ESF - English Schools Foundation

ESF a good model, says veteran

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2008, 12:00am

More independent schools that are partly government-funded and offer a liberal style of education are needed to meet the demands of a growing middle class, a 33-year veteran of the English Schools Foundation says.

In an interview during his final days in Hong Kong, former head of parent and student services Chris Forse laid out his vision for Hong Kong's future education system and provided insights into troubled periods of the ESF's history.

On dealing with Chinese parents, Mr Forse said it was clear many middle-class families wanted their children to attend ESF schools because they had lost confidence in the local system.

While vigorously defending the local education system, Mr Forse said Chinese families applied to the ESF because they wanted their children to become proficient in English and have a more open, liberal education.

'If parents can get their children into the top English-medium schools many middle-class families would still see that as the number one, but they just can't because there's not enough of them.

'Even with English-medium schools people still feel the language of the playground is Chinese.'

Mr Forse said these families wanted 'immersion English', found the local pedagogy too formal and wanted their children to have the opportunity to be more creative.

To address this demand, Mr Forse said Hong Kong needed to invest in a 'multiplicity' of different types of schools.

He suggested the government could explore the possibility of establishing more schools that were 'subvented rather than controlled'.

'I think the ESF is like a prototype of what can be achieved, semi-public, semi-private.'