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We are Huili | Nurturing a national champion artist

27 Jan 2023

Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16-year-olds. It is taken in over 150 countries and in more than 5000 schools around the world. In the June, 2022 series, over 5.6 million pupils sat the Cambridge GCSE or IGCSE level exam. IGCSE is the international version of GCSE in the UK. In fact, some pupils in the UK also choose to sit the IGCSE exam instead. Mainland China has also seen a rise in pupils sitting the Cambridge IGCSE exams. Last year, pupils from Huili School Hangzhou at Wellington College Hangzhou achieved excellent results, with 73% of the scores being A-A* (A* is the highest level). What is even more exhilarating is that Joe from Huili achieved the highest score in the country in his IGCSE art exam.  



"This picture shows an ordinary street in a modern city after rain, but I took this picture from a close to the ground angle to let the water surface and real buildings reflect the world opposite to it. I can feel the real life of modern people from this picture, and the figures of different people at night attracts me. The lights from different directions on the street make me feel warm despite the cold modern architecture, and lets me feel the unique style and culture of architecture in this era." - Joe

It has been over four years since Joe joined Huili School Hangzhou at Wellington College Hangzhou. The school has presented a platform for Joe to demonstrate his talent for artistic creation fully, and in return, his brilliant performance has made the school proud. For the second “We are Huili” this academic year, we interviewed Joe’s mother, who shared her insight on choosing Huili and Joe’s journey at the school. How to find a school that aims for academic excellence and individual development where a child can feel like a fish in water and thrive? Let us find out more from Joe’s mother.

What attracted you to choose Huili for your child?

We learned that Wellington College Hangzhou was established in Hangzhou the same year Joe graduated from primary school in 2018. We came to one of its information sessions and immediately found that Huili’s values and educational ethos align with children’s needs in this modern world. When we returned with Joe to visit the school, he was so impressed by its elegant campus environment and friendly and loving teachers that he made it clear that he wanted to go to Huili. This is how Joe became a founding pupil at Huili. Four years later, he is now a sixth form pupil.

What was the biggest challenge for Joe when he first joined Huili, and how did he overcome it?

The biggest challenge for Joe when he first joined Huili was his need for English skills. He felt overwhelmed by some of the classes taught in English. However, he knew that language skills cannot be improved overnight and that one must embrace the challenge head-on. Fortunately, the expatriate teachers and Chinese teaching assistants have created an immersive English learning environment and delivered differentiated teaching to meet each child’s needs. They have created immense opportunities for pupils to learn English outside the classroom and encourage pupils to increase English input for better understanding.

Joe has achieved the highest score in his IGCSE art examination globally. What do you think it is that contributes to his success?

Joe was delighted to have achieved outstanding scores in the IGCSE exams last year, especially in the art exam. It was a result of both his intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Joe loves the art curriculum at Huili. He is quiet and patient, willing to devote much time and energy to draw. His passion lies in sketches, Chinese paintings and cartoons. Complementing this, Huili has presented him with a wonderful platform where his talent can be fully tapped and recognised. Some of Joe’s artworks were displayed in the exhibition zone at the school, and some were even made into congratulatory cards and the cover of invitations sent to his peers and other parents. One of the paintings in his IGCSE art portfolio won the Golden Award in the 2022 China (Hangzhou) International Youth and Children’s Cartoon Competition and was nominated to compete for the Grand Prize of its online competition. All of these have boosted Joe’s confidence and enabled him to continue his journey of artistic creation.


Joe's artworks

From a parent’s perspective, are there any positive changes, academically and personally, you have observed in Joe since he started boarding at Huili School Hangzhou? 

Joe’s academic performance has been spiralling upwards. In Huili’s diverse and inclusive environment, he finally found what suited him the best. Over the years, he has become a proactive learner and his love for learning has grown as he scores higher in daily learning. He even signed up for maths competitions, such as AMC, IMC and SMC, and even won some awards.  


Joe is slow to warm up, but he blended into the Huili community easily, thanks to its harmonious environment. He made many good friends and his personality became brighter than before. In grade 10, he became a student council member and assumed several responsibilities. I am glad to see him becoming a more responsible person.

Joe won multiple awards during the last academic year. How did you feel about these achievements and celebrate them at home? 

With the support of the school, Joe and a few of his schoolmates have participated in a complex group maths competition, in which they devoted much time to discussing the topic, even during the weekend, from deciding the theme to conducting research and validation. They even gave up the school tour during the autumn. Joe was never discouraged when their plan was first met with refusal, and he found the courage to start over. It was a time when he realised that the outcome was no longer important because he learned so much from the process and practised many other skills beyond the competition. It is Huili School Hangzhou that endows our children with the best opportunities and the Huili teachers who show them the highest regard. 


What hobbies does Joe enjoy? 

He has many interests and hobbies. Besides his love for drawing, he also enjoys table tennis, badminton, tennis and swimming. Since childhood, he has been particularly fond of building projects, such as Lego and Gundam. When he was a bit older, he participated in various robotics competitions, such as ROBORAVE, VEX, WRO, FIRST engineering challenge, and won a global championship. 


Among the five Huili values, i.e. courage, respect, integrity, kindness and responsibility, which one do you and your family value the most? 

We value responsibility the most out of the five Huili values. Being responsible is one’s duty. It is what makes one a qualified citizen in school and beyond. Throughout his years at Huili, Joe becomes more mature and has learned more about the value of responsibility, thanks to the education he receives at Huili. He can now complete his tasks without procrastination or fear, he always tries his best, and will help other team members to improve their project.  


What expectations do you have for Joe at Huili and life beyond? 

We expect Joe to demonstrate Huili values of courage, respect, integrity, kindness and responsibility and become a role model as a founding pupil, to practice more and improve himself, and live a more exciting and well-rounded life at Huili. 


We want to tell Joe, “Your life has just started. As parents, we don’t want to raise too many expectations for you except to seize the moment, keep forging ahead, and understand your role in this society. Thus, you will be more confident with an open mind when you look ahead to your future.”   


At Huili School Hangzhou in Wellington College Hangzhou, we aspire to create a caring, bilingual community that develops well-rounded individuals with solid values and the skills to thrive within an ever-changing global society. Community is at the centre of all we do at Huili. We continuously strive to work with our parents, staff and pupils to develop that strong sense of community that makes our school unique. In this series of ‘We Are Huili’ articles, we aim to tell our families’ stories and highlight their special contributions to our community.