Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong

Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
Admissions Experts

Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
22A Crawford Tower
99 Jervois Street
Sheung Wan,
Hong Kong
                                                                    Looking for a school in Hong Kong?
T: 3565 5867
E:      www.facebook/
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Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
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The Top Schools’ Difference
                                                                                                                              h e r d evoted tea
                                                                                                                        and                       ll
We have a 100% success rate.
                                                                                              a n ’t t h a nk Ruth            a n  d w  orking fu
                                                                                     “We c                             fH   K                    n’t
                                                                                            !  B e in g  outside o -saver! We could
Our team of independent education experts collectively boasts 70 years’ of         enoug  h                        s a li fe
                                                                                                 S c hools wa u!”                                       uu
Hong Kong-specific education experience.
                                                                                   time , To p
                                                                                                        w it h o u t yo                       - Anita L
                                                                                                 e it
Our services are entirely personalised and we adopt a strategic, realistic and      have don
flexible approach to accommodate each client’s unique requirements.

We have verifiable, in-depth knowledge of the Hong Kong education system
(local and international); we make recommendations based on fact, not hearsay or
personal opinion!

We maintain good relationships with schools, parents and other stakeholders and
are regarded as influencers in the industry.

As seen on/in:

Our consultants speak English, Cantonese and Putonghua.
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
4                                                                                                                                                              5

WHO ARE WE?   Ruth Benny, Head Girl                                                Sarah Bowler, Consultant
              The founder of Top Schools, Ruth has over 20 years’ experience       Sarah has held positions as Head of Admissions and Admissions / Business
              in the education system in Hong Kong. She has the advantage          Development Director at schools in Singapore.
              of many years in different areas of education - as a teacher, a      The mother of one child in an ESF school, having previously attended a local
              teacher-trainer, a parent and now advisor for both the local and     school in Singapore, she understands both systems well.
              international sectors.                                               Sarah holds a Montessori Teaching Diploma and has worked in the education
              Ruth writes and speaks about private and international schools       field for more than 9 years. She has particular expertise in advising on special
              for parents, corporations and other groups. She is a frequent        needs support and therapies.
              contributor to local media including the SCMP, Playtimes and
              Sassy Mama and generally regarded as the go-to expert on this        Sophia Liang, Consultant
              Originally from the UK, Ruth has been in Hong Kong for over 22       Born and brought up in Hong Kong, Sophia attended various schools with
              years and is the mother of two children.                             Mandarin, Cantonese and English as the medium of instruction. She has a degree
                                                                                   from Hong Kong and an MBA from Warwick Business School in the UK.
              Jacqueline Yung, Consultant                                          Before taking a few years break from her career, Sophia worked in a bank for
                                                                                   many years, lastly as a Relationship Manager providing consultancy services to
              Jacqui was born, and spent her primary and lower secondary           senior colleagues.
              education in HK. She experienced upper secondary school              Sophia is mother of one daughter attending international primary school in
              and University in the UK. A keen musician, Jacqui speaks fluent      Hong Kong.
              Cantonese, English and Putonghua, as well as conversational          She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and English at native levels and is keen on
              Korean. Jacqui has been at Top Schools for four years and works      building trusted relationship with families to help their children get into the best
              primarily with Chinese speaking families.                            fit schools.

              Jessica Yuen, Consultant                                             Colinna Ip, Consultant
              Jessica was born and raised in Hong Kong. She attended firstly       Colinna is a Hong Konger with a strong marketing background in the
              an ESF primary school and, later, Australian International School    hospitality industry. She studied in Hong Kong and Switzerland. She is well
              before leaving to continue her education in Australia.               versed in the challenges of selecting the right school for a child and has
              She obtained a Bachelor of Education (Honours) and went on           been heavily involved with her children’s school - in class and extracurricular
              to study for two further degrees in Education in Hong Kong and       activities - as an active PTA member. Her two children attend a private
              Australia.                                                           independent school and are both trilingual.
              Jessica has worked for the English Schools Foundation (ESF) as an    Colinna speaks Cantonese, Putonghua, English and Indonesian Bahasa.
              administrator and as an educator.
              She speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin.                          Chelly Tsang, Consultant
                                                                                   Chelly was born in Hong Kong and was educated in Hong Kong and the UK.
              Nicola Lewis, Consultant
                                                                                   After graduation, she worked in Corporate Banking and Private Banking as
              With a legal background, Nicola has more recently been working       a Relationship Manager where she worked closely with and high net-worth
              for a multinational company specializing in school placements        clients as well as several international school clients in Hong Kong. She
              across Asia. She has an excellent understanding of different         speaks English, Cantonese & Mandarin. Chelly works primarily with Chinese
              curricula and the challenges of moving families across continents.   speaking families.
              Nicola has spent nearly two decades in Hong Kong and with
              three children she fully understands the need for proper planning
              to meet the individual requirements of families. She has personal
              experience of navigating both the local and international schools
              in Hong Kong and transitioning between these systems.
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
6                                                                                                                                                       7

How we Guide You   Finding the Fit -
                   How we do it
                                                                                                           “We are re
                   We focus on 6Ps:                                                                      guidance a lly thankful and gra
                                                                                                                    nd especia                 te
                                                                                                        to us.We                lly the warm ful for your
                                                                                                                  really app                   th extende
                                                                                                        kindness.            re ci ate your h              d
                                                                                                                                              onesty and
                                                                                                         We will alw
                    1   Priorities and Preferences                                                                   a
                                                                                                       co-workers ys recommend you
                                                                                                                  and anyon                  to our frie
                        In completing a personalised and detailed questionnaire,                                              e that ask                 nd
                                                                                                                                          s for advice s,
                        followed by a series of discussions, we identify your priorities                                                           - Tonisha
                        and preferences as parents and match these with the realistic
                        and available school options for your family. If your child is older,
                        their own priorities and preferences are also important.
                        We guide you through these options, providing a lengthy,
                        personalised school profile report.

