This US school opened in 2017 to offer an American curriculum with a strong focus on innovation and technology – and long-term plans to become an all-through school that has a graduating path leading to the IBDP and American High School Diploma.
Stamford American School, Hong Kong is one of just a few international schools in Hong Kong to offer an American education. It opened in 2017 with a very clear message to potential parents – we are here to offer a standards-based American curriculum that includes regular assessment, a focus on literacy, and a unique Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMinn) programme.
Located in Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, this independent school is open for kindergarten through to Grade 8 students only for the 2018-2019 academic year, and it will introduce Grades 9 through to 12 in future years. All teaching and learning is based on the challenging American Education Reaches Out (AERO) and Common Core Plus standards, both popular US frameworks for curriculum consistency across grades K - 12. Students will eventually have the choice of graduating with the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) or a High School Diploma , or both. Stamford has applied to the International Baccalaureate for programme candidacy, and the curriculum has yet to be confirmed.
Stamford hopes to build on the success and reputation of its sister campus, Stamford American International School (SAIS) in Singapore. Based on the popularity of SAIS, we can expect great things from this new school. SAIS has a reputation for high standards, innovative learning and global mentorship – and there’s plenty of reference to this on the school’s new website.
More than 600 students are currently enrolled in the school. There are more than 30 different nationalities represented in the student body, the largest of which is the US.
Stamford is part of the international Cognita group of schools, which has headquarters in the UK and educates 40,000 pupils in 70 schools worldwide. It opened in September 2017 with Malcolm Kay at the helm. As the founding superintendent of SAIS in Singapore, Kay has the experience of working within South East Asia and also has a background in schools offering both IB and US programmes. He is working alongside head of school Karrie Dietz, who also comes from SAIS, and a team of predominantly American teachers.
Read our Experience tour of the school here.
Whereas Stamford’s sister school in Singapore is an all-through IB school, this Hong Kong export is very much an American institution. Students from kindergarten to Grade 7 (five to 13 years) follow a curriculum that’s based on the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) and Common Core Plus frameworks, which means that we can expect a strong focus on the arts, language, maths, science, PE and social studies. Students’ progress is tracked by US-led Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments twice a year in maths and reading; Grades 3 and above are also assessed in science.
One of Stamford’s traits is its focus on building literacy skills from a young age, and all primary years’ students undergo regular in-class reading assessments through the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) – another popular system in America. The school encourages a love of reading by including a library of books in core subjects inside every classroom.
Looking ahead, Stamford promises to offer more than 40 IB courses to students taking the IBDP. These two rigorous programmes both prepare students for entrance to universities in the United States and worldwide, and this offering does add to the international appeal of the school.
Stamford has two daily language programmes and all students have the choice of learning Mandarin or Spanish. The performing arts also play a key role in the SAIS curriculum, which is based on the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum. As well as music lessons, there are plans to set up choral, string, orchestral and rock ensembles within the school, and host three full-scale theatre productions annually. In addition to PE and athletics classes, the timetable features a strong social programme based on the Second Step methodology that looks at issues such as bullying and promotes skills for learning.
Innovation and mentoring
Innovation is brought to the fore at Stamford, which is the first and only school in Hong Kong to offer a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMinn) programme. This is not to be confused with the much talked about STEM and STEAM programmes, which are becoming a staple in many curriculums within Hong Kong’s international schools. STEMinn is unique to Stamford and adds an extra innovation component that focuses on developing scientific abilities, entrepreneurial initiative and leadership skills.
Based on the Next Generation Science Standards, the STEMinn programme is run for kindergarten through to Grade 5. As well as preparing students for science subjects at secondary level, Stamford says,
“Through our unique STEMinn Program, Stamford produces creative thinkers ready for their careers as engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.”
There’s no further talk about technology on the school’s new website, but if it follows SAIS’ example we can expect Stamford to introduce a 1:1 iPad programme from Kindergarten to Grade 5 and the 1:1 MacBook programme in Grades 6 to 12.
There are several tried-and-tested programmes that Stamford has adopted from the Singapore campus, though. One of these is the Global Mentor Programme which connects students with the “best and the brightest” from the outside world; there aren’t many schools in Hong Kong that promise the opportunity to meet Nobel Laureates, the Bloomberg chairman and Olympic medallists face to face. Prior to the school opening, SAS ran a series of ‘taster’ workshops and seminars with inspiring individuals including children's author Sarah Brennan. It offered an exciting insight of what’s to come…
Outside school hours, Stamford offers a variety of co-curricular activities. Of particular interest is the fencing class held by Olympic champion coach Lau Kwok Kin, as well as ballet, coding, drama, impressionist art and robotics.
Parents are promised a warm welcome into the school community. There is an active PTA, amd Stamford can even offer you a coffee at the parent cafe on campus.
The school year runs from September to June, and there are two semesters.
Facilities at this new campus include a 25m pool, large sports hall, fitness room, STEMinn lab, multi-use open area, and specialist rooms for visual arts, drama and music.
The school says:
"We are committed to having modern, first-class facilities that will offer students experiences that inspire them to learn. This includes classroom libraries of over 1,000 books where children have books easily accessible throughout the day. Stamford also has an ‘iLearn’ where students can video conference with students and experts around the world, allowing the world to become their classroom."
Admission and fees
Annual fees for kindergarten through to Grade 5 are HKD 170,700, and this rises to HKD 187,400 for Grades 6-8. This places it in the top ten most expensive international primary schools in Hong Kong. In addition, there is a choice of paying either an annual capital levy of HKD 30,000 or a one-off payment of HKD 150,000. Debentures of HKD 500,000 are available.
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