Though Beijing Rego British School has been in existence for almost two years, there’s not much talk about it in community circles. This small school in Shunyi has battled a lot in that short time – high staff turnover, small student body, kerfuffles with the head office, confusion over the ACI program – but this year they have achieved substantial growth, more stability, and as a result, happy parents.
A year ago, Rego had only a dozen students; this year, there are 60 students in Nursery through Year 13. The school embraces these numbers and prides itself on having a close-knit, small town feel. With 5 or 6 students per class, teachers spend a lot of one on one time with students. Rego follows the United Kingdom National Curriculum, which includes A-Level and GCSE programs. In addition to core math, science, and humanities classes, students study English, Mandarin, art, design and technology, drama, and more. There are other Rego schools in Tianjin and Shanghai that are part of the same group.
Perhaps one of the largest sources of community confusion lies around ACI, or the American Curriculum Institute. ACI is a faith-based, American Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. It became part of the Rego umbrella when the International Academy of Beijing (IAB) closed amid scandal last summer. IAB families and teachers, looking for a place to go, approached Rego looking for a new home. This makes Rego a two-program school: the British Rego program, and the American ACI program, which has about 130 students. Students from both programs share resources and after-school programs, but not curricula. The Rego program is on the first floor, ACI is on the third floor, and the second floor is split between the two programs.
One of Rego’s happy parents is S.D. Muhammad, a diplomat at the Embassy of Nigeria. His two children, Rumaisa, age 7, and Hameedah, age 5, both attend Rego, and he says his kids “have generally improved a lot, especially in mathematics, ICT, painting and spoken English.” When he and his family moved to Beijing, Muhammad investigated other schools, but realized that Rego was “the only one that met my expectations and requirements as a parent.” Muhammad recommended Rego to his colleague, and Rego now has 14 students with parents at the Nigerian Embassy enrolled in the school.
Current Head of School Regina Carrell, who has two young daughters at Rego and a younger son not yet in school, was hired as a math teacher in February, 2012 and stepped in as head of school when John Brewer, the former head of school, had to return to the UK for family reasons. While she is eager to see the school grow, what she wants more is for the school to reach a balance point, where there are more students, but few enough so that they still get their individual attention.
That individual attention is what Ross Wrigley says has helped to get his son Stan, a Year 7 student, back on track. “Rego tailors and listens and adjusts to suit each individual’s needs, not like the big schools who ‘cookie cut’ [their approach to]students.”
Rego is holding two open houses for prospective families in April. The first is an open evening on Thursday, April 11; the next is an open afternoon on Sunday, April 21. For more information or to pre-register, contact Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Ellis Friedman