Fourteen years, thirteen campuses.
Establishing and operating international schools in seven cities in four Asian countries Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Zhuhai, Singapore, Seoul and Yangon. Together with the first education group in China to open a chain of British international schools, he has also made a significant contribution to international education in Asia.
This simple and honest Australian man is now planning his fourteenth school in a dynamic and thriving China – Chengdu Westminster School.
He is our Director of Operations – Shane Frecklington.
Former Group Director of Operations of Dulwich College International
Engaged in operations and management in China for 20 years,
Worked for 14 years at Dulwich College International
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, University of Queensland
And MBA, Queensland University of Technology
Shane believes that education truly is a ‘lifelong’ journey. His own early education began growing up in a remote area of the Australian Outback. It was far from conventional. Home was 45-minutes from the nearest small town. And no kindergarten and primary school were available, so he learnt from the ‘School of the Air’. Basically, his teachers were cassette tapes that were mailed to him every month. At grade 1 he attended the local ‘bush school’ which was a demountable building literally in the middle of nowhere (situated equidistant between surrounding rural properties to help reduce travel times.) In grade 6 he headed off to boarding school in the Queensland capital city of Brisbane. It was a top Preparatory and Secondary boarding school where he had many happy years. The boarding experience gave him a real understanding of the merits of the boarding experience, an interest and understanding which, quietly laid a firm foundation for his future career.
Shane (first from left in second row)
Surprisingly, he was determined to have a break before university and for two years headed West to experience life as a cowboy. He became the first member of his family to attend university when he joined the University of Queensland, subsequently graduating in Economics.
After completing his undergraduate studies, he landed his first corporate job in the Queensland Industry Development Corporation a bank that was providing loans to large scale rural clients in a prosperous regional area of Queensland. Later he moved into the Credit Policy division in the Head Office. The company was putting him through his MBA, in which he took the international specialization. Whilst studying with students from twenty five countries around the world, Shane soon realized need to get some experience and perspective from outside of Australia. He recognised the importance of the ‘big emerging market’ and so, in 1998 he negotiated with The Queensland University of Technology to complete his studies by undertaking in China studying at the University of Wuhan. After that he started his education career.
It can be said that education has driven Shane from Australia to China, and from Dulwich to Chengdu Westminster School. For him, education is the most precious gift he has been given. “That even if you end up with nothing in life, you will always have your education and manners.” He often relayed his mother’s words, affirming the importance of education to him.
“Westminster School is undisputedly the number one school in UK academically. It has a glorious history and it fascinating to learn more about it through my work. With twenty years’ experience in China and fourteen years of experience working in education, I knew I could make a contribution.”
Management of the building and student services is Shane’s main scope of work. To be specific, key concerns for parents about indoor air quality management, catering management, and school bus management are within his scope of work. Shane does believe that teachers play the most important role in bringing high-quality education to students, but the operations team plays a key role in making this possible.
Whenever Shane sees children playing in the campus which he was involved in the design, he will feel great satisfaction, which is a great affirmation from the children for his work.
“Taking care” of a campus with a built area of about 130,000 square meters, accommodating over 2,000 students is an arduous, huge and never-ending task. Other than managing the physical assets, facilities and buildings, there are the services that are involved in operations. So it all comes down to the health and wellbeing of the students and ensuring every breath that students take, every voice from students, and working performance of every operations staff member. To support students to achieve academic excellence is at the core of his work and is always prioritized.
Chengdu Westminster School’s Aerial View
Our learning resource spine which links the academic zones together with libraries and learning spaces, which creating a constant flow where students can study and work together.
“Healthy building – Every breathe we take”.
“Harvard School of Public Health has proven that buildings will affect students’ learning. For example, in terms of indoor air quality, poor PM2.5 content and TVOC content will damage students’ bodies and intelligence; high concentrations of CO2 will make students drowsy and less able to concentrate. Temperature and humidity are related to the comfort of students. Our students will breathe with the building, so we must ensure that the building materials, lights, furniture, carpets, desks, chairs and the mechanical ventilation equipment in the ceiling are healthy, safe, advanced and efficient. From the beginning of the school design, we work with architects and set goals with reference to advanced building standards such as LEED and WELL. All systems for indoor air quality are designed in advance. Additionally, we continue to monitor the operational performance of systems such as indoor air quality to ensure that they are always operating in the best condition.”
“The importance of community. Make sure that the voice of every stakeholder is heard”.
“Listen to the suggestions from students, parents, staff and faculties, which will be beneficial to the school management. Taking catering as an example, food is important for the physical and psychological well-being of students because it is highly relevant to the mood of students and the nutrient they receive. We will be mindful of what students like to eat and what their preferences are, which does not mean we will offer them endless hamburgers and fries. Apart from that, we will invite parents with extensive experience in catering to sit on our food committee to collect their suggestions. Feedback and advice from staff and faculty are also welcome. We will be able to offer a better catering service with the engagement of all members of the community.”
Chengdu Westminster School’s catering
“Team culture is an intangible yet essential ingredient of school life. It’s very important to create a culture of team work. I always emphasize to my team the important role of operations and how their work will indirectly impact on the academic performance of students. Only when we are in a culture of unity between academic and operations teams, will we have the synergy and clear understanding of school vision and ethos, to deliver the best results.”
With a strong background, rich experience, and full support from Westminster School, Shane is full of confidence in future operations of CWS.
“I have a lot of experience in establishing school operations for a new school. My time at Dulwich has been an invaluable learning experience. From the design level, I will think backwards, in order to avoid past mistakes; how will I design? If any problems arise, I have probably dealt with them before, and I know what works and what does not. At the executive level, I think I can co-ordinate high-quality suppliers to work together as strategic partners to operate the school and maintain the campus. Whether it is food safety school bus safety, I ensure suppliers follow the strict service level agreements, and fulfil their promises. If they win, then we win; our students also win; at the level of cultural understanding, I think I understand Chinese colleagues and understand bringing out the best of a diverse workforce. As a school, we are integrating the best practices of Chinese education and Westminster education in the UK. I think that with such an understanding, both parties can benefit. Our academic team has left me extremely impressed on this point.”
Director of Digital Strategy and IT of Westminster School (first from left) arrived in Chengdu in 2019 to discuss the communication and network architecture of Chengdu Westminster School.
“I am very impressed with organisational and structure which allows for true support from Westminster school to CWS. They have good representation and a huge amount of collective experience on the various management committees. There’s support from within the school and externally from seasoned business executives. A clear indication of the strength of support for CWS is that the Head Master regularly contributes to the discussions of the preparation team. This is invaluable. Not only are there committees in place at the highest management level for collaboration between the two schools but also at a working level for academics and operations. For example, I talk weekly to the Director of Digital Strategy and IT in in London. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel as we reflect upon best practice from London and how we can implement that in CWS. Does this work in the Chengdu environment? Maybe we have to adapt a few things, whether to do with regulations or whether to do with a different way of learning. But we can take best practice and we can tweak it to suit our needs.”
“I think staff at Westminster School are very generous with their time. The Head Master of Westminster School has shown very strong commitment to this project. I think that they really have done an outstanding job with their support. I think better than many school groups; it is rare to find this level of commitment from the home base.”