Harrow Hong Kong: Inspiring Leaders

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Harrow International School

An all-round education offering breadth of experience and opportunity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 July, 2018, 10:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 July, 2018, 10:16am

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Since first opening in September 2012 at its custom-built school, Harrow Hong Kong has quickly won a reputation for its high standards and distinct educational philosophy.

With a current total of around 1,250 pupils, from Early Years (K1 and K2) all the way up to Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13), the school sets high academic expectations, but also offers an extensive extra-curricular programme to encourage involvement and develop new skills and important personal and leadership attributes. 

“We are totally committed to an all-round education offering breadth of experience and opportunity,” says the school’s Head Ann Haydon. “We want pupils to learn life skills, challenge themselves personally and academically, pursue passions and interests in a multitude of areas such as sport, music and drama, as well as make a positive contribution to the wider community.” 

As with any school, achievements in public examinations and securing university places are obvious measures of success. In that respect, Harrow Hong Kong can already point to a record of outstanding A-Level results – 67% achieved A*/A grades in 2017, with Sixth Formers going on to attend top-ranked universities around the world.

Close to 20 per cent of school leavers who’ve gone on to UK universities have won places at Oxford or Cambridge, while others went on to Ivy League colleges in the US or to other leading universities in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and beyond. Their choice of degree subjects is diverse, ranging from economics and law to history and mathematics.

A key factor in this success, Haydon believes, is the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), which sees Year 13 pupils choose and then research a topic over the course of six to nine months. They work with a mentor, write up their findings, and present them to a panel. In conjunction with the thorough and rigorous approach required by the A-Level curriculum, this exercise helps to broaden horizons and has proven to be good preparation for university life.

Harrow’s successful approach provides both a depth and breadth of educational experience.  The depth is through the A-Level curriculum and a comprehensive understanding by pupils of chosen subjects which they are passionate about, while the school’s rich and varied leadership programme offers the edge in terms of enhancing activities and opportunities which leading universities prize in addition to outstanding grades.

“A Harrow education has always been about much more than academic results,” Haydon adds. “That’s why we also have an extensive charity programme, so children don’t leave here in a bubble of elitism and privilege. We expect them to be inclusive in their dealings with people and that, as alumni, they will do good in the world.”

Accordingly, all Sixth Formers are encouraged to both lead and pitch in with activities organised in conjunction with the charity Crossroads International and to visit adult patients at Maggie’s, the cancer centre attached to a hospital in Tuen Mun.

In one case, the pupils might be supporting recycling schemes or repairing bikes, which are then sent to countries in Africa so mothers can go to market more easily or take their children to school.

In the other, the main aim is simply to provide friendship and a little entertainment for those going through difficult times by talking, singing songs and perhaps reading poetry.

By putting a strong emphasis on community, such activities reflect the school’s ethos. As importantly, though, they also develop the personal qualities associated with service and teamwork plus character traits that will help in building relationships and contending with different types of challenge.   

“As part of this, the school also has a strong pastoral care system, so each pupil is supported by a team of tutors and a House Master or Mistress,” Haydon says. “Vertical grouping means children from Year 9 to Year 13 are in the same House, where the older pupils can act as mentors and coaches.”

At present, around 50 per cent of those in the Upper School are weekly boarders, though all day pupils are also members of a House for either boys or girls.   

With an average class size of nine in the Sixth Form – and around 75 to 80 pupils in each Year – there is plenty of individual attention and scope to explore beyond the syllabus.

Some activities and experiences, both in and outside the classroom, are specifically designed to engrain leadership attributes, while others focus on creative expression or achieving excellence in a chosen field. That could be in music, acting, debating in the Model United Nations, or starring in sports that include rugby, football, swimming, badminton, tennis and horse riding.    

“Leadership is a key aspect of a Harrovian education,” says Haydon, who assumed her role in August last year. “It is about empowering, giving responsibility and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to lead a group and listen to other people’s opinions. And because we genuinely care about each individual’s progress, we also nurture adaptability, creativity, flexibility and innovation because these young people will go into jobs that don’t even exist yet.”

She adds that pupils can join Harrow in the Sixth Form based on an assessment, interviews, and meeting the school’s entry requirements for GCSE or equivalent exams.

“We believe very much in working in partnership with parents,” Haydon says. “Therefore, we have ‘Celebration of Learning’ days where parents can come in and understand more about their children’s curriculum, activities and the strength of their learning environment.”