The French International School Blue Pool Road is one of the newer campuses among the 5 operated by the French International School group in Hong Kong. Home to the Secondary School and College which is fed by the other campuses and offering both the traditional French curriculum, a combined French and US-based bilingual curriculum and a UK curriculum/IB Diploma International stream, FIS BPR is a unique international school.
The French International School (FIS) is owned and managed by a non-profit organisation (the French International School Victor Segalen Association Limited). Founded in 1963, FIS started with only 30 students when technicians and engineers from French companies came to Hong Kong to build the Shek Pik dam on Lantau Island. From these small beginnings, FIS has grown and innovated. It now operates across five sites – though one is due to close in 2018.
FIS is a charitable institution linked by agreement with the Agency for French Teaching Abroad (AEFE), a network of 500 schools under the umbrella of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Board is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the school and ensuring the optimum finance, human resources, legal and developmental policies. It meets formally six to eight times a year and in the interim works in committees.
FIS is the only accredited French school in Hong Kong. The Secondary School at Blue Pool Road offers three learning options. The International Stream follows the UK National curriculum from year 7 until Year 11 leading to the IGCSE and then to the International Baccalaureate (IB) in Years 12-13. Instruction is provided in English with the study of French compulsory. The French Stream follows the French National curriculum and also offers the OIB option (American section) which is a bi-lingual programme. The school delivers a multi-cultural educational experience by blending the best of French, international and local perspectives.
FIS’ innovative bilingual and foreign language-learning environment has been a focus of the school since 1973, when it was the first international school in Hong Kong to offer Mandarin classes. In 1984, FIS opened the International Stream and established a new campus in Jardine’s Lookout for these students. In 1988, FIS became the first international school to be authorised as an IB World School and in 1999, the school opened Blue Pool Road which became the Secondary School campus.
Currently, FIS Blue Pool Road hosts 45 classes across all 3 curricula accommodating approximately 890 students (617 French/ 295 International) and a staff of 109 teachers from 40 different nations. Staff are a mixture with approximately 80 French teachers and 35 from a diverse range of international backgrounds. A unique aspect of the school is that the French and International curriculum students share the same campus and participate jointly in a range of activities and events away from their studies. The focus on language remains with Mandarin, German, Spanish, Latin, English and French on offer.
The Lower Secondary School for the International stream offers 8 classes to approximately 200 students. The Upper Secondary School currently incorporates 6 classes supporting approximately 120 students. There is a diverse mixture of nationalities among the students which break down as follows - UK 23%, France 22%, Hong Kong 9%, India 9%, Australia 8%, Canada 6%, Chinese 5%, other 18%. During the academic year 2016 – 2017, the full International stream (both Primary and Secondary) welcomed 642 students of 30 different nationalities from Reception to Year 13; class size is limited to 25.
Ian Clayton – Head of the International Stream, says that the international ethos “has played a major role in the school’s development since its creation over 30 years ago and FIS is devoted to educating a well-rounded student, one that can demonstrate intelligence, respect and care for society. In the International Stream, we are very proud of our academic record and prouder still of the kind of students that we produce”.
The academic programme offers a broad and balanced curriculum covering a set of subjects to give students the exposure required to develop their understanding of the world around them and help them to make the choices that suit them for their futures. Students have exposure to a wide range of subjects from Year 7 to Year 9 from which they make their IGCSE selections for Year 10. Academic work is underpinned by a strong pastoral programme encouraging the development of communication and collaboration skills, creativity and independence.
During Year 7 to 9, students at FIS Blue Pool Road follow a broad curriculum taught in English and based on the English National Curriculum with enhancements for the school’s international setting. Subjects studied are: Art & Design; Drama; English; French; Maths; Modern Foreign Languages (Latin or Mandarin or Spanish); Geography; History; Information Technology; Music; Physical Education and Sciences.
FIS views the Arts as a means to broaden students' experiences and develop their creativity and confidence and the academic curriculum is enhanced by creative and performing arts activities. Introduction to theatre plays an important role in both the school’s curriculum as well as extra-curricular activities. Each year, the drama club allows secondary students to get involved in all aspects of planning and acting one or more plays. Music is taught to all students in Lower Secondary and they have the chance to be part of a choir throughout their time at school. Every year, FIS choirs sing in French, English and Chinese at events (Christmas Fair, Christmas Concert, songs at St John’s Cathedral) and end of year shows.
On an annual basis, the campus turns into an art gallery exhibiting artworks created by Secondary students. The Visual Arts courses of the IBDP and the French Baccalaureate encourage students to challenge their own creativity and cultural boundaries. Several art events take place throughout the school year and the entire school community is invited to the openings to celebrate the artistic talents of FIS students. The Art House is also an opportunity for the community to invest in students’ works with part of the proceeds being donated to the ADA ( Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong). The FIS Culture & Art Fund supports this type of event inside the school.
Couture is an annual event where students from both French and International Streams showcase their talents: fashion designers, dancers, musicians, and singers perform on stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd. During the fashion show, the main event of the night, secondary students unveil amazing outfits designed using various recycled materials (not fabric!) during their art classes. Couture is also a way to raise awareness about important environmental issues in society.
In addition to the formal academic and sports programmes, FIS also offers a range of Extra Curricular Activities which enable students to acquire knowledge in sporting or artistic disciplines, to chat in French or English outside school hours and to develop their commitment to a particular activity over a given period. Children meet students from other classes and streams; they share and exchange, develop friendships and a sense of team spirit and are proud to represent FIS at competitions in Hong Kong and Asia.
