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Debating the future of education at Wellington College

November, 2015
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ed-fest-friday-058During 23 and 24 October, Wellington College International Shanghai held its inaugural Festival of Education. Inspired by the success of the celebrated Festival of Education held annually at Wellington in the UK, Wellington College International Shanghai invited the initiator of Wellington UK’s Festival, Sir Anthony Seldon, previously the 13th Master of Wellington College in the UK and current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, to deliver the opening address and set the context for the two-day event.

During his captivating keynote speech, Sir Anthony Seldon inspired the audience. “Many education systems focus on exams being the sole validators of school but recent research suggests that jobs with a big growth in salary have been those that require a high degree of social skills. It is the ‘human’ skills that cannot be replaced by computers that Chinese schools and schools worldwide need to be giving far greater focus. Whilst exams are vital, so are communication skills, leadership, teamwork, collaboration and creativity.”

Participants had the opportunity to hear from a distinguished panel of experts in the field of education from the UK, China and the rest of the world during a variety of talks, workshops, and discussions.

Structured around three broad strands, Innovation, Exploration and International Perspectives, festival’s speakers included Yin Houqing, former Deputy Director of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, who shared his unique point of view about K12 education; David Cameron, a seasoned education thought leader, who explored how schools ‘can truly be improved’ as part of an Explorations session; Luo Hangean, Director of the Education and Digital Service Department, Amazon Kindle China, who shared ‘how ebooks and digital technology will change schools and classrooms of the future’; Jeffrey Forshaw, a particle physicist, who talked on Saturday about the amazing workings of the universe; Paul Dale-Vickers, a celebrated and multi-talented artist and lecturer, who discussed performing arts education, an important pillar of the education at Wellington and Dr Deng Yaping, former 18-time table tennis world champion and currently the Deputy Secretary General of People’s Daily, who gave a keynote speech entitled ‘Building Resilience and Character through Education and Sport’.

During the Festival, Eleanor Prescott, Wellington’s Second Master, said: “We welcome everyone, interested in discussing education and life-long learning to attend the Festival and contribute to the lively conversation we are proud to be able to initiate. The Festival of Education is purposefully designed to provoke, to inspire and to develop our mutual understanding of a field that we all have a shared interest in. It speaks directly to the vision that we set ourselves at Wellington College in terms of remaining at the forefront in progressive education.”

In addition to the stimulating sessions, films were shown, debate encouraged, and involvement invited. The Festival concert on Friday evening provided speakers and participants with opportunities to experience performances by talented young musicians from the two Wellington Colleges of the UK and Shanghai. 


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