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Tuesday 10-May-2016
【The Standard:Study in the UK】Extracurricular, extra future

A plethora of studies have illustrated how schools that offer more extracurricular activities seem to gain better exam results from their students.


Should Hong Kong parents begin to read more into these findings and favor choosing schools that place a heavy emphasis on sport in the hope of their child achieving all-round excellence?


Modern-day independent schools are very different to those of the 1990s.


They may still be located in the same place and have the same ethos. They may also have the same facades and endless acres of playing fields. What has changed are attitudes among the educational and political elite, where it is now possible to strive for all-round excellence as opposed to reaching the dizzy heights at the top of league tables.


Staff are free to raise pupils' aspirations and get the best out of pupils whose talents may not be as outwardly visible as those belonging to the stand- out sports star or the genius on the electric guitar.


The modern era of independent education is defined by the extraordinary breadth of activity now available to students.


When the summer exam sessions come round, and students are inclined to cram, sports and fresh air may be the least of your child's worries. However, no child should make complete sacrifices.


From the accounts I have read, and the teachers I have spoken with, there does seem to be a consensus that pupils may do better in exams if they take some exercise and forget themselves in play.


A study of 508 independent schools conducted by the Independent Schools Council in 2009 revealed that taking part in activities outside of regular school hours boosted children's self- esteem and confidence, especially among boys.


It is natural that a child who is full of energy and heightened self-esteem can benefit from these valuable states when it comes to hitting the books, revising and believing in oneself in the exam hall.


Research also revealed that schools that provided pupils with the chance to join 30 or more clubs - such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme - were likely to be rated at the top of the GCSE league tables.


Hong Kong parents do not need to scrutinize reports and the total number of activities a school offers. What we do need to do is appreciate what fresh air, movement and self-esteem can do for children when they are gearing up for the life-changing months ahead of them.

Samuel Chan is a director of Britannia StudyLink.

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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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