This co-ed prep school is open for Nursery through to Year 9 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.
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 is also the only school in the city to offer students a guaranteed place at a UK sister school.
The school is currently going through a very unsettled period. Since June 7 it has suspended classes for hundreds of students until the end of the academic year due to financial losses. The British school has switched to online learning for the last few weeks of term while it undergoes financial restructuring to get the school back on track for August 2021.
Mount Kelly has been hard hit by recent events – the political unrest in Hong Kong and the Covid-19 pandemic. The school, which opened in 2017, says that despite a rise in student admissions over the past four years, it experienced a substantial loss in 2020 due to unpaid tuition fees, student dropouts and other factors.
Due to its financial crisis, the school has decided to suspend classes from June 7 to the end of term on July 3, giving it time to restructure so that it can reopen fully for the start of the 2021-22 academic year on 24 August.
Commenting on the class suspension, Mount Kelly told WhichSchoolAdvisor:
"Over the years, student enrolment of Mount Kelly School Hong Kong has been good, with full capacity and even waiting lists up until the social unrest and the pandemic, when the school saw many dropouts."
Its sister school in the UK, Mount Kelly, 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 has always promised to forge “strong links with our sister school” and talks about offering the “very best of British independent education”.
MKSHK is the first international Mount Kelly school, and it adds to the growing choice of British independent school exports here; it is competing against the likes of Shrewsbury International School and Malvern College (both opened in 2018), as well as Harrow International.
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.
MKSHK is a typically British school that follows the National Curriculum for England. From Year 1 through to 9, 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 are taken in the final term of Year 8. 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). 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 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 planned to open a second larger campus in Tuen Mun, New Territories, which would offer boarding for Years 6 to 8 – but this is on hold.
The school operates out of its central Tsim Sha Tsui campuses. Facilities include 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.
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 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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