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What Should I Prioritise When Choosing an International School in Hong Kong?

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If you are moving to a new country or your children are coming up to school age, choosing the right international school can be a tough decision. The problem is certainly made worse if you are visiting the country for the first time and haven’t had the opportunity to see or visit the schools firsthand. However, even if you can’t pay a visit in person, you should do thorough research and look at all available options.

Choosing the right international school in Hong Kong is a very individual choice with some excellent options available. You may have some factors that are very personal to you and your family, such as the ethos or your child may have special needs. As a result, we have tried to keep this guide as simple as possible so that you understand what you should prioritize.

  1. Plan Ahead

It can’t be stressed enough how important planning ahead is. Ideally, your preparation will start at least a year in advance as many international schools have waiting lists and don’t allow pupils to join mid-term. Also, it would be best if you had it clear in your mind how long you intend to stay in your new chosen country.

If you are planning to return to your “home” country, the UK, for example, it would be sensible to choose a school that follows the British curriculum. If your job requires you to change the country regularly, for instance, you work for the diplomatic corps; you may wish to consider the International Baccalaureate.

However, if you plan to move permanently, choose a school which offers the best standard of education, has excellent extracurricular opportunities as well as one where your child will be happy. Children tend to resist change at first, so your child’s wishes and wellbeing must be treated with utmost priority. An unhappy childhood is something that no parent would wish upon their children.

  1. The Curriculum and Extracurricular Activities

The criteria that should be considered when choosing which curriculum to follow have already been covered. Still, within that curriculum, as a parent, you will need to be satisfied that it meets the needs of your child. For instance, is your child is midway through a critical time in their schooling, studying for their GCSEs, for example, are all the subjects that they are studying available? It is something that can be a problem, particularly with languages. Other things to consider include:

  • Ensuring that other pupils in the class will be of a similar ability to ensure that the lessons are challenging enough, or conversely, not too difficult
  • Is there flexibility within lesson time or out of school to address areas that your child is finding more challenging?
  • Does the school have a good record in exams, and do many students go on to top universities?

Extracurricular activities now form a critical part of any child’s education, giving them a broader base and more life experiences. Your child may have particular interests in sports, the arts or something more practical such as engineering. Are there schools available that would be able to provide these activities to the standards that you demand, and is it affordable?

  1. Teaching Standards

All parents are concerned that their children are being taught by teachers who a professionally qualified, know their subject and can convey their knowledge to others in a way that will appeal to students. The top international schools in Hong Kong all employ qualified teachers, but you may have to conduct some further research to establish what the pupils and parents think about their skills that are harder to qualify.

Should your child have special needs or exceptional talent, you may want to know what experience the school has of addressing these needs. Other things to consider including being confident that teaching staff and their assistants are up to date with current “best practices” and are familiar with more modern teaching practices.

  1. The School

When it comes to the school itself, there are many things that you should consider, not least the logistics. Ideally, you will want your child’s school to be within easy commuting from your home or have appropriate transport available. What is the ethos of the school; is it heavily focused on religion or has beliefs that match your own? Sadly, in a modern world, you must also consider security within the school; do they have guards and restricted entry?

Many international schools in Hong Kong are well-established, which, of course, is very commendable. However, are some of the facilities starting to become dated and in need of upgrading? While for some things, it will carry little significance, for IT equipment, it must meet a certain standard. Do you really want to be sending you child to an outdated school?

  1. Within the Community

The school’s role within the community can be a more significant consideration when you are thinking about expat lifestyles than perhaps you would in your home country. Expat communities tend to be very tightly knit, and schools often form a central part of that community, not just for pupils but for parents as well.

Parents will be encouraged to join in activities so, to some degree, it is important that you understand your expected role. Would you feel comfortable with this? Also, what links does the school have with big business on the island? Are there opportunities for businesses and even parents to share some of their skills with students? Are their parent-teacher associations that you could join? Will this facilitate you having a more influential say about your child’s education – all quite individual things.

  1. It is a Personal Decision

Finally, the final decision that you make around your child’s schooling must be your own. It is a personal decision and not one that you should feel railroaded into or thrust upon you. Your child’s happiness is the priority, and sadly, some children feel less comfortable in some schools than in others. Choosing the “right” international school in Hong Kong is a minefield, and even with the best intentions, you may make a mistake.

Remember, you can always change your mind if you feel that your child’s needs aren’t being met, your child isn’t happy, or your circumstances change.

If you have any other Questions related to Choosing an International School in Hong Kong, you may ask your Queries by commenting below.


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