Sha Tin College (STC) is the English Schools Foundation’s only secondary school in the New Territories. As well as being ESF’s highest performing school in terms of IB results, STC is also one to watch for its student leadership opportunities.
At Sha Tin College (STC), student involvement in the day to day running of the school is not just a token gesture. At this English Schools Foundation (ESF) secondary school in the New Territories, “student leaders are vital”. Research has suggested that students benefit from having a voice in their school community, and STC is certainly encouraging its students to express their opinions, talk about their school, and play an active role in school life. That’s not to say that study takes a back seat here, though. In fact, the most recent IB results were ESF’s highest ever and they reflect the school’s high academic achievements.
Founded in 1982, STC is a large school with 1,200 students of around 30 nationalities, and it is the only ESF secondary school in the New Territories. The majority of its students come from ESF’s Sha Tin Junior School, which it is located next door to.
Experience STC. Read about our tour of the school here.
An IB education
STC divides its campus into two schools: Middle (Years 7-9) and Senior (Years 10-13). In line with all ESF secondary schools, STC has recently adopted the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students in Years 7 to 9.
As the school explained in a recent letter to parents,
“STC currently offers a broad and balanced curriculum in Years 7 to 9 and delivers the subject areas required by the MYP programme equitably. We anticipate very little change in the breadth and balance of our existing curriculum as we move to adopt the MYP framework.”
IGCSEs are taught in Years 10 and 11, and senior students work towards their IBDP. There are roughly 300 students in Years 12 and 13 and, with a choice of more than 30 subjects in the IBDP programme, students can follow their individual learning and career goals. There are plans to expand STC’s curriculum to include the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP); this alternative to the IBDP is specifically developed for students who want to focus on career-related learning.
The STC curriculum has always been IB focused, and subjects covered in all years include the core subjects, the arts, PE, technology, and individuals and societies. Highlights of the IGCSE curriculum include the Cambridge IGCSE Coordinated Science (Double Award), one of several subjects that will help to prepare students for the IBDP. To really get a feel for the curriculum in each year group, the school’s website is packed with detailed information about the topics covered in each subject.
A well-rounded education
STC welcomed new principal Carol Larkin in April 2017, who previously worked at ESF's Renaissance College.
Read our interview with Larkin here.
As a 1:1 laptop school, STC uses software programmes in all lessons from maths through to music; from primary level students learn about algorithms and programming logic, before moving on to code web-based materials using HTML5 and CSS.
The variety of sports covered in PE, ranging from water polo through to trampolining, is impressive. For Years 7 to 9, one lesson in every four is dedicated to improving health and fitness; all Year 10 and 11 students study a core PE programme; and Year 11 students focus on life skills such as first aid, personal survival and personal fitness.
Judging by the student art galleries and performances on the school’s website, plenty of time and money is dedicated to the creative arts. The school also makes the effort to make learning fun: students go out on field trips, science competitions are held to encourage creativity, and 3D printers are used to bring ICT to life.
STC is an inclusive school that accepts students with varying abilities, and the learning support centre offers various courses in English, maths and science to students who are not prepared for the IGCSEs.
As well as being very focused on academia, STC takes learning outside the classroom in various ways. During the annual CAS Week, lessons are suspended and students take part in a range of activities, residential camps and expeditions. The school is divided into four houses, which challenge each other in inter-house sports competitions, Chinese New Year door decorating events, quizzes, chess matches, and debating contests. A highlight of the school year, though, is the STC inter-house Glee performance; it’s standing room only for this one apparently!
In terms of extra-curricular activities, these lean largely towards music. Students are encouraged to join the STC orchestra, choir, Chinese orchestra, and many bands and ensembles, as well as perform at the school’s Young Musicians Festival, annual production, Chinese New Year Assembly, Spring Concert and Scottish Opera, to name but a few. Students are also given plenty of encouragement through initiatives such as the Above and Beyond Awards, which are presented every term to middle school students who have outperformed in the areas of “action, creativity and service”.
As head of the middle school Lucie Purves explains,
“I like to think joining Sha Tin College is like joining a large extended family where all staff and students encourage each other to achieve their very best.”
There are numerous ways in which students at STC are given meaningful roles within the school. In terms of leadership, students can take on positions such as house student leaders, who assist staff in planning various school and community events. Student Council members are encouraged to introduce new ideas to the school, while student ambassadors are a group of ‘go to’ students whose responsibilities range from being front of house at concerts to conducting tours around the school.
Students at STC are focused on “fulfilling their own potential and that of others”. The student-led Peer Support Team from Years 11 to 13 offers advice and guidance to fellow students, and Year 12 wellbeing student leaders work closely with Year 10 students in various IGCSE workshops. Also, there’s a Media Team that updates the content on the school’s website and “uses the students’ voice to profile Sha Tin College to the world”.
STC students are also doing a lot of ‘good’ for the school and the wider community. The Environmental Council aims to eliminate plastic bottles in the school, for example. The Hope in Our Soap student-led project is reusing waste to raise funds for charity, and can often be see selling bars of soap made from waste cooking oil. And the list goes on…
In 2018, Sha Tin College's cohort scored the school's – and ESF's – highest ever score of 37.6, and there were seven students who achieved the full 45 points. In 2019, the average score was 37.4. There was a record number of nine students who achieved the full 45 points: Yann Chan, Jing Chen Fok, Sammie Lam, Jonathan Lee, Megan Lee, Brian Li, Carliss Ling, Sherry Wang, and Alex Xia.
• Average score: 37.4
• Pass rate: 99.3%
• Top score: 45
• No. students scored 40 points and above: 34.6%
• No. students scored 35 points and above: 76%
• No. students scored 30 points and above: 93%
• No. students achieved the bilingual diploma: Nine
Vice principal Paul Hoang says: "Whilst we are extremely proud of the students mentioned above, we are also particularly proud of the many students who fulfilled their personal potential and the students who were expected to find the Diploma Programme particularly challenging. Through sheer hard work and determination, these students have managed to achieve at least the 24 points needed to pass the IB Diploma."
Read our roundup of Hong Kong's 2019 IB results here.
With its hilltop location in the New Territories, STC has some enviable views. Located on the same campus as Sha Tin Junior School in Fo Tan, which makes the transition to secondary school that much easier for students, STC is spread across five buildings. It’s an older but well-equipped campus with an indoor swimming pool, sports hall, playgrounds, drama studio, ICT rooms, a band room with recording facilities, library, art rooms, science labs, design and technology workshops, food technology centre, music suite, and a school hall.
Admission and fees
As with all ESF schools, STC is non-selective academically; there is always a waitlist at STC but places are currently available in Year 7. To apply for admission to Sha Tin College, parents must live within the New Territories, including the Ma On Shan side of Tolo Inlet and Three Fathoms Cove. In addition, a small area within the Kowloon Peninsula (north of Lung Cheung Road and Norfolk Road to include Piper’s Hill, Broadcast Drive and Beacon Hill, excluding No. 1 Beacon Hill) is also included within the school zone.
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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