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International schools in Hong Kong

Troubled Mount Kelly School wins temporary education licence for primary section amid campus woes

But British-run facility still faces uncertainties finding campus location ahead of government Town Planning Board meeting

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 3:23pm

Troubled British school Mount Kelly has received a temporary education licence to run its primary section in Hong Kong, it announced on Tuesday.

The licence allows the school to teach its primary curriculum on the second floor of Austin Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui. Previously, pupils enrolled in the primary section were only allowed to join an induction programme in the building.

But the school still faced uncertainties in seeking a temporary campus as it planned to renovate and expand the Austin Tower venue.

The latest development came ahead of a Town Planning Board meeting on Friday. The authorities are to hear the school’s appeal against the board’s earlier decision, which barred it from temporarily operating in a commercial building in Hung Hom.

If the board rules in Mount Kelly’s favour, the school would be able to use a venue measuring about 22,000 sq ft in Cheung Kei Center to house part of its primary pupils for five years, while renovating the Austin Tower site.

The school said the renovation would likely finish by 2022.

Land Registry records showed that the Austin Tower site was leased to the school until January 2022. The rent is about HK$213,000 (US$27,240) a month until January 2020, and about HK$236,000 until the end of the lease.

A school spokeswoman said commercial leases were usually signed every five years and that both the landlord and school intended to renew their lease.

“If [the board] and other government departments approve [the plan], the school will use [Cheung Kei] as a temporary campus for five years and teach in [Cheung Kei and Austin Tower] simultaneously,” a school spokeswoman said.

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After renovation, she added, the Austin Tower campus would cover an area exceeding 40,000 sq ft, including indoor and outdoor facilities.

The school currently has fewer than 100 pupils studying at Austin Tower but planned to recruit more.

The Mount Kelly spokeswoman said the Education Bureau would inspect the school’s teaching before granting it a permanent education licence.

But if the board allowed the school to operate in Cheung Kei, it would need to apply for a new education licence, which is granted based on factors such as curriculum design, quality of teachers, campus location and fire safety.

The spokeswoman said the school would need to seek other venues if the board disapproved the appeal.

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Mount Kelly’s application to use Cheung Kei was rejected by the board in September last year after the Planning Department told the board that the proposed school use was not entirely in line with the original intention of dining, retail and office use near the water promenade in Hung Hom.

The department said it preferred dining and retail facilities to enhance the waterfront’s appeal and vibrancy.

The Mount Kelly spokeswoman said the school would turn the temporary campus into an open space five years later for students and the local community to share and take part in different activities.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman said a temporary licence would be effective for a year, during which the school could apply for a permanent one. She said the bureau would grant the licence if it found the school operations in line with its regulations after reviewing the application and inspecting the premises.

The bureau spokeswoman said Mount Kelly had not filed an application for a permanent licence at Austin Tower or for registering at other premises.