Westminster Academy is an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school specialising in International Business and Enterprise. Non-selective, it serves over 1,100 students aged 11-18 and offers GCSEs followed by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The Academy was one of the first schools to be created under the Department for Education’s Academies Programme in 2006, and draws its students from a local ward which is one of the most deprived wards in the country. It runs the IB as a reflection of its diverse and internationally-minded community.

Society worked in partnership with Westminster Academy to conduct a global search, looking for individuals who could bring a broad perspective across the IB DP and lead the Programme with real passion and creativity. Shortlisted candidates were based in the UK, Europe, Asia Pacific and Central and South America. Of particular importance to the Academy was cultural fit; we sought to identify individuals who could live and breathe the Academy’s mission to shape internationally minded, empathetic, curious and entrepreneurial young adults.

Hailing from Denmark, Catharina Gress-Wright studied the IBDP herself before embarking on a BA in English Language and Literature at Smith College in the US. After completing a Masters at the University of Oxford in 2012, she began her teaching career in the United States as part of the Teach for America programme, working with students from low income backgrounds to achieve their potential through education. After building her experience in this context, Catharina looked overseas and joined the International School of Dakar where she taught various subjects across the IB DP, including English. Most recently, she has been Grade 12 Team Leader, holding both academic and pastoral accountability for the IB DP graduating class.

On taking up her new post later this year, Catharina said: “I am excited to join Westminster Academy because it combines internationalism with devotion to the local community, ambition with compassion, and strong organization with the flexibility and fun that children sometimes need. The role of IB Diploma Coordinator will be a welcome challenge that, I hope, draws upon my strengths and passions: taking a vision and finding the best way to implement it in daily practice.”

She further added of her experience working with Society: “I enjoyed working with Society; my first experience with a recruiter, it was a smooth, friendly and well-organized experience. Thank you especially to Kerry for her patience, helpfulness, and professionalism as I took time to weigh my options. Thank you also to Dr Rana, Stephen, Penny, and Patrick at Westminster for their frankness, professionalism, and flexibility.”