PHUKET: The divorce is final. Dr Arthit Ourairath, CEO and Founder of Dulwich International College, has announced that ties between Dulwich College in London (DCL) and Phuket’s top international school have been severed.
Dulwich International College will, from June 24, be known as the British International College of Thailand, unless agreement can be reached with another school willing to replace DCL’s role.
The end of the seven-year relationship, though not entirely unexpected after weeks of fractious talks, came suddenly – so suddenly that Ralph Mainard, DCL’s Director of External Relations and the school’s negotiator in the talks, told the Gazette this afternoon that DCL had heard nothing officially.
He declined to comment until he had had a chance to read the full text of the announcement, which came early this evening, in an email to teachers and parents.
In the message, Dr Arthit wrote:
“It is with profound regret that I have to inform you that Dulwich College London (DCL) and Dulwich International College (DIC), Phuket, have decided, after much tireless effort, heartache and careful deliberation, to amicably go their separate ways. A joint-declaration of separation is expected to be issued within the next few days.
“Unfortunately, despite all well-meaning efforts, there remain major issues on which DCL and DIC cannot agree and [cannot] reach common ground.”
The agreement with DCL will expire on June 24. However, Dr Arthit wrote, “…we are now actively engaged in meaningful discussions on the strong potential for affiliation and academic cooperation with other prestigious schools in the UK.”
He noted that the relationship with DCL had become increasingly difficult over the years. “As time went on, ever-increasing differences in opinion and expectations became more evident and tensions mounted. At each stage, while efforts were made by each party to resolve these differences, it became clear that the number of unresolved issues would remain outstanding.
“Consequently, from the viewpoint of DIC Phuket, there was little alternative [but] to terminate the franchise agreement,” he wrote.
He added, “It is our firm belief that [the] decision was made for the ultimate [benefit] of students, because this is the only factor that will ensure the future success of the school. In the long term, and in the current competitive educational market, we know that providing our students and parents with the highest quality educational experience is the only thing that will ensure our viability.
“We are fully committed to that objective.”
Immediate effects that will follow the expiry of the agreement, Dr Arthit explained, will be as follows:
– The name of the school will be changed from Dulwich International College to British International College of Thailand (BICT).
– The college logo will change.
– BICT will assume all legal obligations, including those from existing employment contracts with teachers, from DIC after June 24.
However, the email stresses that:
– The college’s curriculum will continue to be based on the British National Curriculum.
– All programs such as the Foundation Stage Curriculum for KG classes, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate (IB) for secondary students will continue to be offered.
– The recruitment of highly qualified and suitable academic personnel remains unaffected, and, says the email, “the process will be strengthened”. While DCL was always deeply involved in the selection of the school’s headmaster, selection will now be “the exclusive right of the BICT Board.”
“We are confident,” the Founder wrote, “that we will be able to appoint highly qualified, experienced and suitable persons to assume senior academic and non-academic management positions.”
– BICT will continue to offer internationally recognized examinations on its premises, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Cambridge ESOL exams.
– BICT will maintain its various accreditations with the Office of National Education Standards and Quality Assessment and the Worldwide Education Service. The process to gain accreditation with the Council of International Schools will continue.
Dr Arthit wrote that under the “visionary” leadership of Dr George Hickman, the recently appointed Academic Director at DIC, the school “will grow and flourish”.
He also pledged improvements to school facilities, pointing out that a qualified nutritionist has been hired for the refectory, along with three nurses, and noting that a new Primary Infirmary will open very soon. He also vowed that boarding houses will be refurbished and sports facilities upgraded where necessary.
He concluded, “I can only respectfully ask you to give us a chance to prove that we will continue to maintain the academic standards and overall educational experience that your children will have if you continue to do the honor of entrusting them to our care.”
In a meeting with teachers that coincided with the delivery of the email, Dr Hickman reiterated that discussions are already underway in an attempt to secure affiliation with another internationally recognized school.
The previous day, he announced in an email that all teachers, including those hired locally, would get contracts “within the next 48-72 hours”, and that all teachers would get pay rises.
He also announced that a decision to demote Tim Creber from Deputy Head of Secondary to plain teacher had been reversed. Mr Creber, the email said, “has graciously consented to continue in his role of Deputy Academic Director/Deputy Headma
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