Welcome to this bumper edition of the Week Ahead. As a result of the mini-break next week, this edition includes the key events from 9th-21st November. Next week's Week Ahead will include a focus on a special service-learning project running in the Senior School.
I was lucky enough this week to be invited to an awards ceremony in Beijing, hosted by the Hurun Education, part of the Hurun Report group. In its recent list of Top 100 international schools in China, Wellington rose to number 33. The list, not surprisingly, is dominated by long-established schools in Shanghai and Beijing – together, these cities comprise 53 of the 100 leading schools – and Tianjin has just one: Wellington.
Whilst our increasing recognition among the leading international educators across China is undoubtedly an encouraging development, it was also an opportunity to engage in the sharing of ideas and experiences with other top school leaders. Much of the discussion centred on the impact of Covid-19 and how it had forced schools to adapt to completely new ways of teaching and learning. Perhaps inevitably, many head teachers reported pupil and teacher levels of stress and isolation; the challenges of teaching effective lessons online; the impact of travel restrictions; and the recruitment of teaching staff as their main concerns. Many schools in Beijing, for example, are still forced to offer a hybrid online education, with many children and staff still unable to return to China and no immediate end in prospect.
Of course, these are among the very best international schools in China, and they achieve this status through great leadership, hard work and a willingness to adapt to challenging situations with imaginative solutions. Several head teachers spoke of the benefits of the extended online learning period. Chief among these were innovation – schools are increasingly willing to try new ways of offering their educational programmes online – and embracing new technologies as a part of day-to-day teaching. Wellington is no different, and I am pleased to be able to share with parents a few of the details of our own action plan for any further disruption to our in-school teaching. Over the past nine months, we have listened very carefully to the feedback from parents, pupils and staff in the wake of the previous online learning period, and our focus this year has been to consolidate the aspects of the provision which proved particularly effective and offer some radical solutions to those which needed adapting for greater impact.
We will publish the online learning provision in full at the end of the month, but the keys will include:
A bespoke, secure learning resource platform for pupils from pre-nursery to year 3. This will include improved accessibility from home, a bank of reading materials suitable for all levels, numeracy and mandarin resources, videos, music, sport and ASA activities as well, of course, as live lessons.
A fully coordinated timetable of live lessons for pupils in the Junior and Senior Schools, with time included in the school day to allow for greater breaks from screen time.
Physical packs of resources, including library books, which can be collected from the school and will provide a further break from the unrelenting nature of online lessons. The library will offer an uninterrupted lending service to pupils and parents.
Extra sessions for pupils with specific needs or ELA learners.
Wellbeing and mindfulness will play an increasingly significant part of the week’s learning, supporting input from sport and activities so that children remain healthy in body and mind.
Finally, a series of short, multilingual instructional videos to help families at home maximise their ability to use the online resources.
As much as I do not want another hiatus in the life of the school, it is prudent to prepare for one. I want the entire community – pupils, staff and parents – to be ready to access a high-quality e-learning provision so that the education of your child is uninterrupted and impactful.
It was great for our school to be included in the Hurun Top 100 list: everyone likes to get an award for their hard work. In the long-term, though, it is much more important to me that our families and staff recognise the school's quality by seeing the achievement and progress of our pupils.
Have a very restful mini-break next week.
Focusing on Progress.
I have been at Wellington for just over four weeks, and in that time, I have been able to spend time in classrooms, observing the children as they play and learn. I have had time to meet with the wonderful team of people in the Nest and begin to get to know my colleagues. I have been busy planning the meetings and staff development for this term and next term and working on plans for 2021. I am very pleased that I am making progress.
When I look at the children in the Nest and think about the progress they are making, it is so pleasing. To see our youngest children being so focused on a story as a group. They are learning to share with each other and to take turns with equipment. It is a life skill that can be hard to understand when you are three years old. They are all learning to use their words with lots of support from the adults. I have heard them using more English words and phrases this week than I heard in my first week at Wellington – that's progress!
