Wellington College International Shanghai held its first WellingTEN Talks event on Monday 18th April. 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. The event was hosted and chaired by Eleanor Prescott, Second Master of Wellington College International Shanghai.
The theme of the inaugural WellingTEN talk was “the importance of making education global “. 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.
Julian Thomas, the 14th Master of Wellington College UK, outlined Wellington’s method for cultivating 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 the essence of education lies in bringing out the inherent talents of children in all areas, allowing a pupil to become the best version of his or her self. Over their period of studying we develop their eight aptitudes, including moral and spiritual, cultural and physical, logical and linguistic, social and person aspects. We believe that if those aptitudes can be developed to the greatest extent they will have the basic 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 the aptitudes of a diverse education, and providing opportunities for different cultural and educational exchanges. 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-year of experience in school management, said, “In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, the most influential worldwide study in global education, Shanghai pupils have ranked first for two consecutive terms. This achievement shows the strength of primary education in Shanghai. We are pleased to say that we place an equal importance on continuous self-improvement. However, we are also aware that Shanghai pupils are under great pressure, and display a limited capacity for innovation and problem solving. ”
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 measureable 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.