ESF: A World -Class Education to Bring Out the Best in Every Student
English Schools Foundation
English Schools Foundation

“Our mission is to inspire creativity and nurture global citizens and leaders of the future.”

Hong Kong is a world city well known for its variety of high quality schools available in town offering world class education for both local and expatriate communities. The largest international schools organisation is the English Schools Foundation (ESF), which is providing world leading education to over 17,770 students from 75 nationalities in their 22 schools.

Founded for over five decades, the mission of ESF is to bring out the best in every student through a personalised approach to learning and by inspiring curious minds — preparing young men and women to be the global leaders of tomorrow.

Starting from as early as six months, ESF students can transition seamlessly from playgroup to kindergarten and then from primary and onto secondary. They also offer award winning after school sports and language programmes.

Students from around the world can transition into the ESF school system easily, thanks to the fact that they have adopted the International Baccalaureate (IB) at every level – from kindergarten to secondary.

The IB has been designed specifically to meet the needs of learners from any cultural background. It is a system based on encouraging students to solve problems, analyse complex issues and to work with their peers. The final qualification, the IB Diploma, is accepted by universities across the world.

“We are immensely proud of the young people who leave our schools as independent, well-rounded individuals, confident to take their place in leading roles in Hong Kong and the wider world.  We value our alumni who daily make their mark in the great universities of the world, in their professions and in the significant contributions they make to their society and community,” said Belinda Greer, Chief Executive Officer of ESF.

“Our teachers teach students where to look, not what to see. That is the future of education – and it is happening in our schools right now”, Greer added.

The continuous endeavour of ESF  to provide a superior education has resulted in a few glorious outcomes. Out of many achievements, ESF prides themselves on their students’ outstanding academic performance. In 2018, 16 ESF students achieved the perfect score of 45 points in the IB Diploma examinations; more than 95% go on to leading universities worldwide.

“We understand that academic results are hard currency. It is by getting good grades that students can go on to the best universities and, ultimately, onto their chosen career path”, said Greer. “So, while we work hard to help students develop all of their skills, we never lose sight of just important it is to ensure academic research stays at the top of our priority list.”

IB Diploma Results

ESF 2018 World 2017
Students awarded the Diploma (24 points or more) 943 (98.5%) 78.40%
Students awarded Bilingual Diploma 127 17,829
Mean score of students 36 29.78 (in 2018)
Students achieving 30 points or more 88.90% 53.70%
Students achieving 35 points or more 62.90% 26.60%
Students achieving 40 points or more 25.70% 7.90%
Students achieving 45 points (maximum) 16 278
Mean grade per subject 5.62 4.7

Meet our alumni

Leo Kim

Leo from ESF South Island School was another IB top scorer in 2017. He is now studying information science at Cornell University in the United States.

He said it was ESF that defines who he is today. “The characteristics and personalities, strengths and weaknesses I developed from an ESF environment allowed me to become the person I am today,” he shared.

He said it is important to link your hobbies with your academics. “If you just keep working hard and never give up your passion, I think you can always find a link between something you love and something you’re good at,” he said.

Many of our alumni have become prominent figures in the community because of the significant contribution they have made to the society.

Christine Loh

Christine, the former Under Secretary for the Environment in the HKSAR Government, graduated from ESF Island School. She recalled how ESF has shaped her into who she is today:

“What I enjoyed about Island School, in my days, was that it was very multicultural.

“I think when I was here, what I realised was the fact that I wasn’t very good at school. But there were lots of other activities. I really blossomed in sports and in organising activities at the school. For me, it was a great moment to realise that it wasn’t all about academics. A lot of other things were also very important in my school life.”

Christine is now chief development strategist and adjunct professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Institute of the Environment and Division of Environment and Sustainability.

Every Single Family

ESF has been achieving great amount of success also thanks to the support from the parents who entrusted their children to ESF. “At ESF we care for every single student and understand their learning needs. We believe it is our job to unlock their potential and help them to be the best that they can be”, said Adam Hughes, ESF Director of Education. “The results that we achieve across our schools are amongst the best in the world, but we don’t just measure our success solely on academic results.”

ESF’s amazing teachers understand that their job is, yes, to prepare students from exams and to help them get qualifications – but they also know that it is so much more than that. They want to help their students become great people, the leaders of the future.

