What is the school's accreditation?
The Harbour School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and provides an American curriculum that prepares for entrance into US universities. WASC is one of the most rigorous and prestigious accreditations globally. The school uses US standards that have been adapted to an international population in the following academic areas:
Literacy - Common Core State Standards
Numeracy - Common Core State Standards
Science - Next Generation Science Standards
Social Studies - Project AERO Standards
Music and the Arts - National Standards for Arts Education
Physical Education - California State Standards
Chinese Studies - American Council for Teaching Foreign Languages
Will my child be able to transfer back to my home country?
Yes. Although we use an American curriculum, past students have had no trouble transferring to schools around the world. We use a core-competencies model that teaches necessary skills and knowledge for at all age levels to be global citizens. Along with transferring to other international schools throughout Asia and returning to schools in Australia, the United States, and Canada, our students have been accepted at the following US and UK boarding schools as well:
Phillips Exeter Academy, US A.
St. Martin's Ampleforth, UK
We are proud of our first-ever graduating class of Grade 12 students in the 2017Y2018 academic year. Below is a list of all the colleges and universities THS graduates were given offers to attend:
Hong Kong University
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Saint Mary's College
Roger Williams University
Lake Forest College
What kind of school is The Harbour School? Is it for gifted kids, typical kids or for kids with special needs?
All of the above, actually, because The Harbour School is the way we feel all schools should be: inclusive, strengths-based and differentiated.
Please refer to Student Profile to learn more.
How are different levels of learning addressed?
Our high teacher to student ratio allows us to systematically differentiate instruction within the classroom by providing different material to different groups of students. Literacy and Numeracy are highly differentiated so that as much as possible, each student receives work at his or her level. In math, students can participate in the math curriculum typical for their grade or the one above. It is common for several students to be working one year ahead of their age with a teacher designated for that curricular objective.
Students who are two years or more advanced or one year or more behind in a particular subject area may work separately with our Learning Enhancement Team. At The Harbour School, small groups or individual instruction is the norm in reading, writing and math studies.
For the 20 per cent of our students who require an Individualized Education Program (IEP), we have a dedicated team of Learning Enhancement specialists who provide Learning Support services in terms of in-class or out-of-class support in the areas of Numeracy, Literacy or Social Support. Students are also encouraged to use technology to help them succeed in the classroom, either as assistive devices or instructional tools.
Are THS and TCI the same? How closely do the two organizations work together?
THS and TCI are separate organizations that work together to provide TCI students with the opportunity to be integrated into a mainstream classroom for certain periods of the day. THS mainstream students also benefit from this approach through opportunities for collaboration and peer mentoring. All TCI students have their own 1:1 Special Instruction teacher who accompanies them during lessons at THS.
While THS and TCI work seamlessly together, each organization has its own faculty, administration and resources, and there is a clear delineation of roles and resources to make sure the collaboration works to the benefit of all members of the school community.
The number of students receiving Special Instruction from TCI does not exceed 10 per cent of the total population of the THS student body.
What qualifications do your teachers have?
The main teacher in every classroom has either a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Education and is a Qualified Teacher in Hong Kong, as well as in his or her home country. We intentionally hire co-teachers who have a degree in some other subject area such as history, economics, art, communications, music, or psychology. These co-teachers add a very rich dimension of backgrounds and interests.
What are the teachers' nationalities?
About half of our teachers are from the US or Canada and about one fourth from the UK Others come from 12 different countries all over the world. All are native or near-native English speakers.
We also make an effort to ensure that about half of our faculty are male.
What are the school's hours?
For the 2018Y2019 academic year, the school hours are as follows:
Prep, Harbour Village, Kennedy Town (Prep): 8:15 am to 3:15 pm / 12:45 pm on half day Wednesdays
Primary School, The Grove, Ap Lei Chau (Grade 1 to 6): 8:30 am to 3:30 pm / 1:10 pm on half day Wednesdays
High School, The Garden, Ap Lei Chau (Grade 9-12): 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily
I'm not sure what grade my child should be in. Is there a cut-off date for grades?
The Harbour School does not have a strict cut-off date to determine grade placement, as there may be many factors that are important in deciding which grade is the best one. While age is certainly one important factor, we would also look at the "best fit" socially and academically. When there is a concern about grade placement, we will meet with the parents to decide together which grade would be the most appropriate. (This is particularly important when children are moving from areas that have different school calendars than ours.)
Typically, a child who is six years old would enter Grade 1 (which is equivalent to the UK Year 2).
Why doesn't The Harbour School have an Admissions Exam? Wouldn't it make you more exclusive?
Now wait a moment and think about what you just asked. Of course, we could institute an entry exam – nothing could be easier. But it would be totally in opposition to everything for which our school stands. Entry exams are designed to exclude children. Our school believes that it is important to include children and that those who may not do well in one area (like exams, for example) might do extremely well in others (like music or math).
Excluding children does not make us better educators – or better people, for that matter. The world is full of all different types of children, and research shows that all team members perform better if the team is diverse. We firmly believe that our school environment and our students are enriched by diversity and we also know that some children have hidden talents or gifts that may not be best revealed by an exam. For example, Steven Spielberg would have failed any entrance exam. So would Einstein. We would rather be the school that accepts Steven Spielberg and Einstein and “unlocks their best” than the school that considers their value only with one measure, an entrance exam.
We do ask for a trial day (which is sometimes waived for overseas applicants) and for detailed reports from the previous school as well as conversations with previous teachers if deemed necessary. These things allow us to judge wherein the pool of applicants a particular student might fall and are considered so that we can maintain our diversity. The trial day enables us to make sure that a child can access the school curriculum and be a good fit within a certain grade level with our existing student to teacher ratios. During the trial day, we also administer a number of tasks that help us to know whether that child would be able to follow the abstract concepts of our curriculum.
Beyond that, entrance to The Harbour School is strictly about having a balance between genders, sibling priority and “first come first served” from our existing waiting pool.
How committed is the school to the student-teacher ratios?
At The Harbour School, we believe that one of the key variables to success for any student is a high teacher-student ratio. We have an *average student-teacher ratio of 1:8 in class for all year levels. At the Harbour Village, class capacity is determined to a degree by physical class size. The range in class capacity is from 11-16 students, with the average class size at 14 students. In our new campus The Grove, where our learning spaces are not only larger but also flexible, we will have a maximum of 22 students and maximum of 3 students from TCI in a class with one teacher, one co-teacher and one learning support teacher to be shared between two classes.
Please also note that historically, our school has grown throughout the school year, and so due to the transient, primarily expatriate make- up of Hong Kong's international schools, it is not unusual for a class to start off with eight students during the first term and to grow steadily to its maximum capacity by third term or earlier. Your child’s class teacher will always advise families of new students, and he/she will know his/her class capacity so if you have any questions, please just ask.
*Please note that 1:8 is an average figure for an in-class student-teacher ratio. The ratio can be anything between 1:3 to 1:10 depending on context. At THS, we constantly assess our teaching and student needs and provide the resources accordingly to meet those needs. We've built-in flexibility into our model due to the highly individualized and differentiated learning we provide.
** Co-teachers are individuals who possess an undergraduate or graduate degree in other content areas, besides Education. Our co-teachers have strengths in a specific content area(s) such as Biology, History, Visual Arts, Psychology and Chemistry, which enhance class instruction and discussion immeasurably. We are proud to say that after their work experience in a THS class, the majority of our co-teachers decide to pursue formal educational qualifications.