As well as being the biggest secondary school in the ESF group, the hugely popular KGV is certainly one of the best in terms of facilities, IB results and location.
One of Hong Kong’s oldest international schools, King George V School (KGV) is proud of its past yet committed to changing for the future. This sprawling secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years has many glorious traditions in place, many of which stem from British colonial roots that date back to 1894. The reasons for its huge popularity, however, are most likely to be the more recent changes to its curriculum and its contemporary facilities.
Part of the English Schools Foundation, KGV in Kowloon is home to more than 1,700 students of around 28 different nationalities. In line with all ESF secondary schools, KGV offers the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP), IGCSEs, and a choice of the IBDP or the more vocational BTEC. The school has some charming design features that hark back to its days as WWII hospital (such as the low handles for patients in wheelchairs), and it’s quite traditional with sixth formers still required to wear uniform. However, its drawcard includes modern facilities, good exam results and a central location. During the past decade, the campus has expanded to include a science block and performing arts centre, both with rooftop gardens, the Fung Learning Resource Centre, and some enviable sports facilities.
Click here to read about our tour of the campus.
A dual curriculum
Traditionally, Year 7 to 9 students have followed a school-designed Middle School Curriculum (MSC) that leads to IGCSE exams and qualifications. In recent years, ESF has moved away from the UK National Curriculum and towards the IB programme. In August 2017 KGV introduced the MYP for Year 7; it is rolling this out until Year 9 to bring KGV in line with all other ESF secondary schools. Compulsory subjects include art, drama, English, history, ICT, maths, modern foreign languages, music, PE, religious studies, geography, science and technology; students must learn Mandarin and a European language.
In Years 10 and 11, all students study for their IGCSEs. As well as the core subjects, students take a Certificate in Digital Applications (CIDA), which is equivalent to two GCSEs, and options including Chinese, French, German, Spanish, geography, history, economics, business studies, psychology, religious studies. KGV also offers BTEC courses in economics and business, music, sports science, drama, media, electronics, graphics, textiles, and arts and media. Year 12 and 13 students then study for the IBDP or a BTEC International Diploma.
In and outside the classroom
The well-established KGV has a vertical tutoring system within both its Middle and Senior schools; tutor groups are populated by students of all ages and remain the same for up to four years. The school says that “the tutor is at the heart of a KGV student’s experience”. This is supported by the school’s house system, which is named after former faculty including Upsdell who was the first head teacher at the school’s current site.
Technology is at the heart of KGV. The school has a 1:1 laptop programme, and it is compulsory for all Year 7 students to purchase the school-selected model. It also runs an eLearning Student Group and a teacher-led Learning Technologies Coaching programme to offer practical training and cyber awareness. What makes this school interesting, though, is its new Learning Resource Centre, which includes two libraries, a reading centre, study pods, an exhibition space, café and media suite.
The school has a strong sporting tradition, especially in rugby and football, as well as lacrosse and netball for the girls. Its sporting facilities – football/hockey pitches, double long jump pit, cricket nets, two volleyball courts, three basketball/netball courts, 25m outdoor pool, 10 badminton outdoor courts, a weights room and a gymnasium – are impressive even by Hong Kong standards.
There’s also an extensive co-curricular programme featuring activities ranging from non-competitive clubs such as belly dancing to inter-schools competitive teams; clubs include animation, eco friends, community service, music and the performing arts. Thanks to the support of the Parent Teachers Students Association (PTSA), the majority of these activities are free.
• Average score: 35.1
• Size of cohort: 194
• Pass rate: 96%
• Top score: 45
• No. students scored 40 points and above: 21%
• No. students scored 35 points and above: 55%
• No. students scored 30 points and above: 86%
The 2019 cohort achieved a high average score of 35.1, just a shade down on the previous year's result of 36.3. There were five top scorers – Chan Wai Lam, Calvin Lam Pak Yiu, Matthew Wong Kwok Leong, and Charming Yeung – and just over half of students scoring 35 points or above.
ESF has always followed a traditional school structure of separate primary and secondary schools; the exceptions to this are the all-through Private Independent Schools (PIS) Renaissance College and Discovery College. Leading up to its 50th anniversary in 2017, ESF said it was looking “for opportunities to work across our schools and to develop further partnerships with colleges”. In 2015, it launched a pilot scheme that saw KGV share campus facilities with the neighbouring Kowloon Junior (KJS) and Jockey Club Sarah Roe (JCSRS) schools; an executive principal was appointed to oversee this new Kowloon Learning Campus for two years.
It was a move that faced opposition from some parents who were concerned that students from KJS would automatically be given places at the popular KGV, reducing the chances for children from other ESF primary schools. It proved to be a short-lived pilot, though, and KGV started the 2017-18 academic year as a standalone secondary school again with new principal Mark Blackshaw at the helm.
Blackshaw inherited a school that has invested time and money into improving its facilities. The jewel in this school’s crown is the Fung Learning Resources Centre (LRC) which has two well-resourced libraries, a middle school reading centre, independent study areas, study pods, exhibition space, a cafe with outdoor terrace, and a media suite with production control room.
Admission and fees
There’s always a waitlist for KGV and, as with all ESF schools, parents must live within the catchment area. This is the Kowloon Peninsula as far west as Ferry Street, Tong Mi Road and Tai Po Road, and as far north as Lung Cheung Road area, Clearwater Bay Road, Tseung Kwan O and Sai Kung. It also covers Kowloon Bay, Kwun Tong, Tung Chung and parts of Kowloon Tong.
The ESF sets standard fees for all its secondary schools, which is HKD 128,400 for Years 7 to 11 and HKD 135,000 for Years 12 to 13. There is also a one-off non-refundable capital levy (NCL) which starts at HKD 26,000 in Year 7 and reduces to HKD 3,800 in Year 13. While ESF schools are not as cheap as they used to be, they still offer a more affordable education when compared to most international schools in Hong Kong.
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