The week turned out to be a wonderful education experience. The exchanges opened up new aspects to explore on an educational and national level and, at the same time, was an enriching personal and professional challenge. We all harboured high expectations for the visit. Our sharing and discussions pointed to a visit that exceeded our expectations with almost all of our projected outcomes achieved.
Upon arrival Edinburgh, we first settled in the very convenient, city centre hotel and began to explore the culture and heritage of the city of Edinburgh. We visited places of interest and enjoyed taking photographs of the monuments and buildings, especially those on Princes Street and the Royal Mile.
I have been privileged to enjoy a few memorable welcoming receptions at 12A Ravelston Park, but none as special as the one for HKSSIP. It was more than a reception – I personally felt it was a home coming, in a familiar place and greeted with the same open arms and hearty greetings. Judith and Roger are wonderful hosts, so friendly in receiving the delegation in their inviting, ‘warm’ home, adorned by a wonderful collection of Chinese paintings, ceramics and artifacts. They are so enthusiastic about the coming together of Scotland and Hong Kong, China.
With such a very warm and privileged atmosphere, it was clear how much the Scottish educational and business community valued the partnerships with China and the HKSSIP initiative. It was quite uplifting for us to meet so many leading academics, business leaders, diplomats, Government officers and representatives of many Chinese communities in Scotland. It made an exceedingly good start to the week and we were left in no doubt of the high expectations for the success of HKSSIP. Without the long cooperation, going back over many years, with Scottish leaders, in particular Archie and Judith, we could not have achieved this unique starting point of a new journey of networking for school improvement, Hong Kong and Scotland
A very special feature of our study visit which makes it stand out from other exchanges is the painstaking planning to provide outstanding venues and access to key players in Scotland China education. We have been blessed with a choice of Scottish schools rich in history and educational tradition, but also at the forefront of school improvement and student success in 2016. We marveled at the majesty of many of the school buildings. It was of particular significance to be invited to the Scottish Government at Victoria Quay, the famous building housing the Confucius Institute for Scotland, and the RZSS at Edinburgh Zoo (where we learned all about the ‘beyond the Panda’ education and cultural initiative which are promoting strong cultural links between the two countries).
A special thanks to our Hong Kong Co-ordinator, Principal Lancy Tam, who did a wonderful job of leading and organizing our visit, She showed us how we could combine a very intensive educational journey with an appreciation of Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town and the majestic historical monuments and cultural heritage. As a result we were able to celebrate and reflect together for the sustainable development of HKSSIP.
We are indebted to our Scottish partner schools. They all welcomed us with great enthusiasm throughout the week, and were so open in sharing their ideas, their initiatives and experiences with us. We enjoyed open access to classrooms to observe lessons, and were afforded many opportunities to converse with students and teachers. Their determination and attitude towards the common goal of school improvement impressed me as I reflected on many years as a long serving school leader and ‘education reformer’ in Hong Kong.
Archie is a long standing professional colleague and ‘best’ friend, and I am impressed with his unstinting commitment to school improvement in Hong Kong (and Scotland!). He is as energetic as the day I first met him in 2001 when he came to my (then) school, Immanuel Lutheran College, to begin a major quality assurance study for the Education Bureau. It was a privilege to work with him to bring about a new approach to quality assurance in Hong Kong, based on school improvement through self-evaluation, complemented by a systematic approach to external review and inspection. Archie shows great enthusiasm in gathering together both Hong Kong and Scottish partners for the new journey of cooperation and improvement. HKSSIP is so fortunate to have the partnership of Judith and Archie as its mentors and supporters; they have such a commitment to education (and culture sharing) in Scotland and Hong Kong, China.
Like all participants of HKSSIP, I look forward to continuous cooperation between partner schools, and a coming together so that we can share our good practices and remarkable outcomes for the benefit our students and pupils.