One remarkable individual, she enabled 108 Chinese students to receive offers from Oxford and Cambridge University, and they have made great achievements in all walks of life.
This woman is the youngest member of management team of Chengdu Westminster School, the Director of School Affairs, Jen Li.
Singapore Ministry of Education Full Scholarship
An Oxford Graduate with First-Class Honours at both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree level
PGCEi Certified Teacher
PTC Certified Principles
ASCA Certified Senior Guidance Expert
In 2001, Ms Li won a scholarship from Singapore’s Ministry of Education to study at Hwa Chong Institution, one of Singapore’s leading secondary schools, having just completed China’s nine-year compulsory education. Back then, ‘international education’ was still unknown in China. There was not a single ‘International’ School in South West China. Given that Ms Li and her family couldn’t even read the English contract provided by the Singapore government, it is remarkable that she would voluntarily take up such an unfamiliar, untrodden path. In fact, her decision to leave behind the comforts and stability of China’s education system, opting instead for the uncertain course of an International school in Singapore, came as a surprise to many around her.
Her remarkable story continued when she won a scholarship to Oxford University, going on to achieve First-Class Honours at both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree level. From that point on, the unconventional choices she had made in the past, became an example for many parents, hoping to inspire their own children to find a similar road to success. Parents looked to the international educational model as the provider of a brighter future.
After graduation, Ms Li returned to China, to re-enter the world of international education: this time as a professional. Her own experiences proved to be the foundation of a desire to pursue a career in International education, providing pathways for future generations of Chinese students to secure places at the world’s leading universities.
Ms Li talked with Mr Tan Yee Kan, Principal of Chung Cheng High School (Yishun).
Ms Li has been familiar with Westminster School’s reputation ever since she started her application for Oxford University. She remarks how “Westminster graduates were scattered everywhere at Oxford, and I can still recall that there was at least one Westminster graduate in every class that I attended at Oxford. It was quite an amazing phenomenon. We gave Westminster School the nick name ‘The School Affiliated with Oxford University”. Westminster graduates always stood out in their own way and you can instantly identify them in a crowd of other students. “Spontaneous, liberal and free” is how Ms Li describes the Westminster students that surrounded her, who stood out for their charisma and spirit. Already, Ms Li’s interest in this famous school was piqued. On hearing that Westminster School was to collaborate in setting up schools in China, Ms Li jumped at the opportunity to join the project, becoming one of the first members of the preparation team.
Ms Li took intensive training at Westminster School
Ms Li describes the strong links between the school’s ethos and her own: “I have found the Westminster ethos to resonate with my own educational philosophy: prioritising the well-being and happiness of each individual and recognising their responsibility towards the wider community. Every child is unique and different. We want to help each and every pupil to identity their own interests and talents, enabling them to shine in their own way. This may sometimes be unconventional, but everyone can contribute in a way that makes a difference to society. This is the kind of education that leads pupils towards personal fulfilment and life-long happiness.”
Regarding her work at the school, Ms Li explained “I work as the Director of School Affairs at CWS, which constitutes three parts. The first priority is to build the guidance programme for pupils. The second is to coordinate all academic stages and ensure that the academic outcomes and information will be circulated efficiently across all different academic stages. Last but not least, I coordinate and integrate various resources of the school so as to ensure pupils have continual access to targeted, widespread support. ”
Dr Kevin Walsh, Project Director of Westminster China Project explained Westminster School Almanac to Ms Li
During our school events, career planning and university guidance always feature high in the list of priorities for prospective parents. In response to parents’ concerns, Ms Li shares her own insights surrounding high education planning. Her main focuses are on forward planning, and making the most of excellent resources available to you.
Early preparation does not mean pupils should start preparing for university entrance exams as soon as possible. It does mean however, that career planning should be considered at every academic stage. “At our school, university guidance will be part of our guidance program and it should be started as early if pupils want to apply for leading universities like Oxbridge and Ivy League universities.”
The Guidance Programme at Chengdu Westminster School is supported by a formidable set of extensive and diverse resources, enabling pupils to be ambitious in their future choices. Firstly, CWS has recruited a number of excellent subject teachers who also have proven track records of working with pupils to apply successfully to top international universities. CWS is also fortunate to have a team of expert advisers which includes incumbent or former presidents of top UK and US universities (including for instance, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Cambridge and President of New York University). Furthermore, CWS’s Guidance Programme is based on the very successful guidance model of Westminster School, London. Lastly, there are experts and key opinion leaders from all over the world, specializing in a wide range of areas. These include members of the Westminster（Greater China Region）International Advisory Committee, and the CWS Management Team, all of whom can offer support and advice.
According to Ms Li, career planning is not merely about the best university destination. Career planning should not be about finding an agent to pull together a personal statement with fancy words that show off reels of academic accolades. Real career guidance cannot be done by any third party who does not learn and live with pupils within the school campus. It is only from within the school, that tailored guidance can be provided by those who truly understand the strengths and needs of each pupil. The guidance programme at CWS will start from the moment pupil enters the school, where the full range of resources and networks are harnessed to ensure pupils access to the support they require.
However, Ms Li is quite clear that guidance and successful applications to leading universities are built upon the foundations derived from excellent teaching with a strong curriculum and supporting co-curriculum, the CWS philosophy. Genuine high quality education creates opportunities for pupils. A good university destination may be important in the short term. However, for the long term, particularly in an ever-changing world of new technologies and employment opportunities, pupils must be prepared to be flexible in their thinking and career aspirations. This is at the heart of the CWS mission, not only preparing our pupils for strong applications to top universities but also for equipping them with the personal qualities and skills to forge successful careers.