“Moving forward, blending tradition with modernity in providing world-class education,” stated David Butcher, the Head of the British School Jakarta (BSJ), when Indonesia Expat chatted about BSJ’s refresh amongst the enlivened ambience filled with students immersing in various activities.
Hi, David! We’d like to know more about you.
My name is David Butcher, a Brit who arrived in Indonesia in August 2018. This is my fifth year of being the Head of School of BSJ. I love sports; I reached the highest levels of cricket where I played for England’s universities and semi-professionally. A fun fact is that I’m on Wikipedia – I’ve checked and it’s correct.
Share with us your thoughts on expat life in Jakarta and the reason behind your move.
I left the UK in 1994 so I’ve been outside home longer than I lived there. Expat life in Jakarta, through my lens, is unique. Every country I’ve lived in had special traits that you take away. You’ve got to make sure that you get the rhythm and the understanding of the country and not feel entitled to being an expat. Certainly, coming here, the warmth and kindness of the Indonesian people will forever resonate with me.
In my world of international education, I’m well aware of BSJ’s values, which coincide with mine. I was in Den Haag for six years beforehand, looking for a new opportunity. Asia never became a base yet seemed highly compatible. It was a very competitive process that I was fortunate to succeed in.
What does being an educator mean to you?
I became one in 1992; 15 years of being a Head of School. I was 38 when I had my initial Head of School role. Being an educator isn’t a calling. I started my training in the late ‘80s which felt quite natural. Being a sportsman and getting close to securing professional contracts, my parents asked about my backup plan in case sports didn’t succeed. “I’ll become a teacher,” I told them.
Teaching makes a difference. It’s probably a profession deserving more recognition for what we do in terms of the world and particularly ancestry. The collectivism of the community within education is unfortunately bypassed. Being an educator is how you make an impression and how you try to make people learn; exuding warmth, kindness, and appreciation.
Your career in international education includes Greece, Brazil, Jordan, Portugal, The Netherlands, and now Indonesia. Describe your journey in three words.
Exciting, evolutionary, and rewarding.
Briefly tell us about British School Jakarta.
BSJ was structured as a Yayasan in Indonesia with the brief of providing a world-class education for students. What we say is what we do. BSJ has a very honest reputation because the educational provision provided is the reality of the school.
The learning, teaching, facilities, and opportunities offered are assured to have every alumni grasp a very special outlook on life. BSJ accepts and is very proud of the traditional British education but then transforms it for the location of Indonesia to better understand our identity. Learning goes beyond the classroom; real-world experiences and unique opportunities are given to every student in their formative years to support them to thrive and succeed in the future.
What’s the story behind the change of the new BSJ logo?
On 9th March 2019, a meeting between the Council of Trustees, Board of Governors, and the Board of Executives regarding the school and its future was held. The curriculum was changing into a more vertically articulated model thus, skills would be built year on year inside and outside the classroom. On 13th March 2020, BSJ’s campus was closed for COVID-19. We had to ensure a new logo would be created by August 2022 to signify a refresh as the campus would be running.
The top of the “J” has different colours. Primary school is identified with one colour, secondary school with another, and so forth. This change is a simple way to understand the school. The new logo is sharp and clean, giving BSJ a certain zest, especially to the students.
What can we expect from the “new” BSJ?
The academic model is improving, intertwining with the refurbishments of facilities. Lots of planning and preparation is taking place. BSJ is anticipating getting in the rhythm, working with holistic education in full force.
BSJ’s mission is “To inspire excellence in education and in life”. Tell us more about this and what kind of programmes and initiatives you feel reflect the mission best.
The overarching idea is to have something short and simple that people could relate to. Possessing excellence in what you do is an inspiration, massively important to how we learn and teach. Underneath it is vision and values. Our vision, head-heart self-system, is where you get into the whole importance of wellbeing.
Mandala is a circle and is how you are interdependent; your head and heart in your system have to work in one, in the right place. If this happens, the system will work better. Our partnership with MIT called the sense of assistance awareness is derived from that. Students and children in 2022 require more understanding to learn better because positive psychology and systems thinking have been advancing in the last 15 years. If the students are well and feel that they’re in a good place, they’ll be able to learn better. That creates what we call a generative social field.
The 44-acre campus aims to enrich student’s academic life. What are the school’s specialities that students can benefit from?
There are plenty! One of them is BSJ’s partnership with Manchester City to give something unique to students coming back to campus. The idea is for boys and girls to learn football. Every child in the school has the opportunity to do football the Manchester City way in their lessons. All our football programmes and extracurricular activities are through Manchester City.
Moreover, creating our own football school accessible to the wider public as part of our social responsibility to Indonesia. We’ve partnered with one of the biggest football clubs in the world – Indonesia is nuts about football!
Every child is different at each stage of their development and therefore has different needs. Explain BSJ’s efforts to recognise and meet these needs.
Humans aren’t programmes nor computers. Technology is a massive part of life but everybody matures and learns at their own speed and level. How will that learning journey be for every child? To allow them to have inclusion in their way and ability to help themselves and in that journey. BSJ makes sure learning is appropriate with individual attention. There are support programmes with specialists for individual educational needs and so forth.
If you were a student at BSJ, what would you be most excited about?
Walking to school in the morning, seeing an early morning football practice. Maybe students are playing volleyball or rock climbing, too. Tennis balls hit on the court, swimmers with their music in the pool. After school, students go to the theatre or dance studios. BSJ had just become a BSJ Rock School Vocational Qualification – as an affiliation with a British company. The opportunities and choices are at the students’ disposal.
David, what’s next for you and BSJ?
I’d like to lose four kilos after a very good summer in Europe. As for BSJ, everything we’ve had before which was brilliant shall evolve to be greater while those that weren’t going smoothly will be kept in the past. This is truly an elevation year which links in with the branding, mission, vision, and values to not just be statements but actions.