Establishing the house system was an integral part of Huili’s opening year, as pupils were introduced to a new and exciting element of their daily school lives.As we begin our second academic year, the four teachers chosen to be housemasters of Hui, Xian, Li and De, Mr Wright, Mr Stekelis, Ms Yarahmadi and Mr Curd respectively, are aiming to further enhance the house system and ensure that each house provides its members with a deep sense of pride, identity and belonging.Why did you want to become a Huili housemaster?Daniel: For me, it is quite simply a case of wanting to be more directly involved with the pupils’ education journey. Being a housemaster allows you to get a much better overview of what is going on with the children in your care, which gives you more of a chance to be supportive in any way the individual pupil needs.George: Teaching is great but there’s more to life than academics. I love teaching my subject but there are so many things the pupils get involved in and there are so many other parts of their school lives where they shine. I really like the idea of being able to challenge and push pupils to reach their full potential in a whole range of different ways.Yasmin: I am very lucky because I get to teach all Huili pupils as a PE teacher, but being a housemaster appealed to me because I wanted to gain a much deeper and wider understanding of the school. The house system is fantastic for supporting pupils’ wellbeing – the social and emotional side or their development. It really gives pupils the chance to deal with these elements, which may only be alluded to or touched upon briefly during classes.
Brian: I am passionate about holistic education, as I see it as the most important element of educating a child from primary school and throughout their senior years. Unlike lots of schools that pay lip service to the idea, we are creating a truly holistic culture here at Huili and I think that the house system is right at the heart of that. Being part of that process as a housemaster is both intriguing and very satisfying.
What would you say are some of the main benefits of a house system when it is done well?Brian: Creating a stronger sense of community would be one major benefit. Mentoring is a more specific positive influence of the house system, as there are lots of pupils in other schools who don’t have the opportunity to meet with teacher one-on-one very often. Our house system enables pupils to feel like they can come to their tutor or housemaster as any time and talk about whatever is on their mind, and that is an invaluable way to support any child.
Yasmin: Pupils always feel like they have someone to go to, and very quickly they realise that it is okay to express any problems or worries they may have. The house is also a great place to celebrate achievements, which is equally important for pupils, as they need to take time to reflect and feel good about the progress they have made before moving on to new aspirations. A good house system means that every pupil can talk to their peers and teachers about all the moments that make their school life special, while addressing anything that may be getting them down.
George: Self-expression and collaboration are two big benefits. Through the house system, there are so many events and activities designed to allow all our pupils to shine. From house events to pupil-led committees, they can get stuck in, take ownership of their house and show what they have to bring to the table. These are all very healthy, positive outlets for self-expression and collaboration.
Daniel: Each house is its own community, but one which enhances the overall school community rather than being closed off from it. It lets pupils feel special about belonging to their own house and it provides another group of people outside of their classes for them to engage with, make friends with and so on. Overall, it provides wider opportunities for pupils to form bonds with other pupils throughout the school, even between different year groups.
What do you think makes your individual houses special?George: The pupils in Xian have so much character; they are phenomenally polite, friendly and also willing to get stuck in. I think our victory in the house tug-of-war last year shows that Xian pupils are always ready to give any challenge their best effort. From morning exercises to big house events, they don’t shy away, they get involved.
Daniel: I would say that Hui is a house that is very dynamic and energetic. There is a real attitude of ‘get up and go for it’ among the pupils and I think that is going to be our strength going forward.
Yasmin: Li’s house colour is bright yellow (come see the houseroom – it is a ray of sunshine!) which is very appropriate given the bright, happy and energetic nature of the pupils. We are also a house of diverse talents, which means that we are ready for anything. I think that the parents of Li pupils are another element that makes the house special – they are perhaps the most committed, caring and supporting group of parents I have ever worked with.
Brian: I am very proud of De’s achievements from last year, including winning the house cup, but I think the main thing that makes De special is how committed its pupils are to demonstrating the Huili Values. They are a group of pupils who take great pride in their work and give every effort in everything they do. They are also very respectful and responsible, something I think the house has already gained a reputation for.
What house event are you most looking forward to this year?Brian: There is an event that all four of us housemasters are particularly excited about. In October we will be doing an overnight camping event here at the school and I personally cannot wait for it. I think it is the main event in the school calendar for improving the house system and hopefully making some fantastic memories along the way.Yasmin: The event will be spread over two weekends, Li and De will be paired together for first weekend and then Xian and Hui the following weekend. I think this will be such a special time for all the pupils because they will all have so much fun together. They will be putting up tents, learning archery, raft building, and a whole range of other bonding experiences. What is more, they will have to work together to complete many of the tasks, so hopefully they will quickly forget what grade they are in, and will just focus on being peers, working together and having fun.
Daniel: It is important that the houses will be paired up, as we want the pupils to spend time together with their housemates but also those in other houses. Across the year, we want there to be times where houses are working cooperatively as well as times when they compete against each other. We feel this is the best way to bring out a healthy spirit of competition that is tempered by genuine affection and respect for their friends in other houses.
George: This event will be a great chance for all the houses to cultivate a stronger sense of house identity and team spirit. We want every pupil to feel that their house is special and unique but of course we want to ensure that they remain entirely respectful and admiring of the other houses.
Can you give an example of something you are particularly excited to implement in your house this year? George: Having pupil-led committees is something I am very excited to see happen this year. The pupils will not have experienced this before and it will give them a chance to discuss together with their teachers what is important to them regarding their house. I hope that this is going to lead to lots of pupils taking on projects that will improve their house, from things like deciding on house decorations to perhaps even writing a school blog or newspaper. It will be a chance for them to express themselves in a way that is important but not examined or graded, so they can really let loose and get creative.Brian: As head of wellbeing, I’m really looking forward to making wellbeing an integral part of our house system and our educational offering overall. While subject classes are doubtlessly important for developing pupils’ knowledge and critical thinking skills, the house system is designed to let them explore themselves and ultimately become better people. The wellbeing curriculum is going to support that process as well, so I am looking forward to putting it into the house system as effectively as possible.
Daniel: Hui house is something of a blank canvass this year, since the majority of Hui pupils and tutors were not part of the house last year. Either they are new to the house this year or they are entirely new to the school. We have a chance to make the house identity however we want to. I am looking forward to getting input from my colleagues and the pupils themselves on the best way to do that.
Yasmin: Getting our house area to come together is very exciting, I am looking forward to seeing pupils shape it and use it to the fullest. I also want to strengthen our house identity, as I want every pupil and tutor to know instinctively who we are and where we are coming from. Leadership development is another key effort for this year. Leadership opportunities, the captain and deputies but also the committees, are such an important chance for pupils to show us what they can do.
We hope that you all enjoy being part of your individual houses this year. However, whether you are in Hui, Xian, Li or De, we are all a part of the Huili community. Have a great 2019-2020 academic year.