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