Run by the English Schools Foundation, Kowloon Junior School is a hugely popular IB primary and feeder school for King George V School. A new principal has arrived for the start of the 2017-18 academic year and expectations are high…
Kowloon Junior School may be one of the English Schools Foundation’s (ESF) largest primary schools, but it still makes a promise to deliver “Success for Every Child”. This large five-form entry primary school in Kowloon teaches 900 students from Year 1 to Year 6, follows the International Baccalaureate Primary Year Programme (PYP), and is a feeder school for ESF’s King George V secondary school (KGV) Thanks to the close relationship between the two schools, parents find that this move from primary to secondary school is managed well and runs smoothly.
As new principal Neil O’Reilly explains on the school website:
“KJS is about success in academics, in the arts, in sports, in community involvement, in students’ personal lives and, in due course, responsible action in our local, national and international communities.”
In line with all ESF schools, KJS follows IB’s PYP; this prepares students for the Middle Years and International Baccalaureate Diploma programmes offered at most IB secondary schools. The curriculum includes languages, maths, science, social studies, personal, social and physical education, the arts, and technology. Its teaching principles are built on the belief that assessment is “integral to all teaching” and home learning is “a shared responsibility between the student, teacher and family”. In line with the school’s vision for ‘Success for Every Child’, it celebrates student achievement by awarding house points, holding celebration assemblies, and with golden time.
The school says it is “committed to children achieving a high competence in Chinese”; Year 1 children have three 45-minute lessons per week; Year 2 children have four 45-minute lessons: Years 3 to 6 have daily lessons. As far as technology goes, all classrooms have interactive whiteboards, laptop computers, and mobile devices.
KJS is an inclusive school, and its individual needs department works alongside parents, teachers, and outside support agencies to help students of all abilities reach their potential. The ESF has a reputation for larger class sizes in its schools, so expect to find classes with as many as 30 students and a higher than average teacher to student ratio.
Beyond the classroom, teachers and external providers run a variety of after-school clubs; information about these is not available on the school’s website, but is posted to all parents at the start of each term. Currently, the school’s website has limited information about any activities, sport, technology, or creative arts, and is very ‘dry’ compared to other schools in the region. However, based on the school’s popularity, this does not seem to be a fair reflection of student life at KJS.
A new era
ESF has always followed a traditional school structure of separate primary and secondary schools; the exceptions to this are the all-through schools 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 KJS share campus facilities with the neighbouring King George V School (KGV) and Jockey Club Sarah Roe (JCSRS) schools; an executive principal was appointed to oversee this new Kowloon Learning Campus for two years. It proved to be a short-lived pilot, and KJS started the 2017-18 academic year as a standalone primary school again with O’Reilly at the helm.
While it seems like KJS has been through a short period of upheaval, it can now look forward to a more stable future with a dedicated principal. O’Reilly only joined KJS for the start of the 2017-18 academic year, new to Hong Kong from a school in New Zealand. He brought with him plenty of expertise in teaching and learning in flexible spaces and innovative learning environments. His first year focused on improving leadership opportunities for students, something the school had been working towards in previous years.
Currently, there is a team of house captains who lead students in each of the four houses, and students in all year groups can sit on the KJS Student Council; this gives them a voice in school matters such as inter-house competitions, the playground, environmental issues, and fundraising.
O’Reilly tells prospective parents that:
“We will be developing the work of the Student Council to include more involvement in major projects during the coming year. For example, helping with PTA events such as the annual School Fair and Christmas Disco. We would also like to see Student Council members making presentations to the School Council from time-to-time on issues affecting students at KJS.”
Redeveloped in 2013, KJS is home to one of ESF’s most modern campuses. Previously spread across two separate campuses, KJS is now organised across two wings that are connected by a footbridge – the Classroom Wing and the Hall Wing, which has a hall, music rooms, and a drama/dance studio.
There is an active PTA, which runs the uniform shop and organises fundraising events for the school.
Admission and fees
There’s always a waitlist for KJS and, as with all ESF schools, parents must live within the catchment area. This includes the areas south-west of Cherry Street and Ferry Street, the east side of Nathan Road to Boundary Street (excluding The Hermitage which is Beacon Hill School), including Yau Yat Chuen, then eastwards to the Choi Hung interchange. Areas south of Clearwater Bay Road, including Diamond Hill, Kowloon Bay, Telford Gardens, Ma Wan, Tung Chung and Laguna City, but excluding Tseung Kwan O.
The ESF sets standard fees for all its primary schools, which is HKD 111,200 for Years 1 to 3 and HKD 93,900 for Years 4 to 6. There is also a one-off non-refundable capital levy (NCL) which starts at HKD 38,000 in Year 1 and reduces to HKD 28,000 in Year 6.
While ESF schools are not as cheap as they used to be, following the phase out of government subsidies from 2016, they still offer a more affordable education when compared to most international schools in Hong Kong. The ESF will see the withdrawal of its annual HKD 283 million subsidy from the government over the next 13 years. In 2018-19, all year groups except Years 1 to 3 will continue to be subsidised by the government; this helps to explain why Years 1 to 3 fees are higher than Years 4 to 6.
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