By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nestled amongst the idyllic landscapes of the Cidade Maravilhosa is one of the most distinguished private education institutions, The British School, Rio de Janeiro. Started in 1924, the curriculum focuses on a British-style education leading up to the IB diploma, with approximately 2,000 students across three separate campuses in Botafogo, Urca and Barra da Tijuca.
Head of the school since January, John Nixon, with over twenty years’ experience teaching in British-style international English language schools abroad, spoke to The Rio Times about his new post, past experiences and the warm community he has found in his new life.
“I really like the school,” he said. “I had only been in Hong Kong two years when this job became available. But it has always been a dream to live and work in Brazil.”
With the school being spread between three campuses, Mr. Nixon says, “It’s certainly a challenge, I have to be at the three sites through the week, which all have different layouts, but we have the same vision, mission and objective at each.”
There are many opportunities for the students across the sites to mix, for example: sporting and cultural events, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award hiking trips, one of which was attended by Mr. Nixon. This four day excursion took the group from São Paulo State into Rio, ending in Paraty.
Mr. Nixon also stressed the school’s teaching ethic was a strong reason why he was excited about the position heading the school. “The teaching we do here is less dictatorial,” he said. “We encourage the students to challenge. The principle is the use of knowledge, not just the acquisition of it. We focus on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.”
John Nixon’s 23 years’ of teaching abroad has taken him to Qatar, Taiwan, Hong Kong and now Brazil, with each new country bringing a new experience. Despite enjoying every chapter on his journey, John can see one major difference between The British School and other schools he has worked at.
“The British School stands out because of the children we have here,” Nixon said. “They are vibrant, lively, enthusiastic and happy. Not that children weren’t happy in other schools where I have taught, but you can really see it here.”
In a school with around 37 different nationalities, the attitude of the pupils makes a huge difference to the ethos of the place, both inside and outside the classroom.
“The students here are engaged in their studies. They lead full lives, have similar aspirations and above all want to make a difference in the world.” he said.
At a school such as The British School, with larger numbers of expatriate members, the community plays a more hands-on role. Although the school is roughly eighty percent Brazilian, many number of the students have strong links to the world outside Rio and Brazil.
Under John Nixon’s guidance and with a modern application of education, the value and interpretation of learning garnered at The British School is helping to put pupils on a great footing for a bright future.
* This is a paid Advertorial for The British School, Rio de Janeiro.