ESF introduces non-refundable capital levy (NCL) for new students

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ESF introduces non-refundable capital levy (NCL) for new students

By Anne Murphy
Director, ITS Educational Services Ltd

A compulsory capital levy fund supports future facility enhancements and long term planning and other capital expenses such as construction, technology, furniture and fixtures at an international school. It is a fee that a parent should always expect to pay when their child is attending a private international school in Hong Kong.

In August 2011, ESF (English Schools Foundation) issued a refundable capital levy (RCL) of HKD25,000 for all students entering ESF schools on or after August 2011. This was introduced, following the confirmation of no further capital subvention from the Hong Kong government. ESF is 47 years old and maintains a portfolio of 15 schools. The buildings range from the oldest, King George V School built in 1938, to the newest Kowloon Junior School completed in 2013. Under the agreement with the government, regarding the phasing out of the subvention, the Foundation will not be granted any further capital subvention after that provided for the redevelopment of Island School.
On June 5, 2014, ESF declared that a new capital levy would be issued. The Committee of Parents, the Board of Governors decided that the preferred approach is to replace the existing RCL by a non-refundable capital levy (NCL) to be introduced for students entering ESF schools from August 2015. Students who are already in the ESF system and those who will be joining in August 2014 will not be affected by the NCL and will remain on the current RCL scheme. This NCL does not apply to ESF Private Independent Schools. Under the new scheme, parents of students who are joining an ESF school, from August 2015, will be required to pay a one-off NCL when they accept an offer of a school place. The cost of the NCL will be HK$38,000 for students entering Year 1 and will be reduced, on a sliding scale, for students who join the system in later years as follows:

Year 1- 38,000 (One-off NCL (HK$)
Year 2- 36,000
Year 3- 34,000
Year 4- 32,000
Year 5- 30,000
Year 6- 28,000
Year 7- 26,000
Year 8- 22,300
Year 9- 18,600
Year 10- 14,900
Year 11- 11,200
Year 12- 7,500
Year 13- 3,800

The introduction of the NCL is consistent with practice in the vast majority of private independent schools in Hong Kong where similar levies, or debentures, are applied to students at the time of first enrolment.
The information about the NCL scheme can be viewed on the website: www.esf.edu.hk/non-refundable_capital_levy.

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How To Survive School Admissions in Hong Kong

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By Anne Murphy
Director, ITS Educational Services Ltd

The school admission process in Hong Kong is one that involves lots of worry and uncertainty. Parents are particularly stressed after Chinese New Year till early spring as offers and rejection letters come through the door. Parents in Hong Kong start their search for the right school as soon as their little one has a birth certificate. Many months are spent filling out applications as they try to determine which schools best fit their educational values and their child’s learning style and personality. And once the interviews are over, there is nothing any parent can do, but wait….and wait….and wait.

As school offers are usually made between February and April – many parents face the dilemma of having to pay deposits for school offers in February because their first choice school has not come through yet. As a result, the entire process can end up being very expensive between application fees, assessment fees and hefty deposits.
Despite all the stress and worry about making the “right” decision for your child¬, most children will be accepted to the school where they will be happy and successful. However, as an education consultant who has gone through the process with hundreds of parents for the past eight years; I know what I have to explain, may not make the school search process any easier. However, I do hope what I have outlined below will answer some of the questions that many of you may have during this time of year.

My child passed her interview at two schools, but has been put on the waitlist? What should I do?
Although most schools offer places to children with priority first, your child actually has a great chance of acceptance for spaces that become available before the new academic year starts or even mid-year. You will also have the opportunity to re-apply for the following academic year; this is good because your child will be offered an interview due to being waitlisted for the previous year. While the disappointment of your child being placed on a waitlist and not going all the way is hard to take, it is helpful to think of this as an opportunity to learn more about what school is the perfect fit for your child and this is also a time to get your child more prepared for the interview the following year. An interim placement at another school is also a sound solution, attending a ‘big school’ with an age-appropriate and academic curriculum will improve his or her chances of acceptance at schools where he or she may not have gotten in this year.

My child was accepted to a bilingual school (Mandarin & English) but not at the one I truly want? Should I accept the offer?
You know your child better than anyone else does. Think about how your child learns best. Is it in a structured environment or a more progressive one? Would your child be happy at this school? Even if the Mandarin program is not as good as your first choice bilingual school, would you be able to increase the intensiveness of the learning process at home or after-school? All these things are important as you make your choice. Aside from all of this, make sure the school is a comfortable place for you as well as for your child. Visit the school again before you pay the deposit or decide that it is definitely not an option. If possible, reach out to other parents who have children attending the school. This school may very well bridge the gap for your child to eventually gaining a place at your first choice school.

