Learn Like King’s Bangkok by Matthew Gibson: Deputy Head (Senior School)
King’s College International School Bangkok believes our 3 pillars - Academic Excellence, a strong Co-curricular Programme, and Pastoral Care System - can strengthen and pave the way for all of our students’ futures. Teachers are the key to childrens’ success, so we always select the best.
Enter Matthew “Matt” Gibson, our Deputy Head (Senior School) and a Chemistry teacher, a favourite among both students and parents. After graduating with a Biochemistry degree from the University of Nottingham and later completing a PGCE at KCL, he taught for ten years at King’s College School, Wimbledon. He now joins our Senior Leadership team with his expertise gained from a decade at King’s Wimbledon, one of the most academically successful schools in the world, and an aim of putting King’s Bangkok on the map and creating one of the best schools in South-East Asia.
We recently interviewed Matt and would like to share some of his thoughts on teaching and his experiences:
1. What is your teaching philosophy?
We are a school that values enquiry-based learning. This means we place an emphasis on students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. We do not simply deliver content, we inspire students to explore content themselves. We inspire, engage and extend students to be the best they can be across the curriculum. Additionally, the Senior School curriculum builds very much on the exceptional work that the Primary School and Early Years provide. This offers students a chance to shine in subjects that suit their interests.
2. How long have you taught and what are some of your proudest moments as a teacher?
Prior to joining King’s Bangkok, I taught at King’s Wimbledon for ten years and loved every minute of it. Every time a student develops, I am proud. While in Wimbledon, I served as a Chemistry teacher, a tutor and a Head of House. Being a tutor was a role in which I was assigned a vertical group of students from Years 9 - 13, was the first port of call for them and their parents, and focused on their wellbeing and development; while, as Head of Kingsley, I had one sixth of the entire Senior School cohort to look out for. I was responsible for running a series of weekly house events, organising school prefects and their duties, providing pastoral care and academic guidance. Having worn many hats in my time as a teacher, I am probably most proud of helping so many students achieve their first choice university destinations through hard work and commitment.
3. If there are children who do not like a subject, how would you change their attitude towards it? What if they struggle with different concepts?
You need to find a way to make the subject relevant to them, relatable, and teach with charisma and personality. This is what I try to do every day. Additionally, there is support through schemes like our tutor groups system and assisted reading programme, both of which allow students from different year groups to mingle, mentor, and learn from each other. In fact, we are looking to bring in mentoring systems where older students in Wimbledon can engage with some of our students here. In a similar vein, we are exploring the possibility of teachers in Wimbledon doing remote sessions with students here so they have even more brilliant voices to listen to. With understanding, students’ perspectives often become more positive, so we hope to encourage students to develop into thoughtful, enthusiastic, motivated and empathetic learners.
4. What is your advice to students when they are about to learn something new in (and outside of) class?
Always go in with an open mind and try to quash any preconceptions. We are all learning every day and complacency is the enemy of progress. It is expected that students will find certain topics and areas of study difficult, especially when working from home as they have done for the past few months. As a piece of encouragement for them to focus and apply themselves no matter where they are, if students struggle with a subject, especially if it is in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), I would encourage them to try their best and ask for help. Here at King’s, we foster a supportive environment, and so are ready to support any student who requires it.
5. King’s Bangkok is a community centred around kindness. We also uphold the values of good manners and wisdom. What do these values mean to you?
Kindness, wisdom and respect are the cornerstones of good learners, but also good people. If our students can learn to be empathetic, engaged and inspired individuals they will be exceptional leaders in the future. While we value academic excellence, with these values instilled in our teachers, staff, students and extended King’s family, we aim to motivate our students to get involved in every area of school life, to develop their soft skills, their empathy, and their understanding of the world around them.
6. How do you support students on their journeys to Higher and Further Education?
I worked as a Tutor and Head of House at King’s Wimbledon until this past year, both of which required me to provide support to hundreds of students every step of the way. I helped them from the start of their Senior School careers (Year 9 in Wimbledon), through making their GCSE, A-Level and University choices, to life beyond school, no matter the path they chose. Having moved from there to here, it is clear that how King’s sets students up for life is the most important thing. To go to the best universities, students need to be all-rounders. Therefore, beyond excellent academic results, we give them opportunities to learn interpersonal skills, to foster the ability to present their work and liaise with other students, and to involve themselves in all sorts of pursuits.
At King’s Bangkok, we introduce our careers programme from Year 7, where students will begin meeting with tutors to consider different careers. In Year 10, we start career profiling, where we do a number of psychometric tests and follow up interviews with specialists who can help link a student’s skills with careers that might be interesting. This drives conversation with the tutors as well, all of whom are very knowledgeable about the university system, so we can make sure that their final pathway is fit for them and is supported by the options they are taking.
We are extremely fortunate to be affiliated with such a brilliant, academically successful school as King’s College School, Wimbledon. We make sure to leverage our close-knit partnership, drawing on their know-how and experience in preparing student’s applications to the world’s best institutions. Moreover, universities understand that the type of student that the Kings’ family produces are all-rounders, problem solvers, critical thinkers. Nevertheless, we know that first-rate advice and comprehensive Higher Education support is not enough to secure the futures of our students - we need to ensure that they become well-rounded, thoughtful, independent and kind young people, and that is what we aspire to do every day.
Matt’s drive and determination to help young people to enjoy and relish every stage of their educational journey, both at King’s Bangkok and beyond, is a sentiment shared by every member of staff at our school. He serves as a supportive role model for every student and we can’t wait to see his great heart take our school further.