Board­ing in China preps kids for study over­seas

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHANG MIN in Tian­jin zhang­min@chi­nadaily.com.cn

With the rapid progress of China’s econ­omy, more and more Chi­nese par­ents pre­fer to send their young chil­dren to schools over­seas. But in the opin­ion of Mur­ray Fowler, mas­ter of Wellington Col­lege In­ter­na­tional Tian­jin, study­ing over­seas is not good for younger chil­dren.

In his view, at­tend­ing an in­ter­na­tional board­ing school in China is good prepa­ra­tion for the move abroad when pupils are old enough.

“The best part of study­ing in an in­ter­na­tional board­ing school is that you get to stay in China. It al­lows stu­dents to re­tain the com­fort of be­ing in their home coun­try but also pro­vides the chance to be ex­posed to some­thing dif­fer­ent, a dif­fer­ent ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and dif­fer­ent lan­guage and school­mates from dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties,” he said.

Up to the age of 13, he be­lieves, pupils would do bet­ter to stay in their home coun­try, close to their fam­i­lies, only go­ing abroad in their mid-teens or later.

As a mem­ber of the school’s found­ing team, Fowler is the sec­ond mas­ter. He took the po­si­tion in Au­gust 2011 af­ter serv­ing as a ge­og­ra­phy teacher at Wellington Col­lege in the UK since 1991.

He aims to in­tro­duce many of the meth­ods and val­ues of the UK school to its sis­ter branch in Tian­jin.

“The three cru­cial things in school are teach­ers, stu­dents and par­ents. They form a tri­an­gle. If a school misses any of them, it will not run well,” Fowler said.

“It’s very im­por­tant to get par­ents in­volved as much as pos­si­ble.”

Ac­cord­ing to data from The In­ter­na­tional Tal­ent Blue­book: China Over­seas De­vel­op­ment Re­port, which was pub­lished by So­cial Sciences Aca­demic Press in 2012, there are large num­bers of Chi­nese chil­dren study­ing abroad. In 2011, there were around 76,800 Chi­nese chil­dren in high schools over­seas, with many more in pri­mary and ju­nior schools.

Many stu­dents in board­ing schools in the UK come from Hong Kong and the Chi­nese main­land.

The ad­van­tages to study­ing over­seas are many, in­clud­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to get in­volved in a wide range of ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, such as sports, mu­sic and ex­pe­di­tions. But Fowler urges par­ents to be sure that their chil­dren are old enough to be sent to study over­seas, since leav­ing one’s home and coun­try at an early age can be dif­fi­cult.

“But clearly there is an enor­mous amount to gain in terms of in­de­pen­dence and ex­po­sure to a com­plete dif­fer­ent lan­guage and cul­ture. There are a lot of things to pre­pare for be­fore you go abroad be­cause the life is very dif­fer­ent,” Fowler said.

Ac­cord­ing to the China Over­seas De­vel­op­ment Re­port, cul­tural dif­fer­ences, study- re­lated stress and lone­li­ness are three prob­lems that teenage stu­dents face while over­seas. Fowler hopes par­ents will pay close at­ten­tion to the chil­dren’s per­sonal growth and men­tal health and not fo­cus ex­clu­sively on aca­demic achieve­ment.

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