The top kindergartens, primary and secondary schools of the city
Hong Kong boasts some of the best international schools in Asia. Across the territory, schools offer different curriculums from around the world, different styles of teaching and campuses, and expertise in different areas from sports to STEM and languages. It can be a daunting challenge to narrow down the choices, so we’ve selected some of the best for you to help make the process less stressful.
American International School
American International School has a reputation for being a warm, welcoming school with a holistic nature. It was founded in 1986 with the intention to provide school options for families who seek an American international education in Hong Kong. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers a US AP. It is also an accredited SAT test centre. Around 40 percent of pupils annually go on to US colleges, the rest to universities in Europe, Canada and Hong Kong amongst others.
All students are schooled on the same campus, from kindergarten to high school and there are no additional assessments for passing through from one faculty to the next. There is a swimming pool on site as well as numerous basketball courts and play areas though AIS uses external facilities for some larger events. The school has a broad outdoor education curriculum (OELP) combining charitable and adventurous causes.
Number of pupils: 850
Ages: Three to 18
Number of campuses and location: One in Kowloon Tong
Fees: $78,960 to $145,320
Principal: Anita Simpson (2019)
Senior school exam system: AP Capstone
Language of instruction: English
Taught languages: Mandarin, Spanish, French
Other details: Co-ed; Debenture – no; Capital levy – yes; Chinese – simplifiied
Australian International School Hong Kong
Australian International School Hong Kong is the to-go-to school for Australian and New Zealand nationals for whom it offers a priority system, though it also accepts students from many other nationalities. As the school year runs from January to December, it is frequently a popular choice with other southern hemisphere families.
The primary school uses the Australian National Curriculum while in the secondary school pupils choose between the New South Wales Higher School Certificate (HSC) or the IB Diploma. AISHK receives extremely good academic results each year – it is not unusual to see 10 percent achieve a perfect score in the IB and over 50 percent achieve 40 or more.
The school’s sports programme is extremely good and it is lucky to have probably the most picturesque school swimming pool in Hong Kong, perched on the top of the building with a view over the city. As the only Australian school in Hong Kong, AISHK is heavily integrated with any Australian events going on in the city. This means visits from the Prime Minister or, probably more excitingly for the students, the country’s Rugby Sevens team.
Number of pupils: 1,100 Ages: Three to 18 Number of campuses and location: One in Kowloon Tong Fees: $106,900 to $223,100 Principal: Mark Hemphill (2018) Senior school exam system: IB and New South Wales HSC Language of instruction: English Taught languages: Mandarin, French Other details: Debenture – yes; Capital levy – yes; Chinese – simplified
Canadian International School of Hong Kong
Canadian International School of Hong Kong is a large school which welcome more than just Hong Kong’s resident Canadians. Academically, it offers both the IB and the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) so that it can cater both for these wanting a Canadian education and those needing the flexibility of an international curriculum.
CDNIS is an ambitious school which is constantly renewing, reevaluating and reinventing. There is never a time when something big and bold isn’t in the planning or in the making. Previously that has been the Leo Lee Arts Centre and the Chinese Cultural Centre. More recently the school invested in installing hundreds of solar panels to help them work towards being carbon neutral. At 450,000 square feet, the campus in Aberdeen is large and entirely self-sufficient with an auditorium, 25m pool and sports pitches all on site.
Number of pupils: 1,800 Ages: Three to 18 Number of campuses and location: One in Aberdeen Fees: $115,900 to $205,400 Principal: Jane Camblin (2019) Senior school exam system: IB or OSSD Language of instruction: English Taught languages: French, Mandarin, Spanish Other details: Debenture – yes; Capital levy – yes; Chinese – simplified and traditional
Comprising of a total of three campuses, Carmel School is an all-through school from pre-kindergarten through to Grade 12. The only Jewish school in Hong Kong, Carmel School was set up in 1991. It has earned a reputation of a centre devoted to intellectual achievement, promoting holistic growth and development of students. Family involvement holds significant importance as the school believes that parent and school partnership help a student rise to their complete potential.
Pre-school children enter the school system at the Holly Rofé Early Learning Centre on Robinson Road. From there, students get a chance to progress to the Carmel Elementary School on Mid-levels’ Borrett Road before they finally move to Elsa High School in Shau Kei Wan.
