A warm welcome from our new Principal
What a wonderfully busy and productive school Britannica is! In my first two weeks in Shanghai I have attended: a Dance Show with over fifty energetic and talented young performers, a stage performance of The Wizard of Oz with over a dozen scene changes and all pupils from Year 1 to Year 9 either acting, singing or dancing on stage, the start of the Britannica Inter-House Football Tournament to celebrate the World Cup and this week I have the Swimming Gala and Chinese Assembly to look forward to. All of these events are fine examples of a school that is already flourishing and delivering quality education.
It has been a real pleasure to see the school in action, talk to pupils and parents and experience first- hand what is making Britannica special in the educational community. I have also been kept very busy with new parents and last week met and talked with over twenty sets of prospective parents for the next academic year. Our current classes are fast filling up and we are looking forward to August when we anticipate opening up with over 200 pupils across the school. I have already made the decision to open up second classes in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and further new classes will inevitably be in the pipeline very soon.
Keeping numbers in each class at a low level means we can continue to develop our ethos of providing personalised education; making sure the individual needs of each child are identified, provided for and then developed. With this in mind we have been looking closely at how we can also develop our overall curriculum next year to further provide for the diverse pupil population that also makes Britannica special. Our small community already holds over 24 different nationalities and recognising and providing for the uniqueness of each one’s needs, desires, aspirations and talents is something that we are starting to do very well.
We have already planned to put in place next year native language programmes in Mandarin, French, Spanish and Korean and I am sure other languages will soon follow. Children with native English will also be provided with extension classes while those who need extra support in English are having a creative support programme put in place. Being a small school we have the flexibility to cater for individual children and their families far more readily and this is something that is certainly making us already very special.
Families report back positively to me on the current family feel at the school, how they are always made to feel welcome on site and the constructive communication between teachers and parents. This is such a good sign of a healthy school. We will continue to hold this as one of our core principles.
Much of the work that I have been doing and will be doing over the remainder of this term is preparation for next year. As Mr Thomas carries on with the day-to-day running of the school in the last two weeks of his tenure, I am looking forward to August and making sure that everything is in place for an excellent start to our second year at Britannica. Over the last three months I have been able to employ eleven new teaching staff and four additional teaching assistants to cater for our expanding school and to further improve the breadth and quality of what we are teaching next academic year. We are opening our first iGCSE year in August with the option of over 26 different courses for pupils to study. There will be something for every pupil to choose that will ensure that they can focus on their talents and skills and achieve the very best iGCSE grades at the end of Year 11.
I met with a group of parents this week and talked much about the ability of Britannica to have an ‘inclusive policy’. If pupils want to perform on stage, they can, if they want to participate in the football tournament, they can, if they want to play in the school orchestra, they can, these options are not always necessarily available in the larger schools, where ‘selection’ tends to rule over ‘participation’. Quality independent British education is very much about participation, inclusivity, gaining breadth and diversity in experience and enabling students to become rounded human beings. Focusing on leadership skills, independent and collaborative learning, encouraging students to face challenges and develop an awareness of community and of others are the attributes that will make our students the global citizens and potential global leaders that they need to be in our world today.
A parent described the school to me this week as ‘a small school with a big heart’. I believe that we are all that, plus a school ‘with big aspirations for your children’.
We can look forward very much to an exciting and busy end to our first year in Shanghai, with the knowledge and confidence that we are moving forward into 2014-2015 with growing strength and ability to deliver the very best of British independent international education in the city.
For those of you who I have already met, it has been a pleasure and for those of you who I have yet to meet, I very much look forward to it.
Enjoy the final two weeks of term.
Bringing the Best of British Education to Shanghai