Head of School / CEO at Taipei European School in Taiwan
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Head of School / CEO
Taipei European School (Taiwan)

Appointed - Mr. John Nixon
Nov 15, 2021
Dec 10, 2021


Following a long and thorough global search, and on behalf of the Board of Directors of Taipei European School (TES), Taiwan, Search Associates is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr John Nixon MBE to be the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the school, starting in August 2022.

One unusual feature of the appointment is that John will be taking up the same role of CEO in which he previously served TES with distinction between 2000 and 2009.       The Chairman of the Board, Dr Chen, wrote as follows in his announcement to the school community:

“John’s name will sound familiar to many at TES but perhaps not to the newer members of our community.     He was our first CEO, serving from 2000 to 2009.     Before he left Taiwan, then President Ma Ying Jeou awarded him the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Purple Cordon, for promoting Taiwanese and European cultures and integrating the British, German and French schools in Taiwan.     We were lucky to have John once, and we’re incredibly lucky to have him for a second time”.

After leaving Taipei in 2009 John served for two years as Principal of Sha Tin College, Hong Kong, and then for 10 years as Director of The British School, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.      Earlier in his career he taught in the UK for 10 years before moving to Doha College, Qatar, serving first as Head of Geography and subsequently for 9 years as Vice Principal.

John is a British citizen, who in 1978 earned his BSc degree in General Science, with Distinction, from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and in 1997 his MA degree in Education Studies (Leadership and Management), also with Distinction, from Loughborough University.    Besides the award he received in 2009 from the President of Taiwan, he was in the same year made an Honorary Citizen of Taipei by the Mayor of the city.     John was also awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year honours list of 2007 “for services to education in Taiwan”, and in 2008 was similarly recognised by President Sarkozy of France in receiving the award of Chevalier in the National Order of Merit.

John and his wife Luiza are delighted to be returning to Taipei, where they lived so happily before, and to have this further opportunity to contribute to the development and success of TES.

Search Associates would like to thank everyone who contributed to the achievement of this successful outcome, as well as all the candidates who applied for the position.




from August 2022

Taipei European School (TES) is seeking a new Head of School/CEO, from August 2022, 

to succeed David Gatley.


David Cope and George Entwistle of Search Associates are assisting TES by leading the search.



The mission of Taipei European School (TES, https://www.tes.tp.edu.tw/) is to provide educational excellence, with European culture and values, within the context of Taiwan and local culture.

Located in the Republic of China (Taiwan), TES is fortunate to be offering our students quality international education while being immersed in the authentic and dynamic Chinese language and culture setting.

The school has attracted regional and worldwide attention with its unique model for integrating British, French, German and British High School sections in terms of their curricula, administration, finance, buildings and facilities. Taipei British School, Ecole Francaise de Taipei and Deutsche Schule Taipei began around 1990 in response to the needs of expatriate families living in Taipei. The schools soon realised that there was much to be gained by joining forces to establish a combined European campus, and moved on to a shared campus in 1992. TES is now a single legal entity operating through a non-profit Foundation and comprising the original British, French and German school sections plus a High School established in 2002.

TES has grown steadily since its establishment and now has 1800 students of some 50 nationalities. TES operates on two campuses with well-appointed, modern facilities and has a total staff of around 400.

Teaching staff from TES come predominantly from the UK, France and Germany with smaller numbers from other European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. Taiwanese staff are employed in a variety of positions across school. Class sizes are maximum of 24 in British Sections with smaller classes across the British High School and in the French and German Sections. 

TES is well supported by the various foreign institutes as well as the international chambers of commerce and foreign businesses in Taipei.


School governance

As a school combining three different curricula plus a High School, TES has in place a professional, integrated organisational structure providing efficient leadership and management. The executive body of the TES is governed by the Board of Directors (Foundation), which consists of 9 members. These 9 voting members are volunteers who are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the school.

