If you’re looking at school options, you’re likely facing a choice between different curriculums. There’s the British Curriculum, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the US Curriculum, for starters; and, of course, Hong Kong has its own local curriculum. It’s enough to make your head spin!
Understanding the benefits of the particular curriculum at a school is a crucial part of choosing that school. To shed light on what makes the British Curriculum an appealing option, we went straight to a school with a 500-year history in Britain. Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong is the newest member of the Shrewsbury family. It builds on the reputation of its sister school, which was founded by Royal Charter in 1552 and remains one of Britain’s most highly regarded schools.
Click below to listen to our podcast episode about the benefits of the British Curriculum. We interviewed Ben Keeling, the Principal of Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong.
A clear structure
BEN KEELING is the Principal at Shrewsbury here in Hong Kong. He says that the school has a close connection with the British Curriculum – or, to give it its more formal name, the National Curriculum for England. This curriculum includes a basic set of standards for what must be taught in schools. It’s a rigorous structure that allows not only for student performance to be accurately gauged, but also for school performance to be compared. In turn, there’s more consistency in how performance is reported to parents.
The British Curriculum covers core subjects – maths, English, science – along with what are referred to as foundation subjects. These include art, history and music. A child’s learning path comes in four distinct stages: Key Stage 1 (5–7 years), Key Stage 2 (7–11 years), Key Stage 3 (11–14 years), and Key Stage 4 (14–16 years). Many expat families appreciate the clarity of this structure, especially those who move regularly and require a stricter continuity of curriculum.
While this all sounds quite rigid, the experience for students needn’t be. Ben says: “At Shrewsbury, we welcome children into a community that pursues both academic success and personal development. Our classrooms and curriculum have been designed to foster partnership and participation. This allows every child to experience a unique blend of traditional education values and innovative teaching methodology that will benefit them for life.”
There’s an added benefit in studying in Hong Kong, as the opportunity of being part of an international community can be fused into the curriculum. Ben says, “Students at Shrewsbury are encouraged to explore the ideas, principles and beliefs of others, while developing a refined understanding of their own strengths. They do this through a programme of study founded upon the rigour of the national curriculum.”
There’s also an understanding at the school that children learn as much from one another as they do from their teachers. “We’re driven by the benefits of collaboration; this creates a nurturing and stimulating environment that brings out the best in every child,” Ben adds.
Happy and motivated students
The overall aim is to ensure that every child at school is happy, motivated and ready to achieve. To this end, there’s a range of specialist facilities on campus that have been designed exclusively for the use of primary aged children. “Our learning spaces and the relationships we foster have been shaped by what we know about early childhood development. The needs and interests of a child at five differ enormously from those observed at age 15,” says Ben. “From within our award-winning campus, children receive a broad, balanced and aspirational range of opportunity.”
Despite Hong Kong’s tight spaces, Shrewsbury students enjoy a range of sports facilities. These include a fully equipped Sports Hall, featuring a 90-metre running track, an Aquatics Centre with two swimming pools, and a bespoke Gymnastics Centre for Excellence, which is equipped to a professional standard, helping students to develop balance and core strength.
The next step: Secondary placement success
Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong provides a uniquely specialised range of opportunities to primary aged children. The school is centred around traditional British values and an innovative approach to teaching and learning. But what happens to students after they graduate?
According to Ben, here lies one of the key advantages offered to Shrewsbury parents. “Our individually tailored selection programme ensures that every child is successfully placed into a secondary school that recognises their strengths and allows them to thrive.”
The diverse outcomes show the program is effective. Ben notes that the broad range of options now available, both in Hong Kong and abroad, provide parents with the opportunity to make a very personal selection.
Like this? Read more in our Living in Hong Kong section