It is widely believed that someone’s personality and the way he or she responds with life’s problems are shaped by the learning process. In schools, the shift in thinking from academic knowledge to practical knowledge has resulted in a life changing thought process. People are looking at the idea of education as a means to a well-rounded growth rather than just a means to obtain degrees and financial success. Education must aid in the development of a healthy thought process and the enhancement of our cognitive talents.
Education, after food, clothing, and shelter, is a basic requirement for human beings in today’s competitive world. However, it wasn’t the case in the medieval period. When education sector had just started toddling, Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong, kicked off its journey. Creating its own destiny, the school has come a long way in almost 500 years.
In our quest of finding ‘The Most Admired Schools in Hong Kong,’ we crossed paths with, Mr Ben Keeling, the Principal of Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong, where he sheds light on the journey of his school, its story of success, and the future aspects of education sector. Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kindly tell our readers about Shrewsbury school, its history, and its infrastructure.
Shrewsbury School was founded in 1552 by Royal Charter and recognized as one of seven ‘great schools’ in 1868. Positioned on the spacious Kingsland estate since 1882, it has developed a reputation for dynamism and community-centered education over a period of almost 500 years.
Shrewsbury International School Bangkok was founded in 2003 and is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. It has an outstanding academic record underpinned by a lasting commitment to care and compassion.
Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong was allocated a greenfield site by the Education Bureau in 2014, appointed its Founding Principal in 2017 and opened in 2018, alongside a second campus in Bangkok. In 2020, it received commendation from both the Council of International Schools and the Federation of British International Schools in Asia.
The Shrewsbury family is now made up of five interconnected and united schools of unparalleled vision. Situated just 30 minutes from Central, Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong provides a unique range of opportunities and experiences for children between 3 and 11. Its world-class, purpose-built campus has been designed to serve the needs, interests, and ambitions of students, with facilities such as:
- An auditorium, able to accommodate almost 500 guests
- A recital hall, for more intimate performances
- An indoor sports hall, featuring a 90-meter running track
- An aquatics center, containing two pools
- A gymnastics center, equipped to Olympic standard
- A rooftop football pitch
Tell us about the mission, vision, and core values of Shrewsbury school.
Shrewsbury International School serves an ambitious, innovative, and dynamic international community. Our Mission outlines a commitment to English language education, continuous improvement, and the provision of outstanding opportunities. It is further supplemented by the detailing of seven core values: Selectivity, Exceptional People, Commitment & Renewal, Outstanding Opportunities, English Language, Care & Compassion, The Shrewsbury Way.
Intus si recte ne labora – If the heart is right, all will be well
What are the priorities of Shrewsbury school in terms of course objectives and learning outcomes?
We are a primary school and the vast majority of unique benefits enjoyed by students stem from this relatively simple premise. Offering a unique commitment to the lives and successes of students aged between 3 and 11, we provide a broad and bespoke program that draws upon the academic rigor of the English National Curriculum.
Offering an unparalleled range of experiences and opportunities, designed exclusively for young learners, we connect learning through a thematic framework that maximizes contact with specialist academic staff of the highest possible caliber.
Chinese language (delivered daily via a three-tiered structure), music, performing arts, physical education (to include athletics, gymnastics and dance) and swimming are taught by designated teams of formally and specifically qualified colleagues.
Please brief us about the personality (Director/Principal/Chancellor/other) behind the success of the school, and how he/she has helped enhance the outreach and development of your reputed institution?
I am the Founding Principal of Shrewsbury. I was appointed 18 months in advance of the school opening in August 2018. This enabled me to play a critical role in the development of the campus and the appointment of the academic and operations team. I direct at all levels of the organization and engage closely with colleagues region wide, as a prominent member of the Education Committee at the British Chamber.
I work closely with internal and external stakeholders and have recently announced the launch of a new strategic plan titled Together We Flourish. Designed to guide the progress of the school over the next ten years, it arrived as the result of extensive consultation and draws upon rich heritage, a defining ambition unique to Shrewsbury schools and the voices of our own proud community. It will act to guide, inform, and inspire operational planning and the work undertaken by the school team each day.