The CEO is hired, supported and evaluated by the Board. While the Board sets the overall strategic direction and mission of the school, it delegates the accomplishment of that direction and mission to the CEO. 

The CEO is the Executive Principal of the school but delegates significant responsibility to the respective Heads. The Head of each Section reports to the CEO. The CEO is also supported by the leadership team, covering the sections and the different administrative functions of the school. 


The core values

Through world-class curricula, Taipei European School cultivates lifelong learners and responsible global citizens who are ready to rise to the challenges of the future.    We nurture independence, embrace diversity and encourage all to “do well by doing good”.     We embrace holistic education programmes that value academic accomplishment while prioritising the social and emotional well-being of each learner.

The school expects that we as a community

  • Strive for excellence in all that we do
  • Encourage the development of the whole person
  • Sustain a strong ethos that emphasises students’ welfare and their personal, social and emotional development
  • Encourage students to pursue their natural curiosity thereby developing enquiring and challenging minds and enhancing their critical thinking and preparation for life-long learning
  • Promote good citizenship through a concern and compassion for social, global and environmental issues
  • Respect and celebrate the multicultural environment of our school which enriches our community and our learning
  • Develop the potential of each member of our school community
  • Maintain a strong partnership between our school, parents and the community.

The curricula

The British, French and German sections follow their respective national curricula up to the age of around 14 years. The British section broadly follows the English National Curriculum from Early Years through to Key Stage 3. The curriculum of the French section is based on the Programme du Ministère de L'Education Nationale Français, and students may enter for the Brevet des Collèges in class 3eme. The German section follows the curriculum of the state of Thüringen.

Considerable work has been undertaken in recent years to streamline the Vertical and Horizontal alignment of the curriculum across Primary and Secondary as well as across the sections.

Currently, there are progressively arranged joint classes in subjects such as Chinese Language and Culture, Physical Education, Music and Art, as well as coordinated breaks, lunch times and extra-curricular activities. The result is that the students are leading the way in demonstrating how friendships and co-operation can flourish across different nationalities and language groups. 

From 14 to 18 years of age, the students enter the High School Section, which offers two distinct two-year programmes, taught mainly in English, but with some French and German curricular units. Students from the age of 14 to 16 follow a number of IGCSE core and optional subjects, culminating in examinations at the end of the second year. The 16 to 18-year-olds undertake the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme or the French Baccalauréat, largely as a preparation for university or college entrance. There is also the possibility for our French section students to take the French national exams (the Brevet). 

Upcoming changes

The school is currently undergoing a construction project to relocate our Middle School to a brand-new building expected to be completed in 2024, as well as an ongoing renovation project to bring new built-for-purpose facilities to our upper secondary campus. The relocation of the Middle School and the redevelopment of the Upper Secondary Campus will bring opportunities for a visionary leader to join the transformation of the school. The Middle School will transition to the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) over a period of five years to gradually replace the UK Key Stage 3 and IGCSE.  The existing IBDP programmes will be enriched with opportunities made available with the additional learning space for purpose-built facilities development.

School objectives

TES's vision is to be a flourishing, multilingual and multicultural community of lifelong learners that embraces independence, curiosity and empathy to make a positive difference in local, national and global environments. We aim to be the school of choice for parents, students and staff who are looking for excellent accredited education programmes delivered in a variety of languages and who want to join an active and caring community. 

TES is one of a kind, being the first school to have French, German and British curricula running in parallel and intertwining. Situated in Taiwan, TES is blessed to be immersed in the traditional Chinese language and cultural environment. The combination allows students to experience and embrace a truly diverse culture and history from around the world, supporting the development of global citizenship. TES is a model for the future, and a great representation of the importance of common values and collaboration in a diverse international world. The school has a strong and inclusive programme of support for children with diverse needs. 

TES's student numbers have been growing year-on-year, but have now reached 1,800 and effectively the school is now at capacity. In 2011 TES received full accreditation from two of the world's leading accreditation bodies – the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). 

