Rated outstanding by British inspectors, the parent-governed Kellett School in Kowloon Bay is one of only a few schools in Hong Kong to offer both IGCSEs and A Levels.
The IB curriculum dominates the international school scene in Hong Kong, which makes Kellett School a popular alternative for any parents looking for a very British style of education. This dual-campus school is the most British of schools in the city, and its Kowloon Bay (KLB) campus gives students the opportunity to study both IGCSEs and A Levels. BSO inspectors said that “the British nature of the school is evident in its ethos, appearance and curriculum.”
Rated as an “outstanding school” in a 2016 inspection report by the British Schools Overseas (BSO), Kellett School has grown significantly since it was founded as a small primary school 40 years ago. Today, the school has expanded to two campuses, with preparatory and secondary schools on the Kowloon Bay Campus (KLB), and a prep school on the Pok Fu Lam Campus (PFL). Although there’s a watery divide between the two campuses, it operates very much as one school with one principal overseeing a total of 1,300 students.
While there are plenty of schools claiming to have a family atmosphere, few manage to capture it quite as well as Kellett School, where the tradition of parent partnership is deeply rooted within the school. Kellett was founded in 1976 and it continues to be owned and governed by parents to this day.
As principal Ann McDonald explains on the website,
“The tradition of parent partnership is deeply rooted within our school and is one of which we are very proud."
Kellett School was founded in the Chinese Year of the Fire Dragon. Despite being a very British school, its use of the dragon symbol in everything from the school logo to its Kellett Dragon termly magazine gives you an idea of its international perspective.
Opened in 2013, Kowloon Bay Prep shares a site with Kowloon Bay Senior School at the Kellett KLB campus. The two-form prep school has 300 places, and the four-form entry senior school offers up to 600 places.
The school follows a modified UK National Curriculum (Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2) with an international slant. It’s a curriculum that attracts a largely British student population (69%), followed by Americans. As well as focusing on literacy, numeracy, science and ICT, children study Mandarin from Reception, have the option of learning French from Year 3, and are taken on regular local and residential trips. This is a school that calls primary education an “adventure in learning”, an ideal that it sets out to achieve through the creative arts, concerts, excursions and sport.
KLB’s curriculum gives students an element of choice. In Years 7 to Year 9, students choose to study French or Mandarin, and in Years 8 to 9 students they can select a second language including Spanish, Latin and German. Years 10 to 11 study for their IGCSEs, with options including economics, drama, design and technology, and art. All years have three hours of PE every week. The school has adapted the British curriculum to include a Global Citizenship programme for Years 7 to 11, which covers health, religious education, revision skills, career planning and global issues, as well as sex and relationships education in Years 8 to 10.
Once in the sixth form, which only opened in 2013, students have a choice of 17 A Level subjects. As well as taking compulsory lessons in global citizenship, leadership and PE, all sixth formers are offered one-to-one guidance on university and careers. Kellett KLB differentiates the sixth form from the rest of the school by giving students The Hub, which features a common room, kitchen and private study rooms.
The school’s website boasts of small classes and a low student-teacher ratio, but there are no figures listed to back this up. The academic year at Kellett School runs from August to June with three terms.
The 2018 IGCSE results were well above the UK average; 80% of Kellett students scored A* to A; an impressive 99% were graded A* to C. While the sixth form is still in its infancy, the results show signs of promise. In the school’s first A Levels cohort, 47% of Kellett students scored an A* to A; an impressive 91% were graded A* to C, and 74% achieved A*-B. Students then go on to study at primarily British universities, and an Alumni Tree inside proudly shows where Kellett graduates have been accepted.
A well-rounded British education
Specialist classes in art, drama and music are one of Kellett School’s strengths. There are music lessons for all year groups from Reception, recorder tuition in the early years, and studies as varied as garage, ukulele, Chinese music and African drumming. The KLB auditorium provides a professional setting for concerts, performances and presentations, which are held throughout the year by all ages. After school, students have the opportunity to join one of many school choirs, an iBand or a string or percussion ensemble, or Chinese drumming group; individual music lessons are offered in the flute and many more.
While the focus seems to be much more on music at this school, there are plenty of amateur dramatics going on ranging from the annual school musical to class assemblies. In terms of art, there are three well-equipped art rooms, lessons are taken by two practising artists, and local and international artists regularly display their work in the school’s exhibition hall.
The school is also hugely committed to sport, from PE lessons through to age-appropriate extra-curricular activities including swimming, ballet and kung fu. Annual sports days and swimming galas are a highlight on the school calendar, and you can feel a huge sense of pride in the school’s successes in inter-school competitions; Kellett teams have been the Hong Kong champions for Boys U20 Football, Girls U20 Football, Girls U16 Basketball, Girls Netball and Boys U14 Football, an achievement that was noted by the BSO inspectors.
