This new co-ed prep school is open for Years 1 through to 6 and follows the very British model set by its sister school in Devon. It is the first school in Hong Kong to prepare students for the Common Entrance exams that are required by some of the UK’s top academically selective secondary schools.
Mount Kelly School Hong Kong (MKSHK) is one of Hong Kong's newest schools, offering a British style early years and primary education to families living in Kowloon. Its Austin Tower campus in Tsim Sha Tsui houses a prep school for pupils aged 5 to 13 years (Years 1 – 8), and the Austin Place campus has a pre-school for pupils aged 3 to 5 years old, a centre for babies and toddlers aged 6 months to 36 months, and an adventure play centre for children under 6 months.
There has been plenty of excitement and anticipation surrounding MKSHK. This primary school is the first stand-alone British prep school in Hong Kong to both offer the National Curriculum for England and prepare students for the Common Entrance set of exams that are accepted by top UK independent secondary schools such as Eton and Charterhouse. And, by promising future Year 8 graduates from MKSHK a place at Mount Kelly School in the UK, it will also be the first school in the city to offer students a guaranteed place at a UK sister school.
As it's such a new school, we can only really judge MKSHK on the reputation of its sister school in the UK, and its promises on the Hong Kong website. Mount Kelly UK is a leading independent private school in the West Country with a 140-year-old history. It’s renowned for its academic focus, 100% Common Entrance success, high level of pastoral care, and its strong commitment to co-curricular activities. MKSHK says it will forge “strong links with our sister school” and talks about offering the “very best of British independent education”. It looks like MKSHK has some pretty big boots to fill, but if it lives up to expectations then this school could be a top choice for parents seeking a typically British education.
MKSHK is the first international Mount Kelly school, and it adds to the growing choice of British independent school exports here. Competing against the likes of Shrewsbury International School and Malvern College (both opened in 2018), as well as Harrow International, MKSHK will have to prove its worth to potential students.
First impressions look good. Parents can expect small class sizes, with an average of just 15 pupils per class; a mainly British team of teaching staff; and an extended school day that gives students time to focus on academia and extra-curricular activities. Here’s a school that is very focused on developing academic strengths from Year 1, and dedicated to a much more rigorous curriculum than most primary schools.
The British head teacher Lisa Milanec welcomes new parents, saying,
"Students who attend Mount Kelly School Hong Kong benefit from small class sizes (max. 15), meaning teachers can personalise the learning for each and every child, ensuring students are supported and challenged according to their individual needs."
A prep-style education
MKSHK is a typically British school that follows the National Curriculum for England. From Year 1 through to 6, all students are placed within mixed ability tutor groups. While the school has a strong emphasis on core subjects like maths, science, and languages, it also allows time in the timetable for sports, music, and the arts.
In Years 3 and 4, specialist subjects of art and science are added to the curriculum. In Years 5 and 6, students have dedicated specialist teachers in all lessons – maths, English, science, Putonghua, Spanish, geography, history, computing, PE, swimming, music, art, design and technology, and PSHE. This is a particular feature of MKSHK, and not something you’ll find in many primary schools here.
In Years 7 and 8, the curriculum is focused on preparing students for the Common Entrance exams. These exams, which are taken in the final term of Year 8, will be offered at the new Tuen Mun campus. The Common Entrance exam is required by many of Britain’s top prep and independent schools, and it’s renowned for its rigorous syllabus and breadth of subjects. MKSHK students will sit Common Entrance exams in English, maths, and sciences, and work towards sitting exams in history, geography, and Spanish.
After Year 8, students have the choice of graduating to Mount Kelly’s senior school in the UK for Years 9 to 13 (they still have to pass the Common Entrance exams though), or applying for places at senior schools such as Bryanston, Sherborne, Exeter, Eton, and Winchester. If your long-term plans involve relocating to the UK or sending your child overseas to study, then an education at MKSHK could set you on the right path.
