SCEN Lecture at Leith Academy

10 September 2013

Archie300wOn 6 September a group of interested students went to Leith Academy to a Scotland China Education Network (SCEN) Lecture to hear Archie McGlynn, Director of Hong Kong Schools Self-Evaluation Network (HKSSEN) and Student Voice School Improvement (SVSI), talk about his experience in improving education in Hong Kong and how the same ideas could be applied in Scotland. His lecture was inclusive, getting everyone involved in the discussion.

Mr McGlynn asked us two questions: "How would we describe Scottish education?" and "How would you describe education in Hong Kong?" Both questions were answered with mixed replies from the audience. Some people said Scottish education was rigid, whereas others said it was diverse and flexible. Many other ideas were raised through the discussion, for example, that Scottish education is transformational, serious and enjoyable. Once all these thoughts had been brought together, Mr McGlynn told us how the phrase "Journey to Excellence" is widely used not only in Scotland but in Hong Kong as well.

We then moved on to what we thought of Hong Kong's educational system. The first thought that was explored was how competitive the Hong Kong school system is. With 1,400 more applicants than places available in the northern district in 2012-2013, students must achieve high grades to get these spaces at school so they can work their way towards getting a place at university, which is even more competitive. We watched two videos: a video of primary school lessons in Hong Kong and a shortened video of the BBC documentary "Meet the 'Tutor Kings and Queens'" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20085558).

We watched the first video to try and understand what Hong Kong classes are really like and what sort of subjects they teach. I myself was surprised at the similarities; the only clear difference was class size. The second video I would highly recommend to watch if you are interested in the educational culture of Hong Kong. It shows how tutors who teach classes with over 100 students at one time, become 'tutor kings and queens'. This status is given because they help students achieve high results and are in high demand. These classes help students get an edge in their studies and university entrance exam preparation.

Overall, the lecture was engaging and thought-provoking, I learnt a lot and was glad to be a part of it. I hope to attend many more of these events in the future.

Megan Hammell