The campuses

TES operates on two campuses.  Swire European Primary Campus in Shilin offers convenient first-class learning spaces for the younger students. The Secondary campus is located in YangMing Shan national park and offers spectacular views of the city as well as first-class learning spaces. The Primary Campus and Secondary Campus are designed with the age group's most appropriate learning environment in mind.

Primary Campus

Housing Nursery through to upper Primary, the school is split into zones with classrooms and other learning spaces for the needs of each age group. Separate playgrounds for Nursery, Infant, and Primary ensure the children are happy and engaged. Classroom learning spaces are large and we can create spaces where the children feel comfortable to learn.  Teachers are able to adjust the space to fit different learning goals. A sports field offers the space and facilities to support PE classes and Sport opportunities after school as well as play space at break times. 



Secondary Campus

The campus has 3 buildings which offer fit-for-purpose learning areas. With the new building completed in 2020 offering 2 underground gymnasiums, a weights room, a dance studio, as well as highly advanced classroom spaces where technology is utilised for best practice teaching. There is also a Sports Centre located close by, ensuring football pitch space, tennis courts are available for PE lessons.

  Culture and community

As the only school in Taiwan offering a British, French and German national curriculum option, we are the natural choice for a more diverse background of parents and students. Our international community is truly diverse with over 50 nationalities represented.  While our school culture reflects the influences of our European heritages, British, French and German, we recognise all cultures.  We have strong connections to the context of our host country, Taiwan, and take every opportunity to draw upon the host country in our educational programmes. 


Taiwan is a semi-tropical island in East Asia, one of the world’s most exciting and rapidly changing regions.    The main island, known historically as Formosa, makes up 99% of the area controlled by the ROC, along with a number of small islands in the Taiwan Strait including the Penghu archipelago, the Kinmen and Matsu Islands.

Taiwan’s friendliness, clean air, safety, health care system and overall quality of life have helped put it above the likes of the USA, Australia, and Hong Kong as one of the best places in the world for expats to live. The people of Taiwan are extremely friendly, helpful and interested in foreigners. The expatriate population is smaller than in some other Asian cities, but the community is close-knit and welcoming to newcomers.

Taipei is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of Taiwan. Taipei is a developed, vibrant city of around three million people. Described by the International Herald Tribune as the "world's most underrated capital city", it is not especially large by Asian standards and rather less congested and less polluted than most other Asian cities. The city offers many opportunities for recreation, both sporting and cultural. It boasts many theatres, nightclubs, concert halls, museums, and temples, and it is therefore easy for people to enjoy an active social life. Taipei’s eateries, ranging from street stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants are a real culinary treat for foodies.  The mountains surrounding the city offer a quick and scenic get-away, and the rest of Taiwan and its surrounding islands are well worth exploring. Taiwan is also well situated for excursions to other attractive locations in South East Asia, such as Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.


The position

Taipei European School (TES) is seeking a visionary professional to be the CEO to provide academic and strategic leadership and to lead the school in the next exciting phase of TES development.

This is an exceptional opportunity to be part of the ongoing transformation process of one of the best international schools in Asia. The relocation of the Middle School and the redevelopment of the Upper Secondary Campus will bring opportunities for the new leader to join this exciting transformation of the school. The Secondary School will transition to the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and gradually replace the UK Key Stage 3 and IGCSE.  The existing IBDP programmes will be enriched with opportunities made available with the additional learning space and purpose-built facilities development.

Reporting to the Board and working closely with the other key stakeholders, the successful candidate will inspire and motivate the team to cultivate a learning environment that continues to live the TES vision: to be a flourishing, multilingual and multicultural community of lifelong learners that embraces independence, curiosity and empathy to make a positive difference in local, national and global environments.

The CEO is responsible for delivering and leading the school’s vision and strategy; for managing its people and culture; and for improving organisational performance, sustainability and compliance. This will be achieved by building key external and internal relationships that secure success and ensure the highest standards of learning and personal development for the students and teachers.

