King George V School (Hong Kong)

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King George V School
King george v school logo.png
2 Tin Kwong Rd., Ho Man Tin,
Hong Kong
Type International
Independent school
Motto Honestas Ante Honores (Honesty Before Glory)
Established 1894 (as Kowloon College)
School district Kowloon

Judy Cooper (until July 2017)

Mark Blackshaw (from August 2017)
Grades Years 7 – 13
Enrollment 1800
Campus size 10.2 acres (4.1 ha)
Colour(s) gold, navy blue
Mascot The Lion
Publication The Lion (annual yearbook)

King George V School (Chinese: 英皇佐治五世學校), often shortened to "KGV" and pronounced K-G-Five ('V' is a Roman Numeral) is a co-educational international secondary independent school of the English Schools Foundation, located in the Ho Man Tin area of Hong Kong. The school has 1740 students. It is one of the oldest schools located in Kowloon. Students take IGCSEs/GCSEs followed by the International Baccalaureate diploma or the British BTEC programme. They have a Learning Support Centre (LSC) for students with learning difficulties. The campus is 10.2 acres (41,000 m2) in size. The school is one of three English Schools Foundation secondary schools in Kowloon and New Territories; the others being Sha Tin College and Renaissance College Hong Kong.

History of King George V School[edit]

Pre-WW2 period[edit]

KGV is the oldest of all the schools in the English Schools Foundation. It first opened in 1894 on Nathan Road, and originally catered for the children of British people living in Kowloon. At the time, the school occupied just one small building. It was destroyed in a typhoon in 1896, and Kowloon College opened in its place in 1902. A huge opening ceremony took place. Many of Hong Kong's elite, such as Major General Gascoigne, the Apostolic Vicar of Hong Kong Louis Piazzoli, and J.H. Stewart Lockhart, the Colony Secretary, were there. The school was built using donations from Sir Robert Hotung.[1] The school was renamed The Kowloon British School, later The Central British School, and then King George V School.

By 1930, the number of students in the school had grown to 300. Wooden huts were built at the back of the school to create extra classrooms. The playground was only 7 m². The then-headmaster, Mr. Nightingale, asked for a new and bigger school site, which was acquired, and the site plan was designed by a teacher named Mr. Rowell. Classes began at the new site on 14 September 1936. The first headmaster of the new school was the Reverend Upsdell. The present school is still on the same site. The foundation stone for the new building was laid by Sir William Peel, and the building was subsequently named The Peel Block in his honour.

WW2 period[edit]

In 1937, the Japanese army invaded China and many European women and children were evacuated from Shanghai to Hong Kong. They needed a place to stay in the summer and the school was used as a refugee camp. As World War II developed past 1939, the government started to worry about the safety of the children and in August 1940 the government ordered the evacuation of European women and children from Hong Kong. Thereafter, the school site was used by British forces as a hospital. When Hong Kong surrendered in the Battle of Hong Kong, the school site was taken over by the Japanese and used as a hospital for prisoners of war. It is rumoured that the Pavilion was once used as a torture chamber under the Japanese occupation and that ghosts of tortured victims inhabit the clock tower and room P14 which is currently used as a Media Room. Dead bodies were also said[weasel words] to be buried under the school field although when this was extensively excavated in preparation for the construction of an artificial playing surface in 2002/3, no such evidence was found. What is known[weasel words], however, is that when classes at KGV resumed after WWII, the back of the stage still had the Rising Sun Flag (of the Japanese military) painted on its back wall.

When the news was received[weasel words] that Japan had surrendered, the General commanding the school left holding his sword high. As soon as he left, the school raised the British Union flag, probably the first to be raised in Hong Kong following the Japanese surrender. For a short period after the end of the war KGV continued to be used as a military hospital and British doctors lived in the school. The following message was inscribed at the Hall's main entrance: "Never in the field of human conflict" – a reference to Winston Churchill's famous speech given to the British Parliament on 20 August 1940 – to remind future pupils of the value of peace. To this day the quote still remains at the Hall's main entrance.

