International schools in Hong Kong

No copying! British school poised to set up in Hong Kong cries foul over identical application

Mount Kelly International School linked to unknown group’s bid to establish primary school that would mainly cater to pupils born in Hong Kong but living in mainland China

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 10:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 11:22pm

A British boarding school poised to set up its first overseas branch in Hong Kong next year has had its name used in a copycat application on neighbouring land.

Mount Kelly International School is crying foul after it was linked to an unknown group’s bid to establish a primary school that would mainly cater to pupils born in Hong Kong but living on the mainland.

The group, United Christian Faith Limited, claims to be a branch of the United Church of Canada. The company is not registered in Hong Kong and could not be reached for comment.

The confusion began when an application to rezone a plot of land in So Kwun Wat – near Tuen Mun’s Gold Coast – for education purpose was submitted to the Town Planning Board in May.

Under the proposal, the school aimed to enrol 480 students, of whom 65 per cent would come from “high income group families” on the mainland, ­namely QSI School of Shekou, a ­kindergarten it claimed was jointly run with Mount Kelly. Documents stated 95 per cent of QSI’s students were born in Hong Kong.

The proposal will be vetted by the board in December. If successful, the school would be the first to target cross-border pupils, who compete with local children for school seats.

About 200,000 children were born in the city to mainland parents before a ban came into effect in 2013, although mainland mothers continue to gatecrash public hospitals and give birth to about 800 babies each year.

The Post was unable to locate the kindergarten with the exact name, but the closest match – QSI International School of Shenzhen – distanced itself from the proposal.

“We are not operated by those organisations,” the school’s director Scott D’Alterio said.

Lucy Bunce, Mount Kelly’s head of admissions in Hong Kong, said she was caught by surprise.

“There is no tie-up; we have no association – we have never heard of them before,” she said. “This has come as a real shock that somebody is using the school’s name on a false application for a different piece of land, and it’s very damaging.”

She added the school’s solicitor would study the situation and go after the parties involved.

Mount Kelly unveiled its plans to set up shop in Hong Kong in July, but the original location and design had since been scrapped.

Martin Wong, the school’s bursar, explained they had resorted to “Plan B” after bumping into planning obstacles. The new site sits on land outlined for “government, ­institution or community” purposes, meaning no rezoning application was required.

“The land that we were looking to build on…needed rezoning. We couldn’t get that land; that was too complicated and too lengthy of a process,” Bunce said.

She said the ground was being cleared for a stone-laying ceremony in November, adding she remained “100 per cent” confident that the premises would be ready by the start of the next academic year in September 2017.