Wycombe Abbey International School in new links with China

PUBLISHED: 13:03 11 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:03 11 May 2016

Headmistress Rhiannon Wilkinson with William Vanbergen, BE Education’s Chief Executive at Wycombe Abbey

Headmistress Rhiannon Wilkinson with William Vanbergen, BE Education’s Chief Executive at Wycombe Abbey


Wycombe Abbey International Schools (WAIS) has been launched in China by BE Education and the Buckinghamshire girls’ school, providing for the first time a blending of the Chinese and UK national curricula in a true UK independent boarding school environment.

The initiative has been led by Headmistress Rhiannon Wilkinson, with the support of the Governing Council and its Chairman Patrick Sherrington, and by BE Education’s Chief Executive, Old Etonian William Vanbergen.

They jointly describe the outcome of the deal as “sharing the Wycombe DNA, its values and culture” with a number of schools in China and supporting Wycombe Abbey’s bursaries and development of other educational ventures. BE Education’s successful Oxford International College of Changzhou (near Shanghai) will become Wycombe Abbey International School from September.

Rhiannon Wilkinson, who herself has 11 years’ experience in international education in Hong Kong and Brunei, says: “We are understandably proud of our history, our values and our belief in the power of boarding schools in education. We took our time choosing an international venture that would accurately reflect the modern, outward-looking Wycombe. BE Education’s leading position and expertise in China gave us the right level of confidence.”

Mandarin is already offered to A level at Wycombe Abbey and the head envisages opportunities for staff and pupils to be involved in WAIS through the likes of regular communications and exchanges.

Explaining the advantage of rebranding their existing school, Mr Vanbergen says: “Setting up an operation can take years, we have the advantage of experience and a school that is already up and running. We understand what local Chinese parents want – the best of both worlds – but fundamentally that their children remain Chinese.”

The move has been welcomed by The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. He says: “Education is one of the cornerstones upon which we build international relations. Global partnerships like this one by Wycombe Abbey and BE Education will help to weave a tighter union between Chinese and British students and the business leaders of the future.” 


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