Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and London trip 2016
I would like to report in this edition of Connections on my work over the past few weeks. I have been involved in two different types of activities away from the College.
Firstly, with the Gateway Project underway and progressing well, part of my focus has been on planning for the ongoing renewal of College facilities. College Council is very clear about undertaking work that is closely tied to our educational philosophy and delivers real improvement. Two areas that are under consideration in the next five years are the construction of permanent Year 2 rooms (replacing the portable rooms in Evandale) and the renewal of the classrooms in the Freda Whitlam Courtyard (that is, our science laboratories, and classrooms connected to English, Mathematics, the social sciences and languages). A very important aspect of this work is that it can be undertaken gradually. It is not a major rebuild like the Junior School development.
Thus, I attended a very helpful conference on the connections between education and architecture (external and internal classroom architecture) with our school architect. In the new Junior School, our guiding principles are ‘intimacy’ and ‘openness’, a commitment to providing learning spaces that enable both close teacher-led learning and open student and/or project-based learning. In the senior school, we are also looking to create our students as effective researchers and collaborative thinkers and agents. It was a helpful conference, the substance of which I will now take to Council and staff.
Secondly, over the past fortnight I travelled in Asia and on to London. Each second year I undertake a ‘tour’ in order to communicate with overseas families who are considering sending their daughters to PLC Sydney. We have about forty overseas students in our college, with just over half of these students living in the boarding house. I also visited a renowned school in Singapore to look at their science facilities, meeting with their principal.
Here is a summary of my travels:
My purpose in stopping off in Singapore on the way to Shanghai was to see the Hwa Chong School.
The Singapore Government is using it as a type of test-case school. They are focusing on leadership and innovation. Our students who were so successful at the International Global Science Forum visited this school and was then recommended to me by Mrs Hendricks.
Not only does it have regular science laboratories, but a fully functional research space. Hwa Chong were wonderfully hospitable. I enjoyed lunch with the principal and had a full tour of the facilities.
The image above (far right) is their 3D animation facility where the students create animated short films on scientific processes (learning by teaching).
The images above show their research facility. Students conduct their own research under the guidance of staff. Teachers act as those who orient, establish guidelines, partner to frame goals, critique and assess. They provide direct instruction as part of each stage.
The Hwa Chong School has identified positive connections between the research and critical and creative thinking as students are tasked with writing papers and making media present their findings.
At the Shanghai function were Dr and Mrs Lim (who kindly took time away from their personal visit to China to attend the function), Mrs Catherine Marvell and Mr John Da Cruz from PLC Sydney, and Mrs Nicola Taylor and Ms Shona Eikhorn from PLC Armidale.
About 120 people joined us for a light meal and a presentation on both Colleges. Dr Lim gave a warm welcome then Mrs Taylor introduced PLC Armidale and I spoke about PLC Sydney, with the assistance of Mrs Lim who was our translator.
Image above left (from left): Ms Eikhorn (PLC Armidale), Haran (Shanghai organiser), Mr De-Cruz, Mrs Lim, Mrs Marvel, Mrs Taylor (Principal of PLC Armidale) and Dr Lim.
Image above right: some of our prospective parents, students, current parents and partners.
The next morning I conducted several enrolment interviews before heading to Hong Kong.
We gathered with about 50 prospective parents and ex-students. Our ex-students were exceptionally pleased to see us and were all interested in enrolling their daughters. It was wonderful to find out about their careers. For example, one is a prominent journalist with CNN and another is in hospital development.
I spent the final two days in London. The first task was to travel to Cambridge and meet with the organiser of the committee that approves courses for Cambridge International Education. Cambridge International Examinations have stated that our Theology and Philosophy course will be proceeding to full registration. This course should be in operation by 2020. There will be more information on this in the next issue of Connections. In the evening, I hosted an event of about 30 who are interested in coming to PLC Sydney. We want to build a focus beyond South-East Asia. Our target groups are: Ex-PLC Sydney women who are returning with families to Australia, English or other European families who are emigrating and are looking for schools, these are our target groups. It is an experiment and we will see how it goes. It is great to spend this time focussed on the future of the boarding school.