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What makes our Primary special?

03 May 2018

All headteachers will tell you that their primary school is special and I am no exception! Built on the traditions and values of The Wellington College, England, our new primary and junior high school – Huili – will educate academically and develop the personal character of local children in order for them to be global leaders in the twenty-first century. At Huili we value Chinese customs and traditions as highly as western ones. We are truly building a bilingual learning environment.

Of course, our children will be high academic achievers, but we also passionately believe in developing the whole child so each individual can reach their full potential. At Huili we want all our students to excel in sports, the arts and music, alongside academic excellence. We believe that those children who develop skills and interests in such areas become more rounded individuals and therefore more able to succeed academically and contribute to society in general. Our co-curricular activities programme is designed to assist with this personal growth. Children are encouraged to try new activities and to learn new skills, often in areas outside their own comfort zones, but always undertaken in a supportive and emotionally safe way.

Huili will be a unique and special school with our bespoke bilingual curriculum model. We take the best of the Chinese education model and fuse it with the best from England. Our students will be as good as the best Shanghai students in their Chinese studies and as good as the best international student in English. Half our teaching will be in Chinese and half delivered in English. Half our teachers are Chinese with high levels of English proficiency and half western native English speakers. An example of this combination of curriculums/co-teaching would be in mathematics. We are following the Shanghai mathematics teaching model, (which is famous around the world and is being adopted in England), but adding aspects from the English curriculum such as critical inquiry and problem solving. Mathematics will be delivered in a mixture of both Chinese and English and using western style teaching approaches. Co-teachers will work closely together to ensure the highest outcomes. At Huili we believe we have employed the best teachers available. All are enjoying successful careers and will bring much experience to their roles at the school. The recruitment process has been very rigourous and will continue to be so next year when we expand our teaching staff. Both our Chinese and western staff have demonstrated their expertise and passion for the delivery of learning in a truly bilingual setting. Their commitment to high achievement is outstanding.

I am aware that even the parents of our youngest students are thinking about future options for university. With this in mind, we have designed our English curriculum to ensure our students will be fluent and able to access IGCSEs, in English, during Grade 9 before moving on to taking either A Levels or the IB in English. These two exams are recognised for entry into western universities around the world. Our curriculum is robust and demanding, so we have employed highly experienced and successful teachers from around the globe to ensure its delivery. In English we focus on reading and writing, but we put special emphasis on speaking and listening as this is an area many of our students find difficult. There are lots of opportunities for children to talk and share ideas in lessons, as well as more formal performances of the spoken word. Underpinning all is the development of critical analysis, discussion and reasoning. Our superb, new state-of-the-art facilities and resources mean that sports, PE and the arts are extremely well supported. As I mentioned earlier, these areas are highly valued at Huili. For example, our own swimming pool will be well used and will ensure our students are all competent swimmers and our all-weather running track will help develop athletic skills. We have superbly equipped art and music facilities, with specialist teachers in all these areas.

We also have well equipped science labs, ICT rooms and design and technology workshops in order that our children have every opportunity to excel. In addition, as part of the Wellington family here in Shanghai, we have access to the facilities and support of colleagues from our sister International school. The pastoral care of our students is very important to us. We have the usual clinic and counsellor provision available, but we are also adopting the British house system. A house is very much like a family within the school. When joining Huili, every child will also join a house. Here the children from all grades will enjoy making new friends, taking part in whole school competitions and activities, develop leadership skills and receive additional pastoral care. Although the full house system doesn’t start until junior high school (grade 6), it still plays an important role in the primary years.

I believe that our unique approach to bilingual learning, Huili values where the child is at the centre of all we do, devoted experienced staff and superb facilities really do make us something special.