HKCA Po Leung Kuk School, opened in August 2017 - the first international curriculum school to be operated by the PLK charitable group. The school aims to provide a high quality education to children aged 6-11 years, offering places in grades 1, 2 and 3 in its first year. Fees are designed to be affordable.
Since opening in 2017, HKCA Po Leung Kuk School has grown to a Grade 1- 4 primary school; Grade 5 will open in August 2019 with numbers eventually growing to approx. 600. Grade 5 graduates will be expected to apply for entry into international secondary schools in Hong Kong or abroad. The school plans to build relationships with other IB World Schools in Hong Kong in order to facilitate students’ transition.
The school has expressly stated that it would like to open Kindergarten, but this will depend on whether or not it secures the necessary license. In the meantime, the Principal has been actively engaging with local kindergarten Principals, as well as a range of secondary schools, to ensure the children have seamless transitions into and out of the school.
HKCA PLK plans to grow a balanced yet diverse student community, with priority given to non-local children, siblings, and the children of full-time staff at the school.
Po Leung Kuk, a long established charitable body in Hong Kong, operates over 120 schools and educational institutions, and about 180 service units in the areas of culture, recreation, health and welfare across Hong Kong. With its experience of establishing and operating private independent and direct subsidy schools, Po Leung Kuk’s commitment to establishing a not-for-profit international school offering a high quality non-local curriculum, marks a new development in the Kuk’s education services.
HKCA Po Leung Kuk School intends to implement the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP) curriculum framework, with full authorisation targeted by 2019-2020. In line with the School’s Strategic Plan, it aims to allocate at least 70% of its places to foreign passport holders.
A staff:student ratio of 1:10, including specialist teachers, means that the slightly above average class size of 30 seems more manageable. Teachers are being recruited locally as well as internationally, with a focus on experienced PYP practitioners. They will come from a range of nations to ensure a balanced, diverse school community.
A major selling point of the school is its fees. Described by the school as reasonable, in line with the charitable mission of Po Leung Kuk, there is no annual levy or debenture scheme. The only additional costs will be for after-school activities, bus transport, extra English as Second Language (ESL) classes, lunch, stationery and uniform.
The new school will be based at 62 Tin Hau Temple Road, a small campus surrounded by trees and conveniently located on Hong Kong Island. The site was built by the Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) to house the “Building Contractors’ Association School” and “Building Contractors’ Association Kindergarten”. From 2007 to 2016, the premises were temporarily used by a number of institutions, including Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School.
With the establishment of a permanent new school on the site, Phase 1 will see the renovation of essential facilities necessary to ensure the opening of the school in late August 2017, including classrooms and the playground. The fully renovated new look of the school will be visible upon completion of Phase 2 works in spring 2018.
Founding Principal, David Priest, originally from Yorkshire, England, has been an international educator for over 35 years. He started his teaching career in 1980 after graduating from the University of London with an honours degree in Education, and has more recently been an administrator at international schools in Japan, Kenya, India and Mainland China.
A trained accreditor for the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), David has been a member of a number of visiting teams, assessing and evaluating schools as part of their accreditation process. He has a certificate in International School Leadership from the Principals’ Training Centre in London and also a certificate in Pedagogical Leadership from the International Baccalaureate (IB).
David says, “We are seeking international and internationally-minded families who will bring a sense of pride and belonging to the school, and a personal commitment to their children’s overall well-being as well as to the IB-PYP approach to teaching and learning. As Principal, I want the children to genuinely love coming to school every day because they are so enthused and excited by their learning. Our promise is that we will do everything possible to inspire and motivate our students, making sure that they are given the opportunity and support to be the very best they can be!”
HKCA PLK will be an inclusive neighbourhood school that provides a trans-disciplinary, challenging learning environment in a happy, safe and caring, family-like atmosphere. The school’s Values include Love, Respect, Diligence and Integrity.
In establishing its first ‘international’ school, after 70 years of local curriculum experience, Po Leung Kuk aims to offer a genuine cross-cultural experience. Students will be able to interact with the local community, experiencing society through participation in a wide range of social service projects at the Kuk’s many service units. This arrangements fits well within the Community, Action and Service element and ethos of the IB MYP and Diploma programmes.
Academically, each child will be provided with a personal development plan. This personal development plan will include support to build confidence, encourage lifelong learning, and provide opportunities to celebrate their individual interests, strengths and abilities. The school is committed to offering an excellent education that both challenges children to reach their potential and makes learning fun along the way.
Students will be educated in line with the PYP methodology with traditional subject areas such as Art, Chinese, English, Mathematics, Music, PE, Science and Social Studies interwoven in a holistic manner through cross-curricular units of enquiry.
English will be the language of teaching and interaction across the school, but in addition, daily Chinese lessons with two or three streams, depending on ability will take place teaching Mandarin (Putonghua), using traditional characters.
A limited range of After School Activities (ASA) will be offered initially, primarily by staff. As the school grows the scope of ASA offerings will be expanded. Student interest and choice will be the driving forces when deciding on which activities to arrange. During the first year or two, children will not play any competitive sports. The focus for lower Primary children will be the development of basic gross motor skills.
Music will be included in the curriculum and children will learn to play both tuned and un-tuned percussion instruments as well as the recorder. The school will aim to facilitate individual music lessons after school and/or at weekends.
There is no question that HKCA PLK aims to attract predominantly international families at fees that are rather more reasonable than at many other international schools. For transient families seeking places for a limited contract period, HKCA PLK seems to be a practical – and reasonably-priced – option. For longer-term residents, the lack of Secondary school and the requirement, therefore, to seek alternatives places as their children reach Secondary age, may make the school less attractive.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com likes that fact that HKCA PLK has been transparent in describing its offering, its future plans and, therefore, the justification for its fee levels. The school does not promise bells and whistles, but rather a solid educational start in a school that will cover the basics through the innovative PYP programme in a smaller, more traditional community environment.
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