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Brand ESF - What is it?

  1. #1

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    Brand ESF - What is it?

    What do you, as parents expect from the ESF in terms of the finished product?

    Reason I ask this, is that there is often a lot of differences between the schools. Some schools are more academically oriented and some are more arts and music oriented - obviously driven by the personality of the principal who is running the school.

    If you look at their teaching and learning policy ( http://www.esf.edu.hk/FileManager/EN...ing_policy.doc ) you find vague statements like:

    ensure that there is
    o consistency: the curriculum in all ESF schools is underpinned by the same values and principles;
    o continuity and progression from age 3 to 18: the curriculum is seamless across the transitions between kindergarten, special, primary and secondary schools; and
    o coherence across the curriculum within schools.
    The ESF website's primary curriculum page (
    English Schools Foundation - Primary ) is "under construction".

    The secondary school page is extremely vague too:

    In preparing for this, students in years 7, 8 and 9 study English, Mathematics, the Sciences, the Humanities, the Creative Arts, Physical Education, Design-Technology, Information Technology and Languages (usually one or two choices from Chinese, French, Spanish and Japanese). In addition, students will have a form tutor who will take care of their pastoral needs and monitor their academic and personal progress and achievements through the year. If necessary, support is offered in improving their English to achieve a higher academic standard. Extra-curricular sports, outdoor activities, environmental and community service, music and the arts are available and encouraged.
    Unfortunately, as a left brain person, I find this rather vague and overall find the document filled with "feel good" verbiage which does not pin down essential questions like ... "what can I expect from someone who has graduated from P5".

    The IB site does not offer an insight into the standards expected from kids who go through their program.

    Without knowing what the ESF standards are, how are we to start accessing the schools and the teachers and more importantly, our kids progress?

    I am NOT attacking the ESF ... just trying to figure out things like parent's expectations, educational standards and other answers to dozens of vexing questions....

  2. #2

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    Shri, I'm glad you brought this up. My little girl is about to enter Year 1 ESF this year and I am keen also to find out more about ESF in general.

    I've heard many comments about ESF, both good and bad.

    I have two friends who are doctors and they both speak highly of ESF. They are locals but have said that many of their colleagues (doctors) are ESF grads. Chinese will be weak and you need to brush up on the children's chinese but ESF grads generally do well. Many of their students get into the top universities around the world.

    On the negative side, I do know a former ESF student who has tried everything...she's done drugs, smoking, swearing, drinking and got pregnant in her teens.

    I know that local schools are tough on the children and suicide rates are high, however discipline is good. International is more relaxed and that could be problematic too when it comes to discipline.

    As parents, what do we need to do?


  3. #3

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    There are bad apples in all the school systems, hard to fault the school system in my opinion. Drugs, pregnancies etc should really be the families responsibility and not the schools.

    I'm of the belief that the school is a place of education. Parents need to be held responsible for morals and other developmental needs of the kids - that includes urges to jump from balconies.

    On the educational front... is the ESF offering the best possible education for the fees that we pay? Is this seamless across schools?


  4. #4

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    this raises a very interesting question.

    - different esf schools have different mission statements.
    - different esf schools have different starting/finishing times and different requirements for their teachers. (some require teachers to stay until a certain time each day, some don't)
    -different esf schools have different requirements for EA's
    - some ESF schools don't have PE teachers

    your question from your first post is very interesting, and then your second, very thought provoking. one thing i am quite certain of, is the teachers at kennedy (the esf school i am most familiar with) are top notch and working very hard for each and every of the 30 kids in their class. but teachers and the system are two different things, i realise.


  5. #5

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    >> i am quite certain of, is the teachers at kennedy (the esf
    >> school i am most familiar with) are top notch

    The recruitment is driven by the individual schools. I know someone who approached the ESF to see if they would be interested in standardizing recruitment efforts across all schools to 1) save money and 2) give the schools a wider pool of resumes and talent to hire from.

    From that I gather, this was not popular, as it involved reducing the recruitment junkets across the system.

    This, if I recall, was during the Jal Shroff days. No idea if things have changed since then.

    - different esf schools have different mission statements.
    - different esf schools have different starting/finishing times and different requirements for their teachers. (some require teachers to stay until a certain time each day, some don't)
    -different esf schools have different requirements for EA's
    - some ESF schools don't have PE teachers
    And yet, we pay the same fees across the system. Are some of the kids getting a bad deal?

  6. #6

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    Hi, I am also seriously considering sending my daughter (6 years old) to ESF schools. Most likely will be Kennedy school. So any related feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot!


  7. #7

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    The ESF has had a centralised recruitment process for a number of years, now. Applicants fill in their data entry, and can elect to be considered for a number of jobs at different schools.

    As for drugs etc - any school, any child, any family can have these problems. According to a police officer friend, drugs are pretty much endemic at every school in HK - regardless of parents' income.

