▲ Peter Daly says parents should get their applications in early to avoid disappointment as impressive results will lead to even more competition for places. Photo courtesy NLCS Jeju
Overall we’ve had over 2,200 students apply to NLCS Jeju since we opened and we’ve taken 750 of them, so you can see it’s very selective,” said Peter Daly, principal of North London Collegiate School Jeju (NLCS Jeju) as admissions opened for the Sept. 2014 semester.
"[W]hen our results are out at the end of this year we are going to be over-whelmed ... our students will get into some of the best universities in the world,” he added.
It was a bullish statement from Daly who has no doubt his school is going from strength to strength. Opening in Sept. 2011 in partnership with the Jeju Development Corporation, NLCS Jeju is now entering its third year and its promise is about to be realized in results, the school head claimed.
The school was the first to open at the Global Education City in Daejeong-eup and follows the NLCS (UK) curriculum, which is based on the UK National Curriculum. The school has strong links with NLCS in London, an institution with 160 years of history and twice named the most successful independent school in the United Kingdom in the last decade.
Intending to ease the financial strain and stress of sending students overseas, Daly is proud that 25-30 percent of NLCS students are returnees from abroad. The quality of education on offer is central to this and Daly is confident the Jeju institution is emulating its partner school’s success, warning that admissions will be getting even tougher.
“Once we can prove it on the results side ... it will be a rush, so I would say get in this year because you won’t get in next year. I think it will be very very difficult [next year]. I think the smart parents will get in there early,“ he said.
Daly says that the culture shock often begins at interview as students, strictly prepped, are often wrong-footed as the test demands critical and analytical thinking. Daly suggests parents forgo the entrenched hagwon system if they want a quality education for their child.
“They think they can go to the hagwon and prepare for NLCS and they can’t. We are looking for interpretation, opinion, they have got to be creative ... to show independent thought and problem solving. It is quite tough coming direct from a public school in Korea ... but if they have the potential to develop [these skills], that’s enough.”
▲ NLCS Jeju has some of the best educational facilities in the country and places are highly coveted. Photo courtesy NLCS Jeju
There is also the inevitable language barrier to school entry.
“English is where the challenge comes,not just for the spoken English, but the written English as well ... Their academic English has to be high and their spoken English has to be very good ... And unless you can do that you are not going to be able to access the curriculum and ... make the progress,” said Daly.
Daly believes education in Korea is letting families down in not fostering the right kind of thinking in students, which he then encounters at interview.
“Korean parents think ... it is all scores and results and they think they can coach their child, but actually that is disadvantageous. It actually works the opposite way. They think they can give prompt answers and of course I just ask a different question."
“Don’t go to a hagwon because you’re wasting your money. Get your child in preparation to read books, read newspapers, watch good English TV programmes and ... use proper tutors who are going to develop their imagination and their thoughts and creativity and their abilities to be analytical,” he said.
Despite these misgivings about the quality of private institutions and public schools, Daly has the utmost belief in Korean students’ abilities. It just goes to show, he says, that creativity and critical thinking skills are present within all children.
“The students here have amazed us and blown us away really the way that they have shown the creative abilities that have never been fostered and never been brought out. I think they’re latent within everyone to be honest, every child, but I think we have noticed with Korean students how ... much talent and ability there is within them,” he said.
In a final word of advice, Daly asks parents to be patient as high standards mean some students are not ready for the step up. But, he adds: “There is always the opportunity for feedback and how they can improve. Not all is lost.”
Applications are being accepted between Oct. 1 and Nov. 8. for the Sept. 2014 term. The first stage of cognitive ability tests take place at the NLCS Jeju Admissions Office in Seoul between Oct. 7 and Nov. 13.
For further information on applying to NLCS Jeju please visit nlcsjeju.co.kr or call (+82) (2) 6456 8410.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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