Construction of ESF's Yat Sun and ISF's Academy campuses launched this week Two of Hong Kong's much-anticipated private independent schools had official launching ceremonies this week. The English Schools Foundation held a launch for its first, named Yat Sun School and due to open in Ma On Shan in September next year. The Independent Schools Foundation, meanwhile, broke the ground for its ISF Academy campus in Cyberport, to be completed in 2007. The school currently has temporary premises in Wan Chai. The campuses have been on the drawing board since 2001 when the ESF and ISF were awarded sites under the government's private independent schools scheme, aimed at creating a group of modern private schools as an alternative to elite international ones. Ten sites have been allocated. ESF Educational Services Limited, which will manage Yat Sun, has received a capital grant of $200,000 from government, while the foundation has provided loans to the company for a further $79 million. Neither school will receive recurrent subsidies. This means that for Yat Sun, fees will be higher than for subvented ESF schools - $62,500 a year at primary level, compared with $47,300 in existing ESF schools, and $86,000 at secondary, compared with $78,600. ISF Academy charges $95,000 a year and a debenture of $100,000. ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay does not believe the higher fees will make Yat Sun less popular than other ESF schools. 'What we are offering is different from normal ESF schools. It is a through-train, it is going to offer the International Baccalaureate throughout and 20 per cent of the curriculum time will be devoted to Putonghua,' she said. 'We expect a different clientele.' Staff packages will also be less generous than ESF schools. Chris Evans, project director for Yat Sun and the ESF's second private independent school due to open a year later in Discovery Bay, said they would be between $3,000 and $4,000 a month lower. Gratuities would be set at 15 per cent rather than 25. Teachers would be entitled to the same housing allowances of up to $6,000, and free education for their children. Yat Sun School, designed as a 'learning village', is now under construction and will have direct access via KCR East Rail's Heng On station. It will open for Grades One to Thirteen for around 700 students, including those transferring from Phoenix International School - the former Canadian Overseas International College - taken over by the ESF in 2001. It will eventually cater for 2,100 students. The bilingual ISF Academy, which will be a through-school for 1,800 students leading to the IB diploma, is described as being 'rooted in Chinese culture'. As well as arts and sports facilities, it will be a green school, with plans for a farm and wetland habitat.