The Week Ahead 1 March 2019

Dear parents

The coming week sees the launch of ticket sales for the forthcoming school musical, West Side Story. The experience of previous years suggests that tickets will sell out quickly, so please make sure that you have acquired the tickets you need as soon as possible as they are on a strict first come, first served basis. Performances are at 1800hrs from Wednesday 20th to Saturday 23rd March.

West Side Story echoes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in retelling the story of a doomed love affair between Tony and Maria, two young people from across the divide of a long-term gang feud in New York. The story of a relationship that transcends the bitter rivalry of the Polish Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks resonates across the decades and can help to throw light on the tragic events that can happen when disharmony and anger replace mutual respect and dialogue. The parallels for our times are obvious. Animating this timeless story of love and hate are the music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, two of the giants of American music. The complexity of the score and the demands on the performers and musicians represent a challenge for even the most accomplished professionals, and it is by some margin the most ambitious project we have attempted here at Wellington.

This sort of event, pushing the boundaries for what is seen as practicable within the confines of a school setting, is only possible because of the confluence of two important factors. The first is the confidence our young people have in their ability to perform the extraordinary, to push themselves to heights which many never thought they were capable of. The impact of Les Misérables, our 2018 production, on this mindset should not be underestimated. Young people thrive when challenged in a nurturing environment, revelling in an atmosphere in which taking risks with drama and music projects has become the norm. Wellington fosters this sense of stretching oneself, whatever the context, and encouraging a willingness to try something new.

The second factor lies in the skill, determination and ambition of our staff. Led by our Director of Music, Ms Gossedge, and supported by a team of academic and non-academic staff, our aim is to produce a show that refuses to compromise on quality by limiting the imagination of the musical. By setting expectations high, and modelling the standards of the performers, musicians and support crews, the professionalism of colleagues helps pupils to reach new heights.

Excitement is building across the community. It will be a stunning theatre experience and I am very much looking forward to welcoming parents, visitors and friends of Wellington to share the performances.

Best wishes

Julian Jeffrey


Common Room

0900hrs – 1015hrs,

Wednesday 6th March

Every Wednesday morning from 0900hrs -1015hrs, parents will have the chance to engage with the school in sessions that cover all aspects of your child’s education, from the Early Years to A Levels and university admissions. The venue will vary according to the anticipated audience, and for this week’s meeting, Mr Raja Ali, the Head of Junior School, will deliver a workshop outlining what differentiation is within an educational context, and what it should look like in the Junior School. This workshop will be followed by time in classrooms.


World Book Day – the Celebration of Reading for Pleasure

On 7th March we will celebrate World Book Day. This date is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

During this day our Junior School students can dress up as their favourite book character. All students will be able to enjoy various activities in classrooms and in the library.

World Book Day in Wellington College will be also a great opportunity to share the joy of reading by supporting one of the local schools in Tianjin and helping to develop their library. Our students and parents can participate by donating 10 RMB (or more) or by donating books (English or Chinese).

World Book Day is one of many events which have been planned by our English Department, Junior School Literacy Coordinator and the Library to make the Year of Books in Wellington College Tianjin exciting for the students, parents and all members of staff.

Why are we reading?

Knowledge and academic attainment

That reading has a powerful effect on our capacity to learn, develop and grow isn’t a new idea. Scientists and experts emphasize: the power of reading books is undeniable. It is the main key to social, emotional and academic success.

The Department for Education in the UK used current researches in its review of reading for pleasure among primary and secondary aged children. They conclude that there are seven main benefits of reading for pleasure: writing ability; text comprehension and grammar; breadth of vocabulary; greater self-confidence as a reader; general knowledge; a better understanding of other cultures; increased community participation and a greater insight into human nature and decision-making. The study emphasizes the strong positive links between reading for pleasure and educational attainment. Reading books is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will ameliorate their own speaking and writing fluency.

Health and well-being

Education experts are unanimous that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background. It can promote better health and wellbeing, aids in building social connections and relationships with others and is associated with a range of factors that help increase the chances of social mobility.

Regular readers for pleasure less often experience feelings of stress and depression than non-readers, and stronger feelings of relaxation from reading than from watching television or engaging with technology intensive activities. Studies have shown that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations. Reading for pleasure is also associated with better sleeping patterns.

