Last week I was in China, visiting both Wellington College International Tianjin and the British School of Beijing. As one would expect, both are highly impressive schools which serve growing expat communities.
Wellington opened in Tianjin in 2011 and currently has just over 400 pupils, growing year on year. During my visit, following a tour of the facilities, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with students, parents and staff. The students told me all about their time at the College, what they were studying and activities they participate in. It never fails to impress me when I speak with ‘third culture kids’, such as many of these are, how ‘awake’ to the world they have become, as a result of their experiences. These young people come across as confident, motivated, resilient and characterful. Many of them have lived in a range of countries, have a broad network of friends from different backgrounds, speak more than one language and have very clear ideas about their aspirations for the future.
The group of parents told me why they chose Wellington for their children. They clearly value that the College embraces a holistic, nurturing education, and seeks to develop its eight aptitudes in every pupil; moral and spiritual, cultural and physical, linguistic and logical, social and personal. To these parents, like others across the globe, the British Education system, coupled with the IB programme, are what they want for their children. They are highly respected curricula, using cutting-edge approaches to teaching and learning, resulting in globally recognised qualifications which give access to the world’s top universities and a very solid grounding for employment. Wellington parents have high expectations and are incredibly motivated and passionate about their children’s education.
At the British School of Beijing (BSB) Shunyi campus, a Nord Anglia Education school, I enjoyed meeting up with the Principal, Andy Puttock, who I was involved in appointing back in 2013. He leads an excellent school, vibrant and purposeful, with fabulous facilities, providing a British and international education to over 1,100 students from the local expatriate community. While Beijing is a highly competitive city for international schools, BSB sets itself apart not only as the longest established British school there, but also through the benefits it reaps from being part of a global family of 31 schools. Outstanding results are achieved through their High Performance Learning agenda; a belief that there are no limits to what a child can achieve. They approach education through a combination of guided learning, challenges and collaborative study in and outside the classroom.
China is a fascinating country and the expat staff I spoke with in both Tianjin and Beijing thoroughly enjoy living there.
While language is often a barrier, I was so impressed to see how the expat students were all getting to grips with learning Chinese, which will be a great asset for them in the future.
As one might imagine in a country of its immense size, there are no shortage of things to do, see and explore in China. Local people were very friendly, hospitable and helpful. The food was amazing – I think I’ve returned home about a stone heavier!