At HD Schools we aim to deliver a curriculum which espouses our values – Wisdom, Empathy and Courage and prepares students fully for life in the wider world. Our curriculum is designed to meet the regulatory requirements for admitting Chinese passport holders, whilst ensuring that we provide a rich and varied learning experience which equips our students with the character, skills and know-how to succeed in their adult lives. In our schools, curriculum means everything that our students learn while they are with us, both implicit and explicit, ranging from the assigned curricula to extra-curricular experiences, and we see this as central to keeping with our motto – Education Creates Character.
Using a combination of local curricula and the National Curriculum for England (2014) as referees for standards of excellence, we operate with a unique dual immersion curriculum which is adapted to each of our schools to suit the needs of our students. This ensures that our students will pursue the highest standards across the curriculum, whilst ensuring that our teachers have the flexibility to innovate, giving each student the opportunity to get the most from their learning experience.
In keeping with our aims, the dual immersion curriculum at HD schools is split into four phases, each with its own focus in guiding our students on their learning journey before finally preparing them for successful application to their chosen university when they come to leave us.
Our youngest members of the school join us from three years old. The Kindergarten is a lively and happy environment, based on the child-centred educational approach of Maria Montessori. The Montessori method views each child as naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. Children are developed physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively, supported by highly experienced Chinese and native English-speaking teachers. Children are immersed in both Chinese and English through a variety of activities including music, art and physical education. Our pupils learn about Chinese culture as well as increasing their awareness of countries and cultures outside China. Our Mid-Autumn Festival for example includes dressing up in traditional Chinese outfits, making moon cakes and enjoying a puppet show depicting the meaning and history of the event. A lot of fun is had by children, parents and teachers alike.
The Primary years at HD are founded on a number of key cornerstones with the aims of ensuring our students develop the transferable skills needed for secondary school life while becoming genuinely bilingual. Our Mandarin programme is centred around the pioneering approach of Chinese Chief Academic Director, Mr Li Zhencun, renowned throughout the country for his ground-breaking work on the development of the Chinese integrated curriculum, which synthesizes different cross-curricular strands in a unified whole which always respects the foundations of the Chinese curriculum whilst introducing a dynamic approach to learning reinforced by an outstanding cycle of professional development.
Alongside this sits a fast-paced, rigorous and differentiated English programme referencing the English National Curriculum but imaginatively diversified to reflect the particular needs of our different student communities. For instance, in our Qingdao school has begun pioneering an exciting performing arts programme which is rooted in an understanding of progression in the speaking and listening strands of the curriculum. Our Beijing school has adopted a cross-curricular approach, where all subjects are learnt in both Chinese and English, giving learners the opportunity to investigate, enquire and record across subject areas in both languages.
In all of our schools, such approaches are designed to accelerate children’s knowledge, vocabulary, structured and creative writing abilities as well as their speaking and listening skills. Typically, our strongest learners will be at near native standard by the time they progress to the secondary school, as referenced by globally recognised tests. This dual immersion approach is strengthened by our enthusiastic adoption of the ‘tight three’ model, pioneered by our New Zealand trained Chief Academic Director Mr Warren Johnston, whereby expert Chinese teachers work alongside native English-speaking Home Room staff and bilingual Chinese Teaching Assistants who support general class teaching or work with individual pupils to ensure that they are learning at the best possible pace.
When pupils move into the lower secondary years the fast-paced English teaching of the primary school is maintained, but special emphasis is given to the teaching of Mandarin and Chinese culture, such as our Shanghai schools exciting weeklong residential Guqin programme, so that students acquire the full command of their cultural heritage and the detail necessary to thrive in their academic subjects later on. Typically, in Years 7-8 science teaching will be delivered predominantly in Mandarin, but through a specially designed programme involving both native English-speaking teachers and bi-lingual Chinese colleagues so that key concepts are reinforced in both languages. By the time HD students reach the end of Year 8 they are able to perform strongly at a level commensurate with that required by the Chinese Zhongkao qualifying examination.
Upper Secondary sees our students building on our strong dual immersion foundation both to enhance their command of native Mandarin and to prepare for entry into the top universities in the Chinese and English-speaking worlds by continuing to develop their dual language competency through a range of intellectually rigorous approaches. These respect the best Chinese academic traditions whilst enthusiastically embracing innovative research and project-based learning approaches so that HD graduates leave our schools amongst the most able in their country, proud of its heritage and roots yet ready to build on this foundation in order to seek to enhance China’s role and prestige in the outside world.
Our unique curriculum sets the highest standards in academic progress, ensuring that our students are able to strive for the very best levels of attainment in their own language whilst developing native speaking levels of English by the time they leave us. The objectives, to which our teachers plan, are referenced for their equivalence to local curricula, the English National Curriculum or the standards of international examination bodies. Our Ningbo school in particular has led the way with this where our team have mapped objectives from the curricula against each other so as to fully integrate their objectives into the curriculum we offer. We can say with confidence that our curriculum experience matches the most aspirational programmes in the world.