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    James Sweeney: Pushing Boundaries in Primary


    17 Aug, 2018

    10 : 00

    • Term begins on Monday and we take a moment to talk to Mr James Sweeney, our new Vice Principal / Head of Primary, about his proudest achievements at Yew Chung International School of Beijing so far, and what the future has in store.

      Please introduce yourself.

      I’m James Sweeney, or Jim, originally from Birmingham in the UK. I did my BA in History and I also have an MA. I earned my PGCE from Worcester University. I’ve taught in the UK, in Korea and am now entering my fourth year at YCIS Beijing – this time as Head of Primary.

      What makes Primary at YCIS Beijing stand out?

      There are two things I would specially mention. Firstly, we are a uniquely innovative school. We push educational boundaries to develop cutting edge spaces like our Learning Communities, but the whole time we are committed to maintaining academic rigor. I feel very lucky to be part of such a forward-thinking school.

      Aside from this, the most outstanding side of the school for me is the children. They are so bright, interesting and committed – and they achieve different things in a huge variety of areas. No two of our children are the same, and I respect them hugely and love working with them.

      What do you consider to be your most important contribution to the Primary School?

      I am very proud to be part of the team that pioneered the Primary Learning Community. The space itself was the result of a lot of work and planning, and when it was completed it required a strong and dedicated team to use it in the best way possible. Now, thanks to all our energy, the Learning Community is used every day in the most creative ways to deliver an outstanding learning experience for our children. I think this is an immense achievement for our Primary team, and the school at large.

      But there is one contribution that is perhaps more important: our Primary football team won the cup in my first year of coaching here!

      Do you have any visions for the Primary school now you are Head?

      I want to build on our innovation with the Learning Communities and will continue to look for ways in which our education can be adapted for the 21st century. I am also keen to enhance our communication process here – between staff, departments, and parents too. Good communication allows the very best teaching and learning to take place.

      What advice would you give to a new teacher on his or her first year?

      Happy teachers teach best. Do everything you can to explore China, love Beijing and feel at home. I would recommend taking Chinese classes and being adventurous with food, travel and culture here.

      I would also like new teachers to know that this school offers a lot of support and opportunity for its staff, and that no matter where you are in your career, there is space to develop and grow here.

      We are delighted to introduce Mr Sweeney as our new Head of Primary and are looking forward to seeing where his leadership takes us in the years ahead.