The world around us is changing at a pace that few of us can really comprehend. Automation, the ubiquity of high speed connectivity and technologies like AI are our new reality – and ESF understands that it their job to prepare students to be ready to grasp the amazing opportunities that exist as a result of these innovations.

Sketching the Future

Having evolved from a group of schools primarily serving expatriates, ESF is now an international, inclusive and outward-looking organisation. The rich diversity within the student body is one of the key strengths of ESF. In the future, ESF will continue to stay on the forefront of new developments and be agile in responding to the needs of the communities, so as to deliver world class education. “ESF will continue to grow and respond to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” Greer said.

ESF Quarry Bay School: Empowering Learners to Make a Difference

“The school aims to encourage student’s love for learning by providing exceptional learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom to develop confident, happy, successful, and curious learners”.

ESF Quarry Bay School (QBS) is a well-established international primary school characterised by a vibrant and exciting learning community. The school takes a pride in itself for its quality relationships where students and adults work collaboratively and support each other to enable all students to reach their full potential. Professional staff at QBS are dedicated to ensure the constant improvement in teaching and learning activities. The consistent efforts of the students and hardworking teachers has led to strong academic results and affirmed the school’s priorities.

The primary objective of the school lies in improving student learning outcomes and nurturing an ethos within the learners where they strive to embody the vision of QBS- ‘make a difference’. QBS has gained recognition by various international assessment bodies such as Center for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University and International School’s Assessment at the Australian Council of Educational Research. The recognition gained is because of the excellent results delivered and the outstanding academic performance attained by students.

“We have 40 different nationalities represented in our school contributing to a rich and diverse learning environment. We feel that all children have talents which can be developed and that all children can succeed,” said Mina Dunstan, QBS Principal. “We encourage our students to care for each other and to develop as responsible, global citizens who can make a difference.”

The school believes that children are full of talents which can be enriched and that all children can succeed. Providing equality of opportunity irrespective of race, gender, religion, or disability for all children is a vital aspect of the school’s personal and social education policy which permeates all aspects of life in school. QBS encourages its students to care for each other and to develop as responsible global citizens with the potential to make a difference.

Extra-curricular Activities

To encourage students’ all-rounded development, QBS puts a lot of emphasis on after school activities. Extra-curricular sports, outdoor activities, environmental and community services, music, and arts are available for enthusiastic learners. QBS has its own Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), “Qoodle” for students to access a wide range of on-line resources and tools that support their learning both at school as well as home.

ESF Island School: Pursuing Excellence through Personalised Education

ESF Island School is an internationally renowned secondary school in Hong Kong. The school is dedicated to nurture every student to their fullest potential. The success and celebrated reputation  are results of the continuous effort the school puts at ensuring that every Islander receives a personalised education.

Focused on the holistic development of the students, Island School proudly boasts about its students who get enrolled into some of the most sought-after courses of the world’s leading universities. The skilled group of teachers provides each individual attention that ensures students master in everything they learn.

Personalising Student Education and Zeal to Serve

Borrett Road on Hong Kong Island was home to Island School for about 50 years. Having temporarily moved to Sha Tin, the Islanders plan to move back to Borrett Road in a new and improved state-of-the-art campus by the year 2022. After moving to the Sha Tin campuses, the students have become deeply engaged with the local community.

The school’s curriculum seeks to ignite a passion for learning in all students. Real world skills such as communication, critical thinking and collaboration are considered paramount within knowledge development. Pursuing excellence, embracing responsibility and celebrating individuality are the core values of this institute. The school’s zeal to help students develop their talents and explore their passion by maximising their opportunities are one of the unique qualities of it. For example, students of Years 9 to 11 can choose from over 50 ‘Elements’ courses like Law or Psychology, which provide a taste of what studying these courses at university might be like. Another notable innovation of the school is that students of the above mentioned year groups working together in cross year levels whilst studying the IGCSE Global Perspectives.

