Those outside of the Nord Anglia Education family might be confused by the link between the two British Schools of Beijing (BSB). BSB, Sanlitun and BSB, Shunyi are not two campuses of the same school but are actually individual entities within a school family. A visit to both schools easily makes that clear, with a complete set of their own principals and staff who do not report to one another.
But to the benefit of the children they educate and nourish, BSB, Sanlitun and BSB, Shunyi do cooperate and collaborate to link the experiences at the urban and unique BSB, Sanlitun to the suburban and spacious BSB, Shunyi. Parents and students making the switch can expect the same high quality education with the English National curriculum at both schools, but parents switching outside the Nord Anglia family are often concerned about if students will be behind or need to “catch up” in comparison to the curriculum at other schools.
“In our experience, we know from families who have moved back to home countries or to a curriculum such as the IB MYP that, coming from the English National Curriculum, their child has generally been slightly ahead in all subjects particularly in English Literacy. In addition, our approach to learning here at BSB, Sanlitun, to develop the key learning behaviors and traits that students need to be successful in their learning, are skills and attitudes that our students can take anywhere in the world,” explained Christine Armstrong, Deputy Headteacher, and Learning and Teaching Leader at BSB, Sanlitun.
Preparing for switching schools within or outside of the Nord Anglia Education Group is made as “seamless as possible.” Armstrong said BSB, Sanlitun will “liaise with the new school and pass on information as needed” with the admissions team making themselves available to talk to parents, to “share the knowledge they have about different countries and curricula.”
The switch between BSB, Sanlitun and BSB, Shunyi starts early and lasts into the first year at BSB Shunyi. “This year our two oldest year groups here at BSB, Sanlitun (Year 5 and 6) have visited BSB, Shunyi for experiences, with more in the pipeline, so preparations are starting 2 years in advance really,” said Armstrong.
Students are able to see firsthand the normal operations of BSB,Shunyi, the closest Nord Angelia school with a secondary school, including timetabled lessons and interaction with other students in the same age group, allowing a chance for making new friends. “These transition experiences are open to all children in their final year of school here at BSB, Sanlitun; whether they are attending BSB, Shunyi for Secondary school or moving on to another country. It is part of the commitment of both schools to work together to ensure all children in the Nord Anglia Education family are ready for their next stage of learning, no matter where in the world that may be.”
BSB, Sanlitun works with all the Year 6 students to explain the difference between primary and secondary schools “We run a PSHE (Personal, Social, and Health Education) curriculum alongside this about moving on, making new friends and growing one’s independence. In their final year we run a week long residential to Inner Mongolia which is about new experiences and taking responsibility for oneself,” Armstrong added.
Don’t fear for your students coming from outside of BSB, Sanlitun, though.
Peter Carlisle, Secondary Deputy Headteacher BSB, Shunyi, explains, “For students coming from other schools, we invite them to school before they join for some induction activities but also put them in touch with current students. Then BSB, Shunyi ensures that students are matched with existing students through a “Buddy” system when they start Secondary and the Head of Year ensures there are many collaborative events where students can meet the rest of their year group. The prime examples are the House Competitions, Sports and Residential Trips away from home.”
By far, the biggest concern for city parents making the switch is the bus ride.
“The feedback we get from our BSB, Sanlitun alumni is that the parents worry about it far more than the children. The students take the opportunity on the bus ride to talk to friends, listen to music and catch-up on the day with others. The students just see it as part of life living in Beijing,” said Armstrong.
Michaela Röll, who has a 12-year-old son called Philip in Year 8 at BSB, Shunyi, echoes that sentiment. Their family lives close to BSB, Sanlitun and Röll finds the commute hard on them. “We have to get up a lot earlier than before, Philip spends about two hours on the bus each day, and we as parents cannot participate as actively in the community of BSB, Shunyi as we would like.”
On sports activity days, Philip makes it home close to dinnertime with homework left to do, since the bus travels through late afternoon/evening traffic. “Other families we know have moved out to Shunyi. This would also be a solution, but we like the city center, and Philip doesn’t mind the bus rides so much, as long as he can be together with his friends.”
Röll feels Philip took a few months to become adjusted to the change, though this is expected with any transition. Philip does seem more than happy with the change though. “Luckily, there are plenty of things that he very much liked: the amazing sports facilities; the PE teachers gave him the opportunity to be part of the FOBISIA team; the food, which he thinks is better than in Sanlitun; the residential trip in the beginning of the year when he got to know the other students better; the new subject Design Technology; and the Science Lab.”
Röll added, “He has also received a lot of support from many teachers. For us as parents, the head of secondary Steve Lewis was a wonderful support and help with any questions and concerns that we had.”
We didn’t dare ask the two schools what the difference and similarities were between the two schools, but Röll compared and contrasted them beautifully.
“BSB, Sanlitun is like a cocoon. I think it is ideal for many younger kids, very small and cozy. You know everybody and everybody knows you. There is a lot of structure that gives the children a sense of security.”
Of BSB, Shunyi, Röll explained, “[It] is a big school. That can be confusing at first, but it is also good to see the children get more independent and it offers more opportunities.”
And how do the two schools compliment each other?
“Both schools have amazing teachers that really bring out the best in the children and who are attentive to their needs.”
Meet both the British School of Beijing, Sanlitun and the British School of Beijing, Shunyi at the 7th Beijing International School Expo (BISE) hosted by beijingkids and JingKids on February 18-19, 2017 from 10am-4pm at the Crowne Plaza Beijing Chaoyang U-Town. Find out more information about the event here.
We suggest you take advantage of the few events in Beijing for families that are actually free – register now for a quick and painless breeze through the check-in line.