Finding the right international school for your child is difficult, but it is one of the most important decisions we need to make when we arrive in a new city. In Hong Kong, it can feel downright overwhelming. Not only do you have to familiarise yourself with the city’s school system, you then need to weigh up the many different schools to see which one will best suit your child before navigating the application process. There is a wide choice of international schools in Hong Kong with excellent facilities and offering a wide variety of curriculums, from single-country programmes to the International Baccalaureate and International Primary Curriculum. Here’s a guide to help you make the right choice for your family.
The American School Hong Kong offers a holistic American education from reception to Year 12. The school emphasises learning through the STEAM approach. New assistant principal Joanne Mallary says the American School Hong Kong is committed to ensuring that girls don’t get left behind or left out from the hands-on, innovative design opportunities that are part of this approach to learning. She’s also acutely aware of the likelihood that girls may be reluctant, initially, to engage in some STEAM subjects. Joanne says the Tai Po school aims for girls to feel empowered and confident in their abilities to approach the engineering process as part of STEAM.
Read more: Making sure girls don’t miss out
The Australian International School Hong Kong caters for students from reception to Year 12 at its Kowloon Tong Campus. It aims to provide children with a broad range of choice and opportunity when it comes time to move on to tertiary education. One way in which it does this, is by offering the option of either the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or the New South Wales Higher School Certificate in its senior school program. Head of Secondary Howard West says: “We see it as imperative to offer broad yet tailored academic choices of study in Hong Kong’s international setting. For this reason, our curriculum is tailored with adaptations to best serve our multicultural and internationally-mobile student body.”
There are many reasons parents should consider the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS) when weighing up secondary school options, according to Upper School Principal Tim Kaiser. Tim, who has been at the school for 22 years, shares four of these reasons, which include the school’s dual diploma program for Upper School students. The school also has a comprehensive support network for students, with six full-time counsellors, along with a Learning Support Convenor and a school psychologist. Other strengths of CDNIS include a focus on innovation in its curriculum and an excellent program of extra-curricular activities. CDNIS is a through-school based in Aberdeen.
Classrooms with retractable walls that open onto a central communal area, students conversing seamlessly in two languages and playgrounds with hanging gardens and a plethora of eco projects. When the French International School of Hong Kong opens its new Tseung Kwan O campus in September, it will aim to provide a progressive primary school experience for students both in and out of the classroom. The school’s existing campuses offer two streams: a French stream that follows the French National Curriculum and an International Stream that follows the English National Curriculum to IGCSE and then International Baccalaureate. The new campus in Tseung Kwan O will be the school’s fourth, adding to its Jardine’s Lookout, Chai Wan and Blue Pool Road campuses.
Read more: Designing a school for the future
Children are still children and their developmental needs haven’t changed significantly over the years, according to Hong Kong Academy Primary School Principal Virginia Hunt, but the world our students are growing into has changed. Virginia says the school supports its students by creating environments and curriculums that allow for them to think, question and go in search of knowledge and not wait for facts to be taught to them. “Technology is no longer kept in a room where students visit once a week, but at their fingertips and integrated into their learning,” she says. Hong Kong Academy is one of the international schools in Hong Kong suitable for families in the Sai Kung area. It caters for pre-kindergarten to Year 12.
International College Hong Kong (ICHK) received a big accolade in 2017, being one of 100 global schools included in the publication, Innovation 800, which celebrates 800 years of excellence at Cambridge University. The publication showcases global leaders and institutions at the forefront of change in education, and ICHK was the only Hong Kong school to be featured. ICHK offers a complete educational pathway, starting from playgroups for babies to secondary school, following the Primary Years Programme in kindergarten and primary and the IGCSEs and IB Diploma programme in secondary. ICHK has two campuses – its kindergarten and primary school campus is in Tai Po and its secondary campus is in Sha Tau Kok.
Kellett School is a through-train school which caters for ages four to 18 years. It has a Pok Fu Lam Preparatory campus, as well as its Kowloon Bay Prep and Senior campuses. Ann McDonald has been principal of Kellett School – The British International School in Hong Kong, for more than 20 years. Ann is well versed in navigating the education system in Hong Kong and understands how overwhelming more choice can be for parents. The veteran Kellett School principal has some sound advice for parents who are trying to weigh up the best options for the children – with a key one being you know what’s best for your child.
Nord Anglia International School Principal Brian Cooklin points to the depth of specialist subject offerings as one of the school’s key strengths. It aims to provide rich and broad educational experiences in the areas of physical education, art, drama, music and Mandarin, with an approach that not only extends students in these fields, but also maximises how participation in one field can have learning benefits in others. Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong has three campuses; Sai Kung and Tai Tam are dedicated Early Years campuses; Lam Tin’s Primary and Secondary campus will see Year 11 phased in from August 2018, with Years 12 and 13 to follow.
