Answering for us is Ms. Carlien Shelley, Assistant Head Pastoral of Upper School at Harrow International School Beijing.
This week’s question is:
“What is the house system and why is it conducive to my child’s education?”
The House system at Harrow Beijing is central to our student’s wellbeing and personal development as they journey through their school career and progress onto life beyond school. Based on the traditional boarding house systems of Harrow UK, the house system is a fundamental ingredient in providing a personalized learning environment in which each child is closely monitored by a key member of staff.
Through our House system, for example, we encourage the growth of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and habits of learning whilst constantly working towards academic excellence. This includes encouraging a love of learning for its own sake, achieving a good record of entry to the best universities, and ensuring pupils leave in full possession of the skills that will prove vital in university and beyond.
At Harrow, we have six Houses, each with a distinctive logo and color. All students belong to one House and develop a strong sense of belonging and allegiance to their House over the course of their time at Harrow Beijing. Harrow’s House system offers pupils a personalized experience which is modeled on the best practice of British independent boarding schools. The names of Harrow Beijing Houses are rooted in our historical links to both the UK and China: Song Qing Ling, Curie, Ju Ching Chu, Churchill, Kong Zi and John Lyon.
In the Lower School, students come together in their Houses for events such as competing for House sport trophies, singing competitions, and even building shelters to raise awareness and donations for children who are homeless. Each student’s pastoral care is provided by their class teacher and guidance and oversight is provided by the Assistant Head Pastoral of the Lower School.
Students in the Upper School also belong to one of these six Houses, each led by a Prep Leader or Housemaster/mistress who has responsibility for the students in their House across the three distinct phases of the Upper School. The House Leaders are supported by the Assistant Head Pastoral of the Upper School which provides another tier in our approach to a collaborative pastoral support system.
Within the six Harrow Houses are smaller vertical tutor groups which consist of a mix of students from across the year groups within each phase; prep, Senior and Sixth Form. In this way, each Tutor can deliver close personal tutoring, whilst the students offer support to each other and develop friendships across a range of year groups. In Year 8 and Year 13 students have the opportunity to become House prefects, a position in which they can lead other pupils and encourage involvement in House events and work with their House Leader to build and encourage a strong House identity.
The House system allows close personal tutoring to become a reality, having a member of staff holistically responsible for each student’s academic progress while also monitoring their extra-curricular and personal development.. The house system allows and maintains a ‘small school’ atmosphere within a large school structure, and most importantly the House system serves as a link between school and home, where parents can benefit from a clear line of communication from their child’s tutor and House leader.
Photo: courtesy of Harrow International School Beijing