International College Hong Kong HLY is one of the few International Baccalaureate schools in Hong Kong to offer students the opportunity to study from Kindergarten to Secondary with students at Hong Lok Yuen transferring to the Secondary School at Sha Tau Kok for years 7-13. It prides itself on being a warm, friendly yet challenging and stimulating community.
Hong Lok Yuen (which translates as 'happy healthy garden' or 'leisure garden') is a large-scale development of approx. 1,150 standalone homes built overlooking the mountains, which apparently give it some of the best fung shui found in the New Territories. The development is home to many professionals including factory owners whose plants are just a short hop across the border. The International College Kindergarten and Primary campus is part of these surroundings.
ICHK Hong Lok Yuen has been providing high quality primary education for more than 35 years. ICHK HLY is an independent school, an accredited member of the Council of International Schools, and also a member of the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools. The school has also been accredited by the International Baccalaureate to deliver the Primary Years Programme.
The school ensures that children appreciate their rural surroundings from an early age. Children grow their own herbs, vegetables and flowers in the school garden, learning about sustainable living and developing an attitude of care and concern for the environment. A large playing field allows children the opportunity to play and enjoy sports in the fresh air.
The school describes itself as a true community school where collaboration, personalised learning and a commitment to the individual, is designed to ensure that everyone can grow, flourish and thrive.
The school is overseen by a Board of Governors. It was originally established by a group of parents from Hong Lok Yuen who wanted to have education available to their children on the doorstep, with a particular emphasis on Chinese language instruction. The governing body works in close partnership with the school’s senior leadership team. The aim is to provide the school with sound direction and ensure that students have the best opportunities to achieve their goals. The Board is made up entirely of parents, elected by other parents from the school.
The Council of International Schools has applauded the Primary school as “a welcoming and friendly place with a strong sense of community, characterised by fairness, trust and mutual respect.” The Visiting Team concluded that “a caring, supportive atmosphere pervades the school and it is clear that the needs of the child are central to the programme.”
This is a relatively small school with 2 form entry. Class teacher to student ratios are 1:5 in pre-nursery, 1:8 in nursery, 1:12 in reception to year 3 and 1:24 in the upper years. Students are from more than 30 nationalities although the largest proportion are Hong Kong Permanent residents (31.8%) followed British (20.1%) and European nationals at 17.2%.
Teachers come from a range of English-speaking countries including the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia and are complemented by a support team which includes assistant teachers in all classes. Many have been at the school for more than 10 years. The curriculum emphasis is on inquiry skills and developing enthusiastic, open minded learners, with a strong foundation in Maths and English. There are specialist teachers in Physical Education, Music, Chinese Studies, English as Additional Language, Learning Support and Digital and Information Literacy. All students learn Mandarin as a language. There is a strong focus on pastoral care and a wide range of extra-curricular activities enriches the education programme.
Children from 18 months to three years old can attend playgroup sessions with a supervising adult. Although the group is not part of the educational programme, it is an opportunity for parents and children to become familiar with the kindergarten and to socialise with other children and parents. Children are offered Toddler yoga, Infant massage and sensory play, Music and movement, Outdoor learning, Baby gym and Early Starters sessions in English and Mandarin.
For children who are two years and eight months and who are enrolled to join the Nursery in the following September, the school offers an afternoon Pre-Nursery programme from January onwards on 3 afternoons per week. Nursery children can attend both morning only and full day options. They move on to Reception during the year in which they turn 5 years old.
The school uses the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) for its curriculum framework. This is an international model catering for teaching and learning from Nursery to Year 6. The school’s curriculum promotes the development of the whole child, with emphasis on social, physical, emotional and cultural needs, as well as academic development. The IBPYP curriculum framework supports the Early Years programme philosophy held for children in Nursery and Reception classes.
The IB kindergarten is a stimulating environment and staff take great care to support children’s developing self-esteem at this age. Children are exposed to a wide range of activities and experiences and are actively involved in their learning through talking, exploring and play. In Reception they build on the knowledge and skills they have learnt in Nursery and begin to concentrate for more sustained periods of time.
