Prestigious British educator rethinks working title after Hong Kong authority’s warning

Mount Kelly International warned over title before receiving approval from Education Bureau

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 12:54pm

An elite British education provider has pulled the words “international school” from its working title after authorities warned it against using the term before being officially approved.

The Education Bureau advised the school, now known as Mount Kelly International, that it could only be called an “international school” after having its application approved.

It comes after the Education Bureau warned the school, which had started recruiting students and held a ground-breaking ceremony at its proposed So Kwun Wat site last Saturday, not to mislead the public or parents as it was not yet approved by the authority.

British school in Hong Kong told it cannot be called ‘international’ until it receives government approval

The bureau also advised the school that its application must also meet the ­requirements set by the authority.

When I read the letter from the Education Bureau on Saturday, I did not think it was a warning and instead felt that it was a piece of advice or guideline
Martin Wong

School governor Martin Wong said “Mount Kelly International” was only a working title, and the school would confirm its official name at a later stage.

He said he had telephoned the bureau earlier in the day to clear the air.

“When I read the letter from the Education Bureau on Saturday, I did not think it was a warning and instead felt that it was a piece of advice or guideline,” he said.

Wong pointed to the phrasing of the letter, which said: “We note with great concern...”

After Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said it was a “warning letter”, Wong said he understood the bureau’s intentions.

Wong reiterated that the ­recent developments were due to a “miscommunication” ­between the school and the bureau.

He explained that a previous registration application, withdrawn in July, was only “temporarily” withdrawn because the bureau asked for further additions or modifications to be submitted – a request the school could not meet at the time.

Wong revealed that the school had also started selling individual nomination certificates, priced at HK$1.92 million each, which give priority to applicants in the second round of interviews slated for April next year.

Wong said he was confident that phase 1 of the school’s construction would be ready by September 2017 and phase 2 was scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Hong Kong’s Education Bureau warns British school over recruiting students too early

“Our sincerity to build a school here is very firm,” he said.

The school also said if progress was not on track by April next year, a contingency plan would be implemented.

A spokesman from the Education Bureau reiterated that it had always provided detailed and clear guidelines to the organisations on the procedures and requirements for school registration.

“The detailed procedures for the registration of schools have also been uploaded onto the bureau’s website for public viewing and the relevant organisation can reapply after completing the necessary documents,” the spokesman said.

He added that the bureau was “very concerned” about the incident and considered it necessary to remind the school to refrain from sending any information that may be misleading to the public for any reason.

The Hong Kong campus of Mount Kelly International would be the first overseas branch of the prestigious British preparatory school.