Core subjects aside, MKSHK has adapted the National Curriculum for England slightly to offer a well-rounded and more international curriculum. All year groups have a daily Chinese language lesson with a dedicated native speaking Mandarin teacher, and the focus here is as much on exploring Chinese culture as it is on learning the language. You can expect a very interactive and fun approach to learning Chinese that uses music, movement, singing, puppets, dancing, and storytelling.
MKSHK goes the extra mile in terms of Chinese education. As well as offering additional lessons for advanced learners, the school has extra-curricular activities including Chinese speech and debate, read aloud Chinese poems, and classical Chinese literature.
All students have a weekly PE, games, and swimming session, and Years 3 onwards can sign up for school teams and squad training. There are weekly ICT lessons including robotics, coding, and basic engineering projects, and every student is given access to an iPad Pro.
The school runs Curriculum Enrichment Days throughout the academic year for each year group, which is basically a rather fancy term for field trips and on-campus activities. There’s also a week of school trips and events held at the end of every year.
A highlight of the MKSHK calendar is likely to be the Shackleton Programme, a popular feature in the Mount Kelly UK curriculum. Once a month, students take part in challenging outdoor pursuits and other activities. The programme includes sailing, first aid, conservation projects, climbing, navigation, and water safety. There are also plans to send Year 5 students on an annual summer exchange programme to the UK where they can ‘experience’ Mount Kelly School.
Students are given further opportunity to broaden their horizons thanks to the school’s extensive programme of extra-curricular activities, which includes sport (football, netball, basketball, cricket, hockey, rugby, tennis, athletics, gymnastics, swimming, yoga, fencing, ballet), music, the arts, outdoor pursuits, technology, enterprise, and communication (such as debating clubs).
A typical prep school
A member of COBIS (the Council of British International Schools), MKSHK brings the essence of Mount Kelly UK to Hong Kong in so many ways. One of its most distinctive features is the extended school day that runs from 8.30am until 4.30pm, and until 5.15pm in Years 3 onward. This afternoon is divided between lessons, extra-curricular activities and clubs, weekly swimming and games sessions, and completing homework assignments before heading home. In Years 3 to 6, the timetable also includes prep classes for the Common Entrance. Although this may prove to be too long for some students, others like to have the additional time for after-school activities and daily homework – and working parents can enjoy a later pick-up time.
As well as having a similar uniform, the school has a traditional British house system. Just as you’d expect from a British school, the academic year runs from August to July, and there are three terms. There are plans to launch the Mount Kelly Parents Association (MKPA), which will meet on a monthly basis, organise social events, and raise funds for charities and the school.
Things haven't quite gone to plan for Mount Kelly School Hong Kong (MKSHK). The school was due to open a city-style campus at Hung Hom Bay in Kowloon with around 400 students; in September 2017, though, town planners rejected the school's application to open this primary campus. MKSHK also plans to open a second larger campus in Tuen Mun, New Territories, which will offer Years 1 through to 8 and boarding for Years 6 to 8. But, for now, it's a case of wait and see when either of these schools will open.
For now, the school is operating out of its central Tsim Sha Tsui campuses. New facilities that opened in September 2018 included an art and design room, gymnasium, music and drama studio, STEAM room with facilities for computing and robotics, science lab, library, table tennis room, and outdoor playground with semi-basketball court, golfing area with swing analysers, and a climbing wall. Due to the lack of any outside space, the school needs to use sporting facilities at the nearby King's Park Sports Ground for PE lessons and matches.
Admission and fees
As a new school, MKSHK has the advantage of available places in all years, and the admission process involves an interview and assessment.
Annual fees start at HKD 155,000 for Years and 1 and 2 and increase to HKD 175,000 by Year 6, which is lower than other British schools in the city state. You will also have to pay a non-refundable annual capital levy of HKD 50,000, or get priority placement by opting to buy a refundable Individual Nomination Certificate (INC) costing HKD 1.92 million.
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