The purpose

First and foremost, the CEO embodies the mission, vision and values of Taipei European School, articulating these for all aspects of the operations of the school. The CEO is the pedagogical and organisational leader of the school and is responsible to the Board for all aspects of the school’s day-to-day operations. The CEO is responsible for ensuring core values are adhered to, school policy is followed and accreditation standards are maintained in all sectional operations. The CEO also leads and chairs the TES Leadership Team, which consists of the four Section Heads and the four administrative Directors.

The CEO is also the ultimate leader for both TES campuses, including both the primary and secondary campuses. Being the chairperson of the Leadership Team comprising the three language streams, it is the CEO’s role to ensure unity of purpose and equity across the school through regular meetings of the sections on the campus. The purpose of the meetings is to arrive at joint decisions about using resources, sharing knowledge and expertise and ensuring that Taipei European School benefits from the cooperation of the three language streams.  The CEO will also lead and line-manage the Primary Campus Manager and the Secondary Campus Manager to ensure best delivery of the cross-sectional programmes and resources in operation. These currently include, but are not limited to educational support services (Technology, Library, Nurses, Co-curricular activities (CCA), Chinese Programme). 


Leadership responsibilities

As the pedagogical and organisational leader of the school, reporting to the Board and working with the members of the Leadership Team, the CEO has the responsibility for the quality of the educational programmes and the professional practice of its personnel, including but not limited to:

Teaching and Learning

  • Leading the Curriculum Teaching Learning across the school based on the school's core mission, values and strategic plans
  • Shaping a vision of academic success to create, maintain and develop the conditions which enable students and teachers to flourish
  • Fostering a TES-wide ethos that upholds the highest standards of professionalism and diligence as an effective means of maintaining compliance with statutory legislation and guidance
  • Ensuring that the school meets all legislative and statutory requirements, including safeguarding, as well as those of the designated accreditation institutions
  • Maintaining a highly positive relationship between parents and other stakeholders
  • Cultivating a learning environment in which students are positively challenged to learn and flourish and to reach their full potential.

Teamwork and Leadership

  • Being a role model for students and teachers
  • Upholding good governance and ethical behaviour through leadership and by example
  • Recruiting high-quality teachers and learning support personnel
  • Leading the respective Leadership Team to ensure adequate and efficient deployment of staff and resources through effective strategic planning and collaboration
  • Ensuring continuous professional developments for the staff to share with them the responsibilities and accountability for maintaining a high-quality learning environment
  • Ensuring a comprehensive succession plan for key positions to ensure continuity of the learning programmes
  • Overseeing the performance management practices ensuring consistency and fairness; driving a high-performance culture across the school.


  • Ensuring relevant budgets are planned and managed in accordance with the school’s ethos and policies
  • Liaising closely with the Leadership Team to align practices under the “One School Principle”
  • Working closely with the key stakeholders on the school’s strategic teaching and learning facilities development projects
  • Effectively relaying information regarding the work of the executive team and the day-to-day operation to the Line Manager, ensuring important information is passed on and understood.


The CEO will be responsible for managing all members of the Leadership Team. This will be done within the parameters described above.

