School trips vary from school to school. Some children get sent to their local outdoors centre, others visit a museum or art gallery, and if they’re really lucky, some pupils are flown to Shanghai.
Staff and pupils from King Edward VI School in Suffolk travelled over 5,000 miles to gain an insight into the lives of those who attend and teach at Shanghai Yanjing Juyuan Experimental School.
As well as soaking up the culture and exploring the city, the pupils attended school and had lessons on everything from calligraphy to the Chinese art of paper folding.
And everyone from King Edward agrees – it was an unforgettable trip.
To make sure their experience in Shanghai – which as a city routinely comes top of the Pisa international league tables – could be shared with everyone at home, 17-year-old student Luke Wearn organised, filmed and produced interviews between students and students, as well as between teachers and teachers.
He said: “The drastic differences in school in Shanghai stunned me at first – the student etiquette, expectations, morning exercises were all alien to me, as well as the rest of our group.
“It wasn't until I arranged these interviews that I realised just how much the students and teachers do, and how much the students cherish their free time.”
Shanghai Yanjing Juyuan students Chester and Rose managed to find time in their hectic schedules to tell King Edward correspondents Ollie and Matilda about their daily lives.
Like Luke, Ollie and Matilda were shocked by how little time Chester and Rose got to relax. Both students have extra tuition on Saturdays, leaving just Sunday to unwind.
But with drastic differences, came striking similarities – a student's love/hate relationship with school is truly international.
Chester said: "I like school because of my classmates and friends, the teachers are really nice. But what I don’t like about school is homework."
English teacher Jane Holland and history teacher Matthew Elliot interviewed Rebecca and John, who both teach English at Shanghai Yanjing Juyuan Experimental School.
Both Rebecca and John spoke in depth about their daily teaching lives and, in particular, the Bureau – Shanghai’s equivalent to Ofsted.
“They come to school once a year, observe lessons, give lectures and talk to teachers, pupils and parents about the school. We’re then awarded a score,” said Rebecca.
The pressures teachers feel in the UK around exam results is no different to what the teachers in Shanghai experience.
“There’s a lot of pressure from the Bureau and the school about exams. When results are published, there’s a list that says how different schools did in maths and English, for example.”
However, holidays are quite different. The Shanghai teachers get a one-month holiday in August and are expected to attend two weeks of lectures and training at school within this time.
“We feel a lot of responsibility from parents – they want their children to go to the top university in Shanghai, and so they want us to push their children,” said Rebecca.
Video producer Luke said: "Overall, I found life (well, 10 days) truly eye-opening, as well as tiring. Seven am starts at school are something I'm not used to in Suffolk, and just 5 days of this was enough to tire us all out.
“It’s clear to us all that education is highly valued in China, so much so that students would do their homework while at meals in restaurants with us.”
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