Andrew Mitchel- Head of Primary
Where are you from?
I am from the UK, was born and grew up near Kenilworth and that’s where my mum still lives. I started teaching in London them I moved to Portugal where I met my wife then I moved to Helsinki and was there for 9 years. We had two of our three children there and then I moved to Geneva and then spent two years in the Hague, then back to northern Spain and most recently I’ve been working in London.
Have you ever lived/visited Dubai before?
I’ve visited several times and actually led a Middle Years Program science workshop here in GCS!
Do you have a family and will they be joining the school?
Yes, I am married with three children and they will be joining us at GCS in KG, Grade 4 and Grade 7.
What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge in this transition for you & your family?
Right now its just getting all the documents sorted out. We got married in Finland and so we have to get our certificate from there and get all the necessary attestations. So that’s the major challenge at the moment.
Why did you decide to come to the Dubai?
I really enjoy being the head of primary. This is a much larger school than where I was before, so I will have the ability to work with a bigger team in a new situation. And I think, as a place to live, it will be a great place for my family with lots of new experiences.
What was the moment you decided you wanted to work in education? Was there such a moment?
Several Moments, in fact. In University I studied Chemistry, I did a work placement in Poland researching organic chemistry and even though the research chemist I was working with was a really nice guy, I just didn’t see myself becoming him in 20 years. So, I did an open day at Warwick University for teaching certification and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been working in education ever since.
What attracts you to the International Baccalaureate Curriculum?
I’ve been working with IB forever. The thing for me is that it is very balanced, so all the subjects are as important. It is inquiry based which makes it exciting and relevant to the kids. So they have more control over their own learning and not just memorizing and repeating for the test. I like seeing the connections kids go through throughout all the IB programs. You look at a student who has an IB background and you can see that their thinking is open. They have a broader viewpoint in their thinking.
What IB learner profile trait do you most identify with?
Being Reflective. It is such an important thing. If you don’t take the time to stop and think about why and how something happened then you can’t grow. Critical analysis will lead to improvement.
What is the best and worst thing about being a principal/head of school?
One of the nicest things is you still get to work with the kids so you’re not completely removed from students which is great! But you also get that connection with the adults as well. So you see the school as a whole. You get to pull everything together and have the big picture. You have a responsibility to all these groups as well. And making sure you meet all the needs of those groups can make it quiet an interesting day. What you think you’re going to be doing that day, well, at 8:30 AM that could all change.
What do you think you can bring the GCS Primary Team?
I’ve worked with IB, in all four of the programs. I was working with the International Baccalaureate Organization when they were making the Career Program. So I’ve seen it grow. Whilst I’ve worked in IB schools, my job with the IBO was to visit IB schools themselves; so I’ve seen schools across the Middle East, Africa, and across the globe. I can see globally how things have worked and what haven’t. Because of this experience I bring some fresh ideas to GCS.
What do you like to do for fun?
Depends where I am. Different places I’ve lived I’ve done different things, in Finland I was snowboarding, in Spain I was surfing, in London I swam, in Holland I was rock climbing. I like to stay active which is good because my family keeps be fairly busy and I like spending time with them!