Hong Kong has a recent history of what might be dubbed “semi-hysteria” around secondary school places. This is due to many reasons, but it’s mainly founded in a time, a few years ago, when the city was short on spots in international schools. Happily, this has now changed.
During our recent visit to Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong, it was refreshing and reassuring to hear Principal BEN KEELING explain that parents of high school students are now in the driver’s seat when it comes to securing the right school for their child. (Everybody exhale!)
Ben says, “One of the most common reservations families have when they come here is a concern about secondary school placement.” He spends time reassuring parents that such a concern is no longer warranted. “Ten years or so ago, there were a shortage of places, but it’s not true anymore. It will take another two, three, four years for it to truly assimilate down. But parents have more choice here than they ever have before. It’s a brilliant, brilliant thing.”
This is fantastic news for the expat and local Hong Kong community. “The environment in which we currently exist is an environment that completely empowers the parent,” says Ben.
About Shrewsbury’s placement programme
Shrewsbury is a school that focuses exclusively on the early childhood and primary school experience. So, what happens to its students in the lead up to high school? They are provided with a personalised service for secondary school placement. Some students go on to boarding schools, primarily in the UK, others stay here in Hong Kong. “We can award places at Shrewsbury school in the UK – the pathway is seamless – though it’s well worth recognising that this option isn’t best suited to every child.”
Ben explains the placement programme in more detail. “We offer what is described as a Secondary School Selection Programme, which begins with an engagement at Year 4, when children are around eight years old. We invite parents in and we talk to them about the notion of selecting a school and the opportunity it can bring. For me, it’s all about opportunity.”
He continues, “The truth is, there are places in some brilliant secondary schools in Hong Kong – in fact, there’s no such thing as a ‘full’ secondary school here. Even the most selective and most established schools have places available, and all of them are actively seeking great students.”
A family’s experience
Harris graduated from Shrewsbury in Hong Kong in June 2019 and now attends Moor Park Prep School in Shropshire, UK. His parents share their experience.
“We were particularly impressed by the superb secondary school selection programme of Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong. We’re grateful for the direct and personal support of the Principal and his teaching team. The recommendations were carefully tailored for my son’s individual needs. The knowledge, expertise and connection held by the school greatly contributed to a perfectly smooth transition of my son to boarding school in UK.”
Listen to Principal Ben Keeling’s full interview in our podcast episode exploring the British Curriculum in Hong Kong, part of our Schools in Hong Kong podcast series: expatliving.hk/schoolsinhongkong
See more in our Kids’ section:
This article first appeared in 2019, in the Home Décor issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.