South Island School

ESF pupils come up with the Baccalaureate goods

From the SCMP Jul 10, 2012

Of the few pupils who achieved perfect scores for the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams this year, one in 10 came from Hong Kong. Of the 109 students who achieved full scores of 45 marks on the global IB exams – considered one of the toughest pre-college exams in the world – at least 12 of the top achievers were from Hong Kong.

English Schools Foundation (ESF) students continued to achieve strong results this year, with the number of students achieving full marks increasing to nine from four last year. Local direct-subsidy schools the Diocesan Boys’ School and Creative Secondary School, each had one student get the full score in their first year administering the exams. Victoria Shanghai Academy also had one pupil with the top score.

“We are proud of the hard work we’ve put in,” said Deep Vaze, the only student from the ESF Island School to earn a perfect score. Vaze credited his score to the competitive and supportive atmosphere created by his teachers and classmates. He will be studying at Harvard University in September.

The other top scorers from ESF schools were Cindy Ling, Hedy Man Pui-ying, Rupert Phillips and Edward Tam Yuk-wang from King George V School; Calvin Po, Anahita Sharma and Ronald Yip from South Island School; and Sarah Chan from Sha Tin College.

Year in Review

NOTE: While writing this post, an interesting observation came to mind. The many highlights of my year, as recognized in this post, also popped up on a regular basis in the annual list of ‘Top Post of the Year‘.

The start of this decade, the year 2010 can most accurately called a year of transition. It may have lasted only for 12 months, but it sure fells like I’ve done a heck of a lot of stuff in that time.

By the start of the year, preparations were in full swing for WSDC 2010 in Doha, Qatar. We had long hours of preparation, debates and meetings, often going from 5pm to 10pm in our little SIS hide-out. But we nevertheless felt quite prepared as we set off for Doha in Feb 2010. WSDC itself was a joy and an honor as can be gathered from my WSDC Reflection. We didn’t get to the quarters, but lost gallantly to Australia in the Octo-finals and everyone on the team ranked in the top 50 speakers. Coming in 45th in such a competitive and tough year was delightful. Many thanks to Annette, Ben, Heather, Prakash and Greg who taught me so much.
10 months later in Dec 2010, I transitioned from Team Hong Kong to Team Wales and once again, I’ll hopefully be blogging all the way to WSDC 2011 in Dundee, Scotland.

Domestically, I was able to graciously bow out of HK Debating with sweet victory in the Grand Final of the 25th Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition after loosing out in 2008-2009. We also saw the beginning of the Hong Kong Schools Debating Council in April 2010 with the website still going strong after overtaking in about half the time.

It was just before the Sing Tao finals that I received an unassuming phone call notifying me that I had been accepted to UWC Atlantic College in the UK, sparking the biggest transition of this year, and certainly of my life so far.

Despite this, I still had my remaining IGCSE exams to finish, themselves stretching from late April to late May. I had to wait all summer for the results to come out. When they did, they didn’t really come as a surprise with a string of poor runs together with the odd gem. It was a tough pill to swallow, but by then I’d had the IB to worry about.

My home away from home - Morgannwg

That was because I was many miles away in South Wales, starting at Atlantic College. By all counts, it hadn’t been an easy transition. I’d been studying at South Island School for a full five years now and the things that the time has build are things not easily replaced. My last moment with the class of 2012 was a Dinner Dance 2010. It not only marked an end, but featured a first, the first time I participated in a ‘dance’, if you can call it that.

When one door closes, another opens. And so in late August, I transitioned many miles, from HK to the UK to begin my studies at UWC AC

2011 will see fewer changes and a whole lot more of building upon existing structures. Hopefully though, it will be just a colorful as 2010.

Listening to Children: A critique of a school-student relationship

My article from

Children should be seen but not heard

– 15th Century English Proverb

The old English proverb may have been around since the 15th Century, but just because it’s ‘tradition’ – a word whose meaning is itself unclear – doesn’t mean it’s a ‘tradition’ that should be upheld. Rather, like all other practices, it is something the each and every one of us should consider for ourselves. It essentially calls for children to make themselves presentable, but to keep quiet about their thoughts and opinions. For a lack of a better term, I would say this way of thinking is bollocks; or for our American friends, bullocks. The clearest case-study is the place where we spend almost a quarter of our day; or in the case of UWC AC which is a boarding school, all day; the school.

During my twelve years of education in four separate schools, I have seen a range of different approaches to student inputs in the way the school operates. True enough, student involvement at a primary level has little if any significance or effect. I would be the first to admit that I can’t even remember the issues that were brought up at Student Council while I was in primary school, despite me having represented my class for three of my four years there. Quite simply, the vast majority of students do not have the knowledge and ability to contribute meaningfully to the school’s operation when they are barely eleven. Certainly, having structures such as a Student Council is a hugely beneficial learning experience for students, but the reality of it is that there is little that they can contribute.

The thing that scares me is when this approach is extended into secondary schools. It’s easy to say that we are only one year older, twelve instead of eleven. But that creates a paradox where we will always be only one year older and never reach the imaginary level of mental capacity to take an active part in the school’s decision making process. No transition is ever smooth, and the process of growing up will take time, maturity will certainly not be ascertained overnight, but NONE of that means that we won’t reach the level needed to contribute meaningfully to the school management.

Student Councils are the most commonly cited avenues for student voice, but it isn’t and shouldn’t be the only forum. During my time at SIS, I was invited to interview potential new staff members for the posts as head of section, vice-principal and principal. That a student interview panel was even created is a commendable act that is testimony to how much further SIS has gone compared to other educational institutions. Whether our written comments were actually seriously considered is another question. On most occasions, the final decision was in line with our comments. However, I vividly recall one time when we voted heavily against a vice-principal candidate only to find out a few weeks later than he had been selected.