In 1992, Bangkok Patana School celebrated its 35thanniversary with the decision to go ahead with the development of the Secondary School. Peter Latham was recruited as the very first Head of the Secondary School and joined the team of people who were leading the development of the Secondary School. He served as Secondary Head until 1996.
The Secondary School buildings were officially opened in 1993, but Peter still had a lot of work to do. In May and June of 1995, we had the first IGCSE examinations at Bangkok Patana School and a few months later, the school got official approval to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB). The decision to adopt the IB was very much a vision pushed by Peter Latham.
When Peter began working at Bangkok Patana, he was joined by his wife, Penny who taught in Primary School (or First School as it was known then) and later took on a curriculum development role for Mathematics. They were accompanied by their young son Thomas (Tom) who joined the school as a Year 1 student.
With this history in mind, it was a pleasure to welcome the Lathams back to Bangkok Patana School early in Term 2. “As I was leaving Patana in Summer 1998, I wrote my last article for the termly Patana Magazineand spoke of my first and final encounters in Thailand. I said something like the return would feel ‘like living in someone else’s dream’ and that feeling came back to me this time,” said Peter.
Peter and Penny said their favourite memories of the school are mostly of people – the Thai staff, Khun Bee, Khun Tossaporn, the teachers and parents – some of whom are still here. “My most powerful memories are of the uncleared site which became the High School within a year and of pretending to understand all the designs, including the ones presented to me on my first morning in Bangkok, jet lagged and culturally shocked, by Laura Stamp and other members of the Board; of the second year when we were able to employ the first group of really high quality specialist staff who raised everybody’s expectations of what was possible; of the high school drama productions which I also worked on as a labour of love – from Hiawatha to Macbeth,” said Peter. Tom said his favourite memories were of the friendly culture of the school and the many friends he made.
Life after Bangkok Patana
In 1996, the Latham family returned to the UK. Penny returned to teaching, publishing and lecturing on mathematics education. She has spent much of her time in the past ten years teach teachers by directly modelling practice in their classrooms and developing planning with them. She works in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Lewisham, which are all ethnically diverse and often socially challenging areas. Peter worked as a senior inspector/school improvement officer in London boroughs, Croydon and then for 12 y ears in Kingston-upon-Thames. He retired in 2010, but continues to work with a small number of schools, at Kingston’s request. He also sits as the chair of governors of the local secondary school, The Beacon. Tom, now 27, graduated with a degree in History and Journalism and then went on to gain a Masters in American Studies from University of London. He works currently in the centre of London for Mediacom as a Broadcast Planner and Buyer.
“In our leisure time, we like to travel, to Europe mainly. We also go to lots of theatre in London and further afield. We read a lot, (no longer having to rely on Asia Books as we did in the early days in Bangkok),” said Peter. Tom is an avid football and tennis player and fan.
What advice would you give the Class of 2015?
Advice to the graduating class is a bit tricky since I don’t know them – although I have vivid memories of the first graduating group whom I left in ’98 the year before they finished at Bangkok Patana. In general, my advice would be to value relationships as well as academic success and creative opportunities,” said Peter. Tom added, “Be flexible in your early career choices to build your experience.”