Tackling Culture Clashes At London's International Community School
A community is at the heart of any good school or institution.
But how does a school whose 240 pupils have 60 different nationalities cross such a barrier?
Philip Hurd, head of the fee-paying International Community School in Central London, faces such a challenge.
Despite the seemingly obvious setbacks of having such a diverse school, Hurd insists establishing a sense of community is "not difficult", due to there being no single dominant nationality.
"It is something I work quite hard at," he tells The Huffington Post UK. "The situation does work in our favour; everybody is a stranger, everybody is a friend."
Not only is there an eclectic mix amongst the pupils - nationalities include Saudis, Americans, Brazilians and Russians - the teaching faculty boasts 25 nationalities too.
"We travel around the globe to recruit international teachers," Hurd says. "We're very proud of representing a little bit of a lot of the world."
The school offers a language programme all year round for those who arrive at the school unable to speak any English. "The children learn very quickly."
"Everyone has to speak to each other in English - it's really exciting to watch."
But Hurd adds it isn't always so easy. "The issue of different cultures is a longer journey than the language barrier. We have most Muslim nationalities represented here so there are some strong social differences."
"We have to be quite firm on some issues such as homosexuality and circumcision but we don't duck from them. The former is definitely our biggest challenge.
"I had a Russian boy making homophobic remarks on Facebook to his friends and so I made him write an essay about great Russian figures who were gay. That seemed to settle the issue."
The school, which prides itself on being the only international school in central London offering boarding, also holds workshops for parents to introduce them and educate them about Western culture.
"Parents do often want to be included in the education process. The key is working with them and knowing who you are. We say we are firmly Western and liberal and the parents are told this before they enrol their child.
"We tolerate everything except intolerance."
Hurd, who has been at the school for 21 years and head for 18 of them, says having so different nationalities "definitely works to our advantage".
"We have events where children can celebrate their culture; on International Day all the kids dress up in their national costume which is always great fun.
"I used to teach geography at the school and encouraged the children to talk about their own cultures - it was amazing."
The children are given ample opportunity to get to know other cultures: there are 18 school trips a year, one of which involved taking the pupils up the Amazon river.
But it's not all fun and games as the school, which takes pupils from 3 to 18, has adopted the International Baccalaureate curriculum and is one of just eight schools in the country that do all the Primary Years Programmes. Hurd says he sees most of its students progress to university, with the majority staying in Britain to study or going to America.
It seems the school, like others which have become known for their diversity, is more than willing to embrace this colourful education process.
"To have your education not only with people from all over the world but people who are so different from you, you are going to be able to navigate so many complexities and how to deal with those different from yourself in the future."