Post-WW2 period[edit]

The school re-opened in the summer of 1946 and in 1947 children of all nationalities were able to join the school. Since it was no longer exclusive for British pupils only, the school's name was changed on the school's speech day of 1948 to 'King George V School,' as George V was king when the foundation stone of the Peel Block was laid.

In 1979, principal Angela Smith decided that KGV should join the English Schools Foundation and by 1981, the transfer was complete. KGV is currently the oldest school in the ESF.[2]

Modern developments[edit]

During the summer of 2009, the school installed WiFi coverage over the entire school, making it possible to have high speed Internet connection throughout the site. Students are encouraged to bring a laptop to lessons and are allowed to possess mobile devices during the free time between lessons, but are not allowed to receive calls. The Octopus card is accepted as a form of payment in the canteen, and are also required to access certain classrooms and used to take attendance.

Students and the House System[edit]

A group of senior students at KGV

There are approximately 1,740 students of some 28 different nationalities enrolled in the school. Students are accepted from many ESF feeder primary schools in the English Schools Foundation such as Kowloon Junior School, Beacon Hill School, Clearwater Bay School, and other English Schools Foundation schools.

The students are placed randomly in either of the four houses unless the students have lineage in the school. If the student has or had family members enrolled in KGV, they are automatically placed in the same house as according to their heritage.

The house system is the basis for school competitions (excluding inter-school events). Houses are named after former faculty.

The houses, and their associated colours, are as follows:

  • Crozier (green) – a teacher who fought to defend Hong Kong in WWII.
  • Nightingale (yellow) – headmaster who first asked for a new school building, which is now the current school site.
  • Rowell (blue) – a teacher who designed part of the current site of the school.
  • Upsdell (red) – the first headmaster to serve in the school building located at the current school site.[3]


The curriculum adopted by KGV, as an international school, is significantly different from the system commonly practised in Hong Kong.[citation needed]

Middle School Curriculum[edit]

The Middle School curriculum is designed for Years 7 to 9. All subjects (Art, Drama, English, History, ICT, Mathematics, Modern Foreign Languages, Music, Physical Education, Religious Studies, Geography, Science and Technology) are compulsory, and students must learn Mandarin and a European language (French, German or Spanish). A coherent skills based curriculum is being introduced in 2014.

In year 7, students are not put into academically levelled sets because it is considered as a "transition" year, offering a wide variety of "inquiry" opportunities, transitioning from the "PYP" inquiry format learning to KGV's Middle School Curriculum.


In Years 10 and 11 all students follow a course leading to IGCSE examinations (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) in their chosen subjects. Some subjects are compulsory, but there is a choice to suit the aptitude and interest of students. All students are required to study the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science (split into Biology, Chemistry and Physics), PE and PSE (Personal and Social Education). Students also have to take a further course in ICT, CIDA (Certificate in Digital Applications), which is equivalent to two GCSEs. Students must choose four further subjects by choosing one of the subjects from each of the boxes –

Box 1 (languages) Chinese AS, Chinese IGCSE, French, German, Spanish
Box 2 (individuals and societies) Geography, History, Economics, Business Studies, Psychology, Religious Studies, BTEC Course in Economics and Business (this occupies two boxes).
Box 3 (creative) Art, Music, Sports Science, Drama, Media, DT Electronics, DT Resistant Materials, DT Graphics, DT Food, DT Textiles, BTEC Course in Arts and Media (this occupies two boxes).
Box 4 (open option) BTEC course or Triple Science or another subject from Boxes 1, 2 or 3.

The boxes are structured in a way that is balanced and ensures that students can build on their strengths whilst keeping their options open in the future.