                         2     Personality and Proficiency
                               Through discussion, by reviewing school reports, specialist
                               reports, talking to past and current teachers and scheduling pre-
                               interview assessments (where applicable) we match you / your
                               child’s personality and specific proficiencies to ‘best-fit’ schools.
                               We then shortlist three schools to apply to.

                    3   Policies and Procedures
                        We will guide you through each of your shortlisted school’s
                        specific policies and procedures to optimise your application’s
                        chance of generating an interview. We will advise on when
                        and how to submit the strongest application possible. We
                        will manage your relationship with the school, starting with
                        a phone call or a visit, through to application and then
                        assessment and offer. If multiple offers are received we assist in
                        helping you choose the ‘best-fit.’
                        We provide school specific application policies and interview
                        procedures in writing.
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
8                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   9

Useful Information   Types Of Schools                                                                                Grade Calendar                                                                    Academic Year 2018/19

                        Type of                                                  Fee Range                              Child
                                         Curriculum              Funding                     Admissions Policy                       Age       Hong Kong                 Australia                England                     USA/ Canada                   IB
                        School                                                    (approx)                             Born In

                     Government      Hong Kong              100% Government      $0          Primary One
                                                                                                                        2016           2       PN                            -             -                      -               -             -
                                                            Funding                          Admissions (POA):

                     Aided                                                                   Discretionary Places       2015           3       K1                                      Nursery                                    -             -
                                                                                             Central Allocation                                                         Reception/                           Foundation
                                                                                             Door Knocking                                                              Transition                             Stage
                                                                                                                        2014           4       K2                                     Reception                                Pre-K

                     Direct          Hong Kong, with        Partial              $1,000 -    Selective: Apply           2013           5       K3                       Preparatory     Year1                                Kindergarten
                                     some flexibility       Government           109,460     directly                                                                                                            Key Stage
                                     to offer alternate     funding                                                                                                                                                  1
                     Scheme                                                                                             2012           6       P1                         Year1         Year2                                 Grade1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            IB PYP
                     (DSS)           curricula to a
                                     minority of students

                                                                                                                        2011           7       P2                         Year2         Year3                                 Grade2

                     ESF Schools     Non - local:           Partial government   $89,200 -   Non-Selective: Apply       2010           8       P3                         Year3         Year4                                 Grade3

                                     International          funding for          129,100     directly.                                                                                                           Key Stage
                                     Baccalaureate,         students joining                                                                                                                                         2
                                                                                                                        2009           9       P4                         Year4         Year5                                 Grade4
                                     IGCSEs, BTEC           prior to 2016
                                                            and those joining                                           2008          10       P5                         Year5         Year6                                 Grade5
                                                            in higher grades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Middle School
                                                            Mostly funded by                                            2007          11       P6                         Year6         Year7                                 Grade6
                                                            tuition fees                                                                                                                                         Key Stage
                                                                                                                        2006          12       S1                         Year7         Year8                                 Grade7

                                                                                                                        2005          13       S2                         Year8         Year9                                 Grade8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            IB MYP
                     Private         Mostly Hong Kong;      100% funded          16,000 -    Selective: Apply

                     schools         also non-local         by tuition fees/     331,000     directly
                                     curricula              fundraising                                                 2004          14       S3                         Year9         Year10                   Key Stage    Grade9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            High School
                     International   Non - local:                                $77,000 -   Selective: Apply           2003          15       S4                         Year10        Year11                    IGCSE       Grade10

                     Schools         International                               218,200     directly. Newer

                                     Baccalaureate,                                          international schools      2002          16       S5                         Year11        Year12                                Grade11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 A Level/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            IB DP
                                     IGCSEs, A Levels,                                       are required to
                                     International                                           admit a minimum            2001          17       S6                         Year12        Year13                                Grade12
                                     Primary Curriculum,                                     number of students
                                     Montessori,                                             holding foreign         * This applies to schools accepting children born 1 Jan - 31 Dec into the year group, whereas not all schools do.
                                     Advanced                                                passports. The
                                     Placement, Own, etc                                     percentage varies
                                                                                             from 50-80+ %
                     Private         Non - local:                                $69,300 -   All PIS schools are     Number of schools in HK:1,085 (As per EDB Figures)
                     Independent     International                               211,590     required to admit
                     Schools         Baccalaureate,                                          at least 70% of
                                     IGCSEs, Advanced                                        local students ie
                                                                                                                     All children aged 6 -15 are required to go to school.
                                     Placement, etc                                          permanent residents     All children legally resident in Hong Kong are entitled to free education.

