The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) has become the most prominent educational system for Hong Kong’s international secondary schools. A majority of schools, including all those in the English Schools Foundation association, now offer the IBDP to graduating students. Recently, several local schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) also started offering the programme. These schools recognise the benefits and opportunities of a modern, globally renowned curriculum like that of the IBDP. It may not be long before more local schools follow suit. St Paul’s Co-educational College (SPCC) was one of the first DSS schools to adopt the IBDP, after it became an IB world school in 2011. Ever since SPCC had its first cohort of IB graduates in 2013, the college has consistently produced some of the best results in the city. The class of 2016 graduated with a stellar average score of 40.8 out of 45, compared to the global average of 30.1. Like all local secondary schools, SPCC also offers the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) curriculum. Students at SPCC can choose the programme that suits them best. “We offer DSE and IBDP in parallel,” says Anissa Chan, principal of SPCC. “We believe this arrangement enables us to better cater to our diverse student body, which encompasses a broad array of talents and interests, and different learning styles.” Anissa Chan Around 30 per cent of SPCC’s graduating students are taking the IBDP, while 70 per cent are studying for the DSE. “Many of our teachers are qualified to teach both curricula,” explains Chan. “With their different strengths, and their expertise in different disciplines, our colleagues often engage in professional dialogue and sharing. They offer professional support to each other, and this results in synergy between teaching and learning.” There are plenty of opportunities for student cooperation outside of the classroom, too. “The IB and DSE streams have plenty of chances to interact, collaborate, and learn from each other,” says Chan. “For example, the two streams participated in the same learning trip to Laos last November, where they worked as volunteers on a project that helped local ethnic minorities improve their livelihood.” The practice of adopting dual-stream curricula has been commonplace in Hong Kong’s international schools for quite some time. For example, the French International School has a French stream and an international Stream; the former teaches the French national curriculum, while students on the latter study the IBDP. The German Swiss International School and the Canadian International School follow similar practices. DSS schools like SPCC are, in a way, doing something similar to the international schools. The DSE can be considered the “national” curriculum of Hong Kong, while the IBDP is available to students who desire a more international education. Students opting for either curriculum graduated with admirable [university] offers ANISSA CHAN “Both our IB and DSE students have been performing well,” says Chan, adding that SPCC values students from the two streams equally. “Students opting for either curriculum graduated with admirable offers from local and overseas universities, including Oxbridge and Ivy League universities.” St Stephen’s College is a more recent addition to the DSS IB school family. The college became an official IB school in 2014. Derek Barham, St Stephen’s IB coordinator, says that the process of implementing the IB curriculum has been a challenging, but ultimately, rewarding experience that has helped St Stephen’s take the next step as a school. “A new curriculum is always challenging at first, mainly due to a lack of experience,” says Barham, who adds that being a local school made it difficult for St Stephen’s to recruit qualified IB teachers. “But the rewards have been great, as we now have the ability to offer a range of options and programmes to students. More students are graduating from us, and we, as an institution, have been able to develop, learn and grow.” Derek Barham and St Stephens' IB students. There were 35 IB students and 94 DSE students during the first year that St Stephen’s offered the IB. The following year, the number of IB students rose to 49, while the number of DSE pupils dropped to 85. This exemplifies a growing trend among local families, who, more than ever, want their children to receive a global education. “We are actually oversubscribed for next year, as we are not supposed to have more than 50 IB students.” explains Barham. He adds that the IBDP has “absolutely” enriched the school’s learning environment. “Students now have a wider range of options and educational choices,” Barham says. “Each system has its own emphasis, flavour, and strengths. Students can choose the learning style which suits them and their aspirations best.” More students are graduating from us, and we, as an institution, have been able to develop, learn and grow DEREK BARHAM As at SPCC, there are chances for collaboration between the two streams outside of the classroom at St Stephen’s. “In terms of inter-house activities, extra-curricular activities and moral and civic education, there is still a lot of interaction,” Barham says. Local Hong Kong families often apply to international schools to increase their chances of finding places in universities outside of Hong Kong. This is often difficult, as international schools are typically more expensive than local ones, and reserve most of their places for foreign passport holders. Even families that can afford tuition fees can’t be guaranteed a space. But if more schools follow in the footsteps of SPCC and St Stephen’s, this may no longer be necessary. According to Barham, all of the IB students at St Stephen’s are local passport holders. Yet if the trend of local schools offering IB curricula continues, more expatriate families are likely to enrol their children in local institutions. Other DSS schools currently offering the IB include Creative Secondary School, Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, Evangel College, ELCHK Lutheran Academy, Diocesan Boys’ School and HKCCCU Logos Academy.