Editorial Team

Changzhou, situated in the vibrant heart of China, is one of several fast-growing cities on the lower Yangtze River and is less than one hour from Shanghai by high-speed train. A new high-speed rail line, with a station 10 minutes from the school, will give direct access to Shanghai (Pudong) International Airport in 45 minutes.

Today, Changzhou has emerged as a compelling destination for international school education. Its unique blend of rich cultural heritage, modern infrastructure, and a rapidly growing economy makes it an ideal choice for students seeking a global learning experience. Located in Changzhou, Wycombe Abbey School (WASCZ) is a world-class boarding and day school for children aged 3 to 18, providing an all-round, fully integrated, bilingual, holistic education that not only prepares students for entry to the world’s top universities, but provides them with the knowledge, skills, and competencies for life. “Our vision is that ‘Every child can excel,’ and it is our responsibility to approach each student as an individual and nurture them as they grow in confidence, take on responsibility, and achieve independence,” says Dr Paul Silverwood, Headmaster, WASCZ.

WASCZ endeavours to instil a passion for learning in every child. The goal is for each student to advance from relying on teachers and peers to becoming independent thinkers and learners. The school aims to nurture individuals who mature with compassion and kindness, actively supporting the aspirations of those in their vicinity. Dr Paul adds, “Together, we aspire to share in each other’s successes and contribute collaboratively to both the local community and the broader world.”

A Modern Haven for Holistic Education Amidst Nature’s Embrace

Wycombe Abbey School, founded in 1896, is a prestigious educational institution in the UK that is committed to academic excellence and the all-round development of its students. In 2015, BE Education collaborated with Wycombe Abbey School and established its first international school in Changzhou, extending its footprint. The school, known as WASCZ, has since thrived and earned an outstanding reputation for its academic credentials, performing arts, creative arts, and sports.

WASCZ is located in the Wujin District, which is 30 minutes away from the Changzhou city centre. The campus is in the parkland and gardens of a nature reserve, part of the Xitaihu Lake International Community, and it overlooks the West Taihu Lake. Dr Paul shares, “Our campus is modern and spacious, and it comprises twelve buildings that provide direct access to water sports.” The buildings include the Administration (A), Upper School Classrooms (B), Lower School Classrooms (C), Theatre (Performing & Visual Arts) (D), Watersports Centre (E), Kindergarten (F), Boys’ Boarding Houses & Staff Apartments (G), Lower School Boarding Houses, Wellbeing Centre and Dining Room (H), Girls’ Boarding Houses (I), Sports, Science & Technology Complex (J), Sports Stadium (K), Sports Dome (L), Medical Centre (M), and Boathouse (N).

The campus boasts a wide range of sports facilities, including a badminton hall, fencing hall, table-tennis hall, golf driving range, basketball stadium, rugby stadium, 400m running track, 25m competition swimming pool, beginners’ training pool, weights gymnasium, cardio gymnasium, boathouse & lake, and a 10,000m2 air-conditioned and filtered sports ‘Mega-dome’ (the largest of its type in the world) providing martial arts, tennis, badminton, volleyball, hockey, floorball, netball, and football pitches.

The Theatre building is dedicated to the visual and performing arts, with the auditorium, ensemble rooms, recording studio, art studios, individual instrumental teaching rooms, composition room, music theory rooms, music teaching rooms, and exhibition spaces. There are also four Dance & Drama studios with changing rooms and two LAMDA Speech studios. The Science & Technology Centre is home to fully equipped laboratories, a 3D-Printing Room, IT rooms, an examination/assembly hall, and an engineering technology studio. The campus has 24-hour security, extensive gardens and walks, and breathtaking views.

The Evolution of WASCZ

Since its establishment in 2015, WASCZ has evolved exponentially. In June 2017, WASCZ joined COBIS – The Council of British International Schools. This accreditation is held only by the top British-style international and bilingual schools in the world, and there are very few in China who have achieved this status. According to recent research, there are now more than 3,700 British international schools, but only under 300 have COBIS status. “Joining COBIS means that we now have access to CPD courses from external providers for teachers, leaders, and administrators. We also have the opportunity to network with COBIS schools around the world in our subject areas, as well as participate in academic, musical, artistic, dramatic, and sporting competitions,” explains Dr Paul.