As well as sports pitches and a pool, the school has a strength and conditioning suite where students can develop plyometric and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) skills. Senior students also have the opportunity to sign up for sports as varied as badminton, volleyball, circuit training, CrossFit, water polo, lifesaving skills, and ultimate frisbee.
Kellett KLB seems dedicated to raising leaders, decision-makers and team players from a young age. Students from every class are invited to represent their peers on the Preparatory School Council and the School Council, while seniors can apply to be house captains and prefects. Year 5 and 6 students produce a termly school newspaper called Dragon Tales; the school's Dragon magazine is online and showcases highlights every half a term. The entire school showcases its talents in the Federation of British Schools in Asia’s (FOBISIA) sporting competitions and music festivals.
It also takes learning beyond the classroom with a programme of residential trips that starts with a one-night camp in Sai Kung Country Park in Year 3 with and builds up to a five-day trip to Beijing in Year 5. Year 10 students are encouraged to join the Hong Kong Award for Young People (HKAYP) as an extra-curricular activity, and Year 11 students travel to China, France, Germany or Spain, depending on their language option. There’s also a Global Outlook Week at the start of every school year when students enjoy overseas residential visits.
Like any British school, Kellett KLB is wired for technology. All classrooms have an interactive whiteboard and laptops, notebooks, Macbooks and PCs are used extensively during lesson time, and there’s a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for all senior students. Students also have access to the latest gadgets and devices, including handheld video cameras, computer aided design (CAD) software, floor robots and handheld data logging devices. The school also fosters a love for reading; as well as having a well-stocked library, it hosts author visits, book clubs, inter-school book competitions, an annual Book Week, and visits to various Hong Kong literary festivals.
Kellett School was rated an “outstanding school” in its 2016 British Schools Overseas report. While inspectors reported that academic standards were outstanding from Key Stage 4 onwards, the prep school was praised for giving students many opportunities “to direct their own learning, to work collaboratively and to be challenged”. The secondary school received a glowing report, with inspectors noting that standards in KS4, KS5 and Year 6 reading and maths are all “well above average”. They also found that students who are entered for IGCSE maths a year early are consistently getting A*. The school’s high standards in extra-curricular activities were also recognised.
The school’s strengths included instilling in students a love of learning and a confident approach to life in school, and beyond. Inspectors praised teachers’ strong subject knowledge, the high-quality support for students with individual learning needs, a real sense of community, and the school’s “outstanding facilities to support students’ learning”. Other comments included “students’ behaviour is excellent and their attitude to learning is exemplary”, and “the school enables and supports personal development of a very high standard, leading to students who are enthusiastic, thoughtful and confident.”
Inspectors also noted that:
“Students at Kellett are committed, hardworking and appreciative of their teachers’ talents and willingness to give freely of their time.”
Areas for improvement focused on improving the quality of middle years leadership, developing the whole school assessment framework, and setting high but appropriate challenges for all students.
Founded as a small British primary school in 1976 by a group of parents, Kellett School is still owned and governed by parents. Principal Ann McDonald reports to an elected board of 12 parents, and all families at the school are members of the Kellett School Association Limited. McDonald will be retiring at the end of the 201819 academic, with Mark Steed taking over as principal; Steed has more than 30 years of experience in the education sector and is currently director of Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) in Dubai.
Parental involvement is integral to the running of the school. The Parents’ Committee’s responsibilities include coordinating sports days, the yearbook, fundraising events and the Kellett Cares community initiative. It also helps to uphold the traditions that bring this school together, such as publishing the Kellett Cookbook with recipes from parents past and present. To help retain the spirit of Kellett being ‘one school’, there is one Parents’ Association for both campuses and one school ball, one school fair etc.
Located in Kowloon Bay, the KLB campus has some enviable arts and sporting facilities including the rooftop Sky sports pitch and athletics track, an indoor AstroTurf pitch, a purpose-built music suite with Apple Music technology, rehearsal and ensemble rooms, a professional theatre, and a music library. The glass walls between classrooms give the school a very open feel, and encourage independent learning.
As noted by the BSO inspectors,
“The specialist teaching areas in both prep schools include dual purpose science laboratories, art rooms, food technology areas, drama and performance areas, an IT suite and a well-stocked library; all which enhance the students’ learning experience. The art rooms are particularly creative havens for the students.”
Annual fees at Kellett School are among the highest in Hong Kong, and range from HKD 164,400 for prep up to HKD 210,300 for senior students. Parents are charged an annual association fee of HKD 500 per family. All students must be covered by a debenture; Individual (HKD 120,000) and Depreciating Corporate (HKD 650,000).
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