    There are differences in timetables at various ESF schools, which is as much to do with the building layout/age/design as anything else. For example, SIS practices 2 hour teaching blocks. IS runs a more traditional 45/50 minute lesson block. They run the same curriculu in that students complete the same assessments - however, not every school does everything the same way - not should they. They SHOULD be changin their teaching and learning practice to best utilise their staff, and to address the needs of their particular student cohort.

    Brand ESF - you know that you will get a Western style of teaching/learning - which encourgaes questioning anf critical thinking. YOu know you will get access to a varied program of Co/extra-curricular activites, which are actually valued for themselves, rather than being just another certificate to go in a portfolio. You know you will get experienced staff. You know you will get a wife variety of students - from the incredibly wealthy/educated, to those who struggle to pay the fees. The students will get the chance to travel. And they have (I think) a 90%+ success rate in terms of students entering university. Each school is different - but so is each school under the Catholic Church, or the DSS scheme. Just do your research and make the choice that is best for you.


  8. #8

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    >> Applicants fill in their data entry, and can elect to be considered for a number of jobs at different schools.

    That is good to know. So, I assume that if a teacher wants to get into the ESF system, they're placed in a pool and then allocated to wherever the first available slot is?

    It also means that the various principals are not going on recruitment junkets and a central committee is doing the recruitment.

    Do all the principals still go to the four or five hiring countries individually to interview the candidates?

    If they do, then the hiring process cannot be considered centralized as it still revolves around an individual principals agenda.

    >> YOu know you will get access to a varied program of Co/extra-curricular activites, which are actually valued for themselves, rather than being just another certificate to go in a portfolio

    All of that is great, but is their a minimum educational standard that all the schools can assure that their students are at? I'm still not clear as to what my kid's educational level would be at the end of the upcoming term. What will be EDUCATED on during that term, and what is the curriculum?

    The ESF's extra curricular swimming program defines the various levels far more precisely (will be able to swim 40 meters, do the back stroke and hold his breath for 20 minutes if he is promoted to being a shark) than the educational system which seems all fuzzy about

    Love the extra curricular and co-curricular part .. but shouldnt their be as much emphasis on the curricular part? If I look at the various newsletters .. its all about choirs, sports, dramatics and pretty much no information about the actual curriculum.

    Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned and the singing, dancing and sports should become the curriculum and reading, writing, maths and science has become the new extra curricular activities.


  9. #9

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    It all comes down to what you mean by Curriculum - do you mean what Learning Targets/Objectives they have? Or do you mean in terms of broad topics? Or in terms of eventual matriculation?

    I guess schools assume that parents will look at their children's work - you probably won't see as many foreward planning documents for Primary kids, as their relevence to the kids is small. You see a lot of term planners etc for Secondary students.

    If you have specific concerns you can always approach a teacher. (??)

    I don't think the ESF is any different to any other school when it comes to the questions you are asking about curriculum - do you have a specific concern/question?

    As for recruitment - I don't know how they deal with the shortlisted end of the process. But I would hope that face to face interviews still constituted a reasonable part of the process. I wouldn't want someone teaching my kids who hadn't been personally vetted - even video interviews are not quite the same. I think it's unfair to call them junkets - especially in these days where the ESF system and their management is under such intense media/parental/governmental scrutiny.

    Last edited by HappyV; 11-04-2009 at 09:53 PM.

  10. #10

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    >> do you mean what Learning Targets/Objectives they have?
    >> Or do you mean in terms of broad topics? Or in terms of
    >> eventual matriculation?

    Any of the above. I cannot find any of these listed on the ESF site.

    >> If you have specific concerns you can always approach a teacher.


    My question is about the ESF system, the individual teachers tend to have different views of the curriculum and hence the concern.

    Also, how is someone who is transferring from overseas going to get in touch with the teacher when they don't even know what school their child might get placed in.

    >> Do you have a specific concern/question?

    Yes, what can one expect from a kid that goes through the ESF? Other than singing, dancing and sports, can we VERY specifically say that all kids who finish year 3 (or pick a year .. any year ..) would all have met a certain minimum standard?

    >> What will be EDUCATED on during that term, and what is the curriculum?

    Sorry, meant what will be TAUGHT during that term.

    Whats wrong with parents wanting to plan ahead? God forbid we go down the road of questioning some public systems (UK and the US?) where the kids are educated on the least common denominator.....

    Again, incase it is hard for some of you teachers to understand... WHERE can one find the minimal standards that the ESF kids of any year can be judged by? Nothing to get defensive about .. just a simple question, so I can judge if say Kennedy is upto the same educational standards as say Quarry Bay.

    Also, going back to the recruitment issue (I'm glad you replied while I had this thought in my mind), in a truly centralized resource pool, teachers would be moved from school to school as and when the requirements arose or staffing situations changed. Say school X does not have a computer studies head and school Y has a good head and someone with similar seniority who could be promoted up, into school X. Would that happen?


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