In addition, COBIS membership shows that WASCZ is a leading British-style bilingual school that follows the governance requirements and curricula that would be expected by an HMC school in the UK. Dr Paul notes, “This means that prospective parents, students, and teachers can see that we are a genuine UK school in an international setting, providing outstanding education for a Chinese demographic. COBIS is a mark of recognized excellence in British Education across the world, and we will undergo compliance checks and re-accreditation with COBIS in 2024.”

In September 2019, WASCZ added another school to the Group with the opening of Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong. Then, in September 2021, bilingual schools in Hangzhou and Nanjing were added. Each of the Wycombe Abbey Schools within the International Group will exist as an independent institution, led and governed independently. Within this construct, the Senior Leaders will be supported by the HQ team and will work closely with the other Wycombe Abbey Schools to ensure that synergies across the group in teaching and learning, professional development, curriculum design, technology, marketing, finance, and human resources are optimised.

“In 2021, we became an accredited member of the Boarding Schools Association (BSA) – a kitemark of excellence for schools that look after and nurture the lives of young people in a long-term residential setting,” Dr Paul says. Membership gives WASCZ staff access to resources and training in safeguarding, pastoral care, and student and staff development. The school has also developed its own bespoke course in partnership with the BSA to deliver to all new local teachers. The Preliminary International Teaching Certificate (PITC) course covers the teaching standards and national minimum standards for boarding. It prepares candidates for a full Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) course in their second year at WASCZ. “In 2022, we were named ‘International School of the Year’ by the BSA for the pastoral support we had given to students throughout the pandemic,” states Dr Paul.

Creating Well-Rounded Leaders

In the pursuit of holistic education at WASCZ, the institution is guided by five key aims, each contributing to the comprehensive development of students.

Pastoral: WASCZ, recognized as the ‘International School of the Year’ by the Boarding Schools Association in 2022, places a strong emphasis on pastoral care. Teaching staff are integrated into one of the 12 Houses, creating a sense of community. The six girls’ Houses (Austen, Blyton, Cavell, Dove, Fonteyn, and Somerville) and six boys’ Houses (Blake, Elgar, Hawking, Newton, Scott, and Turner) serve as foundational units. Boarding options are available for children aged 7-11 (weekly) and 12-18 (full), fostering a supportive environment. All staff actively engage in the work, competitions, and activities of their respective House, demonstrating a commitment to the students’ well-being.

Academic: WASCZ places a premium on academic excellence by recruiting top-tier staff, both locally and internationally. This commitment is underscored by providing resources for student development, offering outstanding professional development and training for faculty, and aspiring to uphold the pioneering spirit and traditions of Wycombe Abbey School in the UK. The institution’s academic standards are exemplified by its track record of placing students in leading universities globally. The academic journey at WASCZ is characterized by a bespoke Integrated Curriculum in G1-9, aligning essential content from the Chinese National Curriculum with the Cambridge International Primary and Lower Secondary Curricula. This approach, coupled with international teaching and learning methods, sets a standard in academic rigor. In G10-12, students pursue Pearson Edexcel or Cambridge International GCSEs and A Levels, achieving excellent results with a notable 70% (A*/A) and 85% (A*/B) in A Levels. Approximately 35% of graduates go on to study in the world’s top 20 universities, reflecting the school’s commitment to academic excellence across Science & Technology, Commerce & Business, and the Arts.

Enrichment: Enriching the educational experience, WASCZ places a significant emphasis on providing exposure to a diverse range of activities aligned with Howard Gardner’s ‘Multiple Intelligences.’ The school offers clubs, societies, and activities categorized under physical/bodily/kinaesthetic, intrapersonal/leadership, linguistic/verbal, technical/logical, environmental/naturalist, international/cultural/identity, artistic/creative/spatial, and performance/musical. This approach ensures a well-rounded and comprehensive enrichment program, contributing to the multifaceted development of each student.

Extension: WASCZ goes beyond traditional education by focusing on extension activities that deepen students’ mastery of specific disciplines. Through mentorship programs, students are provided with opportunities to showcase their skills and test their abilities beyond their immediate peer group. This is manifested in various ways, including Higher and Extended Project Qualifications, Music Theory, and participation in Extension Clubs and Societies. The institution actively engages in academic competitions such as Science Olympiads, World Scholars’ Cup, National Chess League, and Model United Nations, aiming to provide a platform for students to excel beyond the conventional curriculum.