Many take part in Sports activities and are able to involve themselves in inter-school competitions. These include HKSSF - Hong Kong School Sport Federation, ISSFHK - Hong Kong International School Sports Federation and the Hong Kong Junior Basketball League for football, tennis, handball, basketball, fencing, rugby 7's, swimming, athletics and netball.
Various fixtures are played within Hong Kong and overseas by FIS athletes at both AEFE and International School competitions. PE teachers organise an evening at the end of the school year for all secondary students who have taken part in sports competitions as part of extra-curricular activities where there are awards for the “Sports Boy of the Year” and “Sports Girl of the Year” in each sport represented. These include equestrian, rugby, sailing, cross country running, swimming, handball, tennis, climbing, fencing and football.
A range of facilities are available to students at Blue Pool Road to support their interests including a gymnasium, multipurpose room, basket-ball courts, Art Room, Music Room , Library and Canteen.
In line with an overall commitment to student well-being, the International Stream has developed a comprehensive Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) programme. The school recognises the value of the IB CAS programme (Creativity, Activity, Service) and integrates it as part of the school’s ethos; this allows lower secondary students to voluntarily join and support numerous causes - Kindness Week to raise funds for the Hong Kong charity Food Angels, for example - and teachers incorporate the concept of creativity, activity and community engagement (service) in their courses.
In addition to its academic and pastoral focus, FIS very much sees itself as a community conscious school with a great emphasis on sustainable development. The school has been awarded the international “Eco-schools” label from the Foundation for Environmental Education every year since 2008 and has launched various initiatives focused on a specific environmental theme each year (water, waste, energy). In 2010, the school received the “Silver Award” and in 2011 the “Gold Award” from the Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development.
A Carbon audit conducted in 2008 led to the implementation of eco-friendly practices in 3 areas: energy saving (LED lights, anti-UV filters on windows), canteen services (donating food surpluses) and transportation. Staff integrate sustainable living concepts into the curriculum (Ecology and territories) and arrange a number of teacher-led activities including a School camp to raise sustainable awareness, Beach cleaning trips and Green Power Races (for international stream students).
During Year 9, students select their IGCSE options and embark on the 2 year IGCSE course in Year 10. All IGCSE students qualify for the Cambridge ICE award, which recognises learners who pass examinations in at least 7 IGCSE subjects from 5 different subject groups (including two different languages). This award sets FIS students apart and all participating students have gained merit or distinction passes since it was introduced to the school.
Field trips and activities to enhance student learning take place throughout the year. As part of the Year 9 curriculum, students visit France for 20 days as a year group where they have the chance to further build their comprehension and confidence in French. At the end of the school year, all International Stream secondary students take part in CAS Week. Collaboratively, they explore, learn and help support issues locally and overseas. Upper School students take ownership of the CAS programme which they organise and participate in. This includes sponsored walks, sports coaching and tutoring.
In addition, within the CAS framework, all Year 12 students participate in an activity week set in the mountains of Northern Thailand. This trip gives the students an opportunity to try many different activities, strengthen team building skills, experience teaching English at a local Thai Primary School and assist in service projects such as building work and painting at local schools.
Students are encouraged to reach their full academic potential as well as continuing to develop the necessary skills and attributes required for their future endeavours. The school endeavours to foster close relationships between students, teachers, form tutors and university counsellors. Regular meetings are scheduled, both as a group and between individuals. Small class sizes encourage more interactive and in-depth discussions. Teacher to student ratios in the Secondary school are 1:24 for general and some Specialist subjects (Chinese, French, Science) and 1:13 for option classes.
The success of FIS’ approach to the academic performance of its students is evident. In 2018, the average IB Diploma score was 35 points, which is lower than the school's 2017 average of 37.5 but higher than the world average of 29.78 points.
Read our roundup of IB results in Hong Kong here.
In 2018, around one third of all IGCSE exams taken by FIS students were awarded at A*, almost 60% were awarded at A*/A and 93% were awarded at A*- C.
Results for students taking the French Baccalaureate were equally impressive – with a 100% pass rate, 40% with highest honours (mention très bien) and 68% with honours (mention bien) and above.
Across all the FIS campuses, students’ numbers have increased by 40% in the last 10 years. The school anticipates that its population will grow from 2,700 this year to 3,225 by 2020. Extension of the Blue Pool Road campus is currently being considered to offer new classrooms and improve the overall facilities. Whilst the International stream may remain the minority part of the education delivered by FIS, there is no doubt that the school is successful at what it offers.
This is a school with a genuine multicultural focus, underpinned, of course, by its French heritage. However, for international families wishing to provide their children with an excellent academic opportunity supported by an extraordinarily international focus, the French International School at Blue Pool Road is a school to be explored.
Students not only have the chance to learn in the international environment of Hong Kong, but to develop as potential Francophiles whilst their education is grounded in English in a school offering both IGCSE and IB – qualifications that open doors to the best universities worldwide. And for French families seeking a traditional or bi-lingual education for their children, the school’s history, internationalism and academic success makes it a natural choice.
Admission into FIS is conditional upon the purchase of a debenture. One debenture covers one student only Corporate debenture (Type A) – HK$250,000 (transferable); Private debenture (Type B) – HK$90,000.
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