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International schools in Hong Kong

New international school in Hong Kong set to profit from parental worries

Stamford American School will open in Ho Man Tin, targeting local, expatriate and mainland pupils

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 10:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2016, 12:13am

The business opportunities arising from parental frustration with the local education system have prompted another international school to set up shop in the city.

But an education consultant has warned that local students might face difficulties in securing jobs because they do not develop good Chinese writing and reading skills in such schools.

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Set to open in September next year, Stamford American School will be located on the campus of an old school in Ho Man Tin. The campus will be refurbished for the new school with a swimming pool, technology lab and rooftop running track.

While the school has not yet received licensing approval from the Education Bureau, Malcolm Kay, its superintendent, said he was optimistic that would happen by the time the school opens next year.

Kay said they decided to open a school in Hong Kong following success with a sister institution in Singapore.

“I see children in Hong Kong ... who are pressurised so much and put under so much stress,” he said, believing his school would be able to provide an alternative by creating a happy yet rigorous learning environment and looking after the emotions of students.

For the first year, the school will offer 500 places at K2 kindergarten level to Grade 8. The number of grades will be increased by one each year to Grade 12, while the student capacity will be increased to 1,100. Admissions opened on Saturday.

The school will feature an International Baccalaureate and American Standards programme developed specifically for Hong Kong.

School fees will be HK$165,900 for K2 to Grade 5 and HK$182,100 for Grade 6 to Grade 8.

There is also a mandatory capital levy of either HK$30,000 per year or a one-off payment of HK$120,000.

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Debentures will be offered but are optional for the first year.

In terms of the student mix, while Kay was unable to provide exact numbers, he expected a balance between students from expatriate, local and mainland families, which would add an “international flavour” to the school.

International schools receiving government assistance in the form of vacant premises or sites are required to allocate at least 70 per cent of school places to target students who hold foreign passports or student visas.

But with Stamford American School built on privately owned land, it does not need to follow the requirement.

Ruth Benny, founder of education consultancy Top Schools, noted that more and more international schools had opened in Hong Kong.

She believed schools were already reaching saturation point, meaning previous anxiety among foreign parents about the lack of international school places no longer existed.

But Benny said local demand for such schools still existed, which was why they were not passing up the business opportunity.

While she said it was good to have more choices for parents, local students in international schools could have difficulties in finding jobs as such schools did not usually focus much on teaching Chinese reading or writing.