I like to say that I grew up like Harry Potter. As a young boy, I was sent to an English boarding school, not because I was orphaned, but because my loving parents thought, rightly, that I would genuinely enjoy the experience – which I did! Now within Nord Anglia Education, we all work on creating the same positive and enjoyable experiences for our students.
I was put into a ‘house’, not unlike Gryffindor but not called Gryffindor; if memory serves, it was actually called Lyon House, probably named after some worthy old boy of the school. The school building was a rambling old mansion house set in over 200 acres of woodland and fields, with endless corridors and staircases that would swallow you up so that you felt that they would go on forever.
Our headmaster had that rare Dumbledore-esque quality of being simultaneously kind and yet also formidable. You knew that he had your best interests at heart but you wouldn’t want to cross him, and few did. The school prefects were given the responsibility of helping to run much of the day to day organization, which duties most took seriously and a few tried to use to their own personal advantage. We ate in a huge dining hall with the youngest pupils sitting closest to the teachers’ ‘top table’ and the most senior sitting farthest away, where they could not be seen smuggling out bread rolls, sausages, and bananas for an illegal midnight feast!
Our teachers were an eclectic mix of brilliant, eccentric and dull minds. The most popular teachers made lessons fun and interesting, giving us the opportunity to explore, discover and play with ideas in an atmosphere where mistakes were the best things you could make. A lot of deep learning went on in these lessons. These are the type of lessons we create for our children at The British School of Beijing Sanlitun, where we think beyond traditional education and put an extra effort in creating an engaging learning environment.
The least popular lessons were no more and no less than rote learning sessions, complete with a Gradgrindian approach to discipline. Severus Snape had nothing on these teachers. Little learning took place under these teachers, other than learning to dread going to the lessons.
Just as Quidditch takes pride of place in Hogwarts’ sporting program, so cricket and rugby did at our school. To be selected for a school team, to play in a real match against another school, was to be placed on the pedestal of pedestals, so far as the other pupils were concerned. The night before school matches, the master in charge of the team would post the list of those who had been selected on the school noticeboard and we would eagerly crowd around trying to see if our name was on the list. If it was, there was back-slapping and exaggerated shouts of ‘congrats’ were given all round; if not, one did the decent thing, and quietly slunk away into the background.
This is a tradition we maintain at BSB Sanlitun, where we take pride in our students’ achievements in handball, gymnastics, badminton, and a range of other sports.
Our boarding house was a busy, bustling place in which our kindly matron would encourage us to keep our dormitories tidy, pick up our clothes, clean our teeth properly, wash thoroughly and regularly, and generally behave like civilized human beings. On the whole, I think we were a fairly well-behaved bunch and life seemed to canter along smoothly.
Here in the BSB Sanlitun our atmosphere may be a little different for our children! However, we still strive to create well-behaved children who will love coming to school. We work with them to teach a true sense of global awareness and a mindset needed to thrive in an ever-changing world.
When I look back on those school days now, it brings home just how valuable and important they are in ways which are not always apparent when you are living through them. Developing ideas and thoughts, skills and capacities, confidence and creativity that will enable you to thrive and become the best version of yourself. Now, as a school Principal at BSB Sanlitun – and perhaps taking a small lead from Professor Dumbledore – I find myself in a position where I can strive to create the circumstances in which the seeds of possibility that exist in all my pupils, can flourish and grow.
“Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus”
This post is provided by BSB-Sanlitun
Photos courtesy of BSB-Sanlitun