The opening of Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong later this year will usher in centuries of academic tradition, drawing on over 400 years of experience. With former pupils including celebrated naturalist Charles Darwin and poet Sir Philip Sidney, Shrewsbury has built a formidable reputation since being founded in 1552 as one of the original nine “great schools” of England. Now students in Hong Kong will have the opportunity to experience a Shrewsbury education when its new campus opens in August in Tseung Kwan O. This new addition to international schools in Hong Kong will specialise in primary education, catering to pre-primary students with nursery and reception classes, as well as primary students from years 1 to 6.
Like most parents in Hong Kong, Eric Yee and Jenny Luong had been doing the rounds of applications and information sessions as their eldest son Lachlan, now five, reached school age. They were immediately impressed by Stamford American School Hong Kong when they attended one of the information sessions. And then the seamless application process sealed the deal. The family, who arrived in Hong Kong more than 10 years ago for work, had quite specific ideas about what they were looking for in a school. They wanted a school that focussed on developing Lachlan holistically beyond academic achievement, facilitated inquiry-based learning, offered a bilingual English-Mandarin program, and provided a supportive community for parents. Stamford, one of the newest international schools in Hong Kong, ticked all those boxes when it opened its doors in 2017.
Woodland Pre-Schools has nine campuses around Hong Kong. It provides both traditional and Montessori teaching approaches, offering English, bilingual and Mandarin classes. All Woodland teachers are qualified, early years educators and come from a range of overseas backgrounds. Daisy Nicholas, from Woodland Kennedy Town Pre-School, says classes are either one or two hours long, and are usually broken down into 15-minute segments of play, circle time, art, Mandarin, music and movement and snack time. Playgroup classes at Woodland Kennedy Town have between eight to ten children per class with an accompanying adult. All lessons are planned to help the children reach age-appropriate milestones while having fun.
The American International School delivers US standards-based educational program for students from early childhood through high school. Students begin a compulsory Outdoor Education and Leadership Program that offers outdoor activity days, camping and overseas trips from Grade 1. At their High School, at least five Grade 12 or Advanced Placement course credits are required.
Anfield is a Catholic international school that has a primary school in Tai Wai and two kindergartens in Hung Hom and Kowloon Tong, which adopt the Early Years Foundation Stage and the English National Curriculum, for two to 11-year-old children. The primary section offers British education with a strong emphasis on the acquisition of Putonghua as a second language.
Carmel is a Jewish school from pre-K to Grade 12, comprising an Early Learning Centre, an IB Primary Years Programme Candidate Elementary School, and an IB Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme High School. It has three campuses: Carmel Elementary and Pre-school in Mid-Levels and Elsa High School in Shau Kei Wan.
Chinese International School, located on the top of Braemar Hill, provides a dual-language programme in Mandarin and English for about 1500 students of more than 30 nationalities. In primary, equal time is devoted to English and Mandarin whereas in secondary, English is the primary language of instruction.
The Christian Alliance International School educates students from Preparatory level to Grade 12 in their Lai Chi Kok campus. Chinese Studies are mandatory for Preparatory to Grade 9 students. Pupils can begin earning credits in the Alberta Diploma Program in Grade 9. Grades 11-12 students can also take the AP program.
Canadian expats may find the Delia School of Canada suitable if looking for a school in Hong Kong. The school has an elementary and secondary school in Taikoo Shing, catering for about 1300 students from pre-Grade 1 to Grade 12. It offers an Ontario and an Alberta Program.
All students at the school follow the English National Curriculum. Students between the ages of 3 and 11 can apply for the early years and primary schools of the school while 11 to 18-year-old students are accepted by the secondary section. Secondary school pupils go through GCSE examinations in Years 10 and 11 and A/AS Levels in Years 12 and 13.
As an IB World School under the umbrella of ESF, Discovery College offers the IB Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme. Since the school greatly sports and outdoor activities, specialist courses in the PE is provided from Year 1 through College programme and strong local sports clubs in Discovery Bay.
Discovery Mind educates 700 pupils with over 30 nationalities from 15 months to 11 years old. It has play centres, kindergartens and primary schools at five different campuses in Discovery Bay and Tung Chung. Primary school students follow British Primary and International Primary Curriculum and start to learn Chinese (Putonghua) as a second language from the age of 6.
The English Schools Foundation, the largest English-medium international school organisation in Hong Kong, operates 22 international schools in different parts of the city. Some 17,500 students from more than 60 different nationalities are enrolled in ESF schools, private independent schools and kindergartens. Nearly 70 percent of their students’ parents are permanent residents of Hong Kong.
The German Swiss International School has two campuses, Pok Fu Lam and The Peak, and is suitable for German-Swiss families looking for a bilingual German-English education. The school offers education following German and British school systems from kindergarten to secondary school. Over 1300 students from more than 30 countries are taught by teachers from German and English-speaking countries.