Major Responsibilities

  •  Lead effective discussion with key stakeholders to set strategic plans and to harmonise the differences in policies, processes and programmes across sections and follow up through professional recommendation, collaboration and strong execution.
  •  Lead and provide guidance in the curriculum teaching learning decision making process across TES based on the school’s core mission, value and strategic plans.
  •  Lead and manage the school’s campus development project, in accordance with the TES strategic plan.
  •  Ensure continuous professional development and a comprehensive succession plan for all the leadership team members.
  •  Oversee and improve performance management practices to ensure consistency and fairness and to drive a high-performance culture across the school.
  •  Oversee and ensure the effectiveness of all TES’ policies and procedure, ensuring effective communication and confidentiality is maintained where appropriate.
  •  Effectively relay information regarding the work of the leadership team and the day-to-day operation to the board, ensuring important information is passed on and understood.
  •  As the leader of TES, keep up to date with developments and news in the education sector through attending meetings and conferences, and receiving regular updates from relevant information sources.
  •  Foster a TES-wide ethos that upholds the highest standards of professionalism and diligence as an effective means of maintaining compliance with statutory legislation and guidance.
  •  Promote and safeguard the welfare of all students within the school. Ensure that the school meets all legislative and statutory requirements, as well as those of the designated accreditation institutions.
  •  Uphold high governance standards and ethical behavior through leadership and example, including best professional practices and implementing sound business control systems.
  •  Act as an ambassador, build positive relationships with external worldwide communities and ensure TES has a place of prominence on the Asia Pacific and World educational stage.
  •  Ensure that professional development opportunities for staff are linked to individual and school needs through positive performance management and in line with the school development plan
  •  Build high-performing teams through inclusion of staff that are able to inspire, motivate and develop sustainable relationships with members of the school community
  •  Liaise with administrative departments to ensure efficient administrative management of the school.




Qualifications and experience

  • A professional teaching qualification and higher-level degree(s)
  • Evidence of training and qualifications in school leadership and management
  • 20+ years of experience in a complex international school setting, including significant experience of senior leadership (10+ years), ideally in an international school environment
  • Successful track record in delivering organisational change initiatives in international schools
  • Knowledge of international curricula, their delivery, and assessment (International Baccalaureate preferred)
  • An understanding of the budgetary process and financial management within a school
  • Understanding of the principles of organisational culture and behaviour
  • Ability to build, lead and motivate a team of high-quality staff and work with a team of international colleagues from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • Knowledge of instructional supervision and evaluation
  • Awareness of the current issues and trends in education
  • Experience of successfully leading in an accredited school and maintaining the required standards.
  • Experience of managing delegated organisational budgets.
  • Track record of successfully engaging with others in a diverse community, building positive and productive working relationships.
  • Knowledge of safeguarding procedures and experience of dealing with these issues.

Personal attributes and characteristics

TES is seeking a strong CEO to manage and, more importantly, lead the school through energy, influence and diplomacy.  The successful candidate will have strong leadership, strategic planning, decision making and change management skills, and seasoned communication and interpersonal skills, to enable effective working relationships with a diverse group of key stakeholders. The candidate must also be able to respect and celebrate the diverse environment of our school, understand the essence of both the international and local cultures and live these by role modelling.

The successful candidate will have a high degree of personal and professional integrity. Enthusiasm for taking on a leadership role in a fast-paced, growing, changing school environment is a must, and she/he should also demonstrate a flair for attracting, retaining and developing talents.


The school will offer a highly competitive package reflecting the successful candidate’s qualifications and experience.  It will comprise an attractive salary and a range of other benefits.    Full details of the package will be shared with short-listed candidates.


TES and Search Associates are keen to attract suitably qualified applicants

from diverse backgrounds, particularly candidates whose gender, race, nationality or identity

is currently under-represented in international school leadership.


Suitably qualified candidates should send their application as an email attachment to


David Cope of Search Associates


including all the items below, collated together in a single pdf,

to arrive as soon as possible, and no later than December 10, 2021:

  • a letter of application (no more than one page), briefly outlining why the candidate wishes to apply for this position and what specific skills, qualities and experience she/he can offer
  • a CV/résumé (no more than two pages)
  • a short statement of educational and leadership philosophy (no more than one page)
  • the names and full contact details of at least three professional referees (one of which should if possible be the leader of the applicant’s current organisation)

It is expected that interviews will take place in December 2021 and January 2022.   However, TES reserves the right to invite selected candidates to interviews in advance of this schedule.

Final closing date:     December 10, 2021

All applications to: dcope@searchassociates.com

Did You Know…?

Search Associates has over 15 Senior Associates with offices around the globe, each bringing a wealth of experience in international education.