Stephen Codrington

educator, consultant,

geographer and author

Qualifications: B.A. (Hons), Dip.Ed., Ph.D.


Home - Sydney, Australia


Following a remarkable career over 25 years as the Head of five schools in four countries, Dr Stephen Codrington recently returned to his home country of Australia and has established a focussed consultancy in school board effectiveness called Optimal School Governance.  Stephen is thus helping school boards in all parts of the world to improve the effectiveness of their governance processes, strategies and operations.  See here for more details.

Stephen began his teaching career in 1977, and quickly advanced to the role of Departmental Chair of Geography at St Ignatius College, Riverview, a prestigious Jesuit boys’ school in Sydney, Australia.  During his 12 years at Riverview, he undertook a one year teaching exchange at Stonyhurst College, another Jesuit school (in Lancashire, UK).

Stephen began his first headship at the age of just 35 when he accepted the invitation to become Principal at St Paul's Grammar School in Penrith (Sydney, Australia), commencing in January 1989.  Stephen served at St Paul’s for eight  years before he moved  to New Zealand to take on the newly established role of Chief Executive at Kristin School in Auckland, New Zealand.  Stephen returned to Australia three years later in January 2000 to serve as Headmaster at Prince Alfred College, one of the two grand, old, well-established boys’ schools in Adelaide (Australia).  He worked in that role for five years before moving to Hong Kong to serve as Head of Li Po Chun United World College, a fully residential international school with students from over 80 countries where Stephen worked for seven years (from 2004 to 2011).

Stephen’s career as a Head of Schools arguably reached its peak when he worked as Head of The Awty International School in Houston, Texas, a complex school with more than 1500 students from about 60 countries, aged 3 to 18.  With two sections, three schools and dual strands leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the French Baccalauréat, Awty became both the largest international school in the US and the largest independent school in Houston during the period of Stephen’s leadership.

Details of Stephen’s achievements as an educational leader can be seen on his LinkedIn profile here.

Throughout his time as a Head of School, Stephen chose to continue working as a classroom teacher of Geography and Theory of Knowledge, thus establishing a reputation for having a detailed working knowledge of classroom teachers’ everyday needs, excellent relationships with students, an up-to-date understanding of curriculum and a deep appreciation of the diversity within international education.  In each of the schools where he has worked, Stephen has thus been instrumental in implementing effective, positive - and often difficult - reforms as a change manager.

Stephen is also the author of some 59 books, mainly textbooks for Geography. His book, Planet Geography, was recently expanded into a set of 10 books to support the International Baccalaureate IB Geography syllabus. Planet Geography was the first textbook written especially for IB Geography, and it is currently being used in 92 countries. Details of the book can be seen at http://www.planetgeographybooks.com.  Another recent book, Optimal School Governance, is a practical handbook for members of school boards on effective governance, and details can be seen at http://optimalschool.com/Core/The_Book.html.

Stephen’s academic background is Geography, and he is a former President of both the Geographical Society of New South Wales and the Geography Teachers' Association of New South Wales (twice). He is currently treasurer of the Geographical Society of New South Wales.  He has led several successful geographical study tours to such diverse destinations as China, Myanmar, Russia, Estonia, Uzbekistan, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Thailand and North Korea. In 2005, he led a delegation of the first foreign students ever to visit North Korea - the first of nine trips he has now undertaken to that little-known and isolated country. Stephen's work has now taken him to 139 countries (for details see here).  In 2014, he accepted a part-time role teaching Geography at the Australian Catholic University, specialising in the fields of Environmental Sustainability and the Human Geography of Globalisation.

He has been honored with election as a Fellow of the Australian College of Education, the Royal Geographical Society (UK), the International Biographical Association, and the Geographical Society of NSW, as well as being elected a Member of the Order of International Fellowship. He is a former Chairman of H.I.C.E.S. (Heads of Independent Co-educational Schools) and a former Vice-President of A.E.C.S. (the Association of Executives of Christian Schools).

He edited Geography Bulletin, the journal of the Geography Teachers' Association of New South Wales from 1980 to 1986.  He has been listed in Who’s Who in Australia every year since 2003.

Stephen has worked intensively in the area of best practice and change management in schools, and he has spoken widely on aspects of the subject in venues as diverse as Taipei, Geneva, Shanghai, Paris, Freiburg, Washington DC, Adelaide, Bangkok and Invercargill.

From 1996 to 2001 he served as Deputy Chief Examiner in Geography for the International Baccalaureate (I.B.), setting examination papers for the I.B. and assisting with curriculum development. During his terms as Deputy Chief Examiner, he led many teachers' workshops in places such as Melbourne, Guangzhou, Singapore, Brisbane, Auckland, Adelaide, Hong Kong and Mumbai.  In 2014, Stephen was appointed an IB Ambassador.

Stephen has a passionate interest in the geography, politics and culture of China. This interest has been expressed through his research and writings, and through some 80 visits there since 1982. From 1993 to 1995 he successfully negotiated to establish the first school in China since 1949 permitted to teach secondary students a course other than the government's national curriculum. This co-operative venture school (The Light of the World International School in Harbin) opened in March 1996, but sadly closed several years later.  His interest in China continues, and in 2012 he established a sister school relationship between The Awty International School in Houston and Datong High School in Shanghai.

Stephen has a strong commitment to excellence and internationalism in education. Echoing Aristotle, he believes “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”.  When working in Hong Kong, he established GCAT (the Global Concerns Action Team) in which he worked shoulder-to-shoulder with students to engage in many cutting edge service activities such as building the first toilets in a remote lepers’ village in the Himalayas and building three medical clinics in poor rural areas of Guizhou province, China.  He believes that students should be encouraged to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones in every area of their formation, and to go forth into the world as responsible, ethical and compassionate young men and women, committed to putting into practice the ideals of peace, internationalism, justice and excellence in all things.

An Australian by birth, Stephen was born on 27th July - the same date that is celebrated with fireworks and dancing every year in North Korea to mark signing of the Armistice to end the Korean War. The photo to the right shows him at a memorial to that great event (the armistice, not his birth!).

He is married to Dianne, and he has the best four children that any father could ever hope for!  He is also a proud grandfather six times over, an extraordinary achievement for someone who feels so young.

2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006
2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010
2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014
2015 - 2016 - 2017
Establishing The Light of the World International School in Harbin China, 1993-97LOTW.html
Image Galleries of the schools where I have served as Head (click the words or logo to see the gallery)My_Schools.htmlMy_Schools.htmlshapeimage_12_link_0
St Paul’s Grammar School
Sydney, Australia
1989 - 1997SPGS.html
Chief Executive
Kristin School
Auckland, New Zealand
1997 - 1999Kristin.html
Prince Alfred College
Adelaide, Australia
2000 - 2004PAC.html
Li Po Chun United World College
Hong Kong, China
2004 - 2011LPCUWC.html
The Awty International School
Houston, Texas, USA
2011 - 2013Awty.html
list of countries visitedNations_Visited.htmlshapeimage_22_link_0

Click HERE or on the image to the left to read Stephen’s ‘Members in Profile’ tribute on the Geographical Society of New South Wales website.