A fortnight ago I returned from a week’s trip to China. The main purpose of the visit was to meet agents and help them to understand more deeply the unique character of Stoke College. In turn this helps them find the students who would most benefit from our approach to education and to recommend them to us. As we continue to grow the school we want to ensure that the overseas students who join us have a good understanding of what we are about and therefore settle in quickly and happily to the school.

It was also an eye-opening experience. So much so that I made a slide show for my Economics A level students which you can view here.

I spoke to one young professional who hadn’t used cash for six months! Most of their transactions, including buying from street markets, are done by electronic transfer, person-to-person, using the WeChat app on their smart phones.

It was also striking that in Beijing, which has a huge number of mopeds and motorbikes, every single one is electric. They have little regard for crash helmets, seat-belts or even using lights at night but they seem to sense the additional risk and drive much more slowly and carefully that us Brits.

It is an extraordinary country and travelling by high speed train (295 km/h) between cities leaves HS2 looking somewhat dated already.

It would be an wonderful experience for some of our students to visit China in the future. We are now teaching Chinese up to Year 8 and we hope some might take it for GCSE. A trip in the coming two years would be fantastic for students who may be interested in pursuing Chinese further. I have no doubt that children in the current generation who can speak a bit of Chinese and understand the culture, will be at a great advantage over their peers.

On a different note, it was wonderful to see all the former Year 11 students on Thursday evening, to award them their well-earned GCSE certificates. They are a fine group of young people and both their parents and staff felt very proud of them as we heard Mr Marple describe each of them in turn. As their tutor, Mr Marple knew them very well. His thoughtful and amusing resumé of each of them in turn was well done and much appreciated.