What kind of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities and events do you conduct at Shrewsbury school? How do you ensure maximum student engagement in these events?
Co-Curricular activity at Shrewsbury offers students the opportunity to broaden and extend their interests in three key domains.
After School Aquatics (ASA) acts to supplement provision available during the course of each school week, Extra Curricular Activity (ECA) promotes the development of a broad range of new, interconnected skills, and the Instrumental Music Program (IMP) affords the opportunity to engage in one-to-one instrumental tuition.
The opportunities available provide inspiration and balance that further improves the well-being of our students and help to enhance their academic, social, and physical performance. The Excellence Program forms part of ECA and allows for the identification, acceleration, and promotion of students able to demonstrate particular strength or ability.
Please mention your school’s most notable achievements, accolades, accreditations, and awards.
In 2020 Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong received commendation from both the Council of International Schools and the Federation of British International Schools in Asia.
During our two day visit, it was possible to see the vibrant school in action, to meet with a significant number of the constituents, and to triangulate documentation and evidence in situ, which made it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. The evaluator gained a strong sense of the commitment and energy which permeate SISHK and characterise its values-based ethos as a member of the Shrewsbury family of schools.
The combination of an ambitious and committed board that invested in an intentional pre-operational preparation phase, visionary drive of the founding principal who started January 2017 and the careful recruitment, deployment and dedication of quality staff have enabled SISHK to achieve a fantastic founding year.
CIS Evaluative Report Summary
Overall, there is substantial evidence that Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong has comfortably met the requirements for membership. The school has a clearly defined mission and set of values statements common across the Shrewsbury family of schools. Safeguarding, Governance, individual needs, language teaching and an overall teaching and learning environment that promotes high academic standards is extremely impressive. The Principal and his leadership style is seen as outstanding and has contributed enormously to the schools successful launch.
FOBISIA Evaluative Report Summary
We benefit from a sincere, deep and warm relationship with both our host school in the UK and sister schools in Thailand. The Shrewsbury Parents Association acts to deliver community centred events and The Friends of Shrewsbury supports connection between Hong Kong based families soon to join Shrewsbury School and those already based in the UK.
Together with our partner Eliteswim Academy, founded by Hong Kong champion swimmers and record holders Mr Kent Cheung and Mr Gary Wong, we have designed and developed a market-leading aquatics programme.
Covid-19 has put additional responsibility on the education sector in terms of online educational trends, hygiene, and safety precautions. How did you adapt to these circumstances whilst preparing and safeguarding your students for the same?
The episodic and extended suspension of physical school services over the last few years has inspired radical (and likely permanent) transformative revision to educational engagements worldwide. While undoubtedly challenging, circumstances have most often inspired. The practical application of educational technology stands as a particular prominent example, but there are many others. School suspension has taught us to think responsively and with an open mind.
We collaborate with greater freedom and have better utilized the views and voices of students and parents as co-creators. Our approach to the continual refinement of our online learning program, in recognition that we are innately social beings, epitomized our creative endeavor.
We took an approach that supported fluid intervention. Teachers were available to families throughout the working week and responded to an average of over 200 individual requests for feedback each day in the belief that the provision of accurate and individualized feedback is the most critical function of a teacher in the modern classroom. Ours was an on-demand service. In order to best safeguard the experience of students, conference sessions were hosted in small groups of no more than eight.
How do you envision the future of your illustrious school going forward?
Our recently launched new strategic plan, entitled Together We Flourish, lays out the ambitions of Shrewsbury International School marked over a period of ten years. Celebrating connectedness and community, ‘Together We Flourish’ stands in recognition of the inherent privilege we are afforded in working to harness the enterprise, initiative, and enthusiasm of our students. The focus is on four themes:
In order to Embed, we will place explicit focus upon:
- School Culture
- Routine and Tradition
- Organizational Stability
In order to Enhance, we will place explicit focus upon:
- Opportunity and Experience
- Breadth of Expertise
In order to Connect, we will place explicit focus upon engagements with:
- Parents, Students and Alumni
- Our Professional Network
- The Growing Shrewsbury Family
In order to Achieve, we will place explicit focus upon:
- Formal Accreditation
- Regional Recognition
- Collectively Defined Targets