Kris Davis joined KTJ in 2015 and has worked in a range of leadership roles, including Deputy Head of Primary and the Designated Safeguarding Lead for the Primary School. In August 2020, he took on the role of Head of KTJ Primary and is also a member of the School’s Senior Leadership Team.
We caught up with Kris to learn more about the importance of a holistic education, how KTJ Primary has dealt with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and what he is most looking forward to in the coming school year.
Hello Kris, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today! Please can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! Prior to joining KTJ, I spent most of my life living on the beautiful south west coast of England. In 2015, my wife and I embarked on a new adventure as we moved to teach in Malaysia and have happily lived and worked at KTJ for nearly seven years. Since we have lived in Malaysia our family has grown by one when in 2019 my wife gave birth to our daughter in nearby Seremban. For this reason we will forever be connected to Malaysia! In my spare time, I am very much a sports enthusiast and love to play most sports although football and cricket are particular favourites! As a family we also love to travel to experience new places and cultures and so we are looking forward to being able to do that again soon.
What is holistic education and why is it important?
A holistic education is one that aims to nurture and provide learning experiences that develop the whole individual rather than perhaps the more traditional viewpoint of achieving academic success. As we all know, the world is evolving at a rapid pace and so it is important that educators equip young people with the opportunities, skills and experiences to follow their passions and be successful. At KTJ, we often talk about students being able to experience the ‘What Else?’, meaning how students are able to complement their academic studies with other extra-curricular opportunities in areas such as sport, music, arts or languages. In addition to this, we also recognise the importance of teaching children to become emotionally intelligent and to develop a good moral compass and so all of our actions at KTJ are guided by our core values of integrity, empathy and mutual respect.
As someone who has been at KTJ for a number of years, what keeps you motivated?
When I first arrived at KTJ, the Primary School had only just opened and was in the early stages of its development. Since then, I have seen the School make so much progress and in my opinion, develop into one of the best international schools in Malaysia. During this journey, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the leadership team that has helped to oversee and work with the KTJ community to implement this positive change. When I took over as Head of Primary in August 2020, I felt in a privileged position having seen the journey KTJ Primary had been on whilst knowing that there are always areas for us to further improve and develop. With face-to-face learning resuming imminently, I am more motivated than ever to help students return to the classroom safely and resume their in-school learning in a positive way and to provide them with an experience and setting where they can thrive and be happy.
KTJ Primary recently welcomed Early Years students back to face-to-face teaching. How has that gone and what is the School doing to ensure the safety of students and staff?
It has been such a pleasure having children safely back in school again! We have been delighted with how well the children have adapted back to face-to-face lessons and it has been fantastic to see them engaged and enjoying spending time with their teachers and friends again. As we know, a good educational experience relies on schools and families working together and this has helped us to return to and maintain a safe learning environment. We educate children on the importance of following SOPs, such as wearing masks and physical distancing, and personal hygiene is practiced daily. We have been so impressed with how the children have adapted to this way of learning and playing. Each day, we also carry out temperature screening and regularly monitor students to ensure they are fit and well to be in school. We are also fortunate to have a registered school doctor who is employed by the School as well as a purpose-built Health Centre within our grounds. As a school, all onsite staff have been vaccinated including teachers and learning assistants as well as administrative, maintenance, cleaning and catering staff as well. Whilst we know that we have robust and effective health and safety procedures in place, we must continue to remain vigilant so that students and families can feel confident that KTJ is a safe environment for their students to come to.
How has KTJ Primary dealt with the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic?
It is impossible to ignore the fact that there have been extremely challenging periods for students, families and staff during the pandemic. One of the things that I have been most proud of is the way in which the KTJ community has shown such resilience and adaptability throughout. Adaptability has been key for us at KTJ in order to try and maintain an excellent educational experience as well as to identify opportunities to develop and improve our practice. We are all lifelong learners and so it has been important to listen, respond and be proactive in our approaches to improving our teaching, learning and communication and I have been proud of the way we have evolved our practices in these areas. KTJ Primary has continued to offer a holistic approach to education, which we believe is key to the development of well-rounded students. This has been achieved through online extra-curricular activities, continued access to student support and counselling services, ongoing student leadership programmes and themed events linked to culture, diversity and inclusion.
What are you most looking forward to this academic year?
Whilst it will be a view shared by many, I am so excited at the prospect of welcoming children back to school safely and seeing them learn alongside their teachers and friends again! Additionally, I am also looking forward to us beginning to safely resume other highlights of the school calendar such as sporting, music and performing arts events as well as the opportunity to work more closely again with our amazing Parent Teacher Committee and wider community. We are all very optimistic for the year ahead and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead!