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Opening in September in the Tsim Sha Tsui District, Mount Kelly Pre-Preparatory School (Kindergarten) will offer a first-rate education based on the British system.
The Nursery (K1) and Reception (K2) classes are designed to support play-based, child-centred learning with a view to all-round development. There is an opportunity for youngsters to move on to the nearby Preparatory School for Year One to Year Eight, and then to Mount Kelly School in the UK, for Year Nine to Year 13. So it’s possible to plan for a seamless academic transition, and a great start in life.
“We understand that the foundations for successful learning, intellectual and social development, and general well-being are laid in early childhood,” says Gary Wright, the founding headmaster of Mount Kelly International School in Hong Kong. “Our Pre-Prep pupils will learn through making connections, becoming confident, and being involved in the world around them.”
To that end, the school will use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) of the UK National Curriculum as a framework, which is recognised and respected around the world. There will be a few adjustments, where necessary, to take account of local needs and expectations.
Our pre-prep curriculum is designed to meet the needs of all children, whatever their ability
Gary Wright, the Founding Headmaster of Mount Kelly International School in Hong Kong
The teachers will usually have UK-based qualifications, along with different combinations of international experience, and degrees in early childhood education. One of the school’s key objectives is to ensure pupils feel a genuine sense of belonging. From week to week, the school will develop each child’s sense of identity, thirst for learning, and ability to interact and communicate.
“Our pre-prep curriculum is designed to meet the needs of all children, whatever their ability,” Wright says. “We aim to help them achieve and improve, and to discover a love of learning which will continue throughout their lives.
Children enter the nursery (K1) class the term after their third birthday. Parents can choose either morning or afternoon sessions, which will take place five days a week. At the end of the academic year, children will progress to the reception (K2) class, for four- and five-year-olds, which has a similar choice of days and sessions. To ensure students receive individual attention and encouragement, class sizes will be kept to a maximum of 20, with a standard ratio of one teacher to every 10 pupils.
As part of a broad and balanced curriculum, there will also be daily Chinese language infused into the classes for all children. These will be taught by native speakers using stories, songs, and classroom activities to get everyone involved. For children with English as a second language, dedicated teachers with the requisite training and experience will ensure pupils reach a high standard from an early age.
“As an international school, we celebrate diversity, and respect each child’s unique background,” Wright says. “But proficiency in both English and Chinese is an important feature of the curriculum. In Hong Kong, that is essential for us to promote the highest possible standards of teaching and learning for every child.”
Wright says this outlook extends to offering a seamless transition between levels. For example, children attending the Mount Kelly Playgroup can receive a “certificate of priority assessment” for admission into the Pre-Prep School. The proviso is that the child has to be enrolled in the “Pre-Threes Red Deer” playgroup class, which is for kids aged 25 to 36 months, for six months.
A similar process applies when moving up from the Pre-Prep reception class to Year One in the Prep School. Parents still need to submit an application form at this entry point, but children don’t have to undergo another formal assessment. Instead, teachers will be able to assess individual progress during the previous school year, and inform the Prep School admissions office accordingly.
Applications for pre-prep and prep classes are being accepted until April 30. To find out more, parents can attend one of the regular information sessions being organised over the next few weeks.
There is likely to be strong demand for places, but the school wants to keep the admissions process straightforward. The process involves a meeting with the child, an age-appropriate assessment, and a group activity with other children. For parents who are not fluent in English, someone will be on hand to help translate, if necessary.
“We want to have a good dialogue with parents from the outset. We want to make sure this is the right school for them and their children,” Wright says. “If they come in and talk, they will see that we offer the best contemporary British-style education available, and that we provide a stimulating, safe, and happy environment which is sensitive to the needs of all children.”