Meet the New Teachers at Dulwich College Shanghai

The Early Years Leader and Deputy Head

by Parents and Kids | Fri, November 03, 2017

Introducing Sarah Threlkeld, Early Years Leader (DUCKS) at Dulwich College Shanghai’s Puxi campus in Minhang and Mr. Neil Crossland, Deputy Head of Senior School, Dulwich College Shanghai.

Could you introduce yourself?

Sarah Threlkeld: My name is Sarah, I am 27 years old and I am the Early Years Leader & Reception teacher at Dulwich College’s Puxi campus in Minhang. I trained as an early years teacher in Liverpool, and after my teacher training I got my first job as a Nursery teacher at an outstanding state of the art Reggio school in the UK before making an exciting move to Asia. I was in Bangkok until two years ago, when I decided to move to Shanghai for my current role.

Sarah teacher

Neil Crossland: I joined Dulwich College Shanghai (DCS) as Deputy Head of Senior School in August 2017 after spending almost five years as a senior leader in a high performing school in Singapore, and 19 years in the UK state sector. The move to Shanghai was a family affair, with my wife becoming Head of Junior School PE and my two daughters joining Year 5 and 8 respectively. I discovered International Education relatively late in my career and what a blessing it is to be working with globally minded staff and students who enjoy the highest possible standards of education.

Neil Family

What inspired you to become a teacher?

ST: I come from a family of teachers and my mother is a Head Teacher at a school in the UK. When I was young, I went to see her in action at her school. Her enthusiasm and passion for teaching really sparked an interest and inspired me. I saw that teaching was an intense job but so rewarding. So, during my teacher training, I decided to specialize in working with children in the early years. I was always a fairly motivated teenager – I knew I wanted a career that challenged me and I saw how rewarding teaching could be when watching and listening to my Mum. She has been a great support to the development of my career and I truly thank her for showing me how fulfilling a career in teaching could be.

NC: I often like to think I had a profound calling to ‘give back’ to a community from which I gained so much as a child.


What is your role at Dulwich College Shanghai/ Dulwich College Shanghai Minhang?

ST: I lead the Early Years unit of the Dulwich Kindergarten (DUCKS) and am also a Reception Class teacher. To lead a successful teaching team means you have to put students first. My job is to make sure that my team and I give our youngest students exceptional, high quality learning experiences in both English and Chinese. When we put students first, we know what motivates them, what their interests are, what their needs are and what they are curious about, and our team works together using all of these elements to plan out a highly effective and engaging early year’s curriculum. The other very big part of my role is parent communication. I believe that successful education for a child is one that is supported with good communication and relationships. So, I spend a lot of time talking with parents, preparing workshops, and trying to support them in their roles too.

NC: The Deputy Head (Pastoral) role has a substantial brief and includes the leadership and management of student behaviour, attendance and welfare. One of the largest responsibilities is to lead Safeguarding across the College to ensure our students flourish in a secure, approachable, and friendly environment that protects and serves their best interests. Though somewhat traditional by definition, the Pastoral Deputy at Dulwich College Shanghai also has a key role in tracking the academic progress of each student. An expert team of academic and pastoral leaders ensure that the ‘whole child’ is educated – always mindful of each student’s social, emotional, and cognitive wellbeing.


Which part of your job do you most enjoy?

ST: I love seeing a child persist and succeed in something they have tried hard at. Witnessing this moment of genuine pride in their achievement gives me such a sense of triumph. I love sharing those moments with parents.

NC: Working with students in the classroom is still the most rewarding element of my job, though in my current leadership role it is inevitable that strategic planning, operational management and school administration supercede such experiences. I enjoy connecting with students and staff – on the playground; classroom; or staffroom – to support and sustain a positive school climate and culture. I get a great sense of satisfaction in doing the simple things well and seeing students grow in character and competence as a consequence.

Never stop learning

What attracted you to work at Dulwich College Shanghai’s Puxi campus in Minhang?

ST: The Dulwich network of schools has a very strong, prestigious reputation internationally. There are great benefits to working with educational leaders in their chosen fields so that even for teachers' learning never stops! The campus in Puxi is beautiful, I looked at the website and was blown away. The other thing that really attracted me to the role, was that it is a new campus so, whilst there is the Dulwich brand behind it, starting something new and creating a community from the beginning is something not every teacher gets to do in their career. It’s been a big challenge and it’s one that I continue to enjoy.

NC: I joined Dulwich College Shanghai from Singapore. The adventure of living in a fast moving, culturally stimulating, and iconic megalopolis, was the right move for my family and me. Added to this is the sense of tradition and security that working for the Dulwich College International network of schools offers. I have been staggered by the strategic ambition, incredible resourcing, and professional integrity of the staff who work for the organization. You know whether you are ‘right for Dulwich’ on completion of the recruitment process – what awaits is a unique professional experience that can not be understated.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

ST: Discovering and exploring! Whether it’s enjoying Shanghai life or visiting a different part of China to go trekking, urban and rural outdoor pursuits are high on my list of favorite things to do. And, no matter where I go, I will always take my Kindle or a book to read!

NC: I enjoy spending time with my family exploring Shanghai at weekends. As an ageing sportsman I still manage to visit the gym, though these days I’m more comfortable in the coffee shops and restaurants of the Jinqiao neighbourhood.