IB Diploma[edit]

Starting from September 2007, KGV replaced the existing British A-Level Program with the International Baccalaureate diploma, offering the Diploma Programme. All students have to complete the core syllabus, consisting of an Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge and Creativity, Action, Service.[4]

ID Diploma[edit]

From September 2011 the school replaced the A-Level Programme (which was an option for students who did not want to take IB) with the BTEC International Diploma – a vocational course.


School Council[edit]

The KGV school council is responsible for the governance of the school. The council has a number of responsibilities including monitoring, reviewing and evaluating the school development plan; the appointment and promotion of staff; approving the school budget; ensuring the condition and state of repair of the school premises and also acts as a link between ESF management, the school and the community as a whole. Current heads include: Fatih Ozer, Felicity Yick, and Jake Smith. [5]

Student Council[edit]

The student council is the student government of KGV. It consists of fifteen students in Years 11 to 13. All of them are elected through direct student voting (weighted-point system favouring more senior students), with a two to three-week process where the candidates run campaigns and give speeches about their ideas for the school. The president and vice-president of the council are then voted in by Year 11 and 12 students after another round of speeches.

The Student Council listens to the student opinion through form representatives and assists the school's development and improvement. It has a powerful and respected voice on all facets of school administration. Many of its achievements in the past include input on the school Healthy Eating policy, smart card system, vertical tutoring, ICT usage, environment, assembly structure, physical education (PE) kits, and site redevelopment.

Every year the Student Council also hosts or assists in fundraisers, such as the annual 'ESISCO' and School 'Karnival'.

In recent elections, issues of concern for KGV students have included congestion in the school's stairways, the lack of means through which students can voice their concerns, and the replacement of malfunctioning computers in the Senior Student Centre Resource Room.

School motto and song[edit]

  • School Motto

The motto of KGV is Honestas Ante Honores, which means "Honesty Before Glory" in Latin.

  • School Song

The school song is sung at school events and assemblies such as Speech Day and End of Year Assembly.

The motto forms the core theme of the School Song.

Here we are gathered from many a nation,
Arts to acquire that our peoples may serve.
Characters moulded by strict regulation;
Honour demands we this motto observe:

Honestas ante Honores
Honesty first then glories
Loud raise the echoing chorus
Honestas ante Honores
Bold as the Lion Crest
Blazoned on every breast
Loud let resound the chorus
Honestas ante Honores!

Chivalry's courtesies claim cultivation;
Honour depends on such disciplined rule.
Honour, acquiring a good reputation;
Honour the name of King George the Fifth School.

Honestas ante Honores
Honesty first then glories
Loud raise the echoing chorus
Honestas ante Honores
Bold as the Lion Crest
Blazoned on every breast
Loud let resound the chorus
Honestas ante Honores!


KGV is known for its sports from rugby to basketball; games often take place within the school campus as the school is one of the few in Hong Kong equipped with the facilities. It is a Division I category school. In 2009, the KGV won the Bauhinia Bowl, marking it as the best co-educational sporting school in Hong Kong for the academic year 2008–2009.[6]


Rugby has been a traditional sport at KGV for a very long time. In the 2007–2008 term, the A-grade rugby team won the 15s, 10s and 7s tournament; this had not been achieved before in the history of the school. This team includes many Hong Kong rugby representatives and the 2010 Larry Abel award winner; Aiden Bradley. A single word, "MANA" (meaning 'pride'), is shouted out at every practice and match to build up confidence in team members.

The school has recently embraced female rugby. The women's team includes many Hong Kong Bauhinia U16 rugby representatives, as well as players for the Hong Kong U18 Development and U18 Nationals for XVs and VIIs. In 2013 the women's team won the cup against the Hong Kong Standard Charter Select team in the first Bill Williams 7s tournament with a women's section.


Football has been a traditional sport at KGV for a long time. In recent years, the team has won the "Team With Most Space For Improvement" Award, and has exceeded expectations with regards to the maintenance of its losing streak in penalty shootouts.

The school often takes part in the Jing Ying Inter- School Football Tournament which is regarded as the elite football tournament within Hong Kong with best teams participating.