Number of pupils: 400 Ages: One to 18 Number of campuses and location: Two in Mid-levels and one in Shau Kei Wan Fees: $76,700 to $195,500 Principal: Rachel Freidmann (2010) Senior school exam system: IB Language of instruction: English Taught languages: English, French, Hebrew, Spanish and Mandarin Other details: Debenture – no; Capital levy – no; Chinese – simplified
Chinese International School
Chinese International School is often revered in many circles as one of Hong Kong’s most academic and demanding schools with a strong emphasis on bilingualism in English and Mandarin. At primary level, the school gives equal timetable weighting to the two languages and teaches much of the curriculum in both. At secondary, the main teaching medium is English, however, there are numerous programmes for solidifying Mandarin, including a year long school programme in Hangzhou which all Year 10 students take part in.
The campus has recently undergone some redevelopment under the grand title of ‘Phoenix Soaring’, which at completion will provide CIS with a science and technology hub, four gymnasiums, a 25m indoor swimming pool, whole-school library, an outdoor climbing wall, a 200-seat auditorium and a 200-seat drama studio.
The average IB score at CIS is around 38 and the higher education department is extremely experienced in assisting students to enter elite universities.
Number of pupils: 1,500 Ages: Four to 18 Number of campuses and location: One in Braemar Hill Fees: $164,400 to $260,800 Principal: Sean Lynch (2018) Senior school exam system: IB Language of instruction: Mixture of English and Mandarin depending on the year group Taught languages: Mandarin, French, Spanish Other details: Debenture- yes; Capital levy – yes; Chinese – traditional with some simplified for beginners
Discovery Bay International School
Discovery Bay International School offers a British curriculum, centred around the community of Discovery Bay on the island of Lantau. Due to this fact, the school is more expat dominated than some other international schools where there is a broader representation of local Hong Kong Chinese. However equally, DBIS is renowned for being a very community centric school.
The school has expanded organically over time and now offers a full through train education from nursery. The campus is large and impressive and is definitely one of the the calmer, greener campuses available to Hong Kong students. DBIS makes the most of this rural surroundings within the curriculum and out of classroom learning.
Number of pupils: 1,070 Ages: Three to 18 Number of campuses and location: One in Discovery Bay Fees: $113,300 to $185,500 Principal: Stuart Bridge (2019) Senior school exam system: IGCSE and A-Levels Language of instruction: English Taught languages: Mandarin, French, Spanish Other details: Debenture (development levy) – yes; Capital levy – no; Chinese – simplified
English Schools Foundation
English Schools Foundation is a group of schools that was founded in 1967, offering an affordable English education, subsidised by the government. It has grown over time and the ESF umbrella now comprises 22 schools located all around Hong Kong, from Sha Tin to Southside, from kindergarten to secondary. The government subsidy has now been removed and fees are more competitively aligned with other international schools.
All ESF schools operate under their own name – for instance, South Island School and The Peak School – and almost all are dedicated faculty schools, meaning they have separate campuses for primary, secondary etc. This is with the exception of two which are through-train (Discovery College and Renaissance College).
The schools largely follow the IB curriculum, however the dedicated secondary schools also sit IGCSEs. For those not wanting to sit the IB diploma, they have designed an alternative called Applied Learning Pathway (ALP). The schools operate a catchment area admissions process, the specifics of which are in its website.
Number of pupils: 17,500 Ages: Three to 18 Number of campuses and location: 22 schools across all areas of Hong Kong Fees: $72,500 to $175,400 Principal: Belinda Greer (CEO since 2013) Senior school exam system: IGCSE in Year 11 (except Renaissance and Discovery) and IB or ALP (see above) Language of instruction: English Taught languages: Mandarin, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian – variable by school Other details: Debenture – yes; Capital levy – yes; Chinese – simplified
French International School
French International School has been a backbone of Hong Kong education since 1960s, offering both a French and international stream. In 2018, FIS opened a brand new campus in Tseung Kwan O. This is a state of the art, purpose-built facility which houses both French and international primary as well as French secondary.
In recent years the school has developed an immersive bilingualism programme in the primary school which allows collaboration between the two streams, improving the alternative language of instruction for both sides. This is in operation at the TKO campus and is being rolled out at Jardine’s Lookout following redevelopment of the classrooms.
In the secondary school, there is the opportunity for French stream students to take an advanced English programme. Whilst French nationals get priority in the French stream, FIS prides itself on being true to the concept of an international school with more than 40 nationalities across the school.
Number of pupils: 2,700 Ages: Four to 18 Number of campuses and location: One Tseung Kwan O, one in Jardine’s Lookout, one in Blue Pool Lane and one in Chai Wan Fees: $106,355 to $201,000 Principal: David Tran (2017) Senior school exam system: IB or le bac Language of instruction: French and English (depending on which stream) Taught languages: Mandarin, French, English and Spanish Other details: Debenture – yes; Capital levy – no; Chinese – simplified