Ningbo Huamao International School: An Alliance of Innovation and Excellence

“We aim to produce curious, tolerant, ambitious students, who reflect on their choices and who accept difference with justice and compassion”

Located near the coastal shores of the East China Sea, Ningbo Huamao International School symbolizes a ‘High Tide’ of educational systems advancing upwards towards excellence. The school is based in Yinzhou District at Zhejiang China.

It is one among the most prominent International Schools in China which is continually creating bridges of understanding and practice between age-old traditional education systems and modern-world educational demands. The name of the school itself very beautifully describes its mission.

Ningbo is the place where it belongs. Emphasizing the connection between tradition and culture. Huamao is the founding school from where it originated. Associating its link with the past. International points to the global emphasis of the school. Mixing ‘East & West’ in its thoughts and systems. School describes the abode of compassionate learning.

The Modus-Operandi of Teaching –

NBHIS runs the IB PYP – primary years program – until grade 5, the IB MYP – middle years program – between grades 6 and 9, a school-based curriculum for Pre-PD grade 10 and the IB Diploma Program in grades 11-12. All classes are taught in English apart from Chinese language classes.

In addition, the school supports a North American Program that is informed by the Ontario curriculum for grades 9-11. These students wish to study abroad for university, and leave local Chinese school to enter the program in grade 9. They finish high school in Canada in grade 12, or the US, in foundation programs for the partner universities.

Moreover, the school also conducts a successful Chinese as a Foreign Language for foreign students who wish to enter Chinese universities.

At the primary level, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in English is matched with the Singapore Mathematics curriculum, Australian Social Studies and Science, and Chinese National Curriculum for Chinese classes. Classes are co-taught by two homeroom teachers, one Chinese and one from the overseas. The school results demonstrate that this blend builds language resilient learners who are open to experiences from multiple cultures.

For middle year and diploma programs, Chinese Culture classes are taught alongside the IB framework. This maintains an unbroken attention to the students’ roots while cultivating their increasing international mindedness. The advantages of this methodology are manifested within the students’ minds. This is because a good international education requires global examples and teaching methods. This helps in enabling children to become skilled in reading, writing, interpretation and communication.

Procedural Equipment

Excellence in processes is informed by the results they produce. Ningbo Huamao International School, thoroughly equips their students for University studies that follow. One hundred per cent of NBHIS graduates go on to tertiary education institutions around the world. The school works tirelessly to equip students for university abroad and, later, for embarking on careers in a global marketplace. The school’s international outlook broadens students’ minds by offering knowledge and experience of other cultures in every class at every level, alongside local knowledge and experience.

The students who graduate with an IB diploma go to universities pre-dominantly in the UK, the USA and Canada, with a small number going to Australia and Hong Kong and Europe. NBHIS’ IB students often choose art schools as the school places great emphasis on the arts, however, they gain Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in a broad range of disciplines. NBHIS is continually adding to the considerable list of universities offering places to its students, with the overall standard of offers increasing year on year.

The school’s North American Program graduates go to Columbia International College, Canada, to finish high school and from there, to the whole range of Canadian universities; school’s Chinese as a Foreign Language, HSK, and graduates attend China’s best universities.

Amalgamation of Cultures

Although, NBHIS is primarily a Chinese school, it tends to have European foreigners as it has an excellent ESL program, which goes on with English language development. The school has a good subscription into grade 10 for pre-DP year leading into the IB diploma. There exists a smattering of foreign students wanting to join this prestigious program. Moreover, there is a large group of foreign staff at school, all whose children are also enrolled in the school.

Being the only school in the province licensed to take both Chinese nationals and foreign students, NBHIS’ environment is unique. While foreign students benefit from a deeper understanding of the country and city in which they live, Chinese students enjoy access to alternative methods and modes of instruction. Foreign students also gain a chance to master Chinese from their teachers and peers.

A beautiful public art gallery on campus promotes an active environment of art appreciation through creative displays. Every student’s work from Creche to Grade 12 is hung in the school-wide art exhibition. A science museum on site exposes students to unusual real-world phenomena from the safety of the school grounds.

Philosophy of Learning

The majority of the students at NBHIS are studying in their second language, and this is painstaking, especially in the younger classes. However, language comes clearly and carefully into students’ minds and the school is a happy place.

From the tiny two-year old “Crechies” to the busy, independent grade 12 IB diploma candidates, students at NBHIS know who they are and what they think. The IB programs of inquiry operate deeply within each class, giving students permission and confidence to form their questions and to follow their curiosities.  Children learn to share space and attention and revel in the sea of company, provided by class and playground.

Central to all teaching units is the philosophy which says that education begins “at home”. This is what students have already experienced. Practically, this means that a topic is approached with exploration of what it looks like for their families, from their Chinese and international contexts. When students are comfortable with what they know, they are taken on a journey of research to explore what the topics look like internationally and what solutions are being applied to global problems.

Life beyond the Classrooms

NBHIS tries to be inclusive without exhausting students’ sensibilities. They celebrate all the major Chinese celebrations, Diwali, Halloween, and Christmas in various cultural ways. The school also has UN day activities and each school section has a sports day every year. Moreover, there exist close to 45 extra-curricular activities which change according to student interest and motivation. The school’s IBDP CAS program mandates Creativity, Activity and Service for grades 11-12.

The offerings in extra-curricular include sports of all kinds, crafts, coding and robotics, visits to elderly homes to interact with dementia patients, visits to migrant schools and multiple on-campus activities for migrant children, and street stalls providing collected clothing for migrant workers and their families.

Proliferation of education at NBHIS

IB schools are carefully monitored to provide strong written curricula, to constantly train teachers, and to ensure international mindedness within their lessons and in activities. Lessons are conducted after teacher collaborative planning sessions where concepts are broken down through ideas and content into facts and actions. The IB visits its schools in a regular pattern to safeguard the standards and practices it requires, and teachers are kept up-to-date through the required IB training in each program that they must adhere to. The collaborative meetings with the various coordinators are the key to the best use of the IB frameworks and curricula. Teachers are motivated to learn from and to inspire each other.

About the Director

The school is administered under apt and able leadership of the Director, Mr Xu Wanmao. He is founder of a family-held commercial and education dynasty in Ningbo, China. He has demonstrated his interest in and passion for education by establishing three significant Foreign Language Schools in China in the 1990s. Previously, he had worked tirelessly on a revolutionary text book for Chinese Schools which offered students choice for the first time, and which introduced arts subjects and appreciation into Chinese education. The “rainbow’ textbook was eventually used in 80% of Chinese Schools, earning Mr Xu the UNESCO Award for his contribution towards Chinese education.

Not satisfied with modernizing and expanding Chinese education, Mr Xu researched foreign education to find the strongest program that aligned with his educational principles and values. He settled upon the International Baccalaureate and proceeded to establish an international department, which grew into the three program IB school, and the NBHIS, which exists today.

Although the methods of teaching and learning between the Foreign Language School and NBHIS, sharing an 82 acres campus and facilities, are very different, they inform and influence each other. Mr Xu is a flexible, innovative director, always looking for expert advices to improve his schools, while allowing the principals’ autonomy and authority.

Word of Trust

As a former student of NBHIS, my greatest takeaway from this school has been the benefits of being a risk taker, an IB learner profile that NBHIS has been consistently championed. In the immediate term, taking risks allows me to step beyond my own comfort zone to try doing things that I have never done or thought about doing before, such as participating in case study competitions and speaking in public pitches.

  • Thomas Chan

Almuni NHIS

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