From the Master
Mr. Julian Jeffrey
As the end of 2019 draws closer, and the first of our two winter holiday breaks loom large, I wanted to write to you all to provide an overview of the highlights of the term and to look forward to some of the exciting things we have planned for 2020.
As ever, our overarching goal is to keep improving the educational experience we provide for you and your children. The record-breaking public examination results from the summer, which saw 62% of all IGCSE grades rated as A* and A and 74% of all A Levels grades as A*-B place us among the very best international and UK schools. Our graduates from the class of 2019 will all have significantly improved life chances as a result of these results. Of course, whilst exam results are crucial, they are not the only message a school can send out about its success with pupils. We have developed a new way of measuring pupil progress as well as straightforward attainment data over the term, using our results and comparing them with data from CAT4 tests and other standardised assessments such as Progress through English (PTE) and Progress through Maths (PTM). This is called a ‘value-added’ score because it shows how much better (or worse) a school has performed against the targets of the pupils sitting exams. Using this measurement, I am delighted to be able to report to you that our IGCSE cohort in Year 11 achieved on average +1.76 grades / subject better than they would have done in an equivalent school in the UK and almost a whole grade better / subject when compared to other international schools. Such progress is quite exceptional – a school in the UK would be overjoyed at registering a positive ‘value-added’ score of even +0.5 grades/subject for each pupil, so it is clear how significantly the school outperformed its peers. Even more encouragingly, some of our top ‘value-added’ results came in language-rich subjects such as History, English Language and English Literature. Evaluation of pupil attainment in Tianjin, relative to peers within the Wellington College China (WCC) group, indicates that in Key Stages 2 – 4 most pupils achieve 1 grade higher than their peers. You will hear more about value-added data from across the school in the new year.
Younger pupils too have benefitted from some developments this term. The Nest and Junior School have embraced Read, Write Inc as a novel way to teach phonics and accelerate language proficiency. The AET maths programme in the Junior School is proving a challenge for even the most able mathematician, and with closer integration with the Senior School, pupils in Years 5 and 6 are finding that their work aligns much more closely with that of Years 7 and 8. Outdoor learning has featured more this term in the Nest, with the opening of our bespoke outdoor area. I have been very pleased to see our younger pupils taking advantage of the new learning stimuli that the outdoor space provides, and this clearly represents a significant new dimension in the early years’ provision.
Other facilities across the school have been subject to widespread renovation and development as well. Our art and design galleries, housed in the main building and the stairwells, now provided year-round examples of excellent work from our examination classes.
The school’s ICT provision, such a focus for investment for us over the past three years, will see more devices introduced across the school and the very exciting news that we will soon become a Microsoft Showcase school. This recognition is granted to very few schools and Wellington College in Tianjin is the first international school in China to receive the accolade. In the initial phase, we will focus on working with Microsoft on the ‘classroom of the future’ and coding education. These two are already areas of focus in our development plans and sit closely with our ambition to become a beacon school for IT in northern China.
In terms of the estate, we now have a new security house and waiting area for visitors; the facial recognition software and access restrictions both help to keep your children safer in school. Mr Roundell led our external safeguarding and child protection audit back in August, and as a result, you will notice more signs across the estate, warning against photographing our pupils, as well as further information for visitors to the site and a police officer stationed at the entrance gate during peak times of the day. Our aim, as ever, is to keep our community of children, teachers and visitors safe at all times and anything that you can do as parents to support us in this process is much appreciated.
The term has been enriched by several wonderful shows, concerts and sporting events. No one who was there will soon forget the majesty of Carmina Burana in October, nor the charm on show in the Nest Christmas concert.
Nest Christmas Concert
Junior Christmas Show
Senior Christmas Concert
The Junior School show and the full Christmas Concert over the last week have also been undoubted highlights, as was the memorable drama show Under the roof of Shanghai back in September. The latter was a chance for pupils to write and perform a show that offers both a celebration of the Chinese language as well as a testament to their talent as stage stars of the future. The drama week in November for the Junior School, coupled with Roald Dahl day in October, proved a huge success. The former, with its emphasis on improvisation and wordplay, helped to cement our work on language acquisition this term and explored really imaginative and challenging themes with pupils and staff from the Senior School there to lend their support.
Chinese Drama – Under the Roof of Shanghai
Roald Dahl Day
In sport, our first two elite golf scholars have settled in very well, and I am delighted to report that their hard work on and off the golf course has seen significant achievements for both. Their dedication to their sport and their ability to juggle the competing demands of their academic work and training mean they are an inspiration to all our pupils in how to manage the school-life balance. Our swimmers too have grown in confidence and the team is now strong enough to compete at city-level in tournaments. It was great to see our first competition result in one first place and two seconds. This will continue to be a focus for our growth over the coming months as we look to train and compete more regularly.
Looking ahead to the Lent term, it is clear that we will once again be a busy and purposeful school. Chinese New Year is early, of course, but that will not stop us from having a raft of great events in the week leading up to the 17th January. Parents are warmly invited to attend the Nest and Senior School shows on 16th, as well as the Temple Fair on the last day before the holiday break (17th). Once February and March get underway, our exam preparation will be in full swing for pupils in Years 11-13 – please do help to ensure that, if you have a child in these years, they get lots of time and support for the revision they need at home. The Annual Review (16th-18th March) also rolls back into Tianjin. You will be getting the annual parent survey in January as part of the preparation for that short visit. On top of all that is our wonderful new full school musical, Chicago, which will run from 18th-21st March. Tickets will go on sale in the new year, so please make sure you book early to avoid disappointment!
Further ahead, there are a couple of new holiday programmes we would like to offer parents in the next 6 months, on top of our own Summer Camp (July/August). We are really excited to announce that we are partnering with Role Models, a British education company run by Old Wellingtonian Hugo Shephard, to deliver Life Skills Courses (on vital areas such as Resilience and Leadership) for 6-7 year olds and 8-11 year olds over the Easter and first week of the Summer 2020 holidays.
The Role Models vision is to inspire a generation of children to become the very best they can be through their relationships, their well-being and that their own sense of purpose aligns perfectly with Wellington’s. All of the work done on the courses will complement the work we do every day with your children. A variety of courses are scheduled to run in the holidays from March 28th – April 3rd, June 29th – July 3rd and August 10-14th at the school premises. There will be further information in January, so please look out for that.
Finally, as last year, I thought a list of some of the key dates for the next six months might be useful for parents, as the term diary will not be published until January.
Lent term 2020
Lent term begins
Chinese New Year / Spring Festival begins (to 2nd February)
School musical – Chicago
Summer Term 2020
Summer term begins
May Day holiday (school is closed)
Year 13 Graduation
End of Summer term
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, peaceful holiday.