Leadership Spotlight: Katie Tomlinson

ISS Administrative Search was proud to lead the Head of Primary search for The British School Manila (BSM) in Manila, Philippines. Congratulations to Katie Tomlinson for accepting the position, beginning August 2022! She is currently the Head of International Primary at Sri KDU International School Malaysia.

Katie holds a BEd from Liverpool Hope University and a National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). She is a qualified and credentialed coach, as well as a primary and safeguarding specialist.

In this feature below, learn more about why she entered the world of education, what values have guided her career, and what she looks forward to bringing to The British School Manila community.

What drew you to pursue the world of education? And what drew you into international education specifically?

I became a teacher because I know that a great teacher, and a great school, can change the future of the world for a child; improving their life chances, raising aspirations, and helping them understand that anything is possible. My intent as an educator has always been to help children uncover their passion and potential, enabling them to become the best version of themselves. I strive to provide a range of experiences, widen horizons, and develop children holistically.

Through modern technologies, the world is becoming a smaller place and I feel that the role of educators in helping children to view themselves as global citizens is increasingly important.


Katie performing as part of the Primary Chinese Drum Squad

Where has your career taken you?

I have been a teacher since 1995 and a Headteacher for the past 15 years, undertaking Headships in 4 different settings. My current school is a member of the AIMS and FOBISIA Network and since 2018, I have been the Primary Chair of the AIMS (Association of International Malaysian School).

In 2019, I founded WomenEd Malaysia with 3 other Malaysian School Leaders. WomenEd is a global grassroots movement that connects aspiring and existing women leaders in education and gives women leaders a voice. Whilst working in the UK, I was a Network Leader for a Catholic School Cluster and was a Local Leader in Education for the National College for School Leadership, hosting placement for aspiring Headteachers and mentoring newly appointed Heads.

  The British School Manila campus

Congratulations on your new position at the British School Manila (BSM)! What excites you about being in this new role and school? What are your hopes?

My family and I cannot wait to join the wonderful community at the British School Manila and establish ourselves as part of this family community. We are looking forward to making our contributions to the community as well as meeting everyone in person and exploring all that BSM, Manila, and the Philippines has to offer.


Please tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can your new community expect?

As a school leader, I will always be first and foremost a teacher. My intent as an educator has always been to help students uncover their passion and realize their potential through a well-designed, relevant curriculum which provides a range of educational experiences and creates opportunities.

More than ever in today’s rapidly changing world, students need to develop a global conscience. As a leader, it is my intention to empower students to take action in all aspects of life, never believing that it will be someone else’s responsibility to make things happen.

As a leader of learning, the development of pedagogy and the ‘craft’ of teaching remains a consistent priority for me. I focus on identifying and nurturing the strengths of each and every member of my team, motivating and empowering them to succeed. I prioritize staff above all else in realizing that recruiting, retaining, training and motivating my staff will lead to exceptional outcomes for students. It is always my intention to lead with courage. As a leader, I accept the challenge of difficult conversations and decisions. As a courageous leader, I understand that in the midst of change there lies extraordinary opportunity for growth. The strength of a great leader is in their ability to adapt and demonstrate agility.


What is an interesting fact or story about you that you would like to share?

I used to be a member of the British Territorial Army and won the quickest gun clean challenge! This was many years ago (25!) and there is no way I would win now but as a young female pitched against many males, I was pleased to have won this at the time!

Katie has enjoyed exploring Malaysia through hiking

And finally, what was your experience with ISS Administrative Search like?

There was exceptional attention to detail, in terms of probing questions linked to the school’s individual wants and needs for the post. Pauline knew my profile and CV very well before she spoke to me and did not waste any time asking me things I had already written – although she did explore many parts of my application further. Pauline created rapport in the first interview which relaxed me and and helped me give the best version of myself without nerves getting in the way. I felt Pauline was very invested in finding the right candidate for the job throughout this process.

Many thanks to Katie for sharing her journey! We’re wishing her well as she finishes this chapter at in Malaysia, and look forward to seeing her and her family thrive next school year in Manila. You can follow Katie on Linkedin.

If you’re interested in pursuing a school leadership position, please check out our current leadership searches or get in touch with the ISS Administrative Search Team.