Community: Recognizing the global impact of its students, WASCZ places a strong emphasis on fostering an outward-looking perspective and community engagement. The school extends its Creative Arts, Performing Arts, and Sports programs beyond the campus through exhibitions, concerts, tours, and tournaments. Collaboration with sister schools, partnerships with organizations like WASHK and WASUK, and engagement in summer courses and outreach programs to local schools reflect the institution’s commitment to community involvement. Notably, WASCZ plays a pivotal role in the development of the ‘Two Lakes’ international innovation initiative in the region, contributing to the attraction of international talent and business into Changzhou. This year, the establishment of the ‘Friends of Wycombe’ group further signifies the school’s dedication to building a supportive community encompassing families, friends, alumni, and school contacts, enhancing its influence and impact.

Nurturing Excellence Through Holistic Education

At Wycombe Abbey School, extracurricular activities are an important part of a student’s education. They offer over 100 clubs and activities, covering various areas from physical to performance, during weekends and evenings. “Our elective Enrichment programme is also embedded in the school day, with ‘E&X’ activities occupying two double periods in the timetable, emphasising the importance of holistic education, student choice and leadership,” shares Dr Paul.

Inter-House Competitions encourage competition and collaboration between the 12 Houses through friendly contests. Events like ‘House Unison’ involve all students, culminating in spectacular community events. These competitions, ranging from large-scale productions to smaller group events, instill team spirit, encourage participation, and contribute to House Points tallies, determining House Champions and Cup recipients. The House system, spanning from K1 to G12, establishes continuity and community engagement.

The Performing Arts Faculty, with 30 internationally trained professionals, offers a rich tapestry of tuition, ensembles, concerts, and productions. Music lessons cover over 20 orchestral and traditional Chinese instruments, Speech & Drama, and Ballet, providing students with a diverse array of artistic expressions. The annual Culture Festival, Pops Concert, and international study and performance tours create a dynamic calendar of events, enhancing students’ cultural exposure and creative pursuits.

Visual Arts at Wycombe Abbey School nurture creative talents, with students consistently securing places at prestigious Art Colleges. Exhibitions, both on campus and in external venues, showcase exceptional quality work across painting, fashion design, photography, graphic design, and ceramics. Collaborations with established artists and participation in international competitions underscore the faculty’s dedication to nurturing artistic excellence.

The school’s sprawling facilities for Sport & Exercise include the world’s largest Mega-Dome for school sports, a Rowing & Sailing Club, Watersports Centre, Basketball Stadium, and more. The campus promotes a culture of health and fitness, with teams participating in local and national leagues, as well as international tours like the Rugby and Netball squads’ visit to New Zealand in 2024. The tri-series, involving sister schools in Nanjing and Hangzhou, provides Lower School children with valuable opportunities to compete, train, and experience mini-tours.

Trips & Experiential Learning offers students opportunities to plan, collaborate, and lead. From international expeditions like the Borealis Expedition to Iceland and Cultural Tours to Europe to local adventures in the KG Garden, Forest, and Farm, the school promotes hands-on learning experiences. Students undertake outdoor pursuits, the Duke of Edinburgh International awards, and activities ranging from trekking in Inner Mongolia to scuba diving in Thailand. These journeys enrich academic experiences and instil values of leadership, teamwork, and environmental stewardship. Wycombe Abbey School’s commitment to holistic education is reflected in these diverse experiences, shaping well-rounded individuals ready to face the challenges of the world.

Nurturing Global Citizens

At WASCZ, the Global Perspectives (GP) program stands as a cornerstone in the academic journey of students from Grades 1 to 12. Designed to emphasize the interconnectedness of human society, GP goes beyond traditional subjects, fostering a holistic understanding of self, cultural diversity, social justice, and human rights. “GP promotes positive values and assists students to take responsibility for their actions and to see themselves as global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world,” shares Dr Paul. The GP curriculum unfolds across seven compelling themes studied in each grade, seamlessly blending theoretical knowledge with real-world applications:

