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Q+A: Yew Chung International School in Hong Kong

Q+A: Yew Chung International School in Hong Kong

Yew Chung International School (YCIS) of Hong Kong provides an international, bilingual (English and Chinese) education for students aged six months to 18 years. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a virtual tour...

What happens when parents want to visit the school?

The Admissions Office is the first point of contact, and it will not only provide guidance but will also coordinate any visit a parent wants to make. We provide many on-campus Information Sessions, when parents can meet the Co-Principals and learn more about the programmes and the philosophy of the school.

Parents are also welcome to make an appointment for a private tour, which can be arranged with a member of the Admissions team. This bespoke visit will incorporate all aspects of YCIS school life, to help parents make an informed decision, and will include a campus tour, when parents can meet staff and students.

How old is the school?

The Yew Chung’s founder, Madame Tsang-Chor Hang, opened the first school in 1932, with an early years kindergarten. Her vision remains at the heart of the school’s philosophy. Our school in Hong Kong provides early years, primary and secondary education. Today, the YCIS network of through-train schools stretches beyond Hong Kong to key cities in China, and a school in USA, uniting over 6,000 students.

What are the ages of your students? 

We have classes from nursery (aged six months to two years) through to Year 13 when they graduate at eighteen years.

What accreditations do you have?

YCIS Secondary is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS), and is authorised as a Cambridge International Examinations Centre (CIE) and as an International Baccalaureate World School (IBO). The school is also a member of the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS), the International Schools Sports Federation Hong Kong (ISSFHK) and Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation (HKSSF).

What assessments are required to enrol?

For the Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme, we invite families to an interview, if a suitable place is available. Parents, together with their child, meet with a leadership representative, who will discuss the ongoing development of the child with their parents, as well as the parents’ own views and philosophies regarding their child's education.

For entry to Lower Primary, children join a small group, where they handle a range of activities; the teacher will assess their all-round skills and understanding. Proficiencies such as thinking, creativity and social and language development are all considered.

Children applying for Years 3 to 6 will undergo a range of written and reading activities, alongside teaching staff, in both English and Chinese (if there is a background of learning Chinese), sometimes in a one-to-one setting or in a small group.

Applicants for Secondary will be invited to take an online English assessment; this gives a clear indication as to the student’s learning progress and potential. If there is a Chinese study background, then a written assessment is given to gauge the appropriate level.

If an applicant is successful at this stage, then they will be invited to an interview with senior academic staff members. Students must be able to display the potential to thrive in the YCIS learning environment, and access the full curriculum, without the need for services beyond our Learning Support Programme.

Why should I send my child to your school?

At the root of our philosophy is the blend of two main cultures, those of the East and of the West. We believe that to become competently bilingual, the real essence of both cultures must also be understood and valued.

Our highly experienced educators have dedicated many years towards in-depth curriculum research, subject by subject, for every age group. The result is a unique amalgamation of the best from around the world, rather than being restricted purely to one national curriculum.

We value every step of a child’s learning journey, and ensure that our philosophy objectives are adhered to very carefully. Parents can be confident with the knowledge of the school’s longevity and position as part of a leading international school network.

What curriculum do you follow?

Our play-based and child-centred (ECE) programme provides a well-rounded education, nurturing each child’s development, and catering for the social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and spiritual aspects of the whole child.

The Primary section delivers a high-quality international curriculum, based on the framework and objectives of the National Curriculum for England, designed to fulfil our unique philosophy.

The Lower Secondary section continues the integrated and inquiry-based programme, and as students advance to Year 10, they commence the IGCSE courses. The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) is the programme for the final two years of study, leading to graduation.

What is your teaching philosophy?

The teaching and learning pedagogy at our school is aimed at enhancing the student’s skill set. Our aim is to provide students with the proficiencies needed for the 21st Century; these being research skills, analytical and critical thinking, creative development and problem-solving. For some year levels, co-teaching in both English and Mandarin takes place in specific lessons, which promotes bilingual communication and appreciation. The teaching in Primary and Lower Secondary takes an integrated curriculum approach.

