Why You Should Volunteer in a HK School

To celebrate International Volunteer Day on December 5, we look at the contribution that parent volunteers are making to Kellett School – where the tradition of parent partnership is deeply rooted within the community.
Why You Should Volunteer in a HK School
By Carli Allan
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They say that it takes a village to raise a child – and many parents are involved in their child’s education not only at home, but also at school. Walk onto any campus in Hong Kong and you’ll see parents fundraising, organising school-wide events such as International Day and the Christmas Fair, running uniform and stationery shops, co-ordinating school bus services, hosting speakers on topics including health, technology and parenting, and maintaining scholarship funds.

The majority of international schools in Hong Kong have an active parent teacher association or group. These groups of dedicated (and mostly unpaid) parent volunteers are key to building a close-knit school community – from giving new families a warm welcome at back-to-school events to thanking teachers at annual appreciation breakfast.

The importance of these grassroots organisations is widely recognised by school inspectors; Ofsted, the UK schools’ inspectorate, has found that “joint working between the home and the school led to much better outcomes for pupils”.

And a survey of UK schools by PTA UK in 2017 also highlighted the impact of parental engagement within a school. Six out of 10 teachers said that it improves academic achievement (62%) and pupil behaviour (59%), while a third (32%) felt that when parent views are shared, it has a positive impact on school decision-making.

Other key findings included:

  • 68% said building trust and improving relationships between parents and teachers is the biggest benefit of parental engagement
  • 53% believe it helps to develop a shared school ethos and culture
  • 44% believe it reduces absenteeism

Across Hong Kong, there are many examples of how parents are getting actively involved in the running of their child’s school.

Kellett School is one of the most British of schools in the city. While there are plenty of schools claiming to have a family atmosphere, few manage to capture it quite as well as Kellett School, where the tradition of parent partnership is deeply rooted within the school. Kellett was founded in 1976 and it continues to be owned and governed by parents to this day.

Get the Kellett experience, read about our visit to the Kowloon Bay campus here.

WhichSchoolAdvisor talks to Kellett School about how this school is built on a strong community of parent volunteers.

How does the school encourage parental engagement?

We offer multiple ways for parents to get involved in the school – from helping out in the library, school shop, selling pre-loved uniform, giving careers talks, organising fundraising events, being a Governor – the list is endless. Our parents are awesome, always stepping up with boundless energy and enthusiasm.

What are the benefits of parental engagement? Does it have a positive impact on the school?

The levels of parental engagement in our school, which runs from our parent-majority board to a highly active Parents’ Committee to individuals giving time for all manner of activities, is a core part of Kellett’s culture. This is most visible at our alumni events which parents get as much out of as our former students.

How does the school give parents a ‘voice’?

Our school was founded by parents and remains a parent owned school to this day with each family with a child in the school becoming a member of the Kellett School Association Limited and a parent-majority board.

We also spoke to the parent chair of Kellett School's PTA...

How can parents get involved with school activities?

Parents get involved at school in a multitude of ways. For example, each prep school class has two class parents and in the senior school we have Year Coordinators for house year groups. Parents can volunteer to be part of the Fair Committee, Kellett Cares (the charitable arm of the Parents Committee), the book shop, hospitality, volunteer on class trips, cooking lessons, plus many more.

What are the benefits for parents and their families for getting involved at the school?

When parents volunteer they help to build the fabric of the school as well as create a closer knit community.

How do you make new families feel welcome at the school?

At the start of the school year we have a New Parents Evening for each campus to welcome all new families to our community. Class parents organise a class gathering in the first month of school so parents have a chance to meet each other in a more intimate gathering.

What advice can you offer parents who are new to the country to help them settle into your school community?

I would say attending some of the early school events can be helpful in meeting new people. You can reach out to the class parent with any questions and schedule individual play dates with anyone your child may have connected with in class.

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