Key Strands

The Festival offers five quite distinct strands that you may wish to follow or dip into.

Early Years

As education becomes more important in an increasingly competitive world, advantages are sought at every level. Thus, early choices of where to school children – with their implied decisions about preferred models of education – are becoming crucial. The Early Years strand is therefore committed to exploring the various options on offer, including inquiry into the value of play, the importance of balance, and the need to develop the ‘whole child’ whilst at the same time appreciating the need to encourage an early ability to focus.


Wellbeing is very a growth area in education. Its development is in no small way a reaction to the apparent significance of testing, assessment and exam results. How can a child remain healthy and mentally balanced in environments where academic achievement is often measured in an unforgiving manner? And what can schools do to ensure that success in examinations is not achieved at the expense of a child’s wellbeing and understanding of happiness?

A Developing Romance

The relationship between British and Chinese models of education is a complex and ever-developing one. Both traditions offer something of value, but is it wise or desirable to transpose systems? Do cultural traditions represent insuperable barriers to meaningful, purposeful traffic between such different educational systems? The strand ‘A Developing Romance’ considers the many ways in which two countries can come together, learn from each other’s practices, and perhaps create a kind of ’third way’.

Exploring Education

The ‘Exploring Education’ strand is a broad category that examines interesting and current educational issues not covered by the festival’s other strands. These can include anything from psychology or teaching and learning, to, say, the role played by the architecture off a school building or the value of assessments.


Technology, commerce and travel have rendered the world a much smaller and more accessible place than it was twenty or even ten years ago. Bearing this in mind, how important is it now to be able to communicate in more than one language? To what extent should bilingualism be a prerequisite of education? And does speaking more than one language come at a price? This strand considers the benefits and disadvantages of  multi-lingual schooling. Bilingual schools in China are developing at a fast rate: what kind of schools should these be? And what should be taught there?
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