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Encouraging students to work to their strengths

Richard Todd’s role as Senior Teacher, Curriculum at ACG School Jakarta carries a wide and varied remit of responsibilities. This educational pathfinder not only inspires his senior Art classes and provides professional development opportunities for teacher assistants, but also works with the Academic Leadership Team to review policies and processes and oversee curriculum development.


Add to this Richard’s involvement in creating and guiding the school’s student-led radio station, the ACG Unplugged music initiative and the Café Society’s lunch time music performances and you have an educator whose leadership abilities, dedication and enthusiasm are unparalleled.

Richard has been teaching since “last century” and having gained a degree in Fine Art (Sculpture) in his native UK, he then taught in a London primary school from 1990 until 1994.

After teaching primary students in Kuwait and Beijing, Richard moved into secondary education, earning his master’s degree in International Education online at Oxford Brookes University in the UK along the way.

His subsequent career includes over 23 years’ experience working with the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge curriculums in China, during which time the expert educator continued to grow his skills, including roles as a workshop leader and examiner. Richard’s next step was to join the ACG School Jakarta team in the summer of 2019.

Believing the key to achievement lies within each individual rather than any given system, Richard feels it is incredibly important for both schools and teachers to focus on the specific needs of each student.

“There is no shortcut to this. You have to know the child, you have to gain their trust one way or another so that they can play, experiment, make mistakes, try again, try something new, persevere; success is more likely when students recognise that the teacher knows who they are. Academic study is incredibly important, but we need to help kids learn how to do things, real things, things that cannot be learned in a digital or book-based environment.

“One of the most crucial parts of my job is to help young people realise that there are many ways in which they can be creative and that they don’t need to be able to draw like da Vinci in order to achieve,” he continues.

“We can all find ways to express, to communicate and to contribute through creativity. How that manifests in a classroom is that you don’t see 20 versions of the same thing, you see 20 different ways of exploring 20 different things. So, get to know each child and help them by teaching both creative and critical approaches to exploring their skills and ideas.”

Richard considers ACG School Jakarta’s philosophy of encouraging students to work to their strengths is effectively complemented by the array of experiential learning opportunities on offer.

“We know that we have a creative student body, they have proved it with their actions by starting bands, bake sales, eco-warrior organisations and student lock-ins. All of these are signs that kids want to do things. So, we have plans in place to expand and improve the school with a number of incredible facilities including a recording studio and a brand-new Design Technology space,” he confirms.

“As ACG Jakarta continues to grow, we will introduce more course pathways that reflect our vision of becoming a school of entrepreneurial, innovative problem solvers and confident users of technology. We expect to see school developed courses in the Arts, Technology and more.”

Among his many managerial and support responsibilities at ACG Jakarta, this passionate Art teacher explains that the most rewarding aspect of his day is watching his students succeed.

“Success breeds success, so when a student sees they have achieved something, my biggest reward is to see what happens next, how is it capitalised on. When kids realise something, achieve something or complete something for the first time, that moment is priceless. Until the next one comes along.”