                                                                                                                     Call us today on 3565 5867 for an initial, no-obligation conversation or
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
10                                                                                                                                                                                                              11

Admissions Timeline                                                                              No Debenture Needed

                                                                                                                                                                                                             Real Stories
Our admissions timeline consists of key application, assessment and results dates which will
differ from school to school. Missing a deadline could result in a placement lost.               The P family came to us at the end of                          of a place becoming available by August.
                                                                                                 May 2016 having no Year 2 place for                            The family were not keen on any other
                                                                      K2: Semester 1: Sep 2017   their son, T.                                                  options. In July, T had still not been
                                                                                                 T had been attending a reputable                               offered an assessment and the parents
               Jan    Feb   Mar   Apr    May    Jun    Jul   Aug   Sep    Oct    Nov     Dec
                                                                                                 international pre-school since December                        were becoming increasingly anxious.
                                                                                                 2013. The family had expected to                               They floated the idea of purchasing an
Applications                                                                                     be relocated out of Hong Kong and                              individual debenture for HK$500,000
                                                                                                 therefore had only applied to one                              but, given our knowledge of the
                                                                                                 international school offering a US                             composition of the waitlist as well as the
                                                                                                 curriculum and had been waitlisted. T                          length, matched with our understanding
                                                                                                 could not stay at the preschool beyond                         of T, and the strength of his application,
                                                                                                 June 2016. The family preferred T                              we were confident that purchasing
                                                                                                 to attend a school where he would                              a debenture was not necessary and
               2018                                                         K3/Y1: Semester 1    have friends already attending and a                           advised the parents against it.
                                                                                                 school offering a British curriculum                           In August, five days before the start of
                                                                                                 became their first choice. We applied                          school, T was invited for an interview.
                                                                                                 to this school and actively managed the                        He attended, he passed and he was
                                                                                                 application, making frequent contact                           offered a place on the spot.

Classes Available
                                                                                                 with the school to assess the likelihood

Hong Kong schools have various entry and exit points. Understanding which classes are
available and the terminology of year groups is essential in knowing when to apply and                                                                                   “You sa
                                                                                                                                                                                  ved us
transition from one system or school to another.                                                                                                                                             $480,0
                                                                                                                                                                                                 - Family

                                                                                                                                                              rent, you
                                                                                                                                           x ie ty  as a pa           best
                                                                                                                      r s to od my   a  n
                                                                                                                                                  ti n g to find the ed
K2/Reception                                                                                                      d e                           n                      w
                                                                                                      “You un ur desire of wa patient and sho
                                                                                                                 o d  o                      e r e                    e nt,
                                                                                                     understo our child, you w or th the investm
                                                                                                              fo  r                       ly   w
K3/Year 1
                                                                                                     school                    definite ind but, more
                                                                                                                 y. It was                                            ols will
                                                                                                      empath ving piece of m that Top Scho
                                                                                                                    h a                        nc e
P1/Year 2                                                                                              not only y, the reassura                              hear t.”
                                                                                                          p o r ta  ntl              h il d ’s n eeds at               - Mrs B
                                                                                                                    h a v e  y our c
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
12                                                                                                                                                                                              13

Bilingual or Bust                                                                                 English Immersion
The parents of K, aged 4, contacted Top          month or so later and, if successful, she was    A came to us in July 2016 from a private school    We continued to support the family to apply
Schools in July 2016 to seek our assistance in   required to come back a third time to attend     in China looking for an immediate place in an      to their first choice school for the following
finding a place for K in Sept 2017. Relocating   a final round of interviews with parents. We     international school in Hong Kong. A is a native   year - a top tier international school with an
from the US, the Chinese-American parents        were able to negotiate with the school such      Mandarin speaker and his home language is          American curriculum.
were adamant that K should continue her          that, once she had passed the first round, she   Mandarin.
                                                                                                                                                     We advised on essay questions in the
education in Hong Kong in a bilingual English-   would attend the second and third rounds
                                                                                                  We assessed A as being weak in English -           application, accompanied the family to visit the
Mandarin environment, similar to the school      combined on her next trip. At the same
                                                                                                  fluency and literacy. We predicted that A          school and advised A on what to expect in the
she was attending in New York City.              time, we connected K’s parents with parents
                                                                                                  would not pass the assessments for the schools     assessment.
                                                 who already had children in the school and
K’s father’s company was willing to purchase                                                      A’s parents preferred; he wasn’t ready. We,
                                                 understand more about the school’s culture.                                                         A was successful and moved to this school in
a debenture, yet with sufficient time to apply                                                    therefore advised A’s parents to consider an
                                                                                                                                                     Grade 2 in August 2017.
according to the normal application schedule,    We were also managing the second application     interim international school with a Canadian
we didn’t feel it would become necessary.        since K was not guaranteed to get into their     curriculum, where A would be learning in an
                                                 first choice school. K’s father was intent on    English immersion environment and receive
We arranged for K’s father to visit several
                                                 buying a debenture and so we prepared all the    English as a second language support. A was
schools on a trip to Hong Kong and he quickly
                                                 paperwork ready to be submitted if necessary.    only 6 at the time and he would pick up English
eliminated a number of schools. Eventually, we
                                                                                                  quickly and easily. The parents agreed and A
applied to two schools for K - an immersion      We advised K’s parents on the assessments
                                                                                                  was enrolled.
Chinese school and a bilingual IB school.        and what was expected at each stage. K
                                                 passed all the interviews and was offered a      During this year, we advised A’s parents to
The first school had a very strict schedule of
                                                 place.                                           give A further exposure to English by enrolling
assessments which was fixed. K was required
                                                                                                  in extra curricular activities in English, which
to attend an assessment in Hong Kong. If         We did not pursue the application at the
                                                                                                  they did. We advised against additional English
successful, she was required to come back a      second school.

