Island School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Island School (港島中學)
Island School Badge.png
Island School
20 Borrett Road
Hong Kong
Type Private, secondary, co-educational
Established 1967
Principal Christopher Binge
Faculty approx. 100
Enrollment approx. 1,200
Colour(s) Red, white and blue
Years Year 7-13
Alumni Old Islanders
Island School
Traditional Chinese 港島中學
Simplified Chinese 港岛中学

Island School is a co-educational non-profit school located on Hong Kong Island, in Hong Kong. It is the founding school of the English Schools Foundation, and remains a member to this date. The school has been accredited by international organisations such as the Council of International Schools[1] and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[2]

Originally located on 10 Borrett Road of the Hong Kong Mid-Levels district (the site of a former British military hospital), the school moved to its current and only campus on 20 Borrett Road in 1973. It currently houses around 1200 students across 33 nationalities[3] and around 100 members of teaching staff.[4]

Island School is a registered IB World School, and offers the IB diploma program along with an alternative BTEC program in the senior years, in the middle school students study IGCSEs and the Island Futures curriculum, in the junior years students study specific subject lessons plus they have Island Time lessons that teach then transferable skills such as team work and researching.


The school opened on September 19, 1967 with 237 students and 12 teachers to meet increasing demand for schooling for the children of expatriates living in Hong Kong. Originally supposed to be located in Wong Nai Chung, it was opened temporarily in the British military hospital in Borrett Road, and in 1973 moved to its permanent home across the road in what used to be the Island School zoo. Originally a stopping-off point for the sons and daughters of the British elite, Island School is now home to children from a large number of countries.[5]

The first Principal of Island School was the Reverend Geoffrey Speak who was appointed from St. Paul's College in 1967. Speak, a graduate of Selwyn College, Cambridge introduced the "House System" as the basis of pastoral care, a system which is still in place today.

In 1971 C. Ronald Rivers-Moore was appointed to succeed Speak as principal. Rivers-Moore, a Cambridge graduate, continued Speak's vision both in academic policy and through the continuation of the extracurricular program including the introduction of the Nepal Trek, the school camp, a school zoo and the student union. Chris Forse, former deputy head and Island School historian, referred to Rivers-Moore as a man who combined his "integrity with liberal benevolence in roughly equal proportions".

Succeeding Rivers-Moore in 1978 was Jonty Driver, a graduate of Trinity College Oxford. Driver extended the Island School curriculum to include drama, photography and computing and a pastoral curriculum. A believer in community education, Driver founded the Island School Evening Institute which provided adult education to parents and friends of the Island School community. It was also during Driver's tenure that Island School's student periodical, "The Islet", was established, succeeding the original student newspaper "The Echo". Driver left Island School in 1983 to become headmaster at Berkhamsted School, later moving to Wellington College, Berkshire.

Dr. Colin Niven, a graduate of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and Brasenose College, Oxford, was principal of Island School between 1983–1988. During his tenure, Niven tripled Oxbridge entries while gaining membership of the Headmasters' Conference. There was a major investment in a new library and the school uniform was replaced. After leaving Island School Niven became a fellow at Westminster College, Oxford and later the principal at Alleyn's School in London.

David James became the school's first internally appointed principal in 1988. James introduced the new British National Curriculum, vocational education and the International Baccalaureate for students aged 16–18. He enhanced the responsibilities of the sixth form enabling "students to become surrogate teachers and leaders of the school". He broadened the profile of Island School's out-reach efforts in both Hong Kong and abroad through the encouragement of student participation in community service programs. Through the Summerbridge and After School programs Island School students taught English and life skills to less privileged children. In 1990 Island School became the first ESF school to introduce an Interim Week during which the regular timetable was abandoned for a range of alternative challenges in Hong Kong and overseas.

James retired in 2005 and was succeeded by a deputy principal Michelle Hughes. Her tenure has been characterised by its attention to meeting the modern imperatives of quality assurance and in increasing role of "student voice" at Island School.

Hughes left the position in June 2009, and was replaced by Christopher Binge, previously secondary principal at the La Châtaigneraie campus of the International School of Geneva. Binge studied mathematics at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge.

Stephen Loggie is set to become the next principal of Island School. He was previously Foundation Principal at Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology and Executive principal at Palm Beach Currumbin High School. He obtained his Bachelor of Educational Studies from the University of Queensland in 1992.