How have your pupils performed in examinations in recent years?

We are delighted and proud of the high success rate of our students in recent IGCSE examinations, with an impressive number achieving A* and A grades.

Furthermore, YCIS students also claimed Top in Hong Kong and Top in the World prizes in the June 2015 Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards, which recognise exceptional learners.

Our IB Diploma students achieve well above world averages. In 2016, there was a 100% pass rate, with19 students gaining 40 points or above. The highest score was 44 points (out of the maximum of 45 points), and the average score was 35.4 points (the world average being 30.07 points).

During Primary Years the students’ progress is carefully assessed to ensure each child is on their track of advancement.

Where do your graduates receive university offers from?

We are very proud of our graduates; consistently they receive multiple university offers. 90% of the Class of 2016 received offers from amongst either the Top 100 world universities or the top 20 UK universities.

Are there any residential trips throughout the year?

Trips and excursions are valuable opportunities to deepen a student’s learning. Short excursions can be enjoyed with ECE and onwards. Our China Classroom programme helps build knowledge and awareness of China’s rich history and culture. From Year 6 to 9 we run a World Classroom programme, which takes students across continents for wonderful, fulfilling opportunities.

How do you encourage enquiry-based learning?

This commences within our unique ECE section, which awakens and draws on the child’s own interests, whilst encouraging them to become “little scientists” as they investigate their own theories. As the children grow, the all-important skill set matures and becomes more self-initiated.

How do you support pupils who are struggling, and how do you challenge the more able?

The support available will depend on the age and need; throughout our education path we provide specialist support, whether for gifted and talented, or for learning support. Teachers can identify a child’s particular needs and work towards addressing them, while maintaining close communication with the parents.

In the Secondary section we have a Counselling and Learning Support Team of professionals, who can provide a range of support, with either one-to-one counselling, in-class assistance or topic-driven initiatives.

What additional help do you provide for children with learning difficulties?

Each section of school has specialists to help coordinate in- or out-of-class support that may be required. We would sometimes seek professional documentation. We have some limitations to the support we can provide, and if resources are not adequate to meet the needs of the child, then the school will not be able to accept the child.

How are pupils with English as an additional language supported?

The ECE section enjoys a very natural 50/50 English/Chinese environment, without teacher-led language instruction. In Primary we have some English as an additional language, with in- or out-of-class support. In the Secondary section we run parallel classes, providing the English Intensive Programme from Year 7 to 11.

What opportunities exist for parents to speak to their child's teachers should they have any worries or concerns?

Home-school partnership is fundamentally important for the flourishing success of a child. We provide many channels of communication, including online platforms, emails, phone, parent-teacher conferences and mid-semester and end-of-semester report cards. ECE children's parents also receive a portfolio to see the full year’s progress. The ECE section also runs Parent Workshops at the start of the year, to share topics of parental interest.

How important is music and the arts in your school?

YCIS begins music instruction as early as age four, with the learning of the violin, which increases left-side brain development at an age when this is critical. (There is a significant relationship between honing musical listening skills and language tone advancement. The left side of the brain enhances a child’s spatial-temporal reasoning skills, and can also promote mathematical dexterity and memory span.)

The school also operates a highly successful In-school Individual Instrumental Programme (IIIP), available to all students. Lessons take place within school hours, with private rooms being made available. All music tutors are screened and approved by our Fellows-in Residence department. This is an excellent service to help the all-round child development that is at the heart of YCIS philosophy.

What extra-curricular activities do you offer in your school?

From Year 2 onwards, students can enjoy an array of activities, such as sports, music, hobbies, languages, robotics, debate, dance, drama and many more. A weekly co-curricular half day is built into the Secondary timetable.

How do most children travel to and from school?

All our campuses are located in the residential area of Kowloon Tong, at the heart of the Kowloon Peninsula. We provide a school bus service for all ages, and details of our bus routes can be obtained from the Admissions Office. Kowloon Tong has excellent public transport connections, including the efficient MTR train service.

All images: YCIS Hong Kong.

To view the Winter's profile for YCIS Hong Kong, please go to this link.

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