UK politicians see how world’s ‘oldest school’ looks forward

08 June 2016

A delegation of UK politicians has visited the oldest school in the world.

Members of the All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG) joined Michael O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of our international exam board Cambridge International Examinations, on a visit to Chengdu Shishi High School in China’s Sichuan province.

The school stands on the site of the first Chinese state school, founded around 141BC. Despite changes of school names over the years, the address still remains the same and has evolved into the current Chengdu Shishi High School. The school offers a range of Cambridge programmes including Cambridge International A Levels and Cambridge IGCSEs.

Michael O’Sullivan briefed the delegation, which was led by APPCG Deputy Chair Lord Clement-Jones, about why Cambridge programmes are proving increasingly popular with Chinese parents. He explained that one of the reasons was the desire for an education which equips students with an international outlook and 21st century skills.

The delegation – which included seven UK Members of Parliament: Yvonne Fovargue, Ranil Jayawardena, Mark Pawsey, Will Quince, Paula Sherriff, Angela Smith and Craig Williams – was also briefed by the Chengdu City Director of Education and the Principal of the school. But the highlight was a campus tour in which each MP had a personal student guide drawn from the Cambridge International A Level class. Without exception, all the students from the class gain admission to highly ranked universities in the USA, UK and Canada.

"The students handled the tour very well," Michael said, "leaving the MPs with a deep impression of what these programmes achieve."

The final part of the programme at the school was a press conference at which Lord Clement-Jones spoke about the importance of UK-China relations and the UK welcoming Chinese students. Michael, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, praised the school, Cambridge programme partners and the Chengdu government for their steadfast support. He pointed out that this Cambridge International A Level programme has a zero failure rate.