ESF - English Schools Foundation

Renaissance College puts fresh face on the ESF

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 September, 2006, 12:00am

Renaissance College, the new face of the English Schools Foundation, was the first of a number of new schools to open for the academic year.

The school, in Ma On Shan, welcomed about 900 primary and secondary students on Monday, far exceeding expectations for enrolment in its first year, according to its principal, Peter Kenny. About 340 had transferred from the former Phoenix International School run by the ESF and some were travelling from as far away as Hong Kong Island.

Renaissance, which cost HK$297 million to build and received a HK$199 million government grant, is the first private independent school to be operated by the ESF and has been on the drawing board since 1999. A second is being built in Discovery Bay.

Unlike other ESF schools, it receives no recurrent public funding, meaning Renaissance charges HK$62,500 a year at primary against HK$51,500 at other ESF schools.

About half the 62 teachers are new, recruited globally to teach International Baccalaureate programmes from Years One to 13 - the first in the ESF to do so.

The school, Mr Kenny said, was a 'world first' in terms of its platform-free IT network. It had teamed up with Apple whose technicians were on site to build and maintain systems.

Staff are on a similar pay scale to other ESF teachers but leaner benefits. Housing benefit is pitched at HK$4,000 a month compared with HK$7,000 in other schools.

But Margaret Faber, a Year Five teacher from the Netherlands, said: 'We can't compare with the other schools, only our last jobs. It's a huge challenge to open a new school, stressful but rewarding.'