Chinese International School Hong Kong

_featured_imageBy: Ted Faunce

It seems so much longer than two years ago that, as our school began to explore new thinking around the care of our students and staff – with a poke here and a chance encounter there – the school’s leadership, pastoral care team and counselors began intentionally leading the school community in a thoughtful and inclusive exploration of positive education. We now call that time ‘Year Zero’ and this school year ‘Year Two’.

The Chinese International School that I lead was and is a school of high academic reputation where most people would agree that students flourish. Over one-third of pupils stay the course of a dual language (English-Mandarin) path for the 14 years from Pre-K through graduation with the IB Diploma. I hope that we are also known as a restless school, driven toward new horizons in learning and unafraid of BHAGS (Jim Collins’s ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals’) that result in such bold moves as the creation of a programme that, in time, will move all of our Grade 9 (14 and 15 year olds) to Hangzhou China for a full school year.

A place with an uncommon jolt of energy, Hong Kong features a fast pace of life that inevitably finds its way into school. It is not entirely cynical to say that people here care about two things, money and education, with food a remarkable but distant third. How else could we interpret the 40% rise in applications to our pre-K for 2009 – the entrance cohort following the financial crisis – except as a token of belief that education is the best investment?

As the leader of the Chinese International School, which resides in the pressurized and materialistic environment of Hong Kong, I feel a special responsibility toward the wellbeing of staff and students. Having long ago developed a caring and well-structured programme of student support, our school’s path into positive education can be briefly traced though the following history. I hope it might be of some use to schools wondering how to take their first steps into positive education.

First inklings: 2011/12

Leadership embraces the commitment to look more deeply into the foundational matter of well-being.
Prioritization of wellbeing through the CIS Annual Fund.
Four school leaders participate in the ‘Mindfulness in Education’ conference at Phuket International Academy Day School in October 2012.
Secondary Pastoral Care team, Counselor and Headmaster visit schools at various stages of development in positive education in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia November 2012.

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