Shaun Chapman

Broadland High School
2 A* 4 A 5 B 

Paston
A English Literature, Distinction/Distinction BTEC National Certificate Performing Arts (Acting)

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
BA (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre and Education First Class Degree

Who do you work for, and what projects have you been involved in?
I currently work for a company called Bebegarten Education Centre, which is an education institution in Hong Kong that focuses primarily on Early Years Learners from 6 months to 6 years. I was lucky enough to take on my role as a start-up member of the team in April 2013 and have since developed my own department that focuses on introducing children to creative and artistic experiences from young ages, as well as catering for programmes that can allow older children and adults the opportunity to continue life-long learning with us.
At the time of writing we are celebrating a milestone in that our Pre-School (3-5 years) and Reception (4-6 years) children are ‘graduating’ and I have had the particular pleasure in not only working with many of them in Drama classes for the past year but also co-ordinating an outing to the theatre - which for many of the children was their first ever experience of a ‘live performance’.

What is a ‘typical day at work like?
Well it always involves children! The Head of Curriculum and I will gather the teaching team at 8am to discuss the day’s classes, any events and from there we get ready to open our doors to families from 08:30. My day tends to be broken up between dealing with the families and children that are currently enrolled with us, working alongside my staff to ensure that we are all clear on our duties and up-coming projects and finally developing classes and projects for the future. Although the Centre closes at 5pm you will rarely see me leave at this time, as anyone in education can likely attest, the most productive ‘office’ hours are when the lights are off and the families are off campus.
The greatest thing about my job is that however much of the day is whizzing by, a deadlines is fast approaching or I’ve hit a mental block; the set-up of our space allows me to walk two minutes and I’m in the playground with the children - so my colleagues can spy a stressful day a mile-off as I’m no doubt half-way up the tree-house with the children!

What did you study at Paston?
How did that course help you progress upon your career path?
I studied English Literature A-Level and a BTEC in Performing Arts and I have to say that both subjects set me in good stead with relation to my career. Having spent the majority of my early career as a practitioner of Drama to all-ages I have always had to communicate successfully and I think communication as a concept is really at the heart and soul of most humanities subjects. Whilst Performing Arts furnished me with a very practical, hands-on and day-to-day understand of what I would in future explore professionally, English Literature gave me a sounding board of literary criticism, how to discuss, debate and engage with varied mediums of writing and this continues to be invaluable to me today – especially as I have been working in a country where English is most-commonly an additional language.
 
What are the important skills you have had to develop and hone to be successful in your job?
Most importantly I am a communicator - as a teacher, manager, in business and as a representative of my organisation - so this is fundamental to allowing me to succeed in my line of work. Particularly important to me is how to appropriate my language for each professional scenario I am confronted with - one minute I may be teaching a drama class in which 5-year-olds are ‘magically transported to a mysterious island’ only to soon be walking into a business proposal meeting with a potential new client - so I can’t allow myself to become too entrenched in one mind-set each day.
I have to be creative and intuitive to what classes our children and families will enjoy. It is all well and good in ensuring that you hire a great teacher but the educational climate of Hong Kong means that there is a constant pressure to ensure that high quality enjoyment and learning is happening within each classroom - so quality control is vital and that quite frankly sometimes sees me viewing things as a 3 year old or a mother of two children.

Did you ever envisage doing this while you were at Paston?
Not at all! I think at Paston I was just happy to be doing the subjects that I loved and hoped that I would be lucky enough to continue with a career that was related to those in the future. Never had it crossed my mind that living and working in Asia would be part of that path but now, having been here nearly 3 years, it is fastly becoming ‘home.’

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
The year immediately after graduating I completed a two-month internship with Shakespeare’s Globe Education Department in London before moving back to Norfolk and taking up a position with Sheringham Little Theatre as a Youth Outreach Workshop Leader.
Moving back to Norfolk represented a significant milestone for me as the opportunities for me to develop my practice and career were at first hugely valuable – I was not only working for the ‘Little Theatre’ but also co-ordinating GCSE classes with local High Schools and engaging with a county-wide network of Performing Arts and Education specialists. Sadly though, I found the lack of a sustainable and long-term project (chiefly due to huge funding cuts to the Arts as the country battled the recession) made me cast my net a little further and I left England in December 2011 for Hong Kong. However not before, quite fittingly, taking my final education post in the country as an interim teacher at Paston College in the Performing Arts Department.

" I think at Paston I was just happy to be doing the subjects that I loved and hoped that I would be lucky enough to continue with a career that was related to those in the future."