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Thursday 22-Dec-2016
【SCMP Education Post:Boarding Insider】Westbourne students with sights set high

The quality and quantity of opportunities afforded to Hong Kong children at UK boarding schools continues to surpass all expectations. These are competitive times for top UK boarding schools and they are raising their game when it comes to readying pupils for the world of business and their future careers …


When Mr Nick Leiper, Director of Marketing and Admissions at Westbourne School, in Penarth, Wales, forwarded a story to me about the School’s Head Boy, Max Zhao, who was selected to attend an MBA taster course at one of the most famous graduate business schools in the world, INSEAD, I immediately beamed with pleasure.

Asian students are flourishing because British schools are helping to widen and enhance their pupils’ academic pursuits. Westbourne is one such school and it has strong links with INSEAD, which is based in Fontainebleau on the southern outskirts of Paris. INSEAD also has campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

My colleagues and I are hot on the heels of ambitious students from our neck of the woods. Children who have seemingly emancipated themselves from being tied down with our cramming system and blossomed into team players, leaders and creative entrepreneurs as a result of studying at top British independent schools.

Asian students are flourishing because British schools are helping to widen and enhance their pupils’ academic pursuits. Westbourne is one such school and it has strong links with INSEAD, which is based in Fontainebleau on the southern outskirts of Paris. INSEAD also has campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

Westbourne School’s Head Boy, Max Zhao

Max attended Summer@INSEAD, a programme established in 2015 which provides an opportunity for talented 15 to 17-year-olds to widen their academic pursuits and join forces with like-minded students from around the world. The intensive nature of the programme merges a world-class academic curriculum, visits to esteemed companies, talks with entrepreneurs and business leaders with a range of cultural and outdoor activities designed to develop students’ team building and critical thinking skills as well as their creativity.


The Summer@INSEAD programme runs for two weeks in the August holidays. Only 70 students worldwide and 5-10 from the UK are granted access to this chance of a lifetime. It is the case that Westbourne has forged strong links with INSEAD over the years and each year, top Westbourne IB1 students (Year 12) are able to apply for the programme. I must also point out that the programme is for family and friends of INSEAD alumni only.

Max himself admitted in an interview how the intense programme helped him to comprehend the importance of collaboration, trust and information in the business world. He also talked of the practical nature of the course where participants can apply their skills via “Your First Hundred Days”, a simulation in which four team members acquire a business and negotiate terms with supplier and distributors. Max assumed the role of the Sales and Marketing Director and transformed a century old family business into “an attractive modern company” with his teammates.


Readers and parents may wonder whether an MBA-style taster is worth the money when these teenagers still have many years ahead of them before entering the world of work. However, I think we need more schools like Westbourne to open a world of possibilities to our children. There is no harm in getting them acquainted with the essentials of the business world and to have engaging cross-cultural dialogue with like-minded people when they are 16 years old as young adulthood is just around the corner. After all, such programmes are not designed to make participants little business people but rather broad-minded individuals who can reflect on their experiences.


I have long argued that straight A grades do not meaning everything as we must not completely sacrifice children’s ability to make decisions and better choices as well as their capacity to negotiate, collaborate, set goals and solve problems for success in exams. Life and learning should not just be about the retention of factual knowledge but also the development of critical thinking skills and the honing of one’s creative capacities.


Overall, evidence is filtering through to me that students from our region are spreading their wings, enthusiastically collaborating with children around the world and showing how creative they can be. Shy children can blossom into confident entrepreneurs and this is the very essence of a British boarding education.


Westbourne School in Penarth, South Wales, is an independent day and boarding school, for ages 3 to 19, where students immerse themselves in a world-class academic education while exploring and pursuing their personal passions in the school’s welcoming and highly-engaged community. Around 70% of students are from the local area, complemented by high-calibre international students, 15% from Europe (10 countries) and 15% from Asia and Africa (7 countries). The school has a warm and highly supportive culture where every student receives personal, individually-tailored support from their teachers.

Samuel Chan is the Managing Director of Britannia StudyLink.

Original article:

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Education Experts

With an entrepreneurial spirit spreading across online, print and broadcast media, Samuel is an award-winning educational consultant and celebrated columnist.

As a leader in the field of education, he was honoured with the British Council’s Study UK Alumni Award and his most prestigious achievement to date includes the founding of Hong Kong’s premier educational brands - Britannia StudyLink, Anglo Belgravia and Ascent Prep.

In addition to streamlining the UK independent school application process for Hong Kong families and spearheading the first official UKiset-accredited educational centre in Hong Kong, Samuel has led his company, Britannia, to becoming one of Asia’s leading brands with diverse clients and distinguished institutions ranging from Radley College to HSBC Bank and Hong Kong Telecom.


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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