From Istanbul to Lytham
Inspired by its strong academic ambitions, excellence in sport and arts, and a focus on individual children’s needs, Amanda Ilhan is delighted to be the new head of AKS Junior School in Lytham, writes Kate Ford
From her office at AKS, Amanda can see the sand dunes which separate the Fylde Coast beaches from the town of Lytham St Annes. The building’s picturesque coastal setting, between Preston and Blackpool, is a far cry from Amanda’s previous location, as headteacher of the British International School in Istanbul.
“It was an incredible experience, living in a such a multi-cultural city,” says Amanda, “and being involved in an international school, which welcomed children from the world over.”
Whilst in Istanbul, Amanda became closely involved with the Council of International Schools (CIS). In her advisory role, she travelled the world looking at best practice in international schools across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
“Thanks to CIS, I’ve been fortunate to learn from some of the world’s most successful schools,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if children are at school in Jordan, Kazakhstan or Lytham St Annes, our task is the same, to keep improving the school, to develop effective leadership and to make sure we always do the very best for the children.”
Now, all Amanda’s experience and knowledge is being fed into the already thriving community of AKS Junior School, where she became head in January. Several opportunities came her way, but it was the Lytham-based school which struck a chord.
“I like the continuity that AKS provides, that seamless transition from nursery through to sixth form, enabling children to benefit from all the school has to offer at every stage of their development. It’s a wonderful environment for nurturing and encouraging them to be the best they can.”
Since starting, as well as getting to know the children and their families, Amanda has been scrutinising the school’s academic curriculum and reviewing teaching practices. She was particularly taken by the school’s mission statement which is founded on three core principles: academic ambition, individual pathways for the children and a belief in success and value.
“I’m extremely encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. The school has a strong academic focus, with excellent teachers who identify individual needs and strengths, but it’s also a caring school, which encourages children to support each other.”
“That’s what we mean by success and value. We want children to grow into successful adults but also into people of value, who contribute positively to the communities around them.”
This team ethos is further developed through sport, performing arts and music, all enthusiastically encouraged by the school. AKS teams excel in rugby, hockey, athletics and cricket, whilst their musical and theatre productions draw large, appreciative audiences from the local area.
And that same area offers benefits too. As Amanda says: “This fabulous coastal location, so easily accessible from many parts of Lancashire, provides many opportunities for outdoor learning and environmental study. The future is very exciting.”
Clifton Drive South
Lytham St Annes FY8 1DT