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English Schools Foundation

The English Schools Foundation (ESF) operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and a school for students with special educational needs across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. It is the largest international educational foundation in Asia. 


Skewed praise for ESF system

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2012, 2:45am

I am a International Baccalaureate (IB) educator at an international school in Hong Kong and refer to Kelly Yang's column ("Eclectic avenue", November 14). She champions support for the English Schools Foundation (ESF) subvention by attributing ESF students' IB scores to the diversity of the student body.

She reaches the conclusion by pure conjecture. To quote statistics without providing the reader with the appropriate context is misleading.

She cites South Island School students scoring an average of 36.2 points versus the worldwide average of 31.9 - but has she considered the possibility that ESF schools have selection criteria for admitting students to the IB programme? A large percentage of ESF students take alternate vocational training options of the Business and Technology Education Council and IB certificate.

ESF students routinely undertake a Computer Adaptive Baseline Test at the beginning of Year 12. In conjunction with their General Certificate of Secondary Education grades, this serves as a tool for evaluating and assessing students' potential performance in the IB diploma. Furthermore, students are also counselled on subject choices, and levels to be studied, to ensure they get the maximum number of possible points.

United World College's selection criteria are even more stringent. Applicants must undertake an aptitude test, challenge day and panel interview.

Several IB schools which are not on Ms Yang's shortlist have a different ethos - the belief that education is about providing students with opportunities to learn and realise their potential. All students are encouraged to undertake the IB diploma, achieve the best possible grades in the subjects of their choice and at the levels they are able to study them.

My biggest success stories are not the students who have the procured 7s in biology and "As" in extended essays, but struggling students who made it to the finish line.

For any comparisons to be made among schools, with regard to their IB performance, it is pertinent and necessary to consider the number of students actually undertaking the IB diploma from the entire cohort of students. Factor in the number who are permitted to study subjects of their choice despite the fact that the student's predicted grade will certainly reduce the school's IB point average. Factor in also the number of students who are counselled out from undertaking the IB programme.

Then, perhaps, one can make meaningful conclusions that are worth reading and discussing.

Anjali A. Hazari, Pok Fu Lam


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This article is now closed to comments

Kudos to Anjali A. Hazari
For the info and analysis
Self-serving “elitist” schools manufacture self-serving “elites” for future society
We need neither
Allow me digress to the IB system
(1) ToK is good and should be a mandatory curriculum. Upper form students can and would enjoy that. I read on my own (not implying I understood) Locke, J Bronowski and … in secondary school and was familiar with Wittgenstein before I began university. Students should do much better with teachers’ guidance (I hope).
(2) Thesis requirement. Nowadays youungsters have opinions for everything but can’t support any single opinion with three one-sentence statements. They speak their feelings which they mistake as thinkings. Hi school theses are understandably ridden with problems. But they help students learn to develop depth.
(1) IBD not available from open public exams is a privileged credential and it competes unfairly with SAT, AL, and local secondary Dip
(2) …
(3 …
Mr Eddie Ng,
Priority should be finding and cultivating good teachers
Pass deadwood to the Welfare Department
Thanks again, Anjali A. Hazari
For inspiring me to verbalize latent ideas
"Priority should be finding and cultivating good teachers"
Not happening. Hong Kong has a knack for protecting black sheep until they are overly exposed and then they are forced to take measures whatever they may be. Take a look at how long it took to stop dispensing of antibiotics for common viral infections. Hong Kong is backwards in many things due to a traditions-based mindset and other factors peculiar to the Chinese culture. There are a few local schools that have thrown those away but they happen to be DSS and at the same time not the usual big names that have also gone DSS.
The trailblazers are doing it outside the public system and not emulating the "heap tons of homework so that you will either get it or burn it in your memory" big names that are popular. Let's see you try to give the current lot of teachers an inspection and then the boot if you were Mr. Ng. Admitting running a failure system? Not happening.


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