Hong Kong / New Territories / Sha Tin / ESF Sha Tin College

ESF Sha Tin College Experience

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 a glance
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
No rating
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
HKD 136,000
Annual fees
HKD 133,800 - 140,700
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1982
School year
Aug to Jun
Principal
Carol Larkin
Owner
English Schools Foundation (ESF)
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LET'S GO

First impressions

• Well-maintained and updated campus
• Next door to feeder junior school



Sha Tin College (STC) has been teaching students at its site in the New Territories since 1985, and this large campus looks both well-established and well-maintained. Compared to some of Hong Kong’s newer schools, which can dazzle with their chrome and glass, STC has a more lived-in, traditional feel about it.

Located at the end of a quiet tree-lined street, the school is easily accessible from the Sha Tin MTR station. This secondary school is next door to its feeder primary school, Sha Tin Junior (STJ), and the two schools share various facilities including the swimming pool. Although the two schools feel like one all-through campus, they are run independently and have separate secure entrances for the students.

Read our review of Sha Tin College here.

Campus tour

• Recently renovated campus
• Dedicated senior school and SEN facilities
• Flexible and well-equipped learning spaces



A small entrance opens out into a large campus at Sha Tin College with an older five-storey building next to a newer seven storey block. While STC is an old school, you can see the ongoing investment from ESF to keep it modern, fresh and large enough for its student body of 1,200. The school has recently been extended with two new floors, a renovated sports hall, a new senior school centre, and a centre for LSE students. STC is gradually updating its classroom furniture to be more modern and flexible, and a multipurpose space with basketball courts and other facilities will open shortly on the roof.

Principal Carol Larkin says: “We don’t have a massive footprint here so we want to maximise the amount space that we do have in the classrooms. In the next three to four years we plan to regenerate the whole school.”

During our tour, Ms Larkin stopped frequently to chat with students, and it’s clear that she is a popular, well-known principal at this school.

Read our interview with Carol Larkin here.

While the classrooms are fairly small, class sizes are kept to 22, sometimes up to 24 students. With the grey and blue décor and limited use of colourful wall displays, we felt that the rooms were not overly stimulating or distracting, and there was a calm but positive learning environment throughout the campus.


A typical classroom



A small but well-equipped textiles room

We saw large food technology rooms, a small textiles room with sewing machines, and a spacious art studio with some impressive displays of student work. The music classrooms, which were well-equipped with everything from drum kits through to guitars, have moveable walls that can make way for a one large performance space. It’s just another example of how STC is making big uses out of small spaces.

Ms Larkin says: “Art, theatre and music are all very popular here. It’s great that parents are recognising what education in the creative and expressive arts can bring.”

Other specialist facilities include a library where students can move between sofas, beanbags and desks in amongst the bookshelves. One of the school’s newest facilities is a large renovated sports hall with rock climbing wall that’s used for PE and as an after-school activity. The school also shares an indoor swimming pool with STJ.


The library



The new climbing wall



A science lab

Each specialist facility was well-resourced, from the science labs with modern workbenches through to the more ‘cluttered’ D&T rooms filled with a mix of current and traditional tools. The school is well-equipped to teach both IGCSEs and the rigorous IBDP, and the school’s strong academic record is testament to this. That said, the school's principal is constantly working to improve the school even further.

She says: “We’ve established a relationship with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where a lot of our students go. We’re talking to them about getting access to their facilities, having lecturers visit the school, and so on.”


D&T facilities



A robotics class for CAS Week

Although there are some displays of student work in the corridors, Ms Larkin admits that there is room for more.

“We need to develop this a little bit. The environment and the humidity is very unforgiving though in terms of displays, so they can look tired after just one weekend. But the regeneration of our facilities is improving the aesthetics throughout the school.”


Part of the new senior school centre

One of STC’s newest facilities is a senior school centre for Years 10-13. This dedicated workspace and cafe is free from clutter and equipped with comfy chairs, large tables for group work and refreshment facilities. It’s a neutral, well-lit and mature workspace where we saw students socialising and studying. There are also small study rooms and a larger breakout room complete with colourful beanbags. Located next to the higher education office and head of senior school, this facility gives students the space and resources they need to focus on their high school studies. 

“That’s the foundation for the relationship between students and teachers here – we want to make everything very accessible. There’s no hierarchy.”

Years 7-9 also have access to their own multipurpose space at break times, where clubs range from computer gaming to board games.

For students with SEN, there’s a dedicated space with small classrooms for up to seven students and kitchen space where they learn life skills. It’s the ideal space for students to have 1:1 learning, sessions with a speech therapist etc.

Ms Larkin says: “For the most part, students are integrated into mainstream classes, but we now also have a lovely space for us to provide bespoke classes. It’s a wonderful space for these students to go to if they need some familiarity, down time etc.

“We’ve expanded our provision for up to 32 students, and it’s reassuring for families coming through from Sha Tin Junior that they don’t have to find a new school to go.

“Much as we have outstanding exam results, we are an inclusive and non-selective school and based on that, our academic achievements, as well as all our other achievements are all the more remarkable.”


Examples of the students' artwork

We visited STC during CAS Week, where we saw classes from ‘rock school’ to ukulele making, robot wars to drama. The school brings in external specialists in areas such as photography and technology to give the students a complete break with the regular timetable. Other students from Year 8 were on overseas trips – making gelato in Italy, exploring cultural highlights in Russia, visiting chateaux in France, and helping in a medical clinic in Chiang Mai.

Ms Larkin says: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to explore the local and global environment. Normally the students are in the classroom all the time, but during this week they get more independence, work with students in different year groups, learn how to negotiate and so on. It disrupts all the usual parameters. It’s wonderful for their confidence.”


A music class

During our visit, we were invited by a group of students to watch them rehearse a musical performance they were compiling for CAS Week; it was a wonderful example of the students’ confidence, teamwork and pride in their work.

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