Inculcating Culture and Value Based Education

Developing leadership qualities at a very young stage and being guided by brilliant team of educators, the students conduct music and English sessions for kindergarten children.  Alongside, they also conduct art lessons in the school’s community library and peer to peer, after school, story writing clubs. The story writing club was developed from a creative writing elements class that went on to form a school club ‘Community English’. Island School students and their peers from neighbouring schools write stories together as well as speak at assemblies. These activities provide a rich context for Island School students and help them develop the skills, knowledge and real life experiences which will give them an edge in years to come.

Giving equal importance to extracurricular activities and student leadership programmes, the school has given the opportunity for students who can choose from over 90 different options –  many of which are led by fellow students. Engineering and robotics club, Model United Nations, drama, instrumental music, competitive and non-competitive sport are some of the options included. The students are also given an opportunity to develop practical skills in DJ and photography.

The list of the school’s outstanding extracurricular offerings does not end here. The students can choose from a hundred clubs, societies and teams. Starting from art and astronomy to volleyball and the World Scholar’s cup; everything is being offered. The school conducts Quest Week, which is a compulsory part of the school’s curricula. Quest Week is about learning beyond the classroom. Through working together, students can see the world in different ways and broaden their horizons.

A Dynamic Spearhead 

Stephen Loggie has been a principals for 25 years before he came to Island School in May 2017. Previously serving as the founding principal of one of the largest and most successful IB school of Australia, the innovations and reputation of Island School attracted him to Hong Kong. It is his dedication and passion that have ensured that Island School remains on top of the echelon of international schools.

“Island School has a very distinctive approach to teaching and learning which has generated outstanding success over a long period of time. Our focus is on igniting a passion for learning in every student,” said Loggie. “Giving students facts is no longer enough for them to succeed post-16. Our role as teachers is to show students how they can problem solve, question, think creatively and to develop the leaders of tomorrow. We encourage students to become resourceful, adaptable and confident learners.”

The Glorious Odyssey

Along with offering every possible platform for the students to grow and enhance their talent, the school boasts about the glorious achievements of its students, some of which include:

  • The 2017-2018 graduating class achieved the best ever set of IB results with 5 students achieving the maximum of 45 points and a further 6 achieving 44 points.
  • The average IB score at for Island School graduates was 36 points, far exceeding the world average of 30. The school is particularly proud that 1 in 3 students achieved over 40 points.
  • Seven Applied Learning Pathway students achieved a maximum of 3 Distinction * grades.

Distinguished Alumni

Adding another leaf to its triumphs, below are some of the accomplished alumni of the school.

  • Robert Whitehead SC, Head of the Bernacchi Chambers and Deputy High Court Judge.
  • Christine Loh, Former Undersecretary for the Environment; who did much to reduce air pollution in Hong Kong with the successful Fair Winds Charter.
  • Hina Shamsi, Legal counsel to the American Civil Liberty Union
  • Justin Sweeting, Founder of Clockenflap; the largest music festival of Hong Kong
  • Mohammed Adboolcarim, Technology Entrepreneur, in 2008, he joined Mobile Phone Space; a small start-up company where he was part of a team that developed Siri for the iPhone.
  • Andrew Cameron, Owner of a chain of Michelin Star Restaurants.

Career Opportunities and Exposures

Opportunities never come knocking the door, one has to create them. Island School does exactly the same. The school leaves no stones unturned for the betterment of its students. In an attempt to enlighten the students the competitive world they are stepping into, the school brings career education into the classroom for students. The school invites law, robotics and science subjects’ experts and conducts regular sections for the middle year students. It also invites experts into the hospitality course in for the Year 12 and above students. Students of Year 11 and above receive a newsletter highlighting career events happening at the school and across Hong Kong. The newsletter also includes information regarding higher education opportunities and internships.

With the world getting more competitive by every passing minute, the school has taken it upon themselves to regularly update and enlighten its students with the outer world. In a mere attempt to achieve this goal the school has launched a programme wherein the students are encouraged to engage in ‘in-depth’ conversations with professionals about the corporate world.

Apart from this, the school also organises a career fair wherein more than 80 professionals come into school to interact with students of Years 8 to 11. Starting from their passions to different career options, these professionals walk the students through the career path. The school’s Insights & Internship programme also sets up “fireside chats”, which allows small group conversations with people who have extensive expertise and are leaders in their respective field. One of the recent notable interactions was with Laurel West, the Managing Director of Content Solutions and Events, Asia at The Economist Group.

