Primary? Secondary? Clueless American

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Fo Tan
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    Primary? Secondary? Clueless American

    Having been spooked by all the stories of long waiting lists and large debentures, we decided to start the school search for our one year old. Armed with the SCMP Good Schools Guide, we thought we were all set. Except it is written in that other form of English.
    So, what ages go to "primary" and "secondary"? School here starts at 2 years, 8 months;is that "primary" or "Secondary" or "pre-school" or "kindergarten"? And then there is something called "pre-reception" and "reception"? I even see a "middle". And, while I am at it, what's a "through school"?
    I think I have a handle on "DSS", "PIS" and "ESF".
    Once again two groups of people separated by a common language.


  2. #2

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    Jun 2006
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    Broadly, as I understand it, American schools are divided into primary/junior school, middle school and upper schools. Most British schools are just split into primary and secondary. Generally, children move from primary to secondary at about age 11. Through schools in HK offer the entire programme from entry at say reception to when the 'children' are ready for 3rd level education (e.g. CIS, GSIS, HKIS etc). Kellett is one of the schools that only offers Primary education at the moment.

    Generally, reception is for 4 year olds, pre-reception would be for 3 year olds. It becomes confusing because different schools follow different education systems and have different cut off dates, for example in some schools, the child needs to be 4 before August/September to enter reception, at others, they operate on a calendar year. Pre-reception is also known as Kindergarten 1 (e.g. GSIS) and Reception is called Kindergarten 2.

    Some schools, e.g. CDNIS, have an additional year between reception and Year/Grade 1 - called Prep. Just to add to the confusion, there are schools that even operate on a different school year altogether (e.g. Australian International School uses the Australian school calendar, so longest holidays are taken around Christmas).

    Clear as mud? The only real way of getting a clear picture is to arrange a few school visits and examine the detail of the schools that appeal to you most for your child.

    Because your child is so young, you should be in better shape. As I understand it, most of the waiting list problems are with entry further up the school. Generally, the schools are selective, so once your child is registered on time and passes the assessment, it is easier to get a place at the first possible year of entry (at least that is our experience). Kellett is one of the exceptions to this rule, as it is non-selective and entry is driven by a combination of when your child's name is put on the waiting list and the type of debenture held. As you go beyond reception, places are only available as people leave the school (e.g. CIS only interviewed debenture holders and siblings for Year 1 places this year - 20 people for 2 places, as I understand it). Good luck.


  3. #3

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    From what you are saying, I don't need to worry about secondary. But pre-reception = K1 = 3 years old; reception = K2 = 4 years old.
    Can I assume then that "primary" starts at 5? That would be roughly equal to American first grade.
    From an American standpoint, schools go elementary to middle/junior high to high school. Before elementary comes preschool and before that (I think) is nursery.


  4. #4

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    Sep 2004
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    primary= elementary
    secondary= high school

    as for the kindergarten etc....each school will have a different name for certain ages (reception, K# etc)...

    it is completely up to you whether your child goes to kindie and for how long. my son is 2.5 and i have no intention whatsoever of putting him into school before he would normally go in canada...which for his birthday would be 1 year of kindergarten when he is 5.5(his brithday is in feb)....

    good luck!


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by carang
    it is completely up to you whether your child goes to kindie and for how long. my son is 2.5 and i have no intention whatsoever of putting him into school before he would normally go in canada...which for his birthday would be 1 year of kindergarten when he is 5.5(his brithday is in feb)....
    good luck!
    I am not so sure I can get my company to pay for it until he is 4 (age of free schooling in Georgia), so we are probably looking at 2010. But I think I read in here somewhere about a child who is #50 on a waiting list for 2009 or 2010 so I guess it isn't too early.

  6. #6

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    i think it also depends on where you want your child to go to school...

    good luck with your decision!


  7. #7

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    Well, we have narrowed down the 100 or so choices to about 20-25. Now the real work begins.


  8. #8

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    Feb 2008
    Location
    Clearwater Bay
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    A through school is one that allows your kid to start in primary, reception, or whatever, and go all the way through to the end of secondary, and there are one or two that even include a college program. Also called "through train".

    Best,
    Kris


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    Hong Kong
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    Although a through school sounds like a good idea Ive found that as children grow their needs change and so a school which was ideal while they were young no longer was suitable when they were older. All four of my children have changed schools and so have most of their friends. My advice is to find a school which suits them now and not worry too much about the future. Worry about that as they get older and you know what will suit them better.
    Best wishes,
    Barb