Dover Court International School (DCIS) has a new starter. Last August, DCIS welcomed DAVID BURREN as its Deputy Head, Inclusion. From the chilly UK to super sunny Singapore, he is loving his new role, making sure that the school continues to offer one of most inclusive curriculums on the island. We asked him a few questions about his new position and how he’s settling in.
You have a pretty cool job title: ‘Deputy Head, Inclusion’. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Deputy Head, Inclusion is a role that straddles both the Primary and Secondary phases of the school. It involves working closely with teachers, therapists, parents, admission staff, teaching assistants, learning support teachers and of course students to make sure that we are providing the best support and education possible to meet the individual needs of each child at Dover Court.
What made you decide to focus on special educational needs?
I’ve always taught in inclusive schools that are committed to supporting all students regardless of individual differences and learning needs. Most teachers come into the profession to make a difference. Supporting young people, especially those that may face more significant challenges with their learning, is immensely rewarding.
Why Singapore, and why Dover Court?
Singapore is an incredible place. The mixture of cultures, the efficiency, the sense of safety and the fact it’s so child-friendly make it the perfect place to raise a family. My wife has family here and has visited a number of times. She fell in love with Singapore over 20 years ago during her first-ever visit. We wanted to expose our children to different cultures and broaden their horizons, and we couldn’t think of a more perfect place to do this than Singapore.
I’d heard very good things about DCIS from a parent that moved back to the UK, and I also know Mr Bull (Head of the Secondary School) from a previous school that we both worked in. Having researched the school when the position was advertised, it was clear that it had a unique identity and ethos that appealed to me both professionally as a teacher and personally as a parent.
What does a typical day at school look like for you?
No two days are ever the same, which is one of the things I love most about my job. There’s never a sense of clock watching, as there’s always so much going on. The highlights of a typical week include teaching classes (I have a few lessons with a Year 3 class as well as some lessons with a Year 11 life skills class), assemblies, visiting classes from Nursery up to Year 13 (it’s a wonderful privilege to see all the fantastic lessons that go on across the whole school), meeting with parents and colleagues, and finally standing on the reception steps to greet the smiling students as they pour into school – the best way to start any day.
What are you enjoying most about teaching at Dover so far?
Easy, it’s the students and staff. Their energy, enthusiasm and care for each other makes DCIS a very special place to work.
How’s your family adjusting to life here?
I’m so proud of how my children have taken everything in their stride. I think at times I have taken for granted just how big a move this has been because they have adapted so well. They are all at Dover Court and have really enjoyed their first term here. They absolutely adore their teachers and the whole school community has made them feel very welcome and valued. My wife loves Singapore. She’s a big fan of the climate and is really embracing everything the place has to offer.
What are your top three goals – professional or personal – for this year?
I’m really hopeful that I can host visits from as many members of our family as possible. I’d love my Mum and mother-in-law to be able to come over some time this year so that we can share some of our Singapore life with them. As there are so many amazing countries just a short flight away, I think another personal goal for 2020 would be to visit somewhere new if we get the chance. Finally, my professional goal is to be able to look back at the end of my first year and feel like I had a positive impact.
What are the top five things on your Singapore bucket list?
We’ve already managed to see so much but a few things that are high up on the to-do list are: watch the F1; have a go on the mega long zip-wire on Sentosa island; visit Universal Studios; go to the Night Safari at the Zoo; swim at the top of Marina Bay Sands!
What are you enjoying most about living here so far?
The climate and the food. Being able to step outside in shorts and T-shirt and never be cold regardless of the time of day is great. Also, the variety and availability of so much delicious food is incredible. I could quite easily live off hawker food for the rest of my life.
What’s been your most memorable moment as a teacher?
My teaching career to date has been made up of hundreds and thousands of memorable moments. I’ve always been grateful to have a job that provides so many significant moments and memories, almost on a daily basis. I think the two highlights of my first term at DCIS are attending the Christmas party with our Year 11 students at Rebel Cafe – the class have been completing work experience at the restaurant each week throughout the term and it was great to see them celebrate the end of term together; and watching the Christmas shows performed so wonderfully by the different Primary classes.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I think my superpower would have to be the ability to apparate – just like in Harry Potter! If I could click my fingers and instantly get from one place to another in a split second it would certainly help to reduce the number of meetings I’m late arriving to. It would also make travelling back to the UK to visit family and friends a doddle!
Dover Court International School
301 Dover Road
6775 7664 | dovercourt.edu.sg
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