Emily Harrison was part of the start up team at Wycombe Abbey Hong Kong from when it opened in 2019. She came to Hong Kong after teaching for 4 years at Daneshill Prep School in Hampshire and has a good knowledge of the British curriculum and private school sector.
Emily is a Year Three Teacher and Head of Key Stage Two. Having been to boarding school for 7 years, Emily also acts as a pastoral mentor for children who intend to board in the future. With degrees in Architecture and a PGCE, Emily has a creative yet pragmatic approach to teaching and leading the Key Stage at Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong.
With an undergraduate degree and Masters in Architecture, I must admit that being a Primary School teacher was not the career that I had initially planned for myself, but my goodness, I am glad that I found it.
With an academic and art scholarship to an all girls’ boarding school in England, I thrived with the range of subjects, curriculum and extra-curricular activities offered. I grasped each opportunity and I have to admit, I was someone who absolutely loved school: the work, the social aspects, the sport, the art, the music, everything; and I worked hard to succeed as best I could, in all aspects of school life.
With a love of Science, Maths and Art, a career in Architecture or Engineering was inevitably on the cards. Seven years of studying and working in Architecture, both large scale public sector buildings and smaller residential was exciting but I came to realise in my heart, that it was not for me long term.
Teaching and volunteering in Kenya and Tanzania during my university Summer holidays provided me with initial skills to deliver lessons and inspire a love of learning. Not only was it completely humbling to be teaching children who came to school full of appreciation and aspiration, it also gave me the awareness of how to teach with little to no resources and the realisation that education is the key to every child’s future.
I still believe it was these teaching experiences in East Africa combined with ‘thinking time’ during a trek up Kilimanjaro that inspired my move into teaching.
Whether I should have pursued a teaching career from the get-go, or whether I should have continued as an architect is open to debate; but what I do know is, that I absolutely love the career that I have landed in, and, without my stint as an architect, I would not be the teacher I am today. I certainly wouldn’t have the confidence, the organisation skills or indeed the creative instincts to inspire children or instil a love of learning.
Diving into a teaching role at a Prep School in Hampshire, England, it was then that I appreciated how much I missed being in an education environment and how glad I was to take the leap into teaching. The buzz and enthusiasm of the school and the reminder that each day, hour and minute was different to the next was what I had missed.
The routine of a daily timetable met the diversity of teaching a broad curriculum and working with such a range of children was fulfilling and I knew I had found a job that would make me incredibly happy.
I completed my PGCE whilst working at the Prep School and this, as well as working alongside inspirational colleagues taught me so much in developing and progressing as a teacher. After 4 years teaching in Hampshire, my next challenge was around the corner: living and working aboard with my husband, an adventure we both wanted.
Working at Wycombe Abbey Hong Kong has been a marvellous opportunity, and provided me with a supportive environment where I can progress as a teacher and experience different cultures.
Although I have experience teaching across Key Stages, my passion is working in Key Stage Two, the children are inquisitive, adventurous, witty, yet continue to respond to encouragement and praise. I am increasingly passionate about engaging every type of learner, and helping children find the confidence to be able to express themselves and leave lasting impacts on their learning attitudes beyond the classroom.
My aim will always be to instil a love of learning in every child through developing curious minds, self-belief, emotional resilience and the ability to communicate and learn effectively.
My style of teaching and now leading Key Stage Two is based on research, experience and intuition. I strongly believe that Key Stage Two is a pivotal point in a child’s education where they develop their own learning style, and begin to rely on their academic instinct.
During this age, it is so important that children know how to deal with challenges, failure, and how to persevere with an open mind-set whilst remembering that kindness is always key.
What an honour it is to be inspiring the next generation!