The pupils in the nursery classes are more confident and able to use their learning space so well. I can see the difference the last four weeks has had on them all. They are learning to use the climbing equipment and wheeled toys independently. They are learning the routines and developing an understanding of what the adults are supporting them to learn and understand. They use English and Mandarin to talk to friends and to take turns on popular toys. It is clear to see the progress they are making.
In reception, some of the children are working with a teacher who is new to them. They have settled into the routines so quickly and have already risen to the expectations for engagement in learning that Miss Monica wanted to see at this stage in the term. Both classes have been busy learning about what it is to be a good friend during friendship week. I can safely say that every single child had something to say about how to be a good friend. Some used their words to talk to the adults about it, and some drew their friends. I have seen all the children make progress and rise to the challenges set by their teachers.
The children in year 1 have amazed me yet again. I have enjoyed looking at the story maps they have produced and seen such wonderful writing on display. It makes me proud to see their learning journey just in the last four weeks. So many of the children work hard to develop their writing skills in English - they really do rise to the challenge! It has been great to see the children using the shared space to access independent learning opportunities. To see such purposeful play that gives them a way to communicate in both English and Mandarin with such confidence. Such progress!
So, for all of us, adults and children alike, we have been working hard to ensure we all make progress. I hope in the weeks and months ahead, you will see the progress journey we are making together in the Nest.
The team in the Nest wish you well as we have the Michaelmas term break; we look forward to seeing you all back safely on the 12th November.
1325hrs – 1355hrs, Friday
The music department will host the first lunchtime concert of 2020 to showcase the musical talents in the Senior School on Friday, 13th November in the Black Box. The concert will start at 1325hrs with a performance from the Wellington String Quartet, featuring the 1st movement of Palladio composed by the Welsh composer Sir Karl Jenkins. Wellatonics, our a cappella group will round off the performance with their rendition of Where Are You, Christmas?
As well as pieces from these music ensembles, the concert will feature singers and guitarists who have a passion for popular music. Alongside Ally and Mina in year 11, who are already established musicians in our school, year 10 pupils Justina, Jackie and Billy, who joined the school at the beginning of the academic year, will also perform well-known songs and pieces on their instruments. The new pupils' courage in getting up on stage is also a significant indicator of how well they have settled in. Well done! Parents would like to attend need to register by 1300hrs on Thursday 12th November with Ms Tina Bai. As a result of the restrictions on access to the school's estate, numbers have to be limited to 20.
FROM MR ROWARK, MILEPOST 3 LEAD
E-Safety in the Junior School
Being online is an integral part of children and young people's lives. Their online world is vast, incorporating social media, online games and apps accessed via phones, laptops, or tablets. Although this opens the door to new and exciting opportunities for learning and growth, it can expose pupils to new types of risks.
In the Junior School, children will be learning about e-safety and how to stay safe online. All classes will learn how to "Be Internet Awesome" using a curriculum created by Google, including a classroom discussion and an adventure-packed online game that makes learning about digital safety and citizenship interactive and fun. Pupils will learn how to tackle hackers, phishers, and bullies by practising the skills they need to be good digital citizens. They will also learn about the correct way to share their personal information online and who can access their information. We hope to teach children the fundamentals of digital citizenship so that they can explore the online world with confidence and security.
Thursday 12 November 2020
Week 12 (B) (Campus)
Friday 13 November 2020
1:25PM - 1:55PM
Lunchtime concert (SSC) (Black Box)
Saturday 14 November 2020
Saturday Activity Programme (SAP) (EvK) (Campus)
Monday 16 November 2020
Week 13 (A) (Campus)
Junior School assessment window (to 27th) (RA)
Nest assessment window (to 27th) (JB)
Wednesday 18 November 2020
3:05PM - 3:45PM
Junior School assembly (RA) (Theatre)
Saturday 21 November 2020
Saturday Activity Programme (SAP) (EvK) (Campus)