On Friday, March 26, North London Collegiate School celebrated the 160th anniversary of its founding. That same day, following the traditional Founder’s Day Service and entertainment, headmistress, Bernice McCabe, and the chairwoman of governors, Helen Stone, signed an agreement with the Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) to open North London Collegiate School, Jeju, as part of the Jeju Global Education City.
The contract marks the first firm commitment by a school to become part of JDC’s ambitious plan to build a complete and self-contained city on Jeju that will focus totally on education, with all classes except Korean history and Korean language taught in English. The plan also goes beyond that of other “English-towns” and “English-villages” in Korea in that the interested schools plan to have extensive extra-curricular programs, while most Korean educational facilities focus solely on academic work, and primarily test-taking. All businesses in the city will also be required to use English as their primary language.
Project manager Christopher Bogden said JDC is in official agreement discussions with Branksome Hall of Canada and had representatives from St. Albans and St. George’s - both prestigious U.S. schools - visiting Jeju in mid-April. St. Albans, which is located in Washington, D.C., signed a memorandum of under-standing in December 2009 and is in the middle of a feasibility process. JDC hopes to finalize another memorandum of understanding with St. George’s soon after the visit, Bogden said.
“We are very pleased to have signed our first Memorandum of Agreement with North London Collegiate School last month. This first MoA is a significant step towards realizing the vision of the Global Education City. It also validates our project with the other schools who are considering a similar partnership.”
In an e-mail interview, Jason Morrow, NLCS deputy head, curriculum, and the principle school contact on the JGEC project, said the prestigious girls-only school was proud to be the first school to sign an agreement with JDC and was committed to working with other schools to help ensure the success of the education city. “Going forward,” he said, “we imagine we will be working along-side the other schools as equals, but the additional time and effort we have committed to working with JDC to help establish and develop the JGEC will naturally remain important to both us and the JDC.”
The main reasons for pursuing the opportunity to open a school on Jeju, Morrow said, were the possibilities of cultural and educational links and exchanges it would provide for staff and pupils and the opportunity to raise funds to provide financial assistance for NLCS places. A 2008 Independent Schools Inspectorate report on NLCS stated that 130 pupils out of a total 1,066 received funding from the school. Morrow said NLCS planned to provide funded places at its Jeju school also but details were still being worked out.
NLCS has consistently been ranked the U.K.’s top International Baccalaureate school and performs highly in terms of “Oxbridge” success - having its pupils accepted for places at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
McCabe, the headmistress, has been quoted as crediting much of the school’s success to its single-sex education system, but the Jeju school will be co-educational.
Morrow said this decision was made in order to offer the opportunities and benefits of an NLCS education to both boys and girls. Middle School classes would be single sex, however.
“We envisage a co-educational school of approximately 1,400 pupils, aged 8 - 18. It will be arranged into mixed groups at the Junior and Senior level with separate lessons in the Middle School.
“The reason for this ‘diamond’ structure is to allow teaching methods and pastoral support to be more effectively adapted to respond to the needs of both boys and girls at different points in their school career. There will, of course, be many opportunities for joint activities such as plays and concerts for boys and girls throughout their time at the NLCS, Jeju, school.”
NLCS chose to become part of JGEC, Morrow said, because it was “impressed by the vision and ambition of the project” and “excited by the potential for a truly international education city.”
Staff members and governors felt “very positive and supportive and [are] looking forward to with colleagues at the Jeju school in the years ahead to build up strong and mutually enriching links.”
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