Hong Kong, China Report of what it's like to live there - 03/16/21
Personal Experiences from Hong Kong, China
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
R1 (K-4) through Grade 6
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yes, quite a few. Two others on the American curriculum, several IBs, British, French, German, Korean, Australian, and a local quasi-public (ESF).
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Very good. Community support was excellent--really welcoming.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Ok. Emails primarily. Can get a bit overloaded in lower school to the point that you ignore stuff.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Laptops in middle school. Trips to Beijing or other places. Bus, if needed, can be $2000 USD a year depending on where you live in the city.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
Yes college counselor. Most placements are USA-centric though.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
Laptop in middle school.
5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Multiple gyms, pool, tennis courts, astroturf field, climbing wall, obstacle course.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Started at 1+1 : 18 (teacher and shared assistant) then moved to 1:22 or so in middle school. I think the ratio drops in high school.
7. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
Math is extremely advanced. USA "honors" students will be in the bottom of the honors class at HKIS. English and reading is slightly behind the US in our experience. Mandarin is good but not as strong as other schools.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
All options. Drama, music, orchestra.
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Most teachers are USA or Commonwealth (ex-British Colonies) so English is the main language amongst all teachers, save the Mandarin teachers. No problems here.
12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Honors programs in math and other subjects.
13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Limited. Some with special needs opt to return to USA for better special ed resources.
14. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Soccer, basketball, rugby, baseball are the major sports. Tennis, equestrian team, track and a few other sports also offered. No American football.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?
There are not many resources for special needs
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes. In lower school the class is probably slight majority expatriate families, but in grade 9 approximately 33% of the class leaves for US or UK boarding schools and are replaced by local families looking for placement into US university system. Interaction between kids is good. School is very international. In the lower school a class of 130 kids may have over 40 different passports.
3. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
I would compare HKIS to a "good suburban USA public school in a nice area". A similar college placement list (a few to the Ivy League, a few top 25 schools, a few top public universities, a few boutique/SLAC type schools). Kids here will have a tremendous amount of freedom, more so than in a USA city, given the ease of transport and overall safety / lack of crime in Hong Kong.