Girls' Lacrosse[edit]

Girls' Lacrosse was introduced in 2011. It first started off as a small group of enthusiastic students but as time passed, more people were motivated to join as well. In May 2012, the KGV Girls' Lacrosse Team joined the Hong Kong Lacrosse League, which was between 2 adult teams and HKIS.


The season of 2011 – 2012, KGV A-grade boys' basketball team had won the HKSSF Division 3 basketball championship, it was first time for KGV basketball to win a championship.


The netball team at KGV has been one of the school's best performing athletic team. The teams are divided according to A, B, C grade depending on the player's age.



Peel Block[edit]

KGV Peel Block – during Karnival 2004

Completed in 1937, this block is named after Sir William Peel, the Governor of Hong Kong from 1930 to 1935. His name can be found on the foundation stone at the north-east corner of the building. This is the first block built on the present school site. It is protected under Hong Kong law because of its age and historical significance. The building's plan view is shaped like the letter E and has two storeys. The Peel Block currently houses the School Hall, the Middle School Office, the reprographics room, the Learning Resource Centre, SSC rooms, the staff room and offices on the ground floor.

The Peel Block is home to the renowned Léo's Cafe, popular for students of all ages as a place for recreation and socialising.

Since the KGV site was used as a hospital and a dungeon by the Japanese in World War II, there are many rumours about this block. Many have said that the former computer room is haunted and was a torture chamber during the Japanese Occupation, while others say that footsteps can be heard on the Peel Block's roof (or along the upper floor) at night.


KGV School Hall – Speech Day 2001

The Hall, located in the centre of the Peel Block, has hardwood flooring in the centre and marble flooring on the side walkways and up halfway along the wall. It is used for events ranging from assemblies, Speech Day, to music and dance competitions. The large hall is 2 storeys tall, and includes a terraced balcony at the rear, for additional seating. Traditionally, manned theatrical (projection) lighting was staged at either end of the balcony's front rail/wall, often with a central "spotlight", for theatrical and/or orchestral recital performance evenings; video cameras on tripods were also set up here during the 80s and 90s, for filming many of KGVs traditional and other events.

New Block[edit]

Situated on the south side of the campus, the New Block, completed in 1964, is three stories tall and is currently home to a range of classrooms, a computer help centre, and a nurse's station / room.

Activities Centre[edit]

Completed in 1983, the Activities Centre formerly consisted of two Drama Studios, Drama Office and P.E. changing rooms. The Activities Centre now houses one of three Art Studios on campus and three P.E. rooms.

Link Block[edit]

Built in 1984, this five-storey building links the New Block, the Peel Block and the Activities Centre, with covered walkways on connecting floors. This building houses Design and Technology, Mathematics, English and Media classrooms, art studios, pastoral offices, and computer labs.

Jockey Club Sarah Roe Centre[edit]

The Jockey Club Sarah Roe Centre (JCSRC) was built in 1986 with funds donated from the then Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club and named after Mrs. Sarah Roe, an occupational therapist, who was a founder of the Child Development Centre at the Matilda Hospital. The Jockey Club Sarah Roe School, originally on the ground floor, later relocated into the Senior Student Centre. Currently, the Garden Rooms are being used as a Learning Support Centre, the first floor as a Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) store, and the second floor as six classrooms, two occupied by the student support team.

Sarah Roe School/ Senior Student Centre/ Vertical Extension[edit]

Completed in 1996, the original building was erected on the footprint of KGV's two tennis courts, which were re-homed atop the building's roof. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Sarah Roe School (JCSRS) is housed on the KGV site, and occupies the first and part of the second storeys of this building. This facility educates students with special needs across the English Schools Foundation, and is the only such unit in the entire foundation. KGV occupies the remaining floors. The second storey also includes a BTEC Art Room, while the third storey of the building houses the Senior Student Centre (SSC), being a common lounge/study area reserved exclusively for senior students. In 2001, a vertical extension to the building was completed. The added fourth floor of this building provides ten more classrooms as well as one of the four computer labs on campus.


