International Schools: Graduating in China

Parents face a difficult decision when relocating to China during the final years of their children’s high school education. Sophie Loras spoke to Australian graduates and international schools in China to find out how students fare and what they gained from their China schooling.

It is a difficult decision for families moving regularly. Should older children in the midst of completing their final years of schooling remain in Australia or complete their education in a new environment, and most likely, a different curriculum also?
For many students who do choose to complete their high school education in China, the experience enhances their international outlook and as a result, many accept university positions all over the world.
 
Yew Chung International School of Beijing offers an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, a globally accepted qualification. The school enjoyed a 100 percent pass rate for its 2011 school leavers and an IB average score of 38.1 out of a possible 45 – almost 10 points higher than the global average of 29.5.

More than 40 percent of the school’s IB Graduates received scores of 40 points or higher. Combined, the students were offered more than 100 university placements around the world and were awarded US$450,000 worth of scholarships.

 
The school’s highest-ranking student was Helen Leung, who scored a perfect 45. Worldwide, less than 100 of the 115,000 students who complete an IB diploma each year receive this mark.
 
 
Helen Leung, who scored a perfect 45 for her IB diploma, says her time at YCIS Beijing transformed her self-confidence.
 
“One of the advantages of studying in an international school is that not only are the students diverse, but the teachers are also diverse and come from different countries,” says
helen_leung_ycis_web Helen.
 
Originally from Melbourne, Helen and her family moved around a lot, never spending more than two to three years in the one spot. But, says Helen, the most valuable transformation for her studying at an international school in Beijing was her level of confidence.
 
“As a child, I was an extremely shy and introverted person, but the opportunities to take up leadership roles, to speak at assemblies, and the praise and recognition I have gained from my achievements, has really allowed me to build my confidence up over the years,” says Helen.
 

*Pictured above: Helen Leung, who graduated from Yew Chung International School of Beijing in 2011 with a perfect IB score of 45, says her time at school gave her more confidence and leadership opportunities.
 
“I learned that the only thing keeping you back from moving forward is yourself and your own fears, so it’s really important to be confident in whatever you do and not let the fear of making mistakes hold you back.”
 
Helen says her experience at YCIS Beijing allowed her to gain wider perspectives on the world.
 
“Many of the teachers who teach at an international school have taught in various countries before, and it is really interesting to hear them share their life experiences,” says Helen.
 
“I am blessed by how passionate my teachers [were] in their work. They went beyond what they were required to make sure we were learning as much as we could. They teach with their hearts and make sure we were reaching our potential and doing our best. They were our mentors not just academically, but also in our personal development. We could not have done it without them.”
 
Helen has chosen to continue her education at the University of Hong Kong, pursuing a Bachelor of Social Sciences, possibly majoring in Sociology and minoring in Global Studies. She hopes to one day work for an NGO or be involved in the non-profit sector in development-related work.
 
“The International Baccalaureate and YCIS Beijing both place emphasis on educating global citizens, and I believe my international education has widened my perspective which catalyzed my interest in exploring pressing global issues and the consequent ambition to be part of the solution,” she says.
 
Helen’s sister Clara also achieved a perfect score of 45 when she graduated from YCIS Beijing in 2010.
 
The Yew Chung International School of Beijing forms part of the Yew Chung International Schools family, with campuses in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Chongqing, and one campus in the United States – representing more than 5500 students worldwide. More than 45 nationalities are represented at the schools, with American, British and Australian students making up the largest groups. Despite the large numbers of Australian students however, less than five percent choose to return to Australia for their tertiary education.
 
“This is mostly a talent – programme matching, rather than a country base consideration,” says Clare Chan, the Marketing Services Manager at Yew Chung Education Foundation.
 
The school has a strong emphasis on providing students with the best of East & West, Ms Chan says.
 
“Our graduates often find themselves at ease to adapt to a new environment in universities, meeting new people and making friends. We believe our education philosophy of integrating the best of East and West, enables them to have the cultural competence to mix with people from different parts of the world.”
 
The International Baccalaureate is a popular choice for many international students studying in China.  Beijing City International School
(BCIS) has more than 50 nationalities represented at the school, with American students making up the largest group.
 
Australian students make up 6 percent of the school community, but last year only one graduate chose Australia for further study. The United States was the most popular destination for tertiary placements.
 
“A true international education is about engaging with school students, teachers, parents and invited members of the community, giving voice to their perspectives and learning as part of an authentic investigation into who we are and what we can achieve,” says BCIS High School Principal, Mr. Craig Rodgers.
 
“International education values are distinct traditions of learning excellence, skills, concepts and attitudes, identifying differences and similarities, realizing “that others with their differences can also be right,” Mr Rodgers says.
 
He says a true international schooling experience challenges students to use learning in authentic projects, applying knowledge to reveal new and deeper thinking to a real audience.
 
IB programmes encourage inquiry-based learning across six selected subjects.
In addition, students must also complete an extended 4000-word essay on a research question of their choice and a component known as Theory of Knowledge to examine why people think the way they do as well as an emphasis on Creativity, Action, Service – known as CAS.
 
“There is a deliberate emphasis on academic research, exemplary verbal, written and digital communication skills, critical self- and peer-reflection, constructive learning and creation, all which support high achievement in exams and other formal assessment,” Mr Rodgers says.
 
“International education at BCIS, then, is more than what we can learn from others but about how students, all of us, can make positive contributions to learning and living in our world.”
 
harrow_final_selects001_web*Pictured left: The right school will encourage high academic standards and in the final years, a qualification that is recognised anywhere in the world says Harrow’s Matthew Farthing. (Courtesy Harrow International School Beijing)
 
Harrow International School of Beijing Head Master, Matthew Benjamin Farthing says the right school will assist students in the development of basic skills, learner autonomy, high academic standards and in the final years, a qualification that is recognised anywhere in the world and which provides access to the best universities.
 
Harrow International School of Beijing, which is affiliated to the Harrow School in the UK and the Harrow International School of Bangkok, follows the British A Levels curriculum. In 2011, school leavers were accepted into a large number of top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, The University of Melbourne, and McGill, and regional universities including Beijing Language and Cultural University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
More than 54 percent of the 2011 graduates from Harrow scored A-A Grades and a 100 percent pass rate.
 
“The best international education develops an open-mindedness, a quiet confidence and independence of mind,” says Mr Farthing.
 
“At best, it means the nurturing of self that goes beyond an ability to coexist in all cultures but a genuine intra-cultural attitude to find positive relationships anywhere.” 
 
To read a profile on 2011 Australian WAB graduate, Tom Wang, click here.
 

*Pictured top right: Neroli Wallace, Yew Chung International School Beijing.
 

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