  1. Identity and Place: Nurturing an understanding of self and fostering openness to diverse cultures.
  2. Rights and Opportunities: Cultivating awareness of inequality, discrimination, and the responsibility to stand up for one’s rights while respecting the rights of others.
  3. Water and Food: Exploring basic needs, a healthy diet, and the evolving challenges of a society transitioning from traditional agriculture to a globally interconnected economy.
  4. Energy and Consumption: Delving into sustainable ways to meet current needs without compromising environmental quality or hindering future generations.
  5. Finance and Poverty: Understanding personal finance, economic systems, and the impact of fiscal changes on individuals and societies.
  6. Conflict and Peace: Instilling the importance of positive relationships, conflict prevention, and peaceful resolution strategies.
  7. Globalisation and Pandemic: Unravelling the complex web of social, economic, and political interconnections, with a focus on the impact of changes on individuals, nations, and global dynamics.

Each theme is explored through diverse real-world examples, encouraging students to adopt different perspectives. The GP course, carefully crafted to enhance critical thinking skills, offers a spectrum of opportunities for students to recall, research, collaborate, interpret, evaluate, innovate, and communicate. “Each theme unit ends with a task so that students can showcase their learning and skills development. Examples of learning outcomes include Written articles, Press Releases, Poetry, Illustration, Photolog, Debates, Role-play, Presentations, Demonstrations, and Operation,” explains Dr Paul.

A British-Style Home Away from Home

At WASCZ, the essence of British-style boarding education manifests in a unique and nurturing experience. The twelve Houses serve as the heartbeat of the school, embodying the ‘home away from home’ concept. In this caring community, students and staff live alongside each other, fostering a sense of continuity, belonging, and family within the broader school environment.

Each House is led by a dedicated Housemaster/mistress, supported by an Assistant Housemaster/mistress, Resident Tutor, Liaison Officer, and a team of ten Tutors who also serve as teachers in the school. A distinctive feature of the boarding experience is the tutor system, where each tutor mentors just five students, assuming roles as advocates, listeners, supporters, directors, and ‘parents.’ Through weekly one-to-one tutorials, tutors set and review targets, discuss contributions and progress, support learning needs, and encourage students to explore new avenues, take intellectual risks, volunteer, and embrace opportunities for leadership.

Supportive and Nurturing Environment: Balancing Work, Rest, and Play

The boarding experience at WASCZ is rooted in creating a supportive and nurturing environment that strikes the right balance between work, rest, and play. Beyond academic guidance, the school places a strong emphasis on the holistic development of each student. Tutors act as pillars of support, ensuring that students not only excel academically but also thrive emotionally and socially. The Houses become close-knit communities, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared experiences.

The residential life at WASCZ is characterized by a commitment to the well-being and personal growth of every student. Tutors play a pivotal role in guiding students through challenges, celebrating successes, and fostering a sense of responsibility and independence. The close mentorship ensures that each student feels heard, valued, and supported throughout their boarding journey.

Investing in Professional Growth

Looking ahead, WASCZ is committed to the continuous professional development of its staff. The school’s staff-led appraisal system is complemented by various training opportunities and funding support for staff to acquire professional qualifications. Collaborations with international partner universities, including UCL, the University of Manchester, and the University of Sunderland, enable staff to pursue qualifications such as QTS, PGCE, Professional Boarding Practice, NPQML, NPQSL, NPQH, MEd, and MA.

A noteworthy project on the horizon is WASCZ becoming a registered centre for the Cambridge Professional Development Qualification (PDQ). The inaugural cohort of 28 teachers is currently engaged in a bilingual teaching and learning course led by the school’s experienced staff serving as course leaders and mentors. Additionally, the school is actively involved in the establishment of its own teachers’ training academy, forming partnerships with the Changzhou Institute of Technology and the National Academy of Sciences. Initiatives like Chinese language classes for staff and the employment of intern teachers from international divisions of Chinese universities underscore WASCZ’s commitment to educational excellence and innovation.

For More Info: https://www.waiscz.com/web/

About Dr Paul Silverwood, Headmaster, WASCZ

With over 25 years of experience in teaching and educational management, Dr Paul Silverwood served as the former Headmaster of Queen Margaret’s School in the United Kingdom, as well as the former Assistant Head of Benenden School, Princess Anne’s alma mater. Additionally, he held the positions of Head of Department, Head of Grade and Deputy Housemaster at Oxford St. Edward’s School in the United Kingdom. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and completed his PhD in Nuclear Chemistry at the University of Manchester, both in the United Kingdom.

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