                                                                                                                                                     has been you and having yo
                                                                                                                                                               inv                   ur ser vice
                                                                                                                                                     here in H aluable to our exp                s
                                                                                                                                                              ong Kong               erience
                                                                                                                                                                          - Dian K,
            “It is ver y                                                                                                                                                            Hong kon
         thing and stressful with this
                     I am so g            s
                               lad we go chooling
                                        t you to h
                                               - Fiona L
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
14                                                                                                                                                                                                            15

Articles   Switching From Local to                                                                      the entry requirements. Whilst it’s true that
                                                                                                        foreign nationals do receive priority at certain
                                                                                                                                                            help the student understand the requirements
                                                                                                                                                            of the entrance test, and be best prepared to

           International School
                                                                                                        schools, children with Hong Kong passports          do well in it.
                                                                                                        should not be dissuaded from applying
                                                                                                                                                            Children usually transition well into
                                                                                                        to international schools and they are not
                                                                                                                                                            international schools. They find the style of
                                                                                                        discriminated against.
           One of the most common quandaries parents find themselves in is                                                                                  teaching more engaging, the homework load
           choosing between a local school and an international one. We often                           By far the most common challenge for local          less and the culture more creative, relaxed and
           advise families to start in the local stream and apply to international                      school students applying to international           fun. Of course, the ease of the transition very
                                                                                                        schools is that of meeting the required English-    much depends on the timing of the switch and
           school later. But how does this work? What are the risks? And can
                                                                                                        language proficiency. Children who have been        the student’s personality. Some older students
           they really make it into international school?                                               used to lessons in Cantonese may struggle to        suffer something akin to culture shock.
                                                                                                        express themselves in English. In writing, they
                                                                                                                                                            Having spent many years in a local school,
           Common reasons for children – or                application is submitted soon after          are often great at grammar but less able to
                                                                                                                                                            some may find it overwhelming being put in
           their parents – wanting to move to              the child begins P5. Many parents get        analyse and generate different genres of text.
                                                                                                                                                            a situation where model answers don’t exist.
           international schools include:                  confused about when primary ends and         They often find creative writing a challenge.
                                                                                                                                                            They may feel less secure and find it hard
                                                           secondary starts in both systems. They       We’ve found this to be the case even amongst
           • Concerns about the standard of                                                                                                                 to adjust to the different learning methods,
                                                           may prefer to finish primary in local        native-English speaking children, since local
            English language teaching and learning                                                                                                          especially when it requires a great deal of self-
                                                           school, which isn’t a good idea since it     schools generally teach English as a second
                                                                                                                                                            initiative, abstract thinking and synthesising of
           • Struggles with the style of teaching,         means they will usually miss the Year 7      language, with lots of grammar and prescribed
             homework and testing                          application. Many schools have a new         tasks that don’t encourage creativity in using
                                                                                                        language. Maths is also tested, but rarely causes   But children whose parents have examined
           • Getting ready for school or university        intake in Year 7, making it a good entry
                                                                                                        any problems.                                       the situation thoroughly, and ensure they have
             overseas                                      point.
                                                                                                                                                            taken all the right steps, should be able to
           More often than not, the children are           After Year 7, Years 8 and 9 are also good    In fact, the required level varies from school
                                                                                                                                                            make a seamless transition to a new learning
           doing well academically and are happy at        times to enter an international school. If   to school. It’s important to assess the school’s
                                                                                                                                                            environment, equipped with the necessary
           school. Only occasionally do we find an         it’s a school that does the International    requirements and realistically assess a child’s
                                                                                                                                                            skills to succeed academically.
           unhappy child, or one who is “failing” –        General Certificate of Secondary             chances of gaining acceptance. Some schools,
           at least, according to their school.            Education (IGCSE), entering in Year 9 is     for example, will have support for children
                                                           advisable, since the IGCSE course starts     needing additional academic assistance,             This article first appeared in the Education Post,
           So, when is the right time to apply to an                                                    while others won’t. In some cases, we do
                                                           in Year 10. Students in Year 9 choose                                                            November 2015
           international school? Years 1 and 7 are                                                      recommend a tutor or preparation centre to
                                                           their subjects and will be able to use
           obvious entry points. For a child finishing
                                                           the year to adjust before school gets
           K3 in a local kindergarten, it’s tough to
                                                           more serious. Entering a school running
           find a spot in Year 2. In that scenario, it’s
                                                           IGCSEs is usually not possible at Years
           common for a child to spend one or two
                                                           10 and 11. Likewise, entering a school
           years in a local primary school and apply
                                                           running A-levels or the International
           to international school after P3 and hope
                                                           Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
           to switch before the next Territory-wide
                                                           (IBDP) is usually not possible at Years
           System Assessment (TSA).
                                                           12 and 13 since these are both two-year
           In local schools, the TSA is administered       courses. In some schools, however, this
           in June at P3, P6 (on odd-numbered              doesn’t apply.
           years i.e. 2015, 2017) and S3 in local
                                                           Which international schools accept
           government subsidised schools and
                                                           children from local schools or children
           is much dreaded for the additional
                                                           with Hong Kong passports? The answer
           intensity it involves in preparing for it.
                                                           is, they all do! International schools do
           Applying to Year 7 in an international
                                                           not mind where children have been
           school is a good idea. This means the
                                                           studying previously as long as they meet
Admissions Experts - top schools hong kong
16                                                                                                                                                        17

