Samuel Chan Fri Feb 21, 2020
因應武漢肺炎疫情持續,英國寄宿學校呼籲海外學生在復活節假期間,不要到中國大陸、香港,以至東南亞國家,以減低肺炎的傳播風險。 以往香港學生大多會在復活節期間返港,主因是學校在假期期間不會開放,亦不會提供住宿,今年改為留在英國,難免大失預算,不...

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【教育王國】英國寄宿學校的菜單

由於亞洲人和俄羅斯的大力捧場,英國寄宿學校雖然失去了帝國版圖,但對於第三世界有強勁經濟能力的家長和智商超群的優質學生,依然擁有無窮無盡的吸引力。

好的寄宿學校,是Outstanding,而不一定是Glamorous。英國寄宿學校不只是一盤教育生意,更是一套獨特的教育文化,培養帝國時代可以陪威爾斯王子打馬球之後過幾天又遠征非洲殺獵食人族建設文明的知識精英武士。

不過今日英帝國已不復存在,英國部份寄宿學校對於新的市場需求,供應方式和風格也有所調整,有所變,也有所不變。

有所變的地方,是遷就一些亞洲富裕家庭,對於飯堂膳食質素,大大提高。包括中國人極為重視飲食,家長看見英國寄宿學校得在冬天只提供麥片和兩塊發硬的麵包,經常質疑每年交幾十萬學費是否化算。英國校方也沒有時間向太多愛子心切的消費者解釋「天將降大任於斯人也」那套教育哲學,校長以前會很婉轉地告訴家長:我們英國寄宿學校的文化是從小培養孩子面對艱辛的逆境,如果不接受我們的宗旨,可以不來。英國的校長現在不會這樣說了,而改為採取顧客永遠是對的商業態度,面對市場民意,將寄宿學校的膳食加入美食。可能十年之內或會有幾家名校還定期供應鮑魚、魚翅、生蠔,以免餓親寶寶,但我以專業角度認為, 一家好的寄宿學校,為子女建立內在的性格,多於照顧體內的腸胃。腸胃是人體器官的一部份,不要忘記,還有大腦,還有一顆心。

許多寄宿學校宿舍也開始裝修,吸引中港家長。因為當越來越多的家長在寄宿學校附近的小鎮購置豪宅或一座莊園,而且申請三名印傭菲傭、兩個啹喀領取工作證來英國做園丁,寄宿學校自然也應該調適配合,裝修校舍,以免與顧客相比太過寒酸。

因為亞洲有錢的家長相信,提供一個豪華的讀書環境,會令小朋友溫習更為專心,讀書更能用腦。我曾經遇過幾位上門的媽咪,一開口就問寄宿學校的宿舍夏天有沒有冷氣、冬天的暖氣是否足夠,以及有沒有杯麵宵夜提供學生,並指定杯麵要日本東京大阪直接入口的那幾隻牌子,而不是味精配料特別強勁購自香港的7-11。
我曾經嘗試含蓄地解釋:中文成語有一句叫做十年寒窗,書生古代勤力讀書,不叫做十年暖氣、十年絲棉被、十年杯麵宵夜,你認為古人的智慧是否適用於今日呢?
事實上許多優秀的寄宿學校,宿舍條件仍然處於第二次世界大戰的艱苦時期,床和書桌都留有二百年以上的裂縫,暖氣系統據說也相當古老。包括伊頓,出過多位英國首相,卻沒有出過一個香港特首或政務官。

寄宿學校的學費收得貴,是否在衣食方面應該提供豪華享受?可能太多香港家長當子女留學英國如同報名參加旅行團。旅行團收貴一點,當然guarantee你每個城市五星大酒店和商務艙機位。不過送子女入寄宿學校,學費往往不能反映消費市場的一些理所當然的原則。

因為學費的價格,英文叫做price ;教育的價值觀,英文叫做values。我知道這兩個英文字,反映在中文翻譯裏,對於香港人或中國富豪會產生頗大的混淆和困擾。
我們開英識教育留學顧問,就是為家長提供一個整體的學校評估意見系統,不同的寄宿學校,有不同的風格,需要因應香港不同的學生, 作出最好的配對。

學校的物質環境,只是其中一個環節,心知是最不重要的環節。至少眼光不如放長遠一些,如果有兩個選擇: A,寄宿學校會將貴子弟餓得皮黃骨瘦,但有辦法令他入讀劍橋; B,寄宿學校膳食加入魚翅和蝦餃燒賣,但只可能接駁英國排名一百以外的大學,請問家長會選A還是B?

最重要是囝囝讀得開心。而他對於開心的定義,請相信我,一定不包括寄宿學校canteen那張菜單有沒有大愛包容雲吞麵和仔仔在香港最喜歡去幫襯的旺角魚蛋。

【The Standard】Why school league tables are misleading

Asian families looking to send their children to British schools will often base their choices on league tables. However, looking at rankings is not the best way to select a school for your child.


Firstly, they do not actually cover all the schools. Many famous schools, such as Eton College and Harrow School, have removed themselves from the league tables because their management teams are confident they offer an exceptional education and do not wish to play any kind of rankings game.


Then, there is the problem that league tables focus on academic results and do not take into consideration other aspects of education.


What about pastoral care, for example? This is crucial for boarders, particularly Asian students away from home.


Even if you do find a ranking system that includes facilities, this is still only part of the picture. Impressive facilities are good at attracting attention, but they aren't really what make a school great.


I had a wonderful education at Gresham's School and it was absolutely fine to perform a musical in the sports hall and to have just two or three pitches - there's no need for 20 floodlit all-weather AstroTurf pitches at a school.


Even if top grades were the only concern, the league tables would still be problematic. The rankings typically look at A-Level performance, but many excellent schools today offer alternative qualifications.


For instance, there is the International Baccalaureate, the Cambridge Pre-U, and in some colleges, you even get foundation courses.


Then there are some schools that also offer BTEC. Sedbergh School, for example, offers a subsidiary diploma in agriculture.


If a league table only judges schools based on A-Levels then it's not giving you a complete picture.


Another problem is that league tables do not show how exactly the results are being achieved.


So you might get a small school with over 40 percent international pupils - most taking an A-Level in their first language. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is something misleading about the league table if that school outranks one with a higher percentage of British students that is offering everything from foreign languages to classics, philosophy, theology, art and music and getting strong exam results across the board.


Oundle School, for instance, is one of the best in the UK in my opinion; however, instead of being in the top 10 or 20, I've seen it ranked down at 86 because of the way that the league tables are put together.


Finally, in a league table, you will often find rankings based on the percentage of pupils from a school that have achieved a grade within a particular range. So you might see that a school has achieved, say, 55 percent A*/A grades.


The problem here is that different schools have different sized intakes. Within the same table, then, you could find a school with 170 pupils in a year group being compared to a school with only 70 in that same year group.


Is it really representative to look at that percentage of 55 percent A*/A and then say that those schools have achieved the same thing?

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Successful Cases

Kandace Ying

2018/03/29 - 00:00

Ruthin School, located in a small town of Ruthin, far away from the city distraction, leading me to concentrate in academic. Frankly, I spend most of the time in studying, and prepare myself in every Saturday test. It is demanding especially not being the smartest student at school, meaning that I need to spend more of my leisure time I used to have to study. On the other hand, I have met a lot of friends and schoolmates and they are mostly come from the Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and most of them from China, which is also the largest proportion of students in the school community. During the weekends, I habitually go to Tesco after Saturday test and then eat dinner with friends in common room or in town. Most of the time, I visit the Chinese restaurants either getting takeaway or dine in. On Sundays, school usually organises school trips to Manchester, Liverpool and Chester. During half term, in the order of safety, we are not allowed to stay outside school unless we are staying in with our parents or guardians. Furthermore, we are not allowed to have relationships with opposite sex in the matter of negative influence in academic. Drinking alcohol in school is prohibited and student who is being caught in disobeying school rules will be expelled unless the principal is being generous and suspend student for week(s). Indeed, trying to break the school rules bring a huge consequences and at the mean time to ensure students obeying the school rules. To sum up, my overall experience in Ruthin School is pleasant and hope striving my best in A levels.

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