How should I deal with the disappointing news of my child not being offered any places?
Firstly, make sure your child does not perceive any of your negative feelings as this may reduce his or her confidence the next time an interview comes around. Keep the disappointment and frustration between parents and discuss very little about the situation with your child. The way you deal with this will set a long lasting example for your child and will cause them any anxiety or stress for future school interviews. Make a new plan and consider other schools; ones which not have been a consideration before. The school that is the right fit for your child is the school that will ultimately choose your child.

I missed out on some important deadlines this year; how should I prepare so this won’t happen again?
Finding out that you have missed out on application deadlines can be quite frightening. You feel bad because you were unable to provide your child with a chance of being offered a school place. Make sure to put a structured plan in place for the next academic year. Contact all your preferred schools and make sure have a calendar alert in your diary for when the application opens. Do it on the first day, so you don’t have the urge to procrastinate. Have copies of all the documentation you need for the application in order and in separate folders for each school. When you do file the application, follow-up with the admissions department to ensure the application is in order before the deadline.

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EtonHouse International Pre-School Hong Kong

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EtonHouse Internatioanl Pre-School Opening in 2013 in Tai Tam
By Anne Murphy

The EtonHouse International Pre-School in Hong Kong is part of the EtonHouse International Education Group. Headquartered in Singapore, the EtonHouse Group is a global organization with 71 schools in 9 countries with over 6000 children from 61 different nationalities. The EtonHouse International School and Pre-School campuses over the last two decades have established standards of excellence in international education from the kindergarten to the senior years.

EtonHouse International Pre-School, Hong Kong will reinforce this reputation of excellence and leadership in educational practice by offering a high quality early childhood programme based on research based best practice. The integrated and stimulating programme offered at the campus will offer children an engaging and meaningful learning environment where they will develop into confident, competent, responsible and multilingual global citizens.

The curriculum is inspired by the work undertaken by colleagues working in the world renowned pre-schools and infant toddler centres in Reggio Emilia, in Northern Italy. EtonHouse, in collaboration with Reggio Children started the International Network in Asia to enhance communication, dialogue and professional development opportunities between Reggio Children and early childhood professionals in Asia (http://www.etonhouse.com.sg/reggio-emilia-in-asia.html). The EtonHouse Inquire ○ Think ○ Learn curriculum is a research based programme that focuses on inquiry based integrated learning where children’s ideas, interests and theories inform the design of curriculum experiences. EtonHouse runs several International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools in different parts of the world. There are 6 IB certified EtonHouse campuses. The early years curriculum in EtonHouse is therefore in alignment with that of the primary years. EtonHouse Hong Kong will also offer a high quality integrated second language programme that will develop in children a strong foundation in Mandarin. Recently, Singapore’s Founding Father Mr. Lee Kuan Yew endorsed the bilingual programme offered by EtonHouse (http://www.etonhouse.com.sg/media1/news-events/289-hampton-pre-school-in-tanjong-pagar-to-open-in-2014.html). In Reggio Emilia, they refer to the learning environment as the ‘third teacher’. In EtonHouse Hong Kong, our teachers pay great attention to the look and ‘feel’ of the classrooms carefully organizing spaces for small and large group work. We believe that children have a right to a respectful environment. The environment brings the outside world indoors to ensure that children build deep relationships with the natural world. The carefully planned spaces with innovative and open ended resources and learning materials creates an environment for exploration, research and a life-long love for learning.

Check out the school’s website and Facebook page for further information and to register your child for a place at Etonhouse Pre-School, Redhill, Tai Tam:
www.etonhouse.com.hk               www.facebook.com/EtonHouseInternational




ESF Applications for 2014-2015 Entry

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By Anne Murphy
Parents who are planning to apply for ESF’s Year 1 and Year 7 places in the 2014-15 academic year should submit their applications through the online Central Admissions System. Children born in 2009 and 2003 are eligible to apply for Year 1 and Year 7 places respectively.
Key dates for ESF Central Applications for 2014/2015 Year 1 (children born in 2009) and Year 7 (children born in 2013):

1-30 September: Central application period for parents to submit application: www.esf.edu.hk/application-form

