is currently a Y8 student at WASHK. He has successfully obtained multiple offers
from UK boarding schools starting next year. Duncan’s parents would like to
share how WASHK has helped Duncan mature and develop during the past academic
Duncan is the elder of our two children, his younger sister and him were studying at the same school before he joined WASHK. It was a very big school, and combined with prolonged periods of remote learning he did not feel connected to that community. After some serious family discussions, we decided that it was best Duncan started to prepare himself to further his studies at a boarding school in the UK from Y9, and hence began our search for a school that can help Duncan achieve this goal.
We looked at various schools in Hong Kong, particular those operating a UK curriculum and had the chance to meet with a family whose children were studying at Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong. We felt this school, despite only having Y8 as their most senior year, was most aligned with our objective. When their Headmaster, Mr. Tuckett told us that his mission was to “help every student obtain the best offers from senior schools around the world, particularly in the UK” we knew it would be a good fit.
Duncan joined a relatively small class with 13 other students, and befriended two other boys quickly. It was very convenient because the other two boys were also preparing for UK boarding schools so they formed really strong bonds with a common mission amongst the trio.
In his previous schools, students were openly streamed into high performing Vs mediocre groups, or many students were exclusively labelled from a young age (swimming team, choir, orchestra etc.). Others were selected to achieve high public exam scores, there was a general feeling radiated onto us that our child was lucky to get into the school, and the school will decide which areas he will perform in. Duncan is naturally competitive and likes to win, so when his school directed him to do something he would just go do it and try his best, sometimes without really considering whether he liked to do it. Here at WASHK, we felt the school deliberately leave a lot of thinking and feeling space for students. There are no labels, students are given equal opportunities to try many things, and then to decide for themselves what they really like, what they are good at, and if they want to further pursue particular skills going forward. Students are also under no pressure to express why they do not like certain things.
If we can use a single sentence to describe his experience here, it would be that WASHK enabled Duncan to “find his true self”.
The school runs a broad curriculum with 14 subjects, naturally there are some that Duncan likes more than others. He likes Maths, Science and iSTEAM, but he doesn’t like Drama. We asked him why he doesn’t like Drama, and we were actually very impressed with the answer he gave, he told us “I don’t understand the logic behind getting a group of individuals together to rehearse and act out some scenes that are not real, it feels like we are encouraged to do a lot of pretending and faking our emotions.”
I remember in the past, when Duncan told us he didn’t like certain subjects, it was often due to the subject being boring, hard, or the teacher wasn’t nice. In hindsight, we can see these are superficial and shallow reasons. But when Duncan explained his thoughts about Drama, we knew he actually experienced the essence of the subject itself, and came to a rational conclusion of his likes and disliked. In other words, Duncan was developing critical thinking, and was able to assess subjects, situations and people more independently. We firmly believe this is down to the “no label” philosophy of the school, the positive mentality of teachers, plus the small class sizes. They come together to create a school where students are not just encouraged to learn and know things, but to think.
Duncan likes sports, and he relishes his three P.E. lessons every week. He tells us that P.E. at WASHK is different from his previous schools, because in the past P.E. was more about learning a particular discipline of sports and doing them well, then going out there to compete and win trophies. Here, it is more about “Physical Literacy”. He likes basketball a lot, and given a traditional mindset school I assume Duncan will be drafted into the team and encouraged to focus on that particular sport. In contrast, at WASHK, I know that during last year Duncan was exposed to many new sports that he would never have tried otherwise, from Netball (which is a girls’ sport!), Lacrosse, to Rugby. I can see he has a broader understanding of the concept of sports through P.E.
We think WASHK does a very good job in preventing students from narrowing their interests and mindset too early. The school actively let students experience a wide variety of disciplines and encourage them to reach their own conclusions. We think this is very important because nowadays many children have their decisions made for them by parents, other adults or institutions.
Mr. Parr, Duncan’s class teacher: “Duncan is a very able pupil and has a lot of insight to add to our class discussions and activities. He is full of energy and always ready to speak his mind, so it’s been great to see how, with guidance, he has learned to control that energy and make sure it is always focused towards the task at hand.”
Academically WASHK strikes a good balance between encouraging students to do their best Vs having too much pressure on themselves. There are homework activities, tests, and exams, but not to a level where parents and tutors need to get involved. We see Duncan beginning to take ownership of his own studies. Just recently we were surprised to see Duncan declined my invitation to play computer games with him because “he has to study”. We tried again by enticing him to watch Korean TV dramas together as a family (which has been one of our regular past times), but Duncan again declined citing his needed to prepare for an upcoming test. Duncan has significantly matured since joining WASHK.
Mr. Tuckett also helped us secure multiple offers from UK boarding schools for Duncan, his up-to-date insights are valuable during the school selection stage, and the school’s Common Entrance ECA also helped. We are now faced with a good problem with multiple offers, and we are sure Duncan will come to his own conclusion with regards to which school he prefers to go to next.