A Message from the Principal
The History of Island School, written in 2007, is titled “No Ordinary School”, and it is true that the combination of our students, our staff, our wider family and our special location add up to something rather special.
Island School boasts a unique location on the thin line between the green and the city, half way up the Peak on Hong Kong Island. We look down the centre of Hong Kong and have a front row seat on one of the most exciting and bustling cities in the world. Across the harbour we look out across Kowloon towards mainland China. If you turn round and look upwards we are on the edge of thick forest leading into Hong Kong’s magnificent island parklands.
Island School was opened in 1967, in buildings across the road from where we are now, while the current site was being built. We were the first school on the island to teach through the medium of English. The English Schools Foundation began at Island School in those early days and has, since then, added many other schools to join our club. Our unique identity straddles the gap between Hong Kong schools and International schools.
Our students come from all over the world and central to our international heritage is the celebration and understanding of each other’s cultures. They are described by all who meet them as extraordinarily confident, thoughtful and caring. They learn to care for each other, for their environment and for other people through our rich co-curricular programme and the family atmosphere of the house system.
Whenever you meet Islanders, whether they left here 4 years ago or 40, the first thing they will tell you is what house they were in. These families are central to school life. Students work in houses, compete in houses and gather friends in houses. In their houses, the older students work with the younger ones to learn the responsibilities of leadership.
Our academic record is excellent, with our students going on to the foremost universities and colleges in the world. You will find details of the qualification on offer at Island School, through IGCSE, the IB Diploma and the Advanced Diploma, elsewhere on this website. Our aim is not just to get each student into the most prestigious university possible, but to recognise that each student is an individual and to find the right match for their individual skills and strengths.
I hope you find the information that you need on this website, but to get a real picture of Island School you must come and visit us and meet our extraordinary students in our unique location.
A message from Lord Patten, former Governor of Hong Kong
When I was appointed Governor of Hong Kong in 1992, my wife and I were inevitably concerned – like other families faced with similar decisions of moving job and home – about what to do about our family. Our two eldest daughters had left school which rather took care of things. But our youngest daughter, Alice, was only at the end of her second year at secondary school. What should we do about her? We were very reluctant to leave her behind at a boarding school in Britain. Nor was she keen on this idea. So we made lots of enquiries about education in Hong Kong. Most advice homed in on the English Schools Foundation in general and Island School in particular. We went for it and found that we had hit the jackpot.
When I look back on it, this is one of the best decisions that we’ve ever taken as a family. We never had cause to regret it for a nano second. Island School provided Alice and her friends with a great education – in the broadest sense of that word.
A school is not a machine for producing educational qualifications. It is a community which should teach its members about mutual loyalty and generosity and about the broader values in life. It should help develop the personalities of all its pupils, stretch them to the full and give them the self-confidence, whatever their academic attainments, to believe in themselves and to reach for the stars. That is the sort of school which we were happy and fortunate to find in Hong Kong.
Alice was not only extremely well taught but she found out a lot about Asia from her visits around the region. She made some great friends and had all the excitement of living and working in an environment with young people from every sort of background and country. There is a lot to be said for throwing together mixed ability and mixed race students – especially when the teaching staff are dedicated and tip top. Alice also discovered at Island School a passion for theatre which determined her career choice. I know how many families, who came to Hong Kong like us for a few all-too-short years, had the same happy experience.
My wife and I are interested in education, as parents and as citizens. I have been a Minister for Education and Chancellor of two great universities. My wife is Chairman of the Governors at one of London’s best girls’ schools. In our view Island School is in the Premiership League.
Baron Patten of Barnes