ICHK’s English and Maths programmes focus on the skills needed for reading, writing and early mathematical concepts. Play is still a large element of learning and Units of Inquiry form the basis for children to investigate different aspects of the world they live in. Specialist teachers promote an early interest in music, physical education and swimming. In both Nursery and Reception, Putonghua Chinese is taught daily through stories, songs and games. A Putonghua-speaking assistant teacher works daily with students.
The Nursery and Reception classrooms are self-contained units, situated in the Kindergarten section of the main school buildings. They comprise two Nursery classrooms on the ground floor and two Reception classrooms on the first floor. The rooms are large, spacious and well-resourced with designated toilets and washing facilities on each floor. The Kindergarten also has two large outdoor play areas.
Students have access to various mobile equipment, including iPads, to support flexible learning. They also have access to other areas of the school, including the library, garden, school field, the music room and the hall.
ICHK is a school which clearly embraces innovation in learning. It aims to deliver a stimulating curriculum for expatriates from around the world and English speaking local Chinese students. From the early years, the development of a Growth Mindset is key to the school’s learning philosophy and central to its approach to learning; all students are taught about the importance of effort and resilience, and assessed in line with this philosophy.
Mindfulness is included in all classes because of the benefits for learning, concentration and stress reduction. Activities, including yoga for children and staff, help to promote well-being. Staff believe in encouraging and fostering the talents of every child, and are committed to ensuring that every child is happy, motivated to learn and fully prepared for secondary school.
When students enter Year 1, they begin to take more responsibility for their learning. Whilst the class teacher is still responsible for the majority of teaching, there is a higher degree of specialist learning including Music, PE, ICT, Chinese and Art, and the introduction of a programme of homework. The aim is to ensure that at the end of Year 6, students are fully prepared to move on to the next step in their schooling.
The primary school’s vision is to be a leader in outdoor learning and Forest School education. The school’s location lends itself to allowing children the space to play and enjoy sports away from the crowds. Research shows that if children have regular access to a rich outdoor environment, they will have greater self-esteem, be more confident and develop better concentration, resilience and independence. Work is underway to establish a Forest School area and outdoor classroom. The school is also working towards becoming the first school in Hong Kong to gain a Learning Outside the Classroom Mark.
A large playing field, playground, basketball court, school garden and extensive open space allows students to play and enjoy sports. A vast range of ECA’s including Art, Soccer, Gymnastics, Chinese, Touch Rugby, Choir, Orchestra, Lego Robotics, Yoga, Dancing, Photography, Sailing, Netball, Hockey, ICT, Maths and Science, Battle of the Books, Trinity Speech Exams, Dutch Education and School Band is on offer to children.
The school arranges an extensive programme of study trips. Students visit the theatre, local businesses, and make educational visits to important cultural and heritage sites. An annual trip to China is organised for students in Years 4-6. A Student Council for children in Years 5 and 6 initiates worthwhile projects around the school, leads fundraising events and act as role models for younger children. School camps are arranged and help students develop resilience, teamwork and self-help skills in a fun environment.
There is a focus on performing arts with an orchestra and school band; an annual musical and school choir performs around Hong Kong. Year 6 students consistently achieve high marks in the Trinity College London Speech and Communication exams.
The school is affiliated to the charity, The Home of Loving Faithfulness and students are taught about the importance of community service. This prepares them well for the requirements of the Secondary School and, ultimately, the IB Diploma programme of which Creativity, Action and Service is a fundamental requirement.
ICHK Hong Lok Yuen is a small school in a very different environment to many in Hong Kong. It is very much more a real community school with a strong parental and community involvement, a really well-rounded approach to the whole child in terms of education and pastoral care and with the benefit of a Secondary school option that is a real continuation of the philosophy and mind-set of the Primary.
Whilst its size may mean that it does not necessarily offer the bells and whistles of a larger school, the IB PYP philosophy and, in particular, the innovative approaches of the Secondary school, mean that this should definitely be a consideration for families seeking a school in this part of the New Territories.
Parents of Primary age children will be required to pay a debenture of HK$65000 per child together with an annual capital levy of HK$15,000 in addition to fees.
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