Head of College Anthony Coles Talks Student Life at Intl Schools

By Ryan Gandolfo, July 6, 2021

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Full House is a regular series where we speak with a notable individual from China’s education industry.

With school starting up again next month for the fall, there’s plenty of planning by faculty and staff that goes in to make it a successful semester. Given the dynamic changes to education over the past year and a half, student life at international schools in China has also changed in some ways. We reached out to Anthony Coles, Head of College at Dulwich College Beijing, to learn about how his team is preparing for the fall semester, education sector trends and student life at international schools in China.

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Anthony Coles, Head of College at Dulwich College Beijing

What preparations do you need to make as the Head of College before the fall semester begins at DCB? 
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of anticipating and being prepared for any eventuality. 

We have sharpened our focus on our purpose (which we call our Guiding Statements: Vision/Mission/Values) and direction and established our 2021-2020 College priorities based on data and feedback collection. They will be clearly communicated to our returning and new staff to align the whole College around these key points.

This will help to set clear and actionable expectations throughout the College for all staff members. 

Onboarding of our new staff is, of course, a key priority, and they will be supported in their transition to Beijing and introduced to our school culture.

How has student life at an international school in China changed in recent years from your perspective?
We strongly believe in the integration of tech tools to enhance student learning. The past few months have demonstrated the value of remaining connected from different geographical locations.

Bringing in a powerful video conferencing software will give us the ability to link 10,000 students across the Dulwich College International network and develop even more impactful collaborative projects.

AI of course will be a game-changer in personalizing student learning and tailoring content and feedback to each student.

Educating our students to become global citizens implies we give them more opportunities to be exposed and connected to the real world beyond the DCB bubble. We want them to develop the competencies and confidence to face challenges, grow as problem seekers and solvers and build life skills and values such as open-mindedness, flexibility, collaboration.

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Graduation ceremony 2020

What industry trends in online education are you most excited to see in the future?
“Students come first” starts with placing our students’ health and wellbeing as our key priority. Their social-emotional needs have been proactively monitored and supported over the past 18 months.

Our students not only thrive in their academics but also their extracurricular activities. The pandemic has curbed the local community engagement, heavily impacted the traditional regional and international trips such as residentials, service trips and sports competitions.

This, however, has resulted in a demand for high-quality co-curricular activities to balance the strong academic program, and more creative ways to show engagement and service to the community.

How have you managed to have an impact on DCB since joining? 
The challenges the pandemic posed meant my leadership team and I had to pull our community together through clear communication and efforts to support our students as well as our parents and staff.

We have spent the past 12 months reviewing all of our programs and operations in conjunction with a set of rigorous standards and practices as part of our global accreditation (CIS/WASC) process which will be peer-reviewed in November 2021. 

For more Full House, click here.

[Images provided by DCB]

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