to watch them emerge from it over the course of a year or two. While it’s difficult to choose an individual success story, it’s such instances where students succeed despite their personal circumstances that inspire us.

What was the best thing that happened to you when you were a student?

The best thing that can happen to a student is to have teachers who become their ambassadors and guides. I was fortunate to have two math teachers who believed in me as a student and as a person. That support boosted my education, not just in mathematics but in all areas of school life. So as a parent, please ask your son or daughter who their ambassador is at school.

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