Successful people are readers

The world’s most successful CEOs say reading is the key to their success. If that’s true, can you really afford not to read more?

In his book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, Tom Corley writes about the 5-year study in which he interviewed a host of self-made millionaires about their daily habits. He concluded that reading was a key factor in their success. Why? Because reading helped them to develop skills needed to achieve great things. They have increased focus; they set goals for themselves, they spend time wisely, they have also perspective to see all angles an issue learnt from reading a variety of literature. In addition to gaining perspective, readers are reflective about what they have read. Successful people have usually incredible writing and speaking skills. They are skills also gained from reading.

Readers understand just how powerful the brain really is. It can hold almost an unlimited capacity of information. The more we read and learn, the easier it becomes to retain information.

We are building a reading community

The study highlights three factors that are crucial for the promotion of reading for pleasure amongst children and young people: ensuring that there is adequate access to books; parents taking a proactive role in encouraging reading and teachers providing guidance.

Our libraries for the Nest, Juniors and Seniors are growing. Currently students have access to almost 11 000 books in English, Chinese and Korean. We have a selection of non-fiction books as well as novels, stories, poetry, plays, picture books, educational resources, professional development materials; and books about parenting.

Let’s READ!


Q&A Session (only for parents in Years 7, 8 and 9)

Common Room


Tuesday 5th March

On Tuesday 5th March, there will be a presentation and Q and A session for all parents of children in Years 7, 8 and 9 regarding the university applications process. This will take place in the Common Room (214) at 1800hrs. All parents are welcome, and refreshments will be provided. We are aiming for this to become a regular event with the aim of better informing and supporting parents of our younger pupils.


Safer Internet Week 2019

As announced in my previous Week Ahead text, the week starting at Tuesday 5th March was Safer Internet Week 2019 at Wellington College International Tianjin. The key word this year was ‘consent’, referring to the permissions we give various apps and services (such as accessing our private data or location), as well as the permissions we should request from our friends before involving them in anything we do online.  Safer Internet Week 2019 was marked by a number of activities, including Assemblies in Junior and Senior school, e-safety and netiquette story time in the Nest, as well as various in-class discussions and activities. To finish off the week, our Senior School pupils collectively took the Safer Internet Week on-line quiz and scored an overall 80%.

As all of us – parents, pupils, and teachers alike – are an integral part of the Internet, I believe that as long as we remain aware of this, adapt our mindset accordingly, and make appropriate choices, we are capable of inciting a positive change. Naturally, we should still prepare young people in our charge for any unpredictable obstacles in the digital realm by fostering their digital resilience, which ultimately was the goal of all Safer Internet Week activities.

Stay safe online, and always Think Before You Click!


Maths Teachers Exchange Programme

For close to a month, Mr. Edward Jones (from Wellington College in the UK) and I were involved in a new and exciting opportunity in terms of teacher training. I visited Wellington College over the Chinese New Year holiday, teaching in collaboration with Mr. Jones. Then, from 11th February, I travelled back with Mr. Jones who then joined me to continue with the collaboration in planning and delivering lessons. Key objectives for this programme include;

  1. Improving the quality of instructions provided by sharing good practice and resources.
  2. Sharing experience to develop effective teaching methods as per the interests of the pupils.
  3. Making the best usage of abilities, interests, resources and expertise in the teacher’s community.

During this exchange programme we both played on our strengths and weaknesses, and together as a team we made a successful way to teach and learn, while being sensitive to the difference in culture and learning styles between UK and Tianjin students.

To the students in Tianjin, this was a great opportunity to learn from Mr. Jones’s experience and wealth of knowledge in Mathematics and other areas of interest, including developing strong links to support in the university application process. In all the lessons that we collaboratively taught in the UK and Tianjin, there were dynamic and fruitful discussion sessions which increased student’s involvement, bringing out the best in them.

Mr. Jones and I also got a chance to brush up our skills, work up to our fullest potential and along with that, our creativity, motivation and team management skills got a solid boost too.

Overall, this exchange programme is one of the best professional development opportunities in my teaching career and our links with Wellington in England have been made stronger and more vibrant.