Interview Mr Barnes

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What does it feel like to be the principal of the school?

Exciting, hectic, chaotic sometimes, because now I’m doing things that I never did before. Now I’m not spending so much time on the education side and I’m spending more on the business side. It’s very different from before.

How many years have you been working in this school and do you like the experience?

Of course, I like the experience because I’ve been here for 22 years. When I arrived here, there were only 70 students, now we have got 900, so I do not get so much time to spend with the children as I usually have at least five meetings a day. Before I could still teach as I wasn’t as busy. I used to spend all the time teaching, then I was only teaching half of the time and now, I’m 100% on the business side.

 Have you noticed a change now that you are the principal?

Yes, I’m travelling a lot and learning a lot because there are things that I didn’t experience before so I have to learn again, but its good and interesting because now I can do things that I didn’t do before, it’s quite exciting.

Do you have any renovation projects in mind for the school?

Yes, I’ve just finished my 5 year strategic plan. It is our plan because now we work as a team and that is very important to remember. Whereas before we were on our own. Now, we have got people all over the place and we have got very clever people. We work together and we ask ourselves: what do we need? What do we have? What needs to be changed? For example all of this is being totally renovated, right up to here (talking from the past direction’s office) and there’s going to be anew entrance door. I have got more plans but I cannot tell you about them yet.

Who do you usually work with every day?

Most of all I work with Miss Flor but Miss Flor is deputy head. As we have Teams (application for collaboration) now I also work with Juncal who is Human Resources, I work with Carolina who is in charge of admissions, then I also work with the admin staff, with Alejandro and Laura who are in the finance team, but then on the other side I work with the SCP (School Community Partner) through online meetings that is where Cognita Spain is. I work with them a lot because they are the ones that help us.

Do you take work trips? Where? Why?

Yes, there have been quite a lot. For example I am going to Barcelona on Monday to do a meeting and then I will come back. I have been to Murcia and Madrid. Sometimes I go to Madrid, then to Barcelona and back to Valencia and it can be quite hectic but that is what is good about it. We go because we usually exchange ideas with other schools, we have a meeting or we are networking.

 Are you happy with the students and teachers at the school?

Yes, with nearly all of them (jokes).

Are you happy with the support of Cognita? Why?

Yes, very much so because obviously I need the support you know. We always try to teach you that you don’t stop learning just because you are an adult, that is what makes it exciting. When you stop learning it is boring and there are things that I am getting to know now that I never thought I was going to learn. I am a primary school teacher –  I never studied about finances, projections…Never go to bed without learning something new.

Would you like to go on some school trips again like when you went to Paris, London? Why?

I am already on it, I had an online meeting this morning with the head of the active learn group which is also part of Cognita and we have a new program that we are bringing to school over the next few years, where the student goes through school and he or she will have some character building activities. They could be cultural ones, but it can also be adventurous. What we used to do was sort of only with year 6 or year 7, but we have to build the program throughout the whole school starting with year 3, leaving for one night. This year we are thinking of a couple of new activities but I do not want to make them too big as we have to do it properly, slowly and then build on it. But my plans in the future are things like going on skiing trips, outdoor survival trips and all these kind of things which are quite interesting and help build character. We have to think about mental health, wellbeing, etc.

And in order to finish the interview, would you tell us something about your personal life?

I am from Liverpool, I came to Spain in 1996 and I was only meant to stay for one year but I never went back. I liked it so much so I stayed and I live with my cat Freya. Now I only go back to England to see my parents at Christmas, that is the only time. I like Spain but I especially love Valencia, it is a nice city and it is a nice comfortable size, it is big enough but not too big and I think that makes the people here much nicer.

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British School of Valencia has created this space to be able to share with all of you current information about innovation and advances in the world of education that have a positive impact on the education of our students.

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