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星期四 2016年12月15號

【SCMP Education Post:寄宿學校攻略】Mill Hill School - where bright futures are moulded

Mill Hill School epitomises what a British boarding education is about. Speaking with Head, Mrs Frances King, in an eye-opening interview, it became apparent how Mill Hill is preparing young people to meet life head on by stimulating their confidence and transferrable skills. The world is changing and Mill Hill is thinking long-term for the benefit of its pupils. Hong Kong families should take heed … 

While interviewing Mill Hill Head, Frances King, I began to wonder whether I could relay a recording of the interview to Hong Kong parents deliberating over whether to send their children to the UK as soon as possible. This is one Head, and one school, which is ready to support students in their passions and entrepreneurial pursuits, regardless of whether A-level grades and the school’s position in the league tables may be jeopardised.

To set the ball rolling, I should mention about a recent talk of mine at an education fair. I spoke about character-building and grit which Hong Kong children develop at British boarding skills. Hong Kong parents listened with intent and, to my joy, raised many questions after the talk. Slowly but surely, attitudes are shifting with the growing realisation that life is not all about straight A grades and attending the best selective schools.

Mill Hill is thinking outside the box. Mrs King summarised the situation quite neatly by referring to half a class of 15-year-old children which it is almost impossible to give careers advice to for reasons pertaining to future career indecision or merely an overload of innovative ideas. Therefore, these children must have a core set of creative and people skills to fall back on when that “unknown future” eventually unearths itself. In ten years’ time, according to Mrs King, today’s generation should be grateful for bucking up their interpersonal skills because they will be on the telephone trying to pull people into their office. Interesting thoughts, indeed.Mrs King is admirably aware of the situation on the ground in Hong Kong. The arrival of International Schools here has heightened intrigue about the benefits of a British boarding education because parents may settle for a solid product which can be found on their doorstep. However, as Mrs King put forward: “you can transfer a school, but to what extent can you transfer a culture”? Aside from the cultural aspect, Mrs King and her astute team are setting out to widen families “breadth of understanding” of life at a UK boarding school and make parents wonder whether the education path they choose will genuinely benefit their child in a competitive workplace environment.

When I hear stories of Hong Kong students who have not necessarily become successful as a result of securing straight A’s, attending world-class universities or choosing traditionally stable career paths, I do beam a smile of delight. We should rejoice at the news of the Hong Kong student who, as described by Mrs King, followed her passion for the History of Art and studied it at university. Certainly, in the words of my interviewee, this was one student who bucked the trend of hard work and a life in accountancy and finance in Hong Kong, as she began to “think in a broader sense about life experience, creativity and life opportunities”. The said student is now cooperating with an Auction House to encourage HK residents to purchase art.

Following on, Mrs King and I spoke of the need for UK schools to address public speaking skills, as well as to run house competitions and music competitions to help children adopt leadership and teamwork skills. We also need to get children’s creative juices flowing - a mindset both Mrs King and I subscribe to.

I was truly engrossed in Mrs King’s tale of a young man who, with the support of Mill Hill, dropped one A-Level subject as he has an enterprising spirit. Indeed, he is developing his own clothing brand and has a factory in the Midlands city of Leicester. I did not quite ascertain whether his t-shirts and jumpers are selling like hot cakes but that is beside the point. What we have at Mill Hill is a set of students whose DNA is filled with an entrepreneurial spirit and these pupils do “bounce off each other”, said Mrs King.

The success stories could go on and times have clearly changed. As Mrs King told so eloquently: “Grandfathers may have had jobs for lives, fathers may have had six jobs, now people are willing to fail and start over again and again”. I think the main message I want to convey from this interview is that it is ok to fail as students will have skills and grades to fall back on. If Mill Hill can get “most reluctant teenagers to do wonderful things”, as Frances King, alluded to - then Hong Kong families should keep this co-educational London school in mind.


Samuel Chan is the Managing Director of Britannia StudyLink.

文章作者Samuel Chan是Britannia StudyLink英識教育創辦人。



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。

論名氣,Oundle 未追得上 Eton、Wycombe Abbey 等頂級名校,但學校的學術成績在英國依然名列前茅。作為傳統名校,Oundle 非常重視全人發展,為學生提供多元課餘活動選擇。學校奉行英國碩果僅存的 House Dining System,或是令香港家長趨之若鶩的一大原因。
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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