Tom Byer is tasked with implementing a total sea-change in the way the country of over a billion people perceives and coaches the sport. As the Chinese Super League...
When Mount Kelly School Hong Kong opens in September this year, it will offer the best in contemporary British-style education, with a focus on academic standards and all-round development.
Initially, pupils will be accepted for Pre-Preparatory (Playgroup to Reception K2) and Preparatory (Years 1 to 4) classes at the school’s city campus in Hung Hom. In line with the phased start-up plan, this will then expand to take boys and girls in Years 1 to 6.
In addition, though, as from September 2018, space will be available at a new state-of-the-art campus now under construction in Tuen Mun. There, it will be possible to offer classes up to Year 8 (for 12- to 13-year-olds) and to accept a number of students as boarders.
“Basically, we will be using the UK National Curriculum, but with some modifications to suit the local environment,” says Founding Head Master Gary Wright, who has already moved to Hong Kong to oversee the admissions process and ensure everything runs smoothly on the administrative side. “With the support of our sister school in Britain, which was founded 140 years ago, we are committed to providing strong academic standards, along with an outstanding range of co-curricular activities and a high level of pastoral care.”
We see huge demand in Hong Kong for the type of education provided by Britain’s independent schools
Gary Wright, Founding Head Master of Mount Kelly School, Hong Kong
With a maximum of 18 students per class and an overall teacher-pupil ratio of one to eight, children will learn effectively, while also having every opportunity to discover their particular strengths and talents.
As part of its ethos, the school recognises the importance of nurturing self-confidence, social skills, physical well-being, and intellectual growth. And the pattern of an extended school day, which can run up to 6pm for older students, includes time for sports, the performing arts, junior leadership programmes - and completing homework assignments before heading home.
“We see huge demand in Hong Kong for the type of education provided by Britain’s independent schools,” Wright says. “But we will also be offering daily Chinese lessons for all pupils and all levels of ability in order to meet specific needs and expectations in Hong Kong.”
He notes that the UK system is widely respected around the world for its standards and values, giving students a firm foundation for whatever they choose to do next.
On completing Year 8 in Hong Kong, many graduates are likely to opt for priority placement at the sister school in Tavistock, England. Like other candidates, they would have to pass the Common Entrance examination. But there is a direct pathway to entry, affording the chance for a seamless transition from our Pre-Prep School in Hong Kong all the way to one of the UK’s leading senior schools for Years 9 to 13. In due course, this can also lead on to excellent university placements either in Britain or around the world.
Alternatively, after Year 8, the way is open for a move to other independent schools in Britain, to local or international schools in Hong Kong, or options in other countries.
“One plan is to give Year 5 pupils the chance to participate in an annual summer exchange programme,” Wright says. “This will enable them to experience Mount Kelly School in the UK, do some classes and other activities, and visit a few sights.”
The key to quality education, he adds, is providing opportunity, balance and relevance. In this respect, the UK national curriculum is a good framework. The syllabus tells teachers and parents what a child should be learning at a particular age in specific subjects like maths, science, history or languages.
But it also allows schools the flexibility to make their own enhancements to the curriculum. Therefore, besides daily Chinese lessons, Mount Kelly School Hong Kong is planning to have a forward-looking design and technology programme including robotics, coding and basic engineering projects.
“We recognise that technology and software are increasingly critical to all of our lives,” Wright says. “It is important for students to understand from an early age how things work, not just how to use them. That is part of our vision for developing young people who will be equipped to play a constructive role in an ever changing society.”
Applications for the pre-preparatory and preparatory schools are being accepted until April 30. Parents are welcome to attend one of the regular information sessions to get further details and any ask questions.
After that, the admissions process is relatively straightforward. It usually involves a meeting with the child, an age-appropriate assessment, and perhaps a group activity with other children.
“This is a new school and, obviously, it will grow from the initial intake,” Wright says. “But there is a lot of demand for places and limited availability, so it is up to parents to come in and talk. We want a dialogue, not a pressure-cooker environment, to make sure this is the right school for them and their children.”