First Look: Invictus International Hong Kong

Founding principals Fiona Chan and Christopher Jackson promise “simplicity, focus and affordability", along with an “engaging International Primary Curriculum” at Invictus International School Hong Kong, opening in November.
First Look: Invictus International Hong Kong
By Carli Allan
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Invictus International School Hong Kong is one of three new schools to open in Hong Kong for the 2019-20 academic year. While Malvern College Pre School (Island West) and Wycombe Abbey Hong Kong are both branches of renowned  British independent schools, Invictus offers parents a more affordable education. Here’s a school with annual, all-inclusive fees of HKD 100,000 for Grades K1-6, which is considerably lower than fees ranging from HKD 120,000-350,000 at many international schools.

With its low school fees, Invictus will add to the small choice of affordable schools in Hong Kong including UMAH International Primary School and HKCA Po Leung Kuk School. But there has to be more to a school than affordability and, on paper at least, there is. Invictus has an enviable waterfront location, is one of only six schools in Hong Kong to follow the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), and it will offer a dual-immersion bilingual programme.

The school is the second addition to the family of Invictus International Schools, which opened its first affordable primary school in Singapore in 2016. Invictus International School in Singapore offers a ‘back to basics’ education for annual fees of HKD 97,000, which is considerably cheaper than most international schools there. It has quickly become a popular, oversubscribed school with a reputation for its close-knit community and personalised learning – so can we expect to see a similar brand of school here in Hong Kong?

Primary school principal Christopher Jackson

Kindergarten principal Fiona Chan

Invictus School Hong Kong will be led by kindergarten principal Fiona Chan, an educator with 20 years’ experience in early years education, and primary school principal Christopher Jackson, a UK-born educator who has worked in Hong Kong schools including Discovery Mind Primary School since the 1990s. Ahead of Invictus’ November opening, WhichSchoolAdvisor speaks to Fiona Chan and Christopher Jackson to learn more about the school’s “simple, focused and affordable” education.

For more information about curriculum, fees and location read our Invictus Hong Kong review.

Invictus Hong Kong has opened as an affordable school, and your fees are certainly among the lowest for an international school in Hong Kong. Is there a growing need for more affordable schools here as we have seen in other South East Asian locations such as Singapore?

The demand for a modern and international style of education continues to grow, both from local Hong Kong families, as well families moving to Hong Kong from China and other countries. Some schools, but not Invictus, have fixed limits on enrolments for non-HK passport holders and of course there are only so many people who are able to afford school fees of around HKD 200,000. So, yes, we do think there is a need, and we are pleased to be part of the solution with our annual fees of HKD 100,000.

How can you deliver a quality education for less?

Quality education can take many forms, but it is certainly about inspiring relationships between teachers and children, and effective partnerships between home and school. It does not have to include a swimming pool, stage or auditorium, as nice as those things would be, so Invictus’ quality provision will centre upon those relationships and partnerships. You cannot put a price on those!

How similar will the Hong Kong campus be to your Dempsey Hill campus in Singapore? Is there an Invictus ‘brand’ of education that we can expect to see?

The Dempsey Hill campus in Singapore is situated in a colonial building, whilst in Tseung Kwan O, we are in a new modern building close to residents and amenities. In both countries, though, we have carefully designed modern and effective learning spaces. The Invictus ‘brand’ of education is simple, focused and affordable. It comes through in the community feel of the schools, where all the children and adults know each other, and the atmosphere is a safe and welcoming one. That is what we want students and parents to say when anyone asks them about Invictus.

What key lessons have been learned from your Singapore school that have helped in establishing this Hong Kong campus?

We have definitely drawn on the expertise and experience of our colleagues in Singapore, especially the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and Singapore Mathematics. Hong Kong and Singapore are often compared in many ways, but each of our schools is focused upon the children within it. The challenges of meeting building and school regulations are important hurdles to get over, but the challenge of meeting our children’s needs is the really exciting one.

Invictus' campus in Singapore

Teaching will follow the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), which takes a very creative, thematic approach to teaching. Why have you decided to fully embrace the IPC rather than following the IB programme or UK National Curriculum?

The IPC has been a success in our Singapore campus because it is an engaging curriculum with an international aspect. Making lessons relevant in the eyes of children is vital to encourage involvement, and country specific curricula can sometimes struggle to do this in some subject areas.

The IPC has recently been adopted by more schools in Hong Kong, although it is not yet as instantly recognisable to Hong Kong parents, and we will be preparing for it by delivering the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) in our kindergarten. One curricular area that can easily cross boundaries is mathematics, and in this area, Hong Kong parents know that the Singapore mathematics programme is a very successful one. We are going to follow our colleagues in Invictus Singapore and deliver a pedagogically sound maths programme to really inspire and promote numeracy.

Click here for more information about the choice of international schools offering the IPC in Hong Kong.

Why have you decided to adopt a bilingual curriculum?

As Mandarin continues to grow in global importance, both culturally and economically, parents want their children to have the best future job prospects. If this is tied together with the attraction of a holistic international style education, then a natural end-point is a bilingual education. Ours will be an immersive one from K1 through to Year 6.

As we are in Hong Kong, we have made a decision to teach our Mandarin through traditional characters, of particular importance to local families. We fully expect and hope to have a balance between children whose first language is either English or Mandarin, or a third language, to help create a school environment that is bilingual on every level, including within our staff.

Teaching will follow the IPC, in line with other Invictus schools

The campus may not have the same state-of-the-art facilities as other international schools here. Does this restrict you in terms of teaching a modern curriculum?

We really don’t think it does. Yes, we may need to be a little more creative when staging a school play, but the important parts of a modern curriculum, including literacy and numeracy competency, IT skills, or soft skills such as collaboration, these will all be part of the Invictus programme. Our students will thrive because of this!

What do you bring as the founding principals to this new school?

Between the two of us, we have worked in a number of international schools and kindergartens in Hong Kong. We have experience in the setting up of a new school, bilingual education, and the IPC/IEYC. Most importantly, we hope that our understanding of how children learn and what Hong Kong parents are looking for, will help us build a successful new school.

What facilities are at the new pre-school campus?

The new pre-school is situated near to Tseung Kwan O Waterfront Park next to the cycling track, overseeing the beautiful Tseung Kwan O South Waterfront Promenade. This environment is definitely one of the key features of our pre-school campus.

Children in the pre-school will also benefit from using the outdoor playground in the primary school, as well as other facilities such as the library, multi-purpose hall, and other function rooms, all of which will help them to gain valuable experience of primary life.

What are the main challenges of founding a new school here in Hong Kong?

Finding the right location. Our location is accessible, in the right demographic area, and definitely one of Hong Kong’s up-and-coming areas. When our campus is finished, it will be a safe and secure learning environment. And then the real challenges of meeting the needs of our community begin!

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