I began phasing out my fourteen years’ association with Hong Kong in 2013-2014, thinking it would be about right to complete my assignments by the end of 2014. So I ‘signed off’ from directing my beloved Hong Kong Schools Self-evaluation Network (HKSSEN) and other commitments. However, In July of 2015, a Principal contacted me to ask if I would undertake a ‘critical friend review’ of his school in preparation for the school’s forthcoming Comprehensive Review by the Education Bureau. He will confirm that I said ‘no’ on more than one occasion, but in the end I was unable to resist the opportunity to return to my ‘adopted’ city. The review turned out to be a highly challenging and stimulating experience and, above all, enjoyable. While conducting the review, two other schools, on hearing I was in Hong Kong; asked me to facilitate staff training days. Once again I found myself ‘hooked’ on Hong Kong. It was during this time that I reflected on the strong bond between education in Hong Kong and Scotland and the thought of a Hong Kong Scotland School Partnership began to take shape in my mind. At the same time, Dr Judith McClure was thinking along similar lines.
Judith and I put our heads together, and her enthusiasm and encouragement convinced me to go ahead with the idea. I decided we would begin with no more than seven schools. All seven schools I approached in Hong Kong said ‘yes’ with little or no hesitation. Judith, drawing on her many contacts and especially through her leadership of the Scotland China Education Network (SCEN), identified Scottish partners, and again the schools were enthusiastic about the proposed partnership. So HKSSIP was born, and following discussions in Hong Kong and Scotland, we agreed that the partnership would be launched during a week-long exchange visit of the Hong Kong partners to Edinburgh. The details, including the superb programme, are included in this story of the exchange visit.
From the very beginning, the partners agreed that the partnership and the exchange visit should focus on a long term, sustainable partnership, sharing and learning together at school to school level, and overall partnership level. The outcomes of the exchange visit and the way in which the schools just seemed to have clicked have exceeded our expectations. The ideas shared and the planned initiatives discussed at the final session, which I facilitated at the Confucius Institute, are now being taken forward with lots of action both in Hong Kong and Scotland. I followed up the exchange by holding debriefing meetings in Hong Kong during which the partners outlined the contents and shape of ‘the story of the HKSSIP in Scotland’. A similar sharing is due to take place in Edinburgh later this month.
I would like to say a big thank you and congratulations to Principal Lancy Tam for the way in which she responded to my request to be our HK coordinator and the way she led her team to produce such a fascinating insight into the many happenings during the week in Edinburgh. The story shows the commitment to the notion of a sustainable and lasting partnership. It is wonderful to have such terrific support of the partner schools in Scotland and Hong Kong – great to have Principals and Head Teachers committed to the vision of HKSSIP. Finally, a special thanks to Judith and the Scottish Head Teachers for providing such a wonderful experience during the week-long exchange.
Mr. Archie McGlynn