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星期五 2017年1月20號

【SCMP Education Post:Study in the UK】Cometh the hour, cometh the man

A series of enlightening and very frank interviews with Nick Gregory, the Head of Wycliffe College, have helped to bring the values of a British boarding education to the fore once more. When an energetic and caring Head joins a crackerjack of a school, all amidst the backdrop of quintessential English countryside and charm, one can only marvel at Wycliffe’s unique version of a British boarding education…

The forever personable and always approachable Nick Gregory became only the tenth Head in Wycliffe’s 130+ year history in September 2015. My interview notes reveal a man who is on a mission to ensure that pupils receive an education which prepares them for a 40-50 year working life in the “real world”. According to him, a secondary education should not be a “standalone experience” in which pupils become absorbed in the here and now where they have little awareness of why they are doing what they are doing.

Gregory has the background and nous to deliver upon his principles and vision. His experience in banking has undoubtedly had an impact on his work as a Head, as he took up strategic planning, change management, and financial management; which he says have all become relevant to his working life. He also talked of bringing things back to “first principles”, namely, seeking out “the best and most effective way of achieving an objective”. Another principle would be taking concepts that people may initially “present in a complex way and instead of cutting through that to identify - in a simple-to-understand way - the really crucial elements”.

Wycliffe evidently has an experienced man and worldly communicator at the helm who is also a fervent advocate of getting to know pupils. Indeed, it is of “critical importance and non-negotiable”. Of course, Wycliffe pupils are going feel accepted and thrive if their leader tries hard to remember their birthdays and special events in their lives. Another of Mr. Gregory’s admirable confessions is his willingness to “personalise detailed individual reports on every pupil”, an exceptionally time-consuming endeavour. He also has lunch with groups of Year 9 pupils in the first term and all Year 12 pupils in the second term. This “little-and-often” contact is vital to Mr. Gregory and it epitomises Wycliffe’s mission to be inclusive and supportive.

It comes as little surprise that one of Wycliffe’s strengths is learning support provision. An ISI Inspection in Spring 2016 confirmed Wycliffe’s credentials, thus: “The support for pupils with SEN or EAL is excellent.” The Good Schools Guide review, written in the summer of 2016, was equally praiseworthy of Wycliffe’s value-added approach and teachers who “go the extra mile with one-to-one and special help”. For Gregory, Wycliffe’s success in these areas “is simply embedded in how we … know each pupil as an individual”. With Wycliffe pupils all willing to pitch in and respect one another, those who receive additional support are not pegged back by a “social stigma”. Indeed, as Mr. Gregory stated: “…this [support] is provided for lots of their friends … so it is just an integral part of a Wycliffe education.”

The level of support on offer to pupils at Wycliffe is confirmed by data from the parental survey the school undertook in October 2016. Wycliffe used the UK market leader for this (RS Academic) whose “School Pulse” product benchmarks schools against a significant number of other similar UK independent schools. The areas where the level of satisfaction of Wycliffe parents significantly exceeds the satisfaction levels of parents at other top UK Boarding schools include: Class sizes (1st place - 24% higher than the benchmark); Support for specific learning needs (2nd - 17% higher); Careers advice (3rd - 17%) and Approachability of staff to parents (5th place). Clearly, the evidence points to a school which puts pupils and parents before profits.

Finally, Gregory and I discussed the teaching of Drama, Music and the Arts - subjects which Wycliffe has sought to promote and protect. He summarised his attitude towards the teaching of these subjects, thus: “...robots and artificial intelligence are going to influence the world in unimaginable and extensive ways… genuine human creativity will not be replaceable through an automated solution”. Indeed, a sound education should “teach developing minds about the joys of engagement in creative pursuits”. Interestingly, Art and Design is one of the best-taught two or three subjects in the whole school and has sent pupils off into not only creative careers but also disciplines such as Architecture.

Overall, a personable Head with realistic views on education and varied life experience to boot. Mr. Gregory has his finger on the pulse of current change in education, the future direction of independent schooling and what it means to value and respect pupils. Wycliffe’s capacity to develop children simply knows no bounds.

Samuel Chan is the Managing Director of Britannia StudyLink.

Original article:http://www.educationpost.com.hk/resources/education/170120-overseas-education-cometh-the-hour-cometh-the-man


1 寄宿百科 2 英國大學
3 談英國 4 赴英須知
5 赴英遊學 6 選校攻略
7 留英所得 8 親子關係
9 英名校大比拼 10 留英專家分享

陳思銘(Samuel Chan) 並非如一般外界人所認為的「富二代留學生」,家人數代都在流浮山經營海鮮買賣,父母學歷程度雖然不高,但努力工作賺錢把Samuel從小(9歲)就供養到英國寄宿學校格雷舍姆學院 (Gresham College)讀書,才能讓他早早就體會到英式教育優越全世界的原因。
Samuel Chan在留英之前亦都曾苦於在香港的教育體系中掙扎求存,但是香港朝令夕改的教育制度卻令他的成續止步不前,甚至感到老師也對自己失去興趣。直到接受英式教育後,他深深感受到兩地學制的差異:在英國,永遠是先發掘學生的興趣,再透過「興趣」作為推動其學習的原動力,釋放潛能。在英國,他獲得了使自己能夠表達自己並嘗試新事物的信心,最終以優秀的成續升讀英國頂尖的學府。
Samuel Chan留英長達15年,在諾定咸大學(University of Nottingham)獲得經濟學學士後,在華威大學(The University of Warwick)攻讀完政治經濟系碩士後回流香港。回流香港的Samuel鑑有感於香港教育制度無法充分釋放學生潛力,於是回流英國的他創辦了英識教育,以幫助更多有志留學英國的同學提供各類支援及顧問服務。
白手興手固然辛苦,但奮鬥數年英識教育終獲香港品牌發展局頒發「香港服務名牌」的升學教育中心,亦是同業首間獲此認證的品牌。後來,Samuel於2017年奪得「英國傑出校友獎」,該獎是英國文化協會及多家英國高等院校的共同構思,並由英國文化協舉辦,評選活動獲不少名人及王室人員支持及參與。可見,讓身為香港人的「陳思銘」的名字深深烙印在英國學術界傑出人仕的陳列櫃中。雖然事業受到肯定,但Samuel並不安於現狀,後來在2020年更創立Britannia Gateway 的學術培訓平台,提供更多元化的課程以幫助客戶適應英國課程。

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Bromsgrove 的師生比例是一比八,比一般的寄宿學校低。此外,綜合我曾到訪的學校,此校硬件設施之完善,可入選全英設備最佳的三大校園。校方不惜工本為學生提供舒適環境,甚至收購附近的酒店改建成宿舍,令宿生有名符其實的「五星級享受」。此校極具前瞻性,是國際化的英國宿校。
Brighton College 是英國首屈一指的私校,是香港家長最愛的寄宿學校之一。 看一間學校,除了教育宗旨、多元化活動、成績之外,更要看校長的魄力。十年前,校長 Mr. Richard Cairns 成為 Brighton College 校長後,把學校由全英國接近 150 名推至首 20 名。除了在教育方針上大力推動改革之外,也為了保持學生的求知慾而非常努力,是難得的好校長。
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