We continue the Little Steps’ Talking Heads series, where parents can meet, greet, and get tips from Hong Kong’s Heads Of Schools. Get personal with these fabulous personalities and find out what makes them tick, their advice for parents navigating the schooling scene, and their favorite things about life in the city.
In this edition, we say hello to Allison Banbury, Principal of EtonHouse International Pre-School Tai Tam.
1. Full name and do you have a nickname?Allison Banbury.
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born and grew up in Newcastle, UK.
3. Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? I live in Tsim Sha Tsui with my family. The local neighborhood is vibrant; an exciting mix of cultures. As a family we enjoy eating out and the area offers much in the way of local and international cuisine. I love that we are a short walk from Kowloon Park and the TST promenade which give a sense of space. We also love to be connected with the whole of HK and the transport network enables us to travel with ease around Kowloon, into the New Territories and onto the Island.
4. What's in your lunchbox? Soup, I need something warm on these cold winter days!
1. What or who inspired you to become a headmaster? When working as a teacher in a nursery school in London, I worked with an inspirational head teacher, Ann Bridges. She grounded her pedagogy in research and every decision she made was based on what was best for the children. She taught me a great deal about early childhood education. When she retired from the nursery, I was very keen to ensure that her pedagogy, which I had come to embrace, continued and I therefore chose to apply for the post. I was head teacher of that school for 9 years before moving to Hong Kong.
2. Describe your school in 5 words or less! Nurturing inquiring minds.
1. What's your favorite thing on your desk? My Year of the Horse calendar. A colleague made it for me as a gift when I left my previous school at the end of January. It connects my past, present and future so it feels very symbolic at this time of change.
2. What are your 3 favorite children's books? ‘Mr Gumpy’s Outing’ by John Burningham is one of my favorite children’s books. Whenever I read this story, the children love joining in with the repetitive text and acting out the story. Martin Wadell is a favorite author of mine. He captures beautifully the relationship between adults and children. This is particularly evident in 'Can't You Sleep Little Bear' and 'The Big Big Sea.' 'Oh the Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Suess is another of my favorites. This book was given to my son when he was born and seemed so poignant at the start of his life journey.
1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their children’s education? Parents should show enthusiasm for what their children are interested in and learning about; learning together and from one another. I think parents should take time to listen to their children and offer their guidance and support when this is needed.
2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? I regularly talk with parents about admissions to pre-school and primary school. My advice is to choose the school which you think will best suit your child’s interests and competencies. I also highlight the need to fully understand the application processes in their chosen schools to ensure application deadlines are met. I am conscious that schools in Hong Kong are often over-subscribed so suggest to parents that they apply for more than one school to help secure a place for their child. Many children need to attend interviews as part of the admission process. I tell parents that it is really important for them to stay calm and relaxed and not to over pressurize their children.
3. What's the best advice a teacher or headmistress ever gave you? To always keep smiling!