It was not so long ago that many people believed that Asian students struggled to learn to speak and write in English. As Chinese and other Asian students are now amongst the top students in the top-100 universities in the world, that notion has been rightly condemned as a fallacy. With that said, speaking English does not necessarily mean that a student will be able to gain a high score on an A-level exam.
History is an obvious example of a subject where Asian students might be considered to be at a disadvantage as much of the curriculum assumes knowledge of western history. Cambridge International AS and A-level History is a flexible and wide-ranging syllabus covering modern history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The emphasis is on building the skills used by historians. Learners develop an understanding of cause and effect, continuity and change, similarity and difference, and use historical evidence as part of their studies. In recent Year 12 AS exams, 60% of Harrow Beijing students received As, with 90% achieving As or Bs.
Geography has long been a strong subject at Harrow Beijing and this year has been no different. Results at AS were 50% of the students achieving A* grades. Chelsea F. and Emily D. achieved 100% in both AS and A2 exams which means that they can now apply to the world’s best universities. For A2, 100% of students achieved A-B grades. Globally, geography has never been more relevant as it allows students to understand the issues affecting the world and encourages them to come up with solutions.
And lastly, Business and Economics have also been a part of this trend. This year results at A2 level Business and Economics saw 70% of students achieve an A in Economics and 50% achieve an A in Business. Results such as those above have afforded our students the opportunity to attend the top universities around the world. Studying Business or Economics is fascinating as it teaches students how economic analysis can help us to understand the big themes of the 21st century – poverty, inequality, globalisation and trade, and the contrasting experiences of success and failure in the economies of different regions of the world.
In order to succeed in their studies of the aforementioned subjects, students need very high levels of language and literacy. Throughout their time at Harrow Beijing, the students currently achieving great success in their AS and A2 exams have received support with developing their language skills. The Language and Learning (L&L) department and Harrow’s implementation of ‘Content Language Integrated Learning’ (CLIL) has ensured that students have achieved the language levels required to be truly successful in whatever subjects they decide to study.
The successes of our students in a range of subjects is being reflected in the diversity of subjects they are choosing to study at university. From Fine Arts to Sociology, from Management to Politics, and Philosophy and Economics, Harrow Beijing students are choosing subjects that reflect the broadening of the Chinese economy.
As a part of the school mission of ‘Leadership for a Better World’, Harrow Beijing is currently offering A-level scholarships. For details, please see: www.harrowbeijing.cn/admissions/jba-scholarship
By John Hopkins, Assistant Head master, Communications of Harrow Beijing.