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China was the first to begin offering online teaching to students due to the COVID-19. About 200 million students all over China have been going to “school” online since Feb. There are a lot to learn from this grand, perhaps the grandest in terms of number of people involved, education experiment. The archived video of this episode is at the bottom of this post. To talk about this experiment, Episode 03 had three guests from three different perspectives:

The big picture: Shuangye Chen, Professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai, will share research findings and observations at the national level, discussing different models, policies and practices 

Running a school from afar: Spencer Fowler, CEO & Superintendent of the Affiliated High School of Peking University’s Dalton Academy, has been living in Toronto while running his school in Beijing. Spencer will share how to provide education with a staff forced to be distributed around the world.

The Young Ones Online: Mina Dunstan, Principal of Quarry Bay Primary School in Hong Kong, will reflect the opportunities and challenges to deliver high quality online experiences to young children.

Guests’ Bios:

Dr. Shuangye Chen is Professor and Associate Director of the Institute of Curriculum and Teaching at East China Normal University, Executive Editor of the ECNU Review of Education. Professor Chen received her PhD in Educational Policy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is committed to furthering the development of educational theory and internationalization within Chinese education. Her areas of interest include curriculum policy, curriculum leadership, social change and educational development, and educational policy research methods.

Dr. Spencer Fowler is a former professional athlete, firefighter, and educational leader who presently serves as the CEO and Superintendent of The Affiliated High School of Peking University’s Dalton Academy. Spencer’s academic career began at Queen’s University where he earned a Bachelor’s (Hons) in Film Studies and a Bachelor’s (Hons) in Education. Spencer spent the past 15 years working in international education as a K-12 teacher and administrator in Chile, Egypt, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam and China, earning his Master’s and Doctorate of Educational Leadership along the way. Much of Spencer’s research concentrates on educational reform practices, bridging the gap between education and industry by connecting teachers and students to resources that tackle universal issues. His leadership style empowers teachers and students to have a voice and reach their true potential. This approach has led to the development of China’s first Access Scholarship, which aids marginalized and displaced youth from the Middle East to complete their high school education in Beijing and obtain full funding to attend universities overseas. The approach has also led to numerous patents, businesses, and publications – academic and otherwise.

Ms. Mina Dustan, Principal, Quarry Bay School, Hong Kong. Mina Dunstan is an experienced school principal and has been involved in educational leadership with the English Schools Foundation (ESF) in Hong Kong for 13 years. She is  unwavering in her focus on students and is passionate about giving them the very best educational experiences in the dynamic city of Hong Kong. During her time with ESF, she has worked at both Sha Tin Junior School (SJS) and Quarry Bay School (QBS). Under Mina’s leadership, QBS has established an excellent reputation and prides itself on high quality teaching and learning. Mina leads a school which has a positive learning environment where students are central to all decision making, and parental relationships are valued. Creativity, resilience and happiness are key attributes which Ms Dunstan believes are important at any stage of a child’s learning journey. Outside of work, she is busy raising her two daughters with her husband in Hong Kong. Prior to working in Hong Kong, she led various schools in Australia.

About the Schools:

The Affiliated High School of Peking University’s Dalton Academy is a prestigious Beijing-based secondary institution serving 350 students from Grades 10-12, boasting 75 renowned faculty members who bridge the gap between industry and academia, including space engineers, published writers, and mathematicians. The institution’s mission is to empower students and faculty to leverage available knowledge and resources to create a more impactful global community. Dalton resembles a small liberal college in comparison to peer high schools, making it unlike any secondary school. The academic program is informed by world-class frameworks, but not bound to any, providing the school with the freedom to decide what should be learned. The institution’s new Haikou campus currently offers middle and high school programs to an exclusive community of boarding students.

Quarry Bay School (QBS) was founded in 1926 with 720 students aged from 5 to 11 years old. The school follows the IB PYP curriculum. QBS is a happy school where its students have agency and are considered to be the most important people. The school prides itself on its high quality relationships; students and adults work collaboratively and support each other, enabling all to reach their full potential.  QBS aims to encourage a love of learning by providing learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom that help to develop confident, enthusiastic and successful learners who are able to inquire about the world. The school’s mission is to: Empower Learners to Make a Difference. QBS is a four form entry school and the total student enrolment is 720 students.The school has forty-one teaching staff (including specialist teachers) and thirty-four education assistants. There are twenty support staff. There are 40 different nationalities represented in the school contributing to a rich and diverse learning environment. QBS is an IB World School. In November 2019 had a successful five year IB evaluation review which recognised the exemplary teaching and learning provision for students. 

The school has a proud history with a strong emphasis on community – the QBS community value its diverse membership. It is not uncommon to meet current parents, school council members or staff who have a connection to the school’s community which goes well beyond one generation. QBS is regularly referred to as a ‘family and community school’ and this is celebrated by its stakeholders.

There is a strong belief at QBS that all children have talents which can be developed and that all children can succeed. The school provides equality of opportunity irrespective of race, gender, religion or disability for all children. QBS is an inclusive school where all students are included as part of the school community. Children with a range of learning needs are effectively supported by the school’s individual needs team. The school makes provision for children with moderate learning difficulties. Students are encouraged to be active learners who work collaboratively and support one another.