Barnaby Sandow, Head of ACS Cobham

Barnaby Sandow

Head of School, ACS Cobham

At fourteen years of age stood up to his waist in the freezing cold Irish Sea, Barnaby first realised that teaching young people provided him with a clear sense of purpose that he had not found elsewhere. He went on from school summer holidays as a sailing instructor to read engineering at Durham before doing a PGCE at Exeter. As a Physics teacher at Abingdon and Stowe Schools he specialised in bringing the real world vibrantly to life in the classroom. At the same time, he relished taking students into the outdoors to challenge themselves on sports fields and over unfamiliar, wild terrain.

A student from one of his classes inspired him to move to tropical South East Asia where his pathway to leadership took shape. In this fast growing habitat he demonstrated the logistical acumen to oversee benchmarked school improvement programmes which were underpinned by the National Professional Qualification for Headship. His school became the first institution to achieve the highest possible rating in every section of British Schools Overseas Inspection process.

He regards leading the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme as a turning point pedagogically and has seized the opportunity to learn from others as an accreditor with COBIS, ISI and BSO. His experience as a board member of the pan asian schools’ federation FOBISIA further embedded critical importance of diversity and intercultural understanding in his own value set. This led him directly to the varied, inspirational and thoroughly international community at ACS Cobham. 

At the end of each school year, you will still find him stood up to his waist in the chilly Irish Sea, teaching seven year olds to splash, laugh and sail.