(The following is written in first-person narrative)
I heard about Wycombe Abbey School when a few like-minded parents were chatting amongst ourselves one day. I was curious and went on a campus tour, and was left with a big impression from comments made by the Headmaster.
Homework time should not exceed 20mins
Mr. Howard Tuckett mentioned that he strives to set each pupil’s homework time to be around 20 minutes, because academic exercises, homework, or examinations should be managed by professional educators (i.e. schools). The precious time parents get to spend with children should focus on other core personal values such as love, being thankful or skills such as communication. Parents should be able to enjoy the time with their children instead of stressing over piles of class exercises.
I was moved by what he said.
Indeed a lot of my friends’ children attend schools with lots of homework (even at primary levels). Every day, parents return from work to continue labouring away with their children’s homework.
I remember when I was studying abroad, life was not just about homework and exams. Sure, teachers gave us prep work, but my parents didn’t watch over my shoulder all the time, and my school definitely did not use exam results as the key measure of success. My teachers placed heavy emphasis towards my learning attitude and effort, “improving from yesterday” and “coming top of class” were celebrated equally.
I thought, this is probably the education I wish for my kids.
From the off, Wycombe Abbey School’s Headmaster told me the school should be the responsible party for the learning effectiveness of their pupils, and stand readily accountable for the outcomes. Convinced by his unwavering commitment to this cause, I knew this was the school I wanted my children to study at.
After only two months of studying at Wycombe Abbey Hong Kong, I saw a surprising amount of change with Franklin.
Previously, Franklin’s written English was quite weak, during my first monthly discussion with his class teacher, I was shown Franklin’s initial English work, which confirmed his below par level of written English. My heart sank, and I was anticipating some portioning of blames for Franklin’s performance.
But it turned out to be totally different.
Franklin’s teacher simply shared her observations in an objective manner, pointed out key areas for development and laid out a plan that was tailored to help Franklin improve his English. Just as I was beginning to feel relieved, the teacher pulled out a more recent piece of Franklin’s work.
To be honest, I was totally shocked.
Presented on an identical piece of paper, were detailed analyses, descriptive narratives and colourful diagrams…almost like a presentation ready document. It was such a far cry compared to his original work.
I asked my wife if Franklin has been spending painstaking hours practising his English, because in my mind, no gain of such magnitude, especially within a short period of two months, was possible without much pain. But my wife told me “not at all, Franklin has been enjoying himself everyday”.
It might not be difficult to let a child know of his own weaknesses, but to motivate the child to then want to improve his capabilities in a proactive manner? I think only good teachers can do that. Then to get this child to enjoy the process altogether? This surely requires continual efforts from a team of patient, passionate and professional educators. For that, I am certain I made the right decision to let Franklin study at Wycombe Abbey.
In addition, the school offers 40 Extra Curricular Activities to choose from including; Taekwondo, Rock Climbing, Hockey, Basketball, Tennis, Art, Choir, Drama, Science, iSTEAM and NASA education etc. Basically everything that we can think of for primary aged children in Hong Kong, the school have them on the list.
We used to plan separate after school activities for our children ourselves, but at Wycombe Abbey Hong Kong, these are all taken care of by the school on campus, it is more efficient for our children and convenient for us parents.
Simply put, I think Wycombe Abbey School know what they are doing, and they do it very well.
Children cried when we suggested changing schools
Within two months, Franklin went from inward looking to outgoing, often asking probing questions fuelled by his thirst for knowledge.
Like other innovative schools, Wycombe Abbey adopts a cross-curricular approach to learning, using examples of everyday problems as case studies to aid class discussions. Pupils are encouraged to think about how technical knowledge can be applied, bringing theories from books to solve real issues in life.
Sophie is different to her brother, she is naturally lively, so studying at Wycombe Abbey School, she is like a fish taking to water. Her teacher knows Sophie’s strengths well, and gives her ample opportunities to leverage her strengths to improve other skills. For example, Sophie likes to help others, so her teacher gave her the task to form a team of class helpers, letting her practise leadership and coordination skills.
Nowadays, my children yearn to go to school, and due to the COVID-19 situation, despite having remote learning, they are often frustrated at home. I even contemplated switching them to another school in the mainland so they can resume on campus learning, when Franklin got wind to this, he almost cried and told me he does not want to leave Wycombe Abbey, the teachers or his friends.
I was really touched and thought, isn’t this true evidence of a great school? The fact that pupils feel attached to the school and want to go to school? Aren’t these better indicators compared to “good exam results” or “top enrolment for graduates”?
I have always believed that the fundamental role for parents is to provide children with the right platforms, resources and opportunities so that they can decide at their own time what they really want to do in the future. As a parent, I am happy to have found Wycombe Abbey as my companion in seeing our children through the journey of education.
Although Wycombe Abbey Hong Kong is still a relatively new school, with a limited local reputation, I sincerely hope that more parents will come and see the school’s education methodologies in action, and let their children benefit from this quality education institution.