Debentures 101
Debentures 101                                       How much is a debenture?                          Depreciating
A debenture is the traditional name given to         The range is vast. Some are as low as $25,000
                                                                                                       Some schools will refund the full amount of
a loan agreement where the borrower is an            a year. The maximum is around $25M (paid by
                                                                                                       the debenture, without interest and less any
institutional borrower. i.e a school. For parents,   companies). Some schools reduce the price for
                                                                                                       transfer fees/penalties, to the parents once the
it means a large lump sum payable to the             the second and third child entering the same
                                                                                                       child leaves the school.
school on – or before – admission, regardless        school.
of what the school will do with our money.                                                             In some schools, the debentures depreciate
                                                     You may also be able to buy a debenture on
                                                                                                       over a certain number of years; sometimes
For Hong Kong schools, parents need to be            the ‘second-hand market’. This means that
                                                                                                       to zero. In a few schools, the debenture
aware of lump sums called                            the school has ‘sold out’ and existing holders
                                                                                                       depreciates to zero in just seven or eight years.
                                                     can transfer them to others. The price of this
• Capital Notes
                                                     transfer may be set by market demands or the
• Nomination Rights                                  school may cap it. The school may also take a
• Capital Contributions/Levies
                                                     cut of the sale price.                            What if I can’t afford a
…and other creative names. They all amount
                                                                                                       Some schools offer parents the option of
to the same thing – a lump sum in addition to
tuition fees.
                                                     What kind of debenture do                         paying an annual levy instead of a debenture.
                                                     I need?                                           This is different from a debenture in that
While not all schools have debentures, some                                                            it is paid yearly and is not refundable. It
schools offer a variety of debentures.               Common types include:
                                                                                                       may amount to the same or more than the
                                                     • Individual/Corporate                            debenture over the course of the child’s
                                                     • Refundable/non-refundable or depreciating
How do schools use                                                                                     Not all schools require a debenture, so you
debentures?                                                                                            can look for one that doesn’t.
                                                     An individual debenture applies to one
Most schools will state that the fees cover the
                                                     child in a family and cannot normally be
school’s running costs, but not its capital costs.
                                                     transferred. A corporate debenture is held by
So, debentures are how parents of students
                                                     a corporation and can be used for a child of      Brokerage Service
contribute to the long-term funding of the
                                                     an employee. The corporation may transfer         We provide a brokerage service in the
                                                     this debenture to another employee at any         purchase and sales of debentures.
While most schools (even some pre-schools!)          time if the employee leaves their employ.
in Hong Kong require that the parents of             Some schools will allow flexibility in allowing   Please enquire.
new students pay a debenture on admission,           the child to stay at the school and some
parents can sometimes buy a debenture                schools will insist that the child withdraws
before beginning the admissions process and          immediately s/he is no longer associated with
earn some priority in the selection system.          that corporate debenture. Children covered
                                                     by a corporate debenture mostly receive
                                                     priority at admissions. Corporate debentures
                                                     are the most expensive type running into tens
                                                     of millions.
18                                                                                                                                                                                                 19

                                                                                                     Primary school entry
                                                                                                     The third important area to consider is admissions strategy. Many of the top primary and
                                                                                                     secondary schools have affiliated pre-schools. Getting into the school early earns the child priority
                                                                                                     in moving up. For many parents, this offers security.
                                                                                                     Even if the parents choose a pre-school not directly affiliated, primary schools do look at a child’s
                                                                                                     previous schooling. It is standard procedure to include two years’ reports in any primary school

                                                                                                     Types of schools
                                                                                                     A preschool is either non-profit or private. Some have “international” in their names, but this just

An overview of early
                                                                                                     means that they teach either a partially or fully non-local curriculum.
                                                                                                     Most kindergartens, however, teach the local Hong Kong curriculum.

years education in                                                                                   Those offering non-local curricula may offer Montessori, the Dalton Plan, Waldorf, Forest,
                                                                                                     Reggio Emilia, UK early years foundation stage (EYFS), IB Primary Years Programme (IBPYP),

Hong Kong                                                                                            International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) for ages 3 to 12, or any combination of these.
While preschool education is not compulsory in Hong Kong, more and more parents
have decided to enroll their children in kindergartens and nursery classes in recent                 Local non-profit kindergartens are provided with a basic subsidy for the provision of a three-year,
years. So, what’s the hype about preschool, and what exactly can your children get                   half-day programme for all eligible children.
out of it?                                                                                           Half-day programme fees will range from free to about HK$1,000 a month, while whole-day
                                                                                                     programmes will range from about HK$1,000 to HK$2,000 a month.

Language exposure
The general wisdom on introducing a second, or even third, language, is “the earlier, the better”.   Private independent

According to experts, a child should have 25 to 30 hours a week of exposure to a secondary           Tuition fees range from about HK$5,000 to HK$14,000 a month.
language. If the target language is not spoken in the home, this should be increased. So, for        Children aged two may attend classes a year prior to K1, known as Pre-Nursery. However, not
non-native English or Chinese-speaking families, parents may choose a preschool to ensure their      all kindergartens offer programmes for two-year-olds. Those that do are licensed as Child Care
toddler is exposed to another language early. This is necessary when parents wish for the child to   Centres in addition to being licensed kindergartens.
continue studying the language in primary and beyond.
                                                                                                     While school is not mandatory until the age of six, the majority of children in Hong Kong begin
A second key area to ponder is the learning that goes beyond academic studies. From the age of       their formal education at two, or three at the latest.
one, children may start to learn common social conventions such as waiting in line, washing hands
before eating, taking turns, and sharing.
As they grow older, they come to appreciate that other people have rights and feelings just          This article first appeared in the Education Post, May 2017
as they do. They learn to share, communicate, and negotiate with their peers, and begin to
recognise the importance of friendship in their lives. These skills, important in themselves, are
crucial in preparing a child for primary school.
20                                                                                                                                                                                                     21

                                                                                                      If families cannot afford the hefty school fees, debentures and capital levies, alternatives include:

                                                                                                      • Opting for a less known, more affordable school;
                                                                                                      • Moving off Hong Kong Island out to Kowloon or the New Territories;
                                                                                                      • Keeping the little ones at home for another year;
                                                                                                      • Considering boarding school;
                                                                                                      • Choosing a local school. The kids learn Cantonese and you’ll save a bomb.