Built in 1999, these ground-floor classrooms were meant as "temporary" classrooms, but as KGV grew, these classrooms became necessary and thus became a permanent fixture until in October 2014, when a planned piazza was going to be built where the B-block stood and now because of construction, the B-block has been demolished. Now, in place of the B-block is the quite newly opened Piazza.

Science Block[edit]

Built in 2013 the Science Block is a five storey building built on the former Annex Block, besides the New Block. This building mainly houses science laboratories, but other facilities are also found on the block, the Guilford Lecture Theatre covers the ground level of the building. On the roof is a rooftop garden for students to use during break and lunchtimes. There is a link between the second floor Science Block that allows students to access the third floor of the New Block.

Performing Arts Centre[edit]

Built in 2013, the Performing Arts Centre, is a five storey building built on the former canteen area and PTSA store, behind the Peel Block and beside the Swimming Pool. The building hosts a canteen, the Music Department, drama studios and changing rooms. Similar to the Science Block, the Performing Arts Centre also features a rooftop centre, the rooftop garden includes a small amphitheatre for any performing uses.


Built in 1940, this block occupies the south-west corner of the school field. Originally equipped with two changing rooms with showers (through the rest of the 20th century), they were converted into two classrooms (X1 and X2), leaving the storage and maintenance sheds on the ground floor. The classrooms have now been converted back into changing rooms. Although there is no conclusive evidence, it is believed by some students and teachers that the Pavilion was used as a torture chamber during World War II when the Japanese occupied the school, and traditional belief was that it was haunted.

Other facilities[edit]

KGV School Field

School Field[edit]

KGV's artificially turfed field is ESF's multipurpose sports facility. It has markings for various sports, such as rugby, football (soccer), hockey, and also has a long & triple jump track running the perimeter of the field. Prior to the AstroTurfing, there was opposition to the use of artificial turf. However, huge amounts of money spent on maintaining the natural grass on the field's base of hard clay was uneconomic and impractical, and the field would become a large dust bowl after a month or two of use and students would often get injured playing on the field.

The field was reopened on 29 April 2014 after a HK$34 million renovation.[7] On the opening day, 575 students broke the Guinness World Record of 'Most Participants in a Bleep Test', previously held by a college in Australia.[8][9]This is the second world record broken by the school, the other being 'Most People Planking Simultaneously' with 1,549 students on 16 December 2011.[10] In 2014, the field was rebuilt and to celebrate, the school went for the world record of Most People Participating in the Multi-Stage Fitness Test.

Swimming pool[edit]

Built in 1979 the school's swimming pool is located behind the Peel Block. It is a 25-metre swimming pool with six lanes, normally in operation from April to November. As well as for sports, it plays host to a variety of activities such as D-Day emulations by the history department and re-enactments of the Red Sea Crossing by the Religious Studies department.

Tennis Courts[edit]

The two tennis courts are located on the roof of the SSC (Senior School Centre). They are used during PE lessons.


The canteen is inside the Performing Arts Centre.

Although the school has entered an agreement which guarantees the canteen a monopoly to food provisions on campus, a variety of food options are nonetheless available for senior students who are willing to violate the senior school contract. The class of 2008, in particular, has been known as the pioneers for ordering deliveries of McDonald's and Kebabs. This has become the unofficial norm and a major rite of passage for members of the senior school.

Future site development[edit]

There are plans to amalgamate the KGV and Kowloon Junior School Perth Street campus to allow KGV to grow further. This would involve the replacement of the swimming pool with facilities including a performance hall, indoor swimming pool, gym facilities and new classrooms to accommodate the increasing numbers of new students.

In September 2008, KGV introduced an Octopus smart-card registration system, replacing paper registration (attendance).


KGV, being an old school, has many traditions in place, many of those have developed from the school's British colonial roots.