List of principals[edit]

  • Reverend Geoffrey Speak OBE MA (Oxon)
  • Mr. Ronald Rivers-Moore MA (Oxon)
  • Mr. Charles Jonathan (Jonty) Driver M.Phil (Oxon)
  • Dr. Colin Niven OBE MA (Oxon)
  • Mr. David James OBE
  • Mrs. Michelle Hughes
  • Mr. Christopher Binge MA (Cantab) PGCE (IOE Lond)
  • Mr. Stephen Loggie BEd


In 1973, Island School relocated from its original campus at 10 Borrett Road to a new, purpose-built campus across the road at 20 Borrett Road – a site which it has occupied since. The original campus is currently used as a campus for another international institution in Hong Kong, Carmel School, along with a number of youth charities and childcare organisations.

The current campus consists of seven blocks ranging from five to seven floors high, with blocks 1 to 6 arranged in a rectangular fashion. Students can travel to adjacent blocks by linked walkways or footbridges. As the campus is situated on mountainous terrain, blocks located closer to the mountain are placed at a higher altitude than their counterparts, and as such the floors between different blocks are often not correlated. (For instance, the 6th floor of Block 1 is equivalent to the 3rd floor of Block 4) Up until 2011, the 7th block was mainly isolated from the rest of the campus and was used for PTA and examination purposes, along with acting as storage for certain gym equipment. The block has since been renovated for greater stability and repainted in white to match the rest of the campus, and its role has been expanded to provide working facilities for staff and a sixth form common room.

The campus also includes a number of facilities to bolster student life, such as three large playgrounds which allow students to engage in sporting activities or as gathering points during emergencies. Block 6 also includes a number of multi-purpose venues, such as a school hall, sports hall and dedicated rooms for drama students. An additional sporting area is located next to Block 6, featuring a triangular-shaped sports ground and an outdoor swimming pool.

Island School also features; laboratories, computer, music, art, design and food technology rooms. Specialized rooms are mainly clustered in specific blocks, as with the case of science rooms which are found exclusively on Block 1. General teaching rooms occupy the majority of Blocks 3, 4 and the upper levels of Block 5. Most rooms contain, projectors, sound systems and interactive white-boards to aid teaching and learning.

Due to growing demand and an ageing campus, plans for major renovations are currently being developed.[6] An assessment of the building in 2011 showed that major redevelopment is needed. Since then, senior staff within the school and the ESF have been working to secure funding and draw up detailed plans to demolish the current building and develop an exemplary campus.

Built over eight floors, the new school will include a performing arts centre, an indoor swimming pool, a sports hall, basketball courts, modern laboratories, sky gardens, a central café, innovative learning environments and creative studios. As well as a range of other facilities there will be a designated parking for school buses under the school buildings to facilitate pick-up and drop-off and thus relieve pressure from Borrett Road itself.

While the site on Borrett Road is being redeveloped, the Education Bureau has offered Island School two temporary school sites in Shatin Wai and Tai Wai. One of these sites will accommodate students in Years 7, 8, 12 and 13 and the other Years 9-11. Both sites have a similar size and layout and it is anticipated that we will be occupying these sites for three to four academic years.

Organisation and administration[edit]

Management and departments[edit]

In terms of teaching, the school is divided into several main divisions, each led by a curriculum leader and contains a number of specialised departments.

  • Creative Art- Head of Art: Helen Palmer
  • Physical Education & Activities- Head of Physical Education: John Pennel
  • Science- Head of Science: Johnny Horner Head of Biology: Joanna Burgeon Head of Chemistry: Sharon Wong Head of Physics: Paul Bayne
  • Languages- Head of Languages: Julian Reed Head of Chinese: Yamin Ma Head of Spanish: Mr. Ian Hunter Head of French; Clare French
  • Technology- Head of Technology: Mark Roper
  • Individuals & Society- Head of Georgraphy: Howard Davis Head of History: Stephen Budd Head of PRS: Tony Williams
  • Mathematics- Head of Maths: Pat Stafford

The school itself is administered by the Principal, Christopher Binge (as of July 2012), and the Senior Leadership Team.

Students and the house system[edit]

Island School is capable of carrying a maximum capacity of around 1200 students. In reality, due to the popularity of the school, its annual capacity tends to be just below this number. (For instance, the school carried around 1170 students for the 2011–12 academic year) Under normal circumstances, students may undergo a maximum of seven years of education at the school, starting from Year 7 to Year 13, when they graduate. Students may also enter at any other entry point except from the start of Year 12 due to the start of the IB diploma program.

To facilitate student life, each year group is divided into different houses named after famous and significant people. Each House is led by a Senior Head of House and a Head of House, who work to improve the school life of their students, resolve any difficulties and channel house spirit. House competitions take place throughout the year, with points being awarded throughout, leading to the giving of a trophy to the house with the most points at the end of the year.