The Rise and Rise of
                                                                                                      Elsewhere in the world, it is not the responsibility of the government to subsidise international
                                                                                                      school fees with taxpayer dollars. Hong Kong is already grossly unequal in terms of income
                                                                                                      disparity and living conditions. Education policy should strive to overcome economic disadvantage,

School Fees                                                                                           not perpetuate the wealth divide by propping up attractive expat packages and providing
                                                                                                      concessions for schools who charge high fees to a long list of those willing to pay them. It’s
                                                                                                      true that rents are increasing, while salaries have largely stagnated across most sectors, but the
                                                                                                      Education Bureau (EDB) is not immune to this tricky economic climate. And their mandate is not
If you want to raise the ire of Hong Kong parents, increase their children’s school fees. Here’s a
                                                                                                      to protect the interests of expatriate families and wealthy locals who seek an international school
sample of the latest outrage on the popular Facebook group ‘Hong Kong Schools’:
                                                                                                      environment for their children.
                                                                                                      One of countless aggrieved parents (who also happens to be a teacher) took to social media
“These fees for this age are ridiculous!”                                                             recently to bemoan her school’s 6% fee increase. “Many of us have gotten together and written
                                                                                                      to the school to express our disappointment. There needs to be regulation around this. After
“In 2 years time it’ll be 200k just to attend their kindy.”
“Speechless. There is no way a kindergarten or a parent can justify these amounts.”
“I can’t even look! It hurts my eyes! The school fees here are ridiculously astronomical.                             A snapshot of tuition fee increases (%) for 2018/19 *
 It’s just not fair.”
“The education system here is broken.”                                                                DBIS                              3
“This is depressing. I wonder how far and up it can all go.”
                                                                                                      ESF                                                             6.5
“Day. Light. Robbery.”
                                                                                                      HKA                                                                                           11

Despite near-free access to a solid government education system, most expatriate parents,             HKIS                                    3.9
and a rapidly growing number of local families, continue to opt for the prestige and pedagogy
of international schools. Elongated waiting lists at trilingual play-based kindergartens, and the     Kellett                                       4.5
well-publicised construction of shiny new primary and secondary campuses, are testament to an
unbridled social swing towards ‘do-what-it- takes’ education planning. The reality is that private    PLKCKY                                                                           9
schools in Hong Kong will continue to increase fees by the current estimate of 6–10% each year as
long as the appetite remains for high-end schooling. Hong Kong is a city run on big finance, served   THS                                                              6.6
by domestic help and low tax rates. The market will always feel the need to keep up.
                                                                                                      VSA                                     3.9

                                                                                                      *indicative figures according to EDB fee increase applictaions as of July 2017
22                                                                                                                                                                                                  23

all, there are regulations in other industries; Hong Kong schools shouldn’t be excluded, especially
since they hold our deposits and debentures. They seem to have their own banking system. There
isn’t a ceiling. That’s the most concerning thing.”
Some parents are more fatalistic about the city they live in. “It’s Hong Kong,” says a parent who
wishes to remain anonymous. “Wages have stagnated for 20 years in nominal and real terms, yet
property and services have quadrupled or quintupled. But people are still moving to HK in droves,
from China and overseas. So obviously the extravagant cost isn’t high enough a deterrent against
whatever benefits people have from living here. This city is pure capitalism at work; the results
are not always very pretty.”
Some parents wonder why the government does not simply mandate that only foreign passport
holders can attend international schools, such as in Singapore, which has some success with the
policy – at least in terms of bolstering support for the local system. Hong Kong’s international
schools welcome both local and foreign children, and some schools are made up of predominantly
local children holding an additional foreign passport.                                                Baby blues: is it fair to
Top Schools consultant Nicola Lewis says, “Perhaps the EDB should note the increase in demand         take school enrolment
                                                                                                      applications from birth?
for international school places is not from expats – the number of which is pretty stable – but
from parents disgruntled by local school offerings. If the local system was overhauled, there would
be less demand for international schools and this may influence their prices.”
Another interesting idea being floated in parent circles is that debentures and capital levies be
stripped back to ease the burden of the increased fees. It’s a valid point, and one that could
                                                                                                      Getting into the ‘best’ school in Hong Kong is an inexact science. Sometimes it feels
address the angry public sentiment at a time when wages have essentially flatlined and, for many      like the only way through the hallowed gates is via a family connection, a near-perfect
families, the outgoings have started to exceed the incomings.                                         test score, or forking out millions for debentures. Whichever way, it’s almost always a
                                                                                                      case of parent pays.
“Our family hit that wall last year,” says former Hong Kong-based parent Caryn. “We are back in
the States now.”
                                                                                                      Unfortunately, simply having the means to afford the fees is not usually enough to guarantee entry
                                                                                                      into the city’s top private schools, and families have gotten used to the idea of having to compete
This article first appeared in Playtimes, May 2017
                                                                                                      for a finite number of places. However, the tide has started to turn, and hopefully the command
                                                                                                      that admissions offices hold will wane as new schools open and parents gain more power.
                                                                                                      Until recently, the market demand has enabled many schools to accept applications from birth.
                                                                                                      But most parents agree that this practice achieves little other than taking advantage of parents’
                           “Without Top Schools’ help,                                                often exaggerated concerns.
                                                bee    n bas  ed on
                         decisions would have                                                         Raising this issue on various forums such as the “Hong Kong Schools” Facebook page elicited
                                               gs   and    pa inful
                         guesswork, expat blo                                                         dozens of heartfelt responses within minutes. Every parent agreed that the outdated practice only
                                              ool   s’ we  bsi tes. With
                         trawling through sch                                                         serves to fuel their anxieties rather than ease them.
                                                   tim  e, eff ort and
                         their advice, we saved                                                       Winney, a first time mother from Hong Kong, learned that she should apply to one of her
                                                 e  tha  t we   ended up
                          money, and we believ                                                        shortlisted schools – Kiangsu Chekiang International Section– from birth on the same Facebook
                                                for   our   dau  ghter.”
                          with the best school                                                        group. “As a first time mum, I felt under such pressure to read up on application procedures. I
                                                                                                      applied when my child was 18 months old and was told I might not make the cut for the interview
                                                              - Richard                               invitation,” she said.
24                                                                                                                                                                                                             25

