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[Herald Interview] ‘Everyone is a learner for life’

Academic ethos, pastoral care, co-curricular activities are three pillars of North London Collegiate School Jeju, Principal Lynne Oldfield says

North London Collegiate School Jeju Principal Lynne Oldfield (NLCS Jeju)
North London Collegiate School Jeju Principal Lynne Oldfield (NLCS Jeju)
Like all aspects of life over the past year, education has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While numerous schools struggled to cope with the pandemic, North London Collegiate School Jeju's Class of 2020 achieved the highest level of academic proficiency and college advancement in its 10-year history.

“In the midst of the pandemic, we were really supporting those children through the academic support we give, through the pastoral well-being support we give and ensuring that we have a very much blended learning approach,” said NLCS Jeju Principal Lynne Oldfield.

“In other words, we didn’t compromise on what we were doing. We made sure that we were still providing that very enhanced, enriched curriculum.”

The Class of 2020 got an average score of 39 in the International Baccalaureate diploma program while posting a 100 percent pass rate. The global average score was 30. Among the 170,343 IB diploma candidates worldwide, only 141 students scored a perfect 45. Three of them were NLCS Jeju students.

The IB diploma program is a two-year educational assessment that provides globally accepted qualification for entry into top universities across the world.

Last year’s NLCS Jeju graduates earned admission to some of the most prestigious schools across the globe, including the UK’s Cambridge and Oxford universities and Columbia and Stanford in the US.

“When you look at that Class of 2020, we had a very high number of those students who had been (attending NLCS Jeju) for a long time. The majority of them had been here for more than five years. So they and their families have completely bought into our education,” Principal Oldfield said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Friday.

Asked what was special about the British institution on Jeju Island, Principal Oldfield pointed to its strong affiliation to its sister school in the UK, which has consistently ranked as a world-leading school for exam results since its foundation in 1850.

Everything about the two institutions is very similar at the core, she said, and there are three pillars: academic ethos, pastoral care and co-curricular activities.

“We have strong belief in scholarship. Everyone is a learner for life. That goes for our teachers as well as our students,” she said. “We are equipping them with academic scholarship, skills and attributes to go on and be successful in universities.”

Students can develop leadership as they get involved in various societies including medical review, mathematics, philosophy and environmental studies, the principal added, and because these societies are very much student-led, they get used to taking initiatives and thinking ahead while preparing for higher education and being successful at a job. 

Students and teachers at North London Collegiate School Jeju (NLCS Jeju)
Students and teachers at North London Collegiate School Jeju (NLCS Jeju)
The school’s boarding system embodies the second pillar of pastoral care. There are eight boarding houses at NLCS Jeju. For each house, six to seven adults provide care and support students on a daily basis. Some 400 students are currently boarders, according to the school.

“Our boarding element is not just living in a dorm. They actually live this NLCS experience. They have academic opportunities from the teachers as boarders. The people who are working at boarding houses are teachers,” Principal Oldfield said.

With over 1,400 students attending the school, she said, everyone participates in co-curricular activities -- of which there are more than 150 on offer. The wide range of experiences includes art, drama, music, sports and voluntary service.

The popularity of NLCS Jeju -- a day and boarding school for children aged 4-18 -- has grown over the years as the size of the school has grown accordingly. There is a waiting list for all year groups, Principal Oldfield said, and the school is in talks with the provincial office of education to push up the quota for students.

“What we hope is that as the world opens up again, we can extend what we are doing for more nationalities,” she said. “We are encouraging students from other countries to come in so that our students can actually have international experience by meeting students from other countries.”

By Kan Hyeong-woo (