Finding the Best Secondary School in Hong Kong


Hong Kong secondary schools include international schools, private independent schools (PIS), and schools in the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS), in addition to directly funded government schools, some of which use English as a medium of instruction. Secondary schools in Hong Kong offer a range of curricula including the International Baccalaureate, the English National Curriculum, the American National Curriculum, a range of other national syllabuses, as well as the local Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE). Finding the best secondary school in Hong Kong for your child is obviously very much an individual choice depending on the student’s learning style, future academic and professional aspirations, and personal preferences. The best schools in Hong Kong provide a well-rounded education, prepare students for future success, and foster critical thinking and creativity. Many of these schools are profiled in the ITS School Search database.

Factors to consider for secondary school admission in Hong Kong

As you browse the school websites, or prepare for the all-important school visit, here are a few points to consider:

  • Location: how will your child travel to school? If you are relocating to Hong Kong and there's a reasonable chance of your child being accepted into your preferred school, this may determine where you decide to live
  • School structures vary: 'through train 5-18; primary; secondary.
  • Syllabus: what will suit your child best? For senior students, there's an important choice to be made between the IB Diploma, UK A levels, the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education and a range of international qualifications.
  • School leadership and teachers - Who's the Head? How long have they been there? Are they supported by a solid senior management team? What can you learn about the staff and their backgrounds?
  • School ethos: is there a particular bias towards e.g. a religious faith or a specific culture?
  • Academic matters: what subjects are on offer? What are typical outcomes for students?
  • Pastoral care: who's in charge and is there a clear anti-bullying policy? What procedures are there for welcoming new students?
  • Structure of the school day and class sizes.
  • School facilities: which of these would be important to your child?
  • Extra-curricular activities: outdoor activities, sport, music, drama, art…the list is endless.
  • Fees - the bottom line. These can vary hugely, with the upper range currently around HKD240,000 per year. Many schools impose one-off charges such as debentures which may, or may not, be fully refundable and/or annual capital levies which can be as much as HKD60,000. Some may charge debentures for the primary section and then again for secondary. Look too at extras such as the school bus, meal costs and uniform requirements. A top-of- the-range laptop Is required in some schools even in the primary years.
  • If the international school fees are prohibitive, consider looking at the English-medium Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) government schools: around 20 also offer an international-style curriculum but at a much lower price.

Strategies for successfully getting into secondary schools in Hong Kong

As you short-list your preferred secondary schools, look carefully at their selection criteria. Selective schools focus on academic performance and will test this at interview. Extracurricular activities will also be considered by the admission staff. Participation in sports and arts indicates a well-rounded personality and demonstrates skills beyond academic achievement. At the same time, some other excellent international secondary schools take a broader approach to admission and focus more on how the student will fit into an English-language learning environment. For all international secondary schools though, parents should ensure that their child's English is adequate for studying a variety of subjects where a wide vocabulary is required. Be aware of the application openings and deadlines and prepare the correct supporting materials before beginning an online application. Always visit the preferred schools before you apply.

The next step is entrance test preparation. Many secondary schools in Hong Kong use these tests:

     The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
     The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT 4)
     The Independent Schools Entrance Exam (ISEE)
     The International Diagnostic and Admissions Test (iDAT assessment).

Interview preparation is also critical as this gives the student a chance to show personality and originality, and demonstrate how they would contribute to school life.

The education consultants at ITS Education Asia have the professional experience that is needed to prepare for secondary school admission. We can also help navigate the various selection processes used by different schools. Contact us here to find out how we can help.

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