3 September: Nomination Rights application open: www.esf.edu.hk/esf-nomination-rights

4 October (Year 7), 7 October (Year 1): Deadline for receipt of supporting documents at ESF Centre

7 October (Year 7), 11 October (Year 1): Acknowledgment email sent to parents to advise admission process

8 October (Year 7), 22 November (Year 1): ESF sends out interview/assessment status notification letters. Invitation to interview with guarantee place if successful; or Invitation to interview with entry wait list place if successful; or Confirmation of wait listing for possible future interview opportunity

15 October (Year 7): Deadline to confirm attendance at assessment by payment of external assessment fee

18 October (Year 7): Parents sent email confirming assessment venue and timing

26 October (Year 7): Assessments conducted at either Bradbury School or Beacon Hill School

15 November (Year 7): Applicants notified of interview timings (if required)

25 November – 4 December (Year 7): Interview period

9 December (Year 7): Applicants sent letters to confirm assessment result

20 December (Year 7): Deadline to confirm places offered by payment of deposit and refundable capital levy

6 – 30 January 2014 (Year 1): First round interviews conducted at primary schools

10 February 2014 (Year 1): Applicants sent letters to confirm interview result

24 February 2014 (Year 1): Deadline to confirm places offered by payment of deposit and refundable capital levy

February – August 2014 (Year 1): Further interviews conducted by primary schools as necessary.





GCSE trends give important lesson

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By Danny Harrington M.A.(Oxon)

Two very interesting, though not directly related, articles appeared in The Guardian last week as GCSE results were released. They picked up on a couple of statistics which demonstrate issues we often have to deal with out here in Asia – ‘early’ sitting of examinations and choice of subjects for study.

Let’s deal with the latter first. Subject choice is often a heady mix of parental and teacher advice/imposition coupled with the restraints of a school’s administration set-up. As students we often feel left out of the equation. Now there is good reason not to just allow free-reign to teenagers choosing subjects – there will always be those looking for perceived easy options, or not considering the ramifications of their choices for future study pathways. Students need expert guidance, but hopefully it will given as a sensible outline of all the options and the possible outcomes.

In recent years, there has been a tendency to allow perhaps too many “soft” options. Now I know that media and general studies teachers the world over will, let’s say, not appreciate this, but the fact is that these subjects are less intellectually demanding than traditional academic subjects. By allowing children looking for an easy option to choose them we set them up for under achievement. Modern pedagogical theory has ascertained, as certainly as any social science can, that a broad, challenging curriculum for as long as possible produces the best outcome across a cohort. I believe that children have been allowed to take less demanding subjects because the state school system has demanded exam-results-based measures of quality and these subjects help increase the proportion of higher grades. It is the ultimate ironic outcome but devastatingly unfunny in that it impacts the future of so many children. The inability to see that children need to be taught how to learn and how to learn challenging ideas goes against the evidence that supports a broad curriculum and leads to too many children skulking in general studies classrooms being taught facts they could just as well pick up from the internet.

It is heartening therefore to see more UK children returning to academically challenging subjects at GCSE [ http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/aug/23/pupils-returning-traditional-subjects-exam-board ] and recognising that tougher subjects help their career prospects even if they do not seem to be directly linked. One of my brothers took Theology ten years ago – highly unfashionable then and now – and has built a successful career in computer systems in the banking and finance sector. Why? Because the rigour and mental challenge of studying Theology with its combination of history and languages and logic plus philosophy will frankly set you up for anything later in life.

On to the second point. GCSE grades in the UK are slightly down on last year. The main claim is that the exams have been toughened up. I am not sure this makes sense as grades are standardised so that employers/other educators can compare year groups. So surely that means that this year the grades have been fixed downwards? Possibly, although I do think the questions looked more demanding this year as well. But The Guardian points out another hidden factor. At the sixteen year old cohort, grades have actually changed little. However, far more entrants this year were fifteen years old and they performed much worse, dragging the overall results down.
[ http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/aug/22/gcse-pupils-damaging-exam-targets ]

At ITS we are often asked to allow students to take IGCSEs [and A-levels] “early”, meaning before the traditional mainstream school age of sixteen, or Year 11. We have no problem with allowing this in principle. But it has to be a sensible decision made on the basis of the abilities and development of each individual. Parents especially need to understand that while Maths might be a no brainer, Geography might be an entirely different prospect. Younger students especially will struggle with certain ideas in social sciences because they simply do not have enough experience of the world and human behaviour to provide context to their learning. It is not just a question of learning the ‘stuff’, students really do need to understand it if they are going to do well in the exam. There is little point in doing an exam early if you are not going to do well at it.

Enquiries about IGCSE and A-levels with ITS Education Asia in Hong Kong or online:
[email protected] or [email protected]

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