We kicked off the 2020 series of Little Steps Facebook Lives with the eternally hot topic of top education trends and school news. We were privileged to welcome Anne Murphy from ITS Hong Kong. ITS is, in effect, a boutique educational service that assists with entrance exams, tests and university admissions, but also operates two tutorial schools, online learning, educational pathways and consultancy services for students from pre-K to university.
Who better to give us the full scoop than Anne! Make sure to watch out Facebook Live for even more invaluable insight from a perfect expert on the subject.
NEW SCHOOLS: Many new schools like opened in the past couple of years. There is a high demand for international education by both local and expatriate families, and groups like Nord Anglia Education and Cognita, for example, are responding to this need by opening branches in Hong Kong, which then grow organically. There is plenty of options as international curriculums are being combined with unique and alternative approaches.
INCLUSIVITY: However, inclusivity is something that needs to be addressed further. Even though there are not just special education needs programs, but also alternative programs and programs for gifted children available, the spaces fill up very quickly and resources are lacking. Some schools that offer inclusiveness are The Harbour School, Island Christian Academy, Hong Kong Academy, Australian International School, International College Hong Kong.
FUTURE LEARNING: Schools like Stamford American School, Canadian International School, HK International School, and Nord Anglia International developed maker spaces and innovative learning labs. Educators are catering to the students' futures, even though they can't necessarily predict what they will look like. Skill-based learning is taking over from knowledge-based learning and schools are transforming classrooms through outdoor learning programs and collaborating with universities around the world like MIT and Stamford.
Early childhood educating is evolving and holistic approaches like Montessori and Reggio Emilia are inspiring and providing for fantastic curricula. It's also becoming less about the curriculum and more about the programs, the add-ons, what the school is offering as a package - what kind of an environment it is. Parents' primary concerns are that the choice of curriculum or school will determine the entirety of their child's academic life, which is certainly not the case. There are always other options for other stages of your kiddo's education. It's wise to focus on what a particular school can offer to your child at that particular level of development.
Education is expensive in Hong Kong, and the fees are a major consideration. An increase in fees of around 4 to 10% is happening every year and everywhere. Research done over the last few years found that it takes 2.7 million for 12 years of education. It's not just the annual fees, but also the capital levies, entrance fees, bus fees, uniforms, debentures. Education Bureau is looking into the workings of the current system, so we may see some changes in the near future. Anne highlighted Invictus in Hong Kong as a school that recognized that there was a niche for more affordable schools and offers fantastic education to its students.
Sadly, Hong Kong is experiencing some serious setbacks because of political unrest and pollution. Families are moving from Hong Kong and looking into schools in Thailand, Singapore, or returning home. The educational offer in Hong Kong and Singapore is more or less the same and options abound in both, but Singapore does have bigger campuses (due to more space) and more inclusivity.
Keep in mind that Malvern, Nord Anglia and Cognita schools offer the privilege of transitioning to another one of their schools elsewhere, as long as there's space! When it comes to choosing the perfect school in Hong Kong, heed Anne's advice - first learn what you and your child really want, and keep your focus on what the school can offer at their current level of education. No one can predict the future, but we expect an even more comprehensive approach and more inclusivity available to more families!