The vast pool of accomplished alumnus is the other advantage the school has. Students have the liberty to interact with the alumnus. This strong and ever growing bond of the school and the passed out students are very fruitful. The alumni mentors of the school have over the years truly enriched students’ understanding of skills such as interview techniques, career development and how to keep up to date with changes in the corporate world.

ESF Kowloon Junior School: Success for Every Child

We aim to focus on Achievement, Agency, Respect, Opportunity, and Wellbeing (the AAROW’s of Success) to support and challenge each child to be successful.

ESF Kowloon Junior School (KJS) is a very popular international primary school in Hong Kong with a vision of “Success for Every Child”. Teachers and support staff spend the first two weeks of the school year getting to know the students and building learning-focused relationships where students are able to set meaningful and challenging goals to ensure their own success.

KJS works within the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) framework which allows the school to incorporate the best educational practice from around the world and places a great deal of emphasis on developing international mindedness; positive learner attitudes; and shared educational and personal values.

KJS is proud of its state-of-the-art school campus redeveloped five years ago. The new facilities are of world standard, designed with an innovative and modern framework which supports quality education with collaborative learning at the heart of daily teaching.

The students benefit from the school’s quality in-class learning with specialists teaching in various subjects, such as music, Chinese and physical education. The school provides exceptional facilities for its students, including a music department, gymnasium, maker-space, and Chinese department, learning enhancement area and wonderful outdoor learning areas. Children achieve at very high levels due to the focus on inquiry learning and a conceptual curriculum.

About the Principal

Neill O’Reilly has served as the Principal of KJS since August 2017. He has accomplished expertise in elementary education, inquiry learning, collaborative practice, and trans-disciplinary learning. Upon arrival at KJS, O’Reilly has refined the school’s vision and focus and supporting a culture of wellbeing to enhance achievement and agency. With his initiative, the staff enthusiastically participates in the emerging learning culture at KJS and play an active role in the future growth of the school. Over the last year, the school received positive outcomes from increased teacher collaborations and distributed leadership.

“I come to KJS with a passion for creating learning environments characterised by intellectual stimulation, motivated learners, exceptional teaching and happy and inspired students,” said O’Reilly. “I look forward to partnering with families and staff to make KJS an exemplar of quality teaching and learning in Hong Kong.”

Opportunity – One of the ‘AAROWs’ of Success

Children at KJS have an amazing repertoire of opportunities through the extra-curricular activities available at the school. They take advantage of an immense range of music opportunities, sports, drama, dance, crafts, cooking, chess, visual arts, and much more. Every day of the week after school, KJS comes alive with children’s participation in extra-curricular activities provided by the school.

Specific Initiatives taken by KJS

KJS has its major focus on wellbeing, agency, and technology and has taken specific initiative towards it in 2018/19.

Wellbeing: In this rapidly changing digital world, staff is deeply aware of the importance of wellbeing to support students’ agency and achievement. The teams are working together to ensure that every single child feels safe, supported, and ready to take risks as a learner; learn from mistakes and develop as an internationally minded learner. Staff has been collaborating to build a context of wellbeing at KJS where wellbeing underpins learning, play, relationships, and the environment. The school has worked with international leaders in this area to develop skills, knowledge, and understanding in staff and to implement a wide range of strategies to complement the culture of KJS.

Agency: In the digital and complex world we live in, children benefit from developing self-regulation and autonomy, in relation to their learning. The goal of KJS is to support children to have a voice and choice in their learning, to have clarity about their learning goals, next steps, and success criteria. A focus on agency ensures that KJS students turn out to be self-directed learners empowered to make informed choices about their learning, able to self and peer assess. The school’s focus on agency is aligned with the International Baccalaureate’s enhanced PYP, which places student agency at the centre of learning.

Technology: It goes without saying that children these days are growing up in a digital age, an age of exponential change and are truly the digital natives. The goal at KJS is to ensure that technology and digital learning stretches and extends its students to learn and collaborate in different and innovative ways. Each child from Years 3 to 6 has a device to allow them to be as successful as possible with their learning. KJS is fortunate to be part of the ESF family allowing access to a wealth of skills and knowledge with technology.


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