Interview 3: Richard Dyer, Principal, The British International School, Budapest

  • 15 Oct 2020 4:58 PM
Interview 3: Richard Dyer, Principal, The British International School, Budapest
Mr. Dyer joined The British International School, Budapest as Principal in 2015. Before moving to Hungary he started as a mathematics teacher in London, then headed overseas in 1986. He held leadership positions in five different British international schools in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam over a period of 30 years.

1. What’s been happening at work and at home since your most recent Xpat Interview?
Click here to see Richard's previous interview

It’s been two and a half years since the last interview, so it’s remarkable how much has changed. At school, our new Sports Centre feels like it’s always been part of our campus, and it’s been further enhanced with an ultra-modern extension called The Tube.

We are in the process of launching our new five-year Vision with the headline “Empowered Students, Sustainable School.” The sustainability side is gaining a lot of interest. This was in part a promise to our community that we would prevail in our volatile and unpredictable world so that families can rely on the same high quality education for years to come. That’s certainly been put to the test in the current pandemic and we have come out strong.

We have put in place robust health control measures at school and we are just coming up to our first two months of remaining fully open with no in-school transmission at all. This has been a real community effort, with parents, students and staff aligned in what needs to be done to keep our school safe and keep it open. Nevertheless, the expertise that we built up, staff and students, in the closure period before the summer will enable us to switch seamlessly in and out of virtual school should we need to.

Sustainability is also associated with our impact on the environment, and we have just committed to achieving sustainability certification with The Planet Mark. In fact, we are an Ambassador School for this venture so we are looking forward to engaging all of our school community in reducing our carbon consumption as a first step.

At home we have revolving doors with our children. Our oldest son, having taken a post-grad gap year in Switzerland and in Budapest is now working as a data analyst in England. Our second son graduated with an engineering degree this summer, and is entering a much restricted job market. Our youngest has just started at university in England, studying Marine Biology and Conservation.

2. What is your biggest professional achievement since moving to Hungary?
Professionally I am extraordinarily proud of all we have achieved at BISB. Against a background of significant expansion, we have raised standards across the school. We have committed and loyal staff: collegial, highly professional and always willing go the extra mile for our students. Our parent community is highly supportive and involved.

The results can be seen in our students and last year their personal and academic achievements were recognised as “excellent” by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). This is the top rating and, as an inspector myself, I know how hard it is to achieve that on the first inspection. We are the only school in the country to be inspected by ISI and that confirms for me how special we really are.

I’ve also been gaining certification through The Harvard Graduate School of Education / Harvard Business School. There’s always more to learn and three of us at BISB have been taking part in their leadership programmes.

3. If you could change one thing about Hungary, what would it be?
At the moment, I’d like to get rid of this pesky virus! More within our power to change, however, is the consumption of plastic.

It distresses me how many shelves and aisles in shops are taken up by bottled water and soft drinks. I am sure many people believe that it’s not a problem if the plastic is recycled, but much of it cannot be recycled, or isn’t recycled.

Budapest has some wonderfully responsible schemes around sustainable transport, for example, and it would be great to see similar effort being put into plastic waste.

4. Who inspires your life most these days?
My wife. Always.

5. What advice would you give to a new expat in Budapest?
Learn some Hungarian! It’s not essential, but I wish someone had been more insistent with me when I arrived.

6. What is your most treasured possession?
The Bremont watch that my wife gave me for my 60th birthday earlier this year. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering. And my hi-fi system and music collection. I’m a bit of a purist and have just imported and installed some Russian valves for the dedicated headphone amplifier that is driven direct from studio master files.

I have some great recordings of the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Iván Fischer performing Mahler’s symphonies. The performances and the sound bring tears to my eyes.

7. What's the best party you've been to in Hungary so far, and why?
You asked me this last time and I think I said I wasn’t a great party person. This time, I’ll break the mould and choose my own birthday party. Great friends travelled from England, Italy and Slovakia to join friends here in Budapest in a wonderful venue for an evening of music, silly quizzes and games. It is all the more special that this happened before we started to restrict travel and social gathering.

8. Best restaurant / bar / music venue in Budapest from your experience?
The best restaurant is home, by far. I love cooking when I get time, though I’m not great at it.

9. What's your favourite place in Hungary outside Budapest?
I’m really still discovering the country. There is so much to see and do that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Each new place becomes a new favourite.

10. Which question would you ask if you interviewed yourself?
“What three qualities do you admire most in a person, and why?” You can ask me this next time…

Related Link:
Xpat Interview 1: Richard Dyer, Principal, The British International School, Budapest

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