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November 30, 2021

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We are Wellington: a call for community

Wellington College International Shanghai welcomes its new master: Brendon Fulton. He brings with him a wealth of experience in education and school leadership gained from a 20-year career that has taken him from South Africa to the United Kingdom, the Middle East and, finally, China.

He transitioned early on from a career in information technology to become a computer science teacher, which led to a leadership position in Qatar as the deputy head of a large British international school and eventually executive principal of the Dubai British School group, which received “outstanding” ratings during his tenure. Through his wide and varied years of international experience, Fulton comes to Wellington emphasizing a vision of community, care and compassion as a means to strengthen support and resilience, especially in the face of great challenges and changes.

As Wellington's new master, Fulton aims to uphold the college's long-held aspiration of creating a diverse, caring and supportive community.

“Central to this effort is helping our pupils develop the skills needed to communicate and think across cultures, which is why 2021 marks the inaugural year of our new dual-language program,” Fulton said.

The ambitious project aims to create fully bilingual, biliterate and bicultural pupils through immersion in a dual Chinese/English learning environment. Focused on fortifying students’ sense of pride and place, the program commenced in September.

It will give international pupils the opportunity to excel in two of the most critical languages of the 21st century, eventually being able to function, think and even dream seamlessly in either.

He emphasizes just how important parents are in building a thriving educational community.

“I see our parents, pupils and staff as tilling and nurturing the soil of the community,” Fulton said. “Our parents are particularly important in this regard. After all, they begin educating their children before they ever enter our classrooms. They are, in effect, our partners.”

As such, their feedback and communication are essential to the college’s success. More importantly, so is their active participation. “I encourage all of our parents to get involved in the Wellington community, be it at home with their children, at one of our main school events or as contributors to the ‘Friends of Wellington,’ our parent and teacher organization,” he said.

A Wellington parent himself, Fulton is an active member and serves as Friends of Wellington’s president. He is especially excited about the calendar of parent-led community events in the works this year, like October’s International Food Festival and the highly anticipated Summer Festival.

“At events like these, we often proudly say, ‘We are Wellington,’ as we get to see our pupils, parents and staff come together in partnership. ‘We are Wellington’ is far from a simple refrain, it is truly a call for community,” Fulton said.

Because he is also Wellington parent, Fulton has a lot at stake when it comes to the college’s educational outcomes. When Wellington pupils graduate, they will enter a world that is increasingly shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and a job market that is profoundly impacted by automation and artificial intelligence.

“This is something I think about constantly,” he said. “As a former IT professional, I have witnessed these megatrends firsthand. Rapid change will be the only constant.”

Therefore, he stresses the importance of teaching pupils to be flexible, adaptive and versatile.

“This is why a holistic education — an education that addresses the needs of the whole child — will be vital to our pupils’ success in life after Wellington, as they step out into the world as Old Wellingtonians,” Fulton said.

“STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are, of course, essential. Strong quantitative skills will be indispensable in an economy so reliant on technology and data. Our department of sciences and technology is well equipped to serve our pupils in these areas,” he added.

But he is quick to point out that a school must also teach its pupils to see connections and find meaning in the world.

“These are the soft skills like leadership, teamwork, empathy, cultural awareness and complex reasoning that our pupils acquire through Wellington’s outstanding humanities, arts and sports programs,” Fulton said.

“It is truly an inspiration to see genuine care for our environment and community come through in our pupils’ calls for sustainable development, showcasing our Wellington Identity of being ‘inclusive’ and the value of ‘respect’ in action,” he added.


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