Formerly held Monday and Friday mornings, they are now held on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings (and no longer on a weekly basis). Assemblies are where announcements are made to the whole of middle or senior school and performances are given. However, due to the growth in student numbers since 2003, assembly can no longer be held with all students under one roof. Currently, whole school assemblies are broadcast live to other various locations on campus, including the Guilford Lecture Theatre and tutor rooms.


KGV Year 13 Pantomime

The Pantomime, otherwise known as the "panto", is performed by Year 13 students on the final day of the fall term, prior to the start of the Christmas break. Generally making fun of the school or its teachers, this event is invariably a great comedy show for all students.

One of the highlights of the production is the male student's cross-dressing show, as well as the traditional 'Brown Boys' segment.

Speech Day[edit]

Speech Day is a formal occasion for Students from Years 9–12 who have achieved academic excellence in KGV. Each subject comes with a subject prize and only one student from each year is awarded. Other awards include prizes for Community Service, the Lion Yearbook, School Public Spirit, Art, Acting, Music, and many more. As this is a very important event to prize winners, teachers and alumni frequently attend, and the KGV Orchestra and Choir plays music to make the night even more ceremonious.

Christmas Carol Concert[edit]

The Carol Concert is a concert, given by the KGV Orchestra, Choir, and Jazz band, which is open to the general public. White Christmas has been a staple of every KGV Christmas since the late 1980s, originally instituted by then head music teacher, Mr. Thompson, and sung by the School Choir at the Carol Concert evenings. In later years, it was performed by the Staff Choir during the Christmas Final Assembly (pictured).

KGV – Christmas Final Assembly

KGV Karnival[edit]

Known as the "Beach@KGV" in 2008, KGViva in 2007 and Spring Fair prior to 2003, this event is held every year in March or April where KGV is set up to be like a bazaar. Students set up games stalls and merchants set up small shops, with raffle ticket sales contributed to the PTSA to cover its general expenses. There are also performances by student groups, the Orchestras (Junior Orchestra and Senior Orchestra) and the Jazz Band. This tradition was discontinued in recent years.

KGV Survivor[edit]

An elimination game, which is held on the last day of each school year, is held on the school field or in the hall where a series of questions are asked, different houses are separated and joined up at the finale. The winner of the game used to win HK$1000 but now instead has a prize where you can get your breakfast ready made by a teacher, driven by the vice principal to school and be the principal for 30 minutes with 2 of your very own friends before period 1 on the first day back.

Year 13 final assembly[edit]

A final assembly on Year 13's final day before exam leave in the summer. Usually, a performance is given by Year 13 students, and final goodbyes are said. There is a recital of Rudyard Kipling's poem If— by the Head Boy, and Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou by the Head Girl. At the end, a band of teachers play Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard while the rest of staff (on stage) and school sing along. Prior to 2002 (but some time after 1992), students would spend the night at the school as well; this tradition was scrapped due to safety concerns.


In 2006, KGV was the first school in Asia to perform the musical, Les Misérables: School Edition.

In 2009, musician Mika visited King George V School. He viewed the artwork based on his music (created by Advanced Diploma students) and helped finish a mural on the B-block wall, painting "I am not what you think I am / I am made of gold." He followed by performing 'Grace Kelly' for the students.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also Category:Alumni of King George V School, Hong Kong


  1. ^ Sally Rodwell. 1991. A Visitor's guide to Historic Hong Kong. ISBN 962-217-212-1
  2. ^ The History of KGV
  3. ^ History of houses in KGV
  4. ^ Secondary Curriculum
  5. ^ School council
  6. ^ List of Champion Schools, HKSSF, Retrieved 8 February 2014
  7. ^ "KGV大球場3,400萬翻新 世界紀錄賀重開 – Apple Daily Hong Kong (in Traditional Chinese)". Apple Daily Hong Kong. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "KGV field opens with world record – English Schools Foundation". English Schools Foundation. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