Currently, there are 6 houses. Their representative colours and their (Senior) Heads of House (as of the 2016–17 academic year) are:

  • Da Vinci – Kevin Lester and Mary Vittachi
  • Einstein – Paul Harries and Sarah Jolly
  • Fleming – Angela Worthington and Phil Tudor
  • Nansen – Danny Nason and Melanie Newby (Temporary)
  • Rutherford – Pak Chan and Russell Scott
  • WilberforceKate Sommerville and Laura Hjelmeland

The senior years[edit]

Students in the senior years are exempted from wearing uniform and are expected to organise activities for the younger students. They also have much more freedom than lower years and have free periods implemented into their school timetables. The school's prefect body is also solely made up of senior students.


The school, having been admitted as an International Baccalaureate World School in 2006, began providing the IB program and BTEC courses to students in Years 12&13 in August 2007. In 2012 Island school staff developed their own curriculum for students in Years 7-11 known as the Island Futures curriculum.

Years 7 and 8[edit]

One of the academic subjects that is taught in house groups which lies in the centre of the school’s curriculum is Island Time. It draws on the experiences of primary school education with its emphasis on trans-disciplinary inquiry. It also draws on all the other subject areas as a central place where literacy, language, mathematics, technology, science, the humanities and the arts can meet.

Circling round Island Time are the individual subjects, taught by subject specialists:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Languages – Chinese, French, Spanish and Japanese are offered
  • The Sciences
  • The Humanities
  • The Arts – Music, Drama and Visual Arts
  • The Technologies – Design, Textiles and Food Technology
  • Physical Education

These lessons engage the students in subject specific skills as well as the generic ones used across all faculties. The understanding students gain will equip them to make choices in future years about where to concentrate, develop and specialise.

Student life[edit]

Student union[edit]

The Student Union has traditionally been active in the school community. The Union executive is democratically elected each November. Normally a few major parties as well as "joke" parties participate.

The Student Union run activities, including "Timeout", a youth club for Year 7 to Year 9 students, and fundraising. Notable efforts include a sponsored walk, raising over half a million Hong Kong dollars for the South Asian Tsunami Disaster by the VIP (Vox In Populi) party along with the school's Community Service Committee. Students were rallied by Pulse through social media and school communications to help amass care packaged supplies that would go out in aid of the Typhoon Haiyan relief. The union attempts to regularly challenge the school management on health and safety issues like the state of the toilets, and the school uniform. Occasionally Union elections are ruled out of order. In 1989 a party bearing a Neo-fascist name was disqualified.[citation needed] In 2012, a party bearing the name of the popular online onomatopoetic representation of FAP was given permission to proceed with the name, but after a split school on the name the group voluntarily withdrew from the race. The Student Union has been criticised for inefficiency as it has not been able to fix a hole in the female changing room window after many years. The Student Union election process has also been criticised for turning into a popularity contest. In recent years, parties have given out candy, stickers, and free T-shirts in order to gain votes. The current Student Union as of 2017 is SURGE.


Island School offers a wide range of both sporting and non-sporting activities. Apart from inter-house sporting events such as swimming, athletics and volleyball, the school participates in most inter-school events in Hong Kong.

Students may choose to do as many activities as they want and can manage to do. The school offers many activities each week, run by teaching staff, students, and outside providers.

Students can take part in the wilderness training programme Hong Kong Award for Young People, offering the Gold, Bronze and Silver level awards.

The students produce a yearbook – ‘The Islander'.

Apart from sporting activities, the school also offers non sporting activities such as an annual inter-house quiz, debating activities and chess. One of the most popular non-sporting activities is the Model United Nations – where students come together to act as delegates to the United Nations and debate world issues. Island School is a permanent member of the annual Hong Kong Model United Nations. And since 2013, Island School has been sending delegations to the annual conference hosted by Concordia International School Shanghai in Shanghai, China.

Island school also have a student Environmental group, called Wanbo and a Social Justice group.

Notable alumni[edit]

Ex-students have in the past kept in touch and organised alumni events through volunteers and staff. The ISHK web site was a focal point of alumni activity for many years. In March 2005 the outgoing principal, David James, revitalised the Island School Alumni Association with the backing of the school, Island School PTA and the English Schools Foundation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "School Information Page". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "WASC Accrediting Commission for Schools". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Our history". Island School. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  4. ^ "Teaching staff". Island School. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Why do we need to redevelop Island school? – FAQ". Island School Redevelopment (Blog). Island School. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Anand Tucker at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°16′25″N 114°09′49″E / 22.27364°N 114.16354°E / 22.27364; 114.16354