Sammy, another mum, called the whole process “distressing.” While Lisa Browning said, “It
creates a sense of superiority. I know some of the schools are good, but are they that good?!”          Special Education Needs
For many schools, accepting applications from birth is an opportunity to attract potential families
early on, not to mention gain an important source of revenue. Yet many schools that accept              (SEN)
applications from birth, including Kellett School and Canadian International School, do not
guarantee entry to those applying early, nor ensure priority access above those who apply later.        It is becoming ever more apparent that not all        While the cost associated with such support
Fleur Murdoch, Marketing and Communications Assistant Manager at French International School,           children can adapt to a mainstream approach           services is generally high, the best therapies
where enrolments are accepted from birth for HK$2,800, is an advocate for the administrative            to learning and whilst the majority of schools in     and specialist support will, in many cases, serve
benefits of the system. “The International Stream at FIS accepts applications from birth and            Hong Kong appreciate this and do offer some           as a bridge to mainstream school.
parents can submit an application specifying any year group or entry year in advance. This allows       differentiation within the classroom, there
                                                                                                                                                              For children requiring SEN (special education
parents to plan ahead and have flexibility in their schooling options without worrying about            is often a need for something more specific,
                                                                                                                                                              needs) support Top Schools works closely with
application deadlines.”                                                                                 targeted and individualised.
                                                                                                                                                              each family - from reviewing past specialist and
                                                                                                        Without adequate resourcing of qualified              school records to working closely with ‘on the
Many parents believe that, if they are enrolling their student at birth, then the student will be
                                                                                                        staff and specialist transition programmes in         ground’ therapists, psychologists and individual
granted some kind of priority or placed higher up the waitlist. However, this is rarely the case.
                                                                                                        schools, the experience for many SEN students         schools to find the ‘right fit’ environment for
Waitlists have largely been replaced by wait pools nowadays, and so the system appears to only
                                                                                                        can be far from ideal.                                the social, emotional and academic needs of
work in favour of the schools, which make final enrolment decisions based on family background,
                                                                                                        The supposed lack of provision in Hong Kong           the child.
interviews and discretion.
                                                                                                        for students requiring additional support             We work with children requiring minimal
At French International School, the from-birth sequence organises the admissions process and            actually comes down to a lack of awareness of         support to those requiring intensive therapies
determines a candidate’s position on the waiting list. “However, it is not a factor for selecting       the options. Whilst there is a definite need for      and academic assistance.
students or influencing admissions decisions,” said Fleur Murdoch. “All children are assessed prior     more specialist schools and service providers,
to entry, and candidates will be invited to attend an assessment in the order they are on the                                                                 Please enquire.
                                                                                                        there are now many more options than just a
waiting list. The candidate at the top of the list will be given an entrance assessment when a space    few years ago - it is discovering these options
becomes available.”                                                                                     which remains difficult for parents.
The obvious question is why schools such as Canadian International School, Kellett School,
German Swiss International School, French International School, and a few others, don’t just
accept applications one or two years prior to entry and give up on the applications from birth
altogether? The answer is simply that they do both.
“We [FIS] accept applications throughout the year and operate a rolling admissions system,” said
Fleur Murdoch. And this is true for most schools.                                                                                                     “Sarah w
                                                                                                                                                   the intern as an invaluable
                                                                                                                                                               ati                    res
The notion of accepting applications from birth for international schools is also inherently flawed                                                par ticula onal school syste ource to help nav
due to the fact that they are keen on attracting children who aren’t born in Hong Kong. And, on
                                                                                                                                                             rly as we                m in Hon               igate
                                                                                                                                                  for my d              were loo                 g Kong
                                                                                                                                                            aughter                king for
the flip side, children born in Hong Kong to transient expats have often moved on by the time                                                                        who is on              a  p
                                                                                                                                                            nie                   the spec lacement
their child is of age.                                                                                                                           was supp d me on almost                    trum. She
                                                                                                                                                            or                     all the sc
                                                                                                                                                journey. I tive and positive                  ho
Why make early parenthood more complicated than it already is? It’s time to stop this practice                                                              would ce              througho ol visits and
and ease the burden on families in the stressful (though blissful!) baby years. Let there be at least                                          anyone lo             r tainly rec           u t the enti
                                                                                                                                                           ok                     om                     re
a couple of oblivious years before school application anxieties set in.                                                                        options in ing to make sens mend Top Schoo
                                                                                                                                                           Hong Ko                e of the              ls to
                                                                                                                                                                     ng.”                   myriad s
This article first appeared in the Education Post, January 2017                                                                                                                            - SF, Hon
                                                                                                                                                                                                     g Kong
26                                                                                                                                          27

