From 20-23 October, Wellington College China held its third annual Festival of Education, which promised to outdo even
the great success of previous years. With more than 40 education expert speakers delivering over 90 diverse speeches and
workshops across the four-day event hosted in three different cities – Shanghai, Hangzhou and Tianjin – everyone agreed
that this year’s event lived up to that promise.
The Wellington College China Festival of Education has its origins in the founding school’s festival in England, which
has run for seven years and is recognised as a benchmark international educational event. For the past three years, the
festival has taken place in China as well, where it has enjoyed similar success in attracting thousands of participants
to discuss the most relevant and important questions facing modern education. The festival director and head of culture
for Wellington College International Shanghai, said: “The Festival of Education represents a continued commitment to
thinking about, exploring, and encouraging debate about what education is and where it might be headed. More than ever,
teaching and learning must be dynamic and keep up with the demands and challenges of a fast-shifting world.”
Exploring education together
This year’s festival focused on four core themes: Early Years Education, Wellbeing (stress, body image, and mental
health), the evolving relationship between Chinese and British education, and “Exploring Education”, which challenges
accepted teaching practices with the aim of encouraging continual experimentation and improvement.
A growing strength of the festival is its ability to get all participants actively talking about what works in current
education and what doesn’t, rather than just letting them simply sit back and passively absorb the presentations and
keynote speeches. At all times, attendees were encouraged to consider how education can be made better: to connect,
debate, celebrate, explore and learn.
International speakers from across the world led in-depth explorations of all four themes using different ways of
encouraging audience participation. From Q&A sessions, to attendees enjoying some spirited dancing as part of
Shonette Bason’s “Permission to be Happy” talk and singing in the early years music workshop, festivalgoers were a more
involved in the discussion this year than ever before.
One teacher remarked: “Plenty of parents and even some sixth formers seemed eager to contribute their thoughts and
opinions in each of the sessions. This is highly encouraging as it ensures that all stakeholders’ views are properly
represented in the discussion, rather than simply leaving educators to continue it in isolation.”
The debate continued on Saturday in the Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai, where a series of dedicated bilingual
workshops presented an ideal chance for Chinese parents and educators to contribute alongside those of international
backgrounds. Given that two of the core themes of this year’s festival were to explore early years education and the
relationship between British and Chinese education systems, these sessions were both highly relevant and extremely
popular with the wider community.
Continually pushing the boundaries of progressive, holistic education
The Wellington College China Festival of Education is all about developing new and improved theories and practices for
schools. It’s also a great opportunity for parents and pupils to have their say in how education should be delivered.
It’s vital that these opinions are heard and discussed, so educators can see more clearly what they are getting right
and where they may be going wrong. With this in mind, the festival organisers were thrilled that so many Wellington
parents and sixth form pupils chose to attend this year’s event.
The organisers of the festival would like to express their sincere thanks to all the speakers and attendees for their
contributions to the critical debate regarding modern education. This also goes for the sponsors and exhibitors who gave
their full support to the festival: it would not have been such a great success without your much-appreciated efforts.
While plenty of fresh perspectives and ideas were shared throughout the course of the festival, the evolution of
education is a constant process that is always being revised, reviewed and renewed. The debate will continue in April