LSC Consultant, Stephanie Quayle, attended the first WellingTEN Talks held at Wellington College International Shanghai on April 18th. The theme was "the importance of making education global". The event was hosted and chaired by Eleanor Prescott, Second Master of Wellington College International Shanghai.
Eleanor Prescott opened the event and explained that a WellingTEN Talk is a way to deliver inspiring, thought provoking ideas in a short, restricted time, highlighting ideas for further exploration and development.
The series of short ten minute presentations and follow up discussions involved school leaders reflecting on current issues in education. The participants in this WellingTEN session were Julian Thomas, Master of Wellington College; Ni Ruiming, Master of Shanghai Pudong High School; and Gerard MacMahon, Master of Wellington College International Shanghai.
Julian Thomas, the 14th Master of Wellington College, talked about Wellington's focus on developing future leaders, "At Wellington College we uphold the Wellington aptitudes which means we have a determined and deliberate focus on producing well-rounded and balanced pupils. We firmly believe that the essence of education lies in bringing out the inherent talents of children in all areas, allowing a pupil to become the very best version of his or her self. Throughout their schooling, we develop their aptitudes: the moral and spiritual, cultural and physical, logical and linguistic, social and personal. We believe that if those aptitudes are developed the pupils will have the skills needed to become international leaders in the 21st century."
Julian Thomas went on to say, "Wellington College has a global orientation to be outward-facing and forward-thinking, passing on to Wellington pupils a diverse education and providing opportunities for different cultural and educational exchanges." He focused on what he calls the Wellington Identity, five words beginning with I, "by providing the world's best education for pupils, we hope that our pupils are inspired, intellectual, independent, individual and inclusive. Pupils with these identities will stand tall in the 21st century."
Ni Ruiming, Master of Shanghai Pudong High School, who has 20 years experience of school leadership and management in China and overseas said, "in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, the most influential world-wide study in global education, Shanghai pupils have ranked first for two consecutive terms. The achievement shows the strength of education in Shanghai”.
Gerard MacMahon, Master of Wellington College International Shanghai, suggested, "It is possible that China is actually a better place for the best English schools than England. Wellington College in England has created an exceptional, distinctive ethos with the focus on values and aptitudes alongside exceptional results. But for many schools in England the school and the teachers, rather than the pupils and their parents, are driving the academic achievement. Those schools are afraid of prioritising anything other than their exam results. They don't believe they can stop lessons to have an arts festival."
"But in China, with families and pupils driving academic achievement, schools can have the Wellington ethos without fear. Parents want their child to develop the aptitudes and values to stand out from their peers. They know their child will achieve academically, but they also want to prepare them for a world where creativity and communication is becoming more valuable than knowledge of facts."
Eleanor Prescott chaired a discussion based on questions from parents and audience members. The panel was asked to discuss how we measure success in education. There was agreement that a narrow focus on the most objective and measurable elements of schooling, such as testing knowledge of facts, can have a detrimental impact on the way in which we prepare young people for life.