Schools Strong In Chinese   If you’d like your child to be bilingual (Chinese/English) AND biliterate, the obvious   Kingston International School
                            choice is a ‘local’ school. However, local schools use“Cantonese”. It’s used as the      | P | Kowloon
                            medium of instruction, as the playground language and forms the basis of the culture.
                            Also, the Putonghua and English is often taught mainly by non-native speakers.
                                                                                                                     Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau
                            Many parents are more keen on Putonghua (Mandarin). Perhaps they are not Chinese,
                                                                                                                     | PS | Kowloon
                            they are from the Mainland, or they feel that Cantonese is easy to pick up anyway.
                            They also prefer a more international style of teaching, perhaps according to an
                            international curriculum too. The bad news is that very few schools are offering this!   Singapore International School
                                                                                                                     | PS | Aberdeen

                                                                                                                     Victoria Shanghai Academy
                            We list here TWELVE of the most popular:                                                 | PS | Aberdeen

                            P = Primary | PS = Primary and secondary
                                                                                                                     Yew Chung International School
                                                                                                                     | PS | Kowloon Tong
                            Chinese Academy Primary School
                            | P | Causeway Bay

                            Chinese International School
                            | PS | Braemar Hill

                            Dalton School Hong Kong
                            | P | Kowloon

                            Han Academy
                            | PS | Aberdeen

                            Independent Schools Foundation Academy
                            | PS | Cyberport

                            International Montessori School
                            | P | Stanley

                            Kiangsu Chekiang Primary School
                            | P | North Point
28                                                                                                        29

Placements   ACADEMIC YEAR
                                     2017-2018    Placements into the following primary/
                                                  secondary schools:

                                  STUDENTS        American School Hong Kong 香港美國學校

                                                  Aoi Pui School 愛培學校
                                  PLACED IN TOP   Canadian International School 香港加拿大國際學校
                                  SCHOOLS IN HK   Chinese International School 漢基國際學校
                                                  Christian Alliance International School 宣道國際學校
                                                  Dalton School Hong Kong 香港道爾頓學校
                                                  Delia School of Canada 地利亞加拿大國際學校
                    BOYS             GIRLS
                                                  English Schools Foundation 英基

                    96               68           French International School 法國國際學校
                                                  German Swiss International School 德瑞國際學校
                                                  Han Academy 漢鼎書院
                                                  Harrow International School Hong Kong 哈羅香港國際學校
                                                  HKCA PLK School 保良局建造商會學校
                                                  Hong Kong International School 香港國際學校

                      231                         Hong Kong Academy 香港學堂
                                                  International Montessori School 蒙特梭利國際學校
                                                  International College Hong Kong (Hong Lok Yuen)   沙頭角國際學校
                                                  Island Christian Academy
                                     MAX 3                                                   弘立書院
                                                  Independent Schools Foundation Academy

                                  APPLICATIONS    Malvern College 香港墨爾文國際學校
                                                  Mount Kelly 香港凱莉山學校
                                                  Nord Anglia International School
                                                  Kiangsu Chekiang International School    蘇浙學校國際部
                                                  Kiangsu Chekiang School 蘇浙學校
             * As at 1 Sep 2017
                                                  Korean International School 韓國國際學校
                                                  Stamford American International School
                                                  Shrewsbury International 思貝禮國際學校
                                                  The Harbour School 港灣學校
                                                  Victoria Shanghai Academy 滬江維多利亞學校
                                                  Yew Chung International School 耀中國際學校
                                                  …and more!
30                                                                                                                 31

International Baccalaureate®

(IB) Diploma Results

                                           # of Candidates              Pass Rate %                 Avg Score

 CDNIS 香港加拿大國際學校                                    133                       97%                       36.5

 CIS 漢基國際學校                                         96                        98%                       37.8

 CSS* 啟思中學*                                          -                       100%                       34.7

 DBS 拔萃男書院                                          57                       100%                        41

 Elsa                                                9                       100%                       34.5

 ESF 英基                                             951                       98%                       35.8

 FIS 法國國際學校                                         27                       100%                       37.5

 GSIS 德瑞國際學校                                        51                       100%                       40.2

 HKA 香港學堂                                            -                          -                         -

 ICHK 沙頭角國際學校                                       26                       100%                       35.1

 ISF 弘立書院                                           19                       100%                       35.3

 KCIS 蘇浙學校國際部                                       16                       100%                       35.1
 Logos Academy*
                                                    56                       100%                       36.1

 Li Po Chun
                                                    128                         -                         -

 PLK CKY 保良局蔡繼有學校                                   64                       100%                       36.86
 PLK Ngan Po Ling College*
                                                    13                       100%                       35.23

 SIS 新加坡國際學校                                        41                        95%                        37
 St Paul’s Co-ed*
                                                    59                       100%                       41.1

 VSA 滬港維多利亞學校                                       79                       100%                       36.35

 YCIS 耀中國際學校                                        81                        93%                        35

 HK Total                                          2238                         -                      35.94

 Global Total                                    159,400                        -                      29.95

* At these DSS schools, IBDP candidates are selected and a minority of the school’s total number of students sit
  the IBDP.
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