Mrs Raven visits China on Cultural and Educational Exchange

Chislehurst School for Girls is “sistered” with Shanghai No. 2 Senior School, having signed our original 2 year agreement for 2017-19, in July this year.  We had already enjoyed hosting a 4 day visit by teachers and students from Shanghai No. 2 School, this summer.  The trip in October, gave me the opportunity to reciprocate, with a visit to Shanghai No. 2 School, where I gave a formal presentation on 22nd October 2018.  I am very grateful for the opportunity and this report is aimed at summarising the main learning points; similarities and differences between our schools/education systems; and identifying future activities.

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Main learning points

The Chinese (all that I met, including parents), highly value education and take it very seriously.  All children enjoy being at school.

The Chinese government appear to support its schools (the majority of which, but not all, are state funded), very well.  The schools we visited, were well equipped, clean and spacious.  We were assured that they were “typical”.

Pre-school (0-5) and Senior (15-18) can be private schools.

Teachers and Headteachers are held in high esteem, well respected and well paid.

There is a close working relationship between local (provincial) bureaucracy, and school leaders.

Schools are divided into primary, middle and senior schools.

External tests are only taken at 14 & 18.

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There are no performance tables, nor external inspections.  The reason given for this was that the local regions all want to make all schools “good”, so that parents are happy with their local school.  Performance tables and inspection reports undermine a school’s integrity and make parents unhappy.  It is up to the local region to know what is needed, if individual schools (groups of schools) need help to improve.

Senior schools are either “academic”, or “technical” and lead to university, or technical apprenticeships at 18+ respectively.

All schools are proud of their successes and publish them in special display rooms.

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Similarities between Shanghai No. 2 and Chislehurst School for Girls

  • Very similar in age and foundation; Shanghai opened in 1902 as a girls’ grammar school.
  • Both schools were bombed in World War 2 (although Shanghai had to be completely re-built in 1945).
  • Both provide an all-round education, with no particular specialism.
  • Both believe in the importance of international links and global education.
  • Both have International Co-ordinators (called Jo, completely coincidentally!).
  • Both want to develop closer links using new technologies, for those who cannot travel.
  • English is a core subject (all Chinese students learn it for 12 years, at least).
  • There is a national curriculum and optional courses.

Differences

  • Shanghai No. 2 has two separate sites, one of which is entirely for boarding.
  • Students’ well-being is much more central to the curriculum, i.e. it is a “tangible course”, with special suites of rooms, full time counsellors etc, in recognition of the huge pressure to succeed academically and enter top universities.  Students can self-refer and attend whenever they wish.  This is a compulsory programme for all Chinese schools.
  • Classes of 40-50 are typical, including 16-18.

 

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 Mrs K Raven – Headmistress: Chislehurst School for Girls

 

 

The visit was arranged as part of the cultural and educational exchange programme between China and Bromley.  The programme was initiated and led by the Mayor of Bromley, Cllr Kim Botting and brokered by Gigi Chen, Headteacher of the Chinese School in Orpington.