The US curriculum school has three campuses: the Harbour Village, an early childhood centre for 4 and 5 year-olds in Kennedy Town, the Grove for Grades 1 to 6 and the Garden for Grades 7 to 12 both in Ap Lei Chau. The secondary section offers pathways such as Honours work, credit for Advanced Placement courses and concurrent enrolment courses through Syracuse University.
Established in 2012, Harrow International School Hong Kong offers a Lower School for years 1 to 5 pupils and an Upper School for those in Years 6 to 13. It is the only international school in Hong Kong which provides boarding education which begins from Year 6 in their Tuen Mun campus.
Providing American-style education, Hong Kong International School caters for students from Reception 1 (pre-kindergarten) to Grade 12. Their two campuses in Repulse Bay and Tai Tam cater for more than 2,600 students of 40 nationalities and diverse religious backgrounds. The school offers over 25 Advanced Placement subjects to high school students.
Opened in 2015, the Independent Schools Foundation Pre-School in Sheung Wan is a Chinese-English bilingual and bicultural preschool. Independent Schools Foundation Academy in Pok Fu Lam caters for students from Foundation Year to Grade 12 with the IB Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme. Chinese and English immersion education is also provided in the school.
Located in Tai Po Kau, Japanese International School is a small I.B. World School educating about 170 students from 25 different nationalities. The school educates students aged four to 18 years with its direct links to International College Hong Kong, an IB World School in Sha Tau Kok.
As part of the part of the English Schools Foundation, Jockey Club Sarah Roe School is the only special school in Hong Kong teaching in English. Seventy students aged 5 to 19 years old with additional learning needs, such as autism, study in the Ho Man Tin campus. Therapists are also available at the school.
The International sections of the school for students aged 3 to 18 years old are based on the English National Curriculum. Two campuses in North Point cater for their kindergarten, reception and primary 1 and primary 2 to 6 and secondary students respectively. In their Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary section, students are required to attend Mandarin class daily. The IB Diploma Programme is offered as their two-year pre-university course.
As the first school in Hong Kong authorised to teach the IB Primary Years Programme, Kingston International School educates children aged from one year (playgroup) to Year 6 and secondary school students. Each class of the school in Kowloon Tong is led by fully qualified native English and Putonghua teachers.
Korean International School Hong Kong offers British-style education for students from Early Years to Year 13. English, Korean and Mandarin language studies are provided. The school in Sai Wan Ho has 490 students of 23 nationalities. Primary and secondary school pupils follow the Cambridge International Examinations curriculum.
Lantau International School has three campuses in South Lantau, including Cheung Sha (4,500sq/ft), Tong Fuk (12,000sq/ft) and Pui O (9,000sq/ft). There are up to 24 children per class. In addition to the British Curriculum, the primary school provides Mandarin classes as a second language. All campuses are served by school buses and public transport.
The Norwegian International School in Tai Po has a kindergarten section for K1 and K2 children and a primary section which has adopted the International Primary Curriculum. All students from Years 1 to 6 undertake Chinese Studies lessons daily. Christian education is also highly valued by the school.
Established in 2006 by the English Schools Foundation, Renaissance College is a private independent school which offers four IB programmes: Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, IB Diploma Programme and International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme. The school offers English medium education from Year 1 to Year 13 at its Ma On Shan campus.
Singapore International School (Hong Kong) has about 1320 students of over 20 nationalities with Singaporeans and Hongkongers being the majority. Their Preparatory Years and Primary Campus in Aberdeen and Secondary Campus in Wong Chuk Hang are connected by a link-bridge. Chinese Language is taught from Preparatory Years program to IB Diploma Programme (DP).
The International Montessori School of Hong Kong provides education based on the Montessori method to over 900 students up to age 12. It is the first Montessori Primary Programme in Greater China that is accredited by the International Montessori Council. Pupils of different levels attend school at four different campuses located in Mid-Levels, South Horizons, Stanley and Aldrich Bay.
Think International has four international kindergartens in Kowloon Tong, Laguna City, Mei Foo and Ma On Shan that offer a bilingual class (English and Mandarin) and an international class. Students aged 3-11 years can enrol in the Primary Years Program taught at Think International School in Kowloon Tong. Think Academy (Tsung Tsin) is their secondary section in Lei Cheng Uk for Year 7 to 13 pupils.
Victoria Shanghai Academy is located in Shum Wan. Three IB programmes – the Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme – are provided to more than 1800 students from Years 1 to 12. The primary curriculum is bilingual (English and Putonghua), while the secondary curriculum is mainly in English.
Yew Chung International School provides international education to children aged 6 months to 18 years. As they highly value the blend of the East and the West cultures, their kindergarten, primary and secondary schools (IGCSE & IB) in Kowloon Tong offer bilingual schooling in English and Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin).
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