Too much homework causing less family time? Mount Kelly School Hong Kong offers extended school day for homework help
Things are falling neatly into place for Mount Kelly School Hong Kong (MKSHK). In mid-January, the Education Bureau approved the school’s provisional licence to teach a full curriculum and timetable at its campus in Tsim Sha Tsui. The bureau also approved the school’s proposal to offer an extended school day which ends at 4.30pm. MKSHK extended school day means the school provides the academic, social and physical activities and extension programmes for children’s need. The approvals point the way to further expansion, starting with plans to add classes and extend the range of extra-curricular options for students.
“We are now fully up and running,” says Nick Rothwell, Head of Preparatory School. “At the moment, we take children aged five to eleven (Years One to Six), but we will expand up to Year Eight within the next 12 months,” Rothwell adds.
The precise timing hinges on a Town Planning Board review of a proposed extra site in Hung Hom Bay. But whatever the outcome, pupils are already benefitting from an approach to education which balances first-rate teaching with sports, outdoor activities, and the chance to develop many different interests.
“We want children to develop well-rounded personalities,” says Rothwell. “We believe they gain a lot from having the opportunity to develop life skills, be creative, and learn things for themselves.”
Small classes of up to 15 students allow for plenty of interaction with teachers, as well as good pastoral care. The school generally follows the UK National Curriculum, with English being the main medium of instruction. The UK National Curriculum gives a solid framework for tuition, and provides standards for subjects like maths, science, and the humanities. The school’s curriculum is flexible and can be adapted to local needs.
For example, there are 40-minute lessons in Putonghua each day, plus plans to introduce classes in French and Spanish. Time is set aside for art, music, design, and technology. Most afternoons are dedicated to sports – initially swimming and football – and activities like woodwork. An increasing number of clubs meet towards the end of each day, encouraging an interest in everything from chess and origami to table tennis, sewing, public speaking, and robotics.
“Some activities are more physical, while others are more creative,” says Rothwell, who teaches maths and sports besides carrying out his duties as Head of Preparatory School. “They help children to discover their strengths, develop fine motor skills, and build up confidence.”
Mount Kelly Hong Kong’s school day runs from 8.30am to 4.30pm. There is no regular homework, although teachers may set a maths or reading assignment for weekends. “A benefit of the extended day is that children don’t have to open their textbooks once they get home,” Rothwell says. “They can rest their brains and come in re-energised the next day. We believe that what we offer during the day should be enough for them.”
With the recent opening of a Babies and Toddlers Centre – for children aged six months to three years old – the Mount Kelly pathway now offers a seamless transition between its preschool classes (for three- to five-year-olds) and the preparatory section. The learning path can lead right up to Year 13 at Mount Kelly’s sister school in Britain.
“When you complete Year Eight in Hong Kong, you will have a place at Mount Kelly in the UK – after an internal exam – if you want it,” Rothwell says. “Students will be able to transition quite easily and, of course, have the option of going on to other schools, too.”
Students visit Sai Kung to “explore and discover” as part of the school’s widely commended Shackleton programme, which is named after the famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. Children engage in hiking, rock climbing, sailing and swimming on different trips. Each year, students must complete proficiency tests in skills like navigation, route planning, first aid, and risk assessment to get their award.
The aim is to instil determination, teamwork and resourcefulness in students. The Shackleton programme also includes a conservation and service element which consists of beach clean-ups and helping local charities. Teachers and specialist instructors are on hand to supervise and support as necessary. “The kids love it,” Rothwell says. “It gives them confidence and life skills, and it is great to see them doing all this outside the classroom.”
The school is currently meeting parents and assessing children for places in the 2018/19 academic year, which starts in September. Bilingual staff are always ready to answer questions, offer advice, and talk parents through the key steps of the application process during information sessions and open days.
Children can also spend a trial day at the school to get a feel for the general environment. Prospective students attend classes and play and read with pupils.
“We are seeing a lot of interest, and we always encourage parents to come and visit,” Rothwell says. “We want parents to understand the ethos of the school and buy into what we are doing here.”
Mount Kelly School Hong Kong EDB Provisional Registration Number: 609781
Mount Kelly International Preschool EDB Provisional Registration Number: 608092