I am writing this article from the headquarters of the Rong Qiao Group, based in Fuzhou, South East China, having just returned from a very successful reception and press conference to formally launch the new school and commence pupil registrations. The total capacity when the senior school campus opens in 2019 will be 2,700. The school will be a full boarding school from age 3 to 18.
Sedbergh has been exploring overseas representation for several years and most recently through our new subsidiary, Sedbergh School International Limited (SSIL). On 25 November 2017, SSIL signed a legal contract with the Rong Qiao Group to support their development and operation of Rong Qiao Sedbergh School (RQSS) in Fuzhou. Strategic partnerships provide considerable potential to generate long term revenue to our school and extending the reach of the Sedbergh.
Sedbergh School International Limited will provide advice in all aspects of school operation to the Rong Qiao Group, who will build, own and operate the new Rong Qiao Sedbergh School. The Rong Qiao Group is a privately owned business with major commercial interests in agriculture, manufacturing, technology and service industries in South East China and Indonesia. Rong Qiao currently operate the prestigious Jakarta Nanyang International School in Jakarta and five award-winning Kindergartens in Fuzhou. The Group has an excellent reputation for philanthropic investment combined with commercial success and operate in nine different provinces across China.
Rong Qiao Sedbergh School will be located in Binhai New City, Changle. Binhai New City is a national-level high-tech development area within the Free-Trade Zone of Fuzhou and just 50 minutes from Fuzhou city centre. Two highways and two subways connect Fuzhou city centre with Binhai New City.
The school is a new build on an impressive campus covering 160,000m2. Each phase of education will have dedicated facilities which will include classrooms, a library, science laboratories, art and technology facilities, administration and will have access to indoor stadiums, swimming pools, theatres and
Rong Qiao kindergarten in Fuzhou playgrounds. Chinese culture will be taught in a dedicated centre. The total construction area will be 120,000m2 at a cost of £140m providing for 2,700 girls and boys.
Rong Qiao have sought our input at every stage of the process and particularly in developing their understanding of our core values, ethos and how this can translate in a Chinese context. We have been impressed by their strong interest in replicating Sedbergh School ethos in a Chinese context, and pleased that they understand and share our core values.
The boarding houses will contain between 60 to 70 pupils, class sizes will be restricted to a maximum of 25 pupils and the Housemasters/mistresses and Matrons will be established residential posts in all houses.
Olly Wells, Deputy Headmaster of Malvern College, Qingdao, has been appointed as the new Headmaster of Rong Qiao Sedbergh School. Whilst Olly does not officially commence until August he is already deeply immersed in building his new team and working closely with the Rong Qiao project team.
The school will create significant new employment in the region and offer a very different educational experience for the children of Fuzhou. This is the first boarding school in the region, with state of the art facilities and a genuine commitment to an educational philosophy that is very much aligned to our own. The education of the whole child with an emphasis on values that are timeless and transcend all boundaries.
Yes the school will play rugby! Alongside many other sports and activities, the pupils of RQSS are very fortunate in the range and scale of the extra-curricular provision with inter-house competition providing the forum for competition and challenge.
The building is progressing at a fantastic pace and expected to be handed over in July. As it is a two-phase project, building will continue into the first year of the school.
Sedbergh School International Limited will provide guidance on the provision of a boarding school education for children from the age of six upwards. The new school’s position, just 10 minutes from Fuzhou Changle International Airport, will enable it to act as an educational hub for Fujian Province and beyond, and recruit boarding pupils accordingly.
Rong Qiao Sedbergh School will offer the Chinese core curriculum supported by the traditional British IGCSE and A-level curriculum. A wide range of extra-curricular sporting, artistic and cultural activities will supplement the formal curriculum, as is the case at Sedbergh School. Olly Wells and the RQ team are keen to maintain the closest cultural links with Sedbergh. Alongside Sedbergh School’s many traditions is the transfer of familiar language and house names which we associate with Sedbergh: Winder, Cautley, Wilson, Lupton and Hart will all feature!
The Sedbergh School International Limited team includes Richard Gledhill as Chairman and Director of SSIL, Caroline DeGroote as our Business Development Director and Key Person of SSIL, and Michele Emptage as the senior educational advisor who was previously a Deputy Headmistress.
I am very grateful to Paul Fairclough, Deputy Headmaster, who has also supported the project since inception and moves on to George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh as the Head of Senior School in August 2018; to Christopher and Sara Hirst for their involvement with the appointment of teachers for RQSS; and to the OS community in mainland China and Hong Kong for their support and advice.
Chief Operating Officer and Bursar
The Rong Qiao Sedbergh School website can be found at: www.rqss.cn