Dipont A Level Centre at Ningbo Zhenhai High School

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About the Host School

Ningbo Zhenhai High School has 2,000 students on roll aged 16 to 19 years old. It is the best school in the district and therefore students need to be academically strong in order to be admitted. As a result, students are focused and work oriented and this has helped to develop a culture where academic excellence has predominated.

The history of Zhenhai High School can be traced back to 1732, when a school of Confucian teaching was founded on the site. Zhenhai High School was formally established as a modern high school in 1911 (the year of the Xinhai Revolution) by a local businessman.

The school places great emphasis on mathematics and science education. Students have won numerous awards in national and international mathematics and science Olympiads. In recent years, however, Zhenhai High School has moved away from the more exam focused model and has started to emphasise an all-round education with a wide range of extra-curricular activities and clubs. Students have won top prizes in national invention and national singing competitions.

The school underwent major renovation in 2000 and now has a new science building, IT building, gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and well stocked library. The school campus encompasses several acres but it has also been attractively developed with many garden enclaves and fish ponds. The school has a splendid history and parts of the campus are devoted to archival materials.

About the A Level Centre

The A Level Centre was established in 2008 and has 240 students on roll. We have 12 foreign teaching staff and 6 Chinese teaching staff.

In terms of results, many students gained A grades in the sciences and Mathematics at A level, AS level and IGCSE level. The weaker area has been English and this is an area we are addressing this year.

In order to enter the centre, students need to pass an entrance test in English but their grasp of English varies a great deal. We've found that those who are performing well tend to be achieving at the optimal level.
We have access to all the required resources including laboratories, studios and lecture theatres. We also have reasonable access to reprographic facilities including photocopy machines and printers.

We offer a number of extra-curricular activities from the centre, including: Creative Writing, Business Club, Art Club, Magazine Club, Science Club, Table Tennis Club, American Football Club and Mathematics competitions.


The school is located about 45 minutes taxi ride from the city centre by the port area, hence most teachers only tend to venture to the city centre at weekends. The local area has plenty of small shops and local restaurants however.

Ningbo city itself is set 20km inland and has a number of historical sites linked to its importance as a key port throughout China's history. Tianyige Library is said to be the oldest surviving library building in China . It also has all the shopping and leisure facilities typical of a large city. Typical  Ningbo dishes feature local seafood. The airport has flights to many Chinese airports, including Hong Kong.

The countryside around Ningbo is lovely and there are numerous temples and pagodas to visit. A few hours by boat north of Ningbo and south of Shanghai is the island of Putuo Shan – it is one of the four Chinese mountains sacred to Buddhism, and a charming, isolated place with sandy beaches, green hills and monasteries.

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Teacher Case Study

Shane Anderson, English

I'm Canadian, 28, and love to teach. Unfortunately, the market for our trade back home is dismal, and I grew sick and tired of trying to find a job in my home country. It wasn't long before I jumped into the rabbit hole of the international teaching world. Before joining Ningbo - Zhenhai, I was teaching in the Middle East. I've been on the international circuit for a couple of years now, and I've had quite the colourful experience. I'd heard things about teaching in other countries from many different colleagues and was looking for a new setting to practice my craft.

My role in Zhenhai can only be described as, "A-Level Prep Coach." The heavy emphasis on IGCSE, TOEFL and IELTS results have driven the schemes of work towards a test-based learning structure. Working within this framework presents a different sort of challenge than I'm used to, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

I would say the biggest benefit of working in Zhenhai is the staff! Seriously. As a relatively young pup in the world of teaching, walking into a staff room that's as established and hilarious as this one is a great help. There's nothing worse than walking into a room full of experienced teachers and being made to feel like your shoe size is equivalent to your age (North American shoe size, that is). The heavy British contingent and their constant arguments over football club allegiance provide hours of non-stop entertainment, especially for a guy who loves a sport most people in the staff room never knew existed (Ice Hockey). In addition to this, the students are unparalleled in their respect, dedication and sweetness. Teaching here is a dream.

My lifestyle is akin to that of a foreigner living in a relatively small district in rural China… The rides into town to pick up Western-style groceries are a pain, and the it's hard to get used to the staring from locals, but I feel safe out here. There's no Starbucks, McDonald's, Wal-Mart or fancy grocery stores, but I manage. The architecture is endearing, the campus is dream-like, the local parks are bustling with insanity (the interesting kind - I walk through one every morning on the way to work) and the serene, laid-back atmosphere is detoxifying in its own way.

The downside of working here is it is difficult unless you know some Chinese. I don't, and it's been the only source of my discomfort and unease. Everything else is gravy! The Zhenhai campus is well-established and offers a ridiculous amount of photo opportunities for the snap-happy types out there.

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Student Case Study

 John, Ningbo Zhenhai High School

I started my A-Level study in 2012 after graduating from Ningbo Foreign Language School, the best junior high school in Ningbo. I did a lot of pre-reading about the materials so the transition period was not that grueling for me. I have enjoyed learning about different cultures, where my teachers originated, and speaking and thinking in a different language. Most importantly, I learnt what was called ‘respect’: respecting my teachers, my classmates (even when sometimes they were incredibly noisy). 

I think the biggest benefit for me has been the opportunity to study in an environment similar to the learning experience I will find at a western University. I have learned how to manage my time properly and self-study, and I am also trying to learn more British humour so that I can laugh when others are telling jokes! 

Trying to understand the dialect and the different accents that prevail is one of the most insurmountable challenges I have faced. I found out that British people don’t speak English, rather some of them speak with a southern London accent, while a minority of have a strong northern or New Castle accent, fascinating but challenging!

I achieved 4A* in IGCSE Chemistry, Physics and Biology and A-Level Math and 4A’s in IGCSE Business and AS Chemistry, Physics and Economics. I also achieved 80% in Harvard Organic Chemistry Summer Course. 

I want to be a Chemist, but I am unsure at this time if I want to be pharmacologist or a material scientist. I want to study biochemistry, chemistry and material science in the first year, and speacialize in one of the subject where I find my passion. As a debate leader, I will not stop thinking and debating, and I plan to be part of the University debate team. Plus, I enjoy European Medieval History, so minoring in History may be a good way to extend my interest.



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