We Are Huili: Feeling Secured and Surprised at Huili

This week’s article in the We Are Huili series is from Ms. Pan, whose two boys, Ze Cheng and Alex study in Early Years 3 and Grade 1 at Huili Nursery Hangzhou and Huili School Hangzhou respectively. Ms. Pan identifies with Huili’s educational philosophy, and as a result of her enthusiasm to support the school, Ms. Pan was nominated to serve as the Chair of the “Friends of Huili”, acting as a representative of Huili parents and actively contributing to school events.

Today, Ms. Pan shares her experience of feeling secure and pleasantly surprised since her boys have joined Huili School Hangzhou.

What makes me feel secured? Outstanding reputation for quality

In order to choose the right school for Alex, I started to study about schools in Shanghai two years before Alex graduating from nursery.

For me, it was not a hard choice to make as I believe education should be geared to the needs of the future, and therefore I would not choose a school with an outdated educational ethos. It is also of central importance for schools to adopt an holistic approach to education instead of focusing on standardised test scores.

In addition, I want my children to develop a deep understanding of the rich heritage and culture of China and identify themselves as Chinese so that they can become effective global citizens, and therefore international schools are not suitable for my situation.

In the whole of Shanghai, there are only a few bilingual schools that are committed to a truly holistic education, among which Huili School Shanghai became our first choice at that time. Wellington College has a good reputation. The success of Wellington College International Tianjin and Wellington College International Shanghai over the years reflects the good inheritance of Wellington College’s outstanding educational philosophy and excellent management practice. We had every reason to believe that its newly opened bilingual schools which are members of the Wellington College family of schools would be just as good.

Due to our family circumstance, my boys were unable to apply to Huili School Shanghai but we were lucky to find that Huili School Hangzhou opened at the same time. I still remembered when I visited the campus for the first time, I felt at ease when I saw the architectural style of the campus, and the quality of facilities were beyond our expectation. From that point, I was able to see the determination and efforts of Huili Education Group to provide the very best education in each member school.

What makes me feel surprised? Children who love going to the School

Moving from Shanghai to Hangzhou with my two boys was not easy and all of us needed to adapt to a brand-new life. However, to my surprise, my boys loved the school very much and I could barely sense their adaptation period. After school started, both of them fitted into the new environment quickly.

At Huili School Hangzhou, teachers treat every child as an equal and independent individual, showing respect and giving encouragement to each of them. From what I can see, my boys became happier, more optimistic, more confident and more willing to express themselves.

Alex is a quiet boy who is good at thinking, while seldom expressing himself. At Huili School Hangzhou, pupils are constantly involved in group discussions which allow him to speak out his thoughts. Teachers encourage every pupil to share their opinions and ideas actively in class. One day, he managed to stand in front of the whole class to share his mathematics assignments for the first time and I knew it was the moment he had grown up.

The change was even more obvious for my younger boy, Zecheng. He was shy and seldom took the initiative to greet others in the first semester. Neither I nor the teachers gave him pressure on that and surprisingly, Zecheng gradually began to change from the second semester. He is now able to walk into the classroom without me every morning and say good morning to others either in Chinese or English.

What makes me feel secure? Things that are more important than language learning

The reason why many parents choose bilingual schools is that they hope their children can study in an immersive language rich learning environment, allowing them to become natural bilingual. For me, I do feel happy about the progress my children have achieved in learning English, but actually I am more concerned about the development of their personality.

I want my boys to:

  • know their strengths, know how to play to their strengths and become the best person they can be.
  • have a kind heart, know how to take care of themselves and the people around them. I don’t want them to become a cunning egotist.
  • think critically and have their own analysis and judgement.
Therefore, it resonated deeply with me when I found that the Huili values of courage, integrity, kindness, respect and responsibility and the Huili identities of inspired, intellectual, independent, individual, and inclusive are embedded at the heart of the school’s educational philosophy.

At Huili School Hangzhou, the practice of the Huili values is reflected at all times and everywhere throughout the school. For example, pupils’ reports not only record their academic performance but also their daily behaviours and the way they demonstrate Huili values. In this way, pupils gradually form a habit of thinking about and acting out these values in their daily life. Alex once came to me and discussed the meaning of being respectful. These values will continue to underpin the conversations we have with pupils and I believe that as they grow older these values will take root in their minds, becoming their standards of behaviour.

What makes me feel surprised? Realising every commitment

At the beginning, we chose Huili Nursey Hangzhou for Zecheng mainly because of his brother. For us, Huili School Hangzhou is as good as we expected, and Huili Nursery Hangzhou is a surprise – it is more than perfect!

Huili Nursery Hangzhou is the best in terms of facilities, teaching resources, educational concepts and the tacit cooperation between Chinese and Foreign teachers. It is like a dreamland where all the best things come together. State-of-art facilities such as the indoor gymnasium, swimming pools and grand theatre are shared within the whole school and nursery pupils can participate in inspiring activities such as science week, which is difficult for any specialised nursery to achieve.

At Huili Nursery Hangzhou, the practice of an inquiry-based teaching approach is of central importance, motivating children to investigate, problem solve and build meaningful relationships through play. For example, children are encouraged to do their own experiments, acquire topic-related vocabulary, interview people in different professions, learn from others’ opinions and make collective decisions through voting. What Zecheng has learned is well recorded in the weekly newsletter sent by his teachers and I personally have learned some advanced educational techniques.

Reading emails sent by the Head of Nursery and class teachers every week is something I really look forward to. I am impressed that the Nursery can use various advanced teaching methods to encourage our children to understand the world in a natural way.

At Huili School Hangzhou, I have always felt that teachers are trying to teach children how to achieve happiness. Happiness depends on what we think. Therefore, learning to think and choose, and having faith and freedom are the educational purposes in my understanding which is also the ability to achieve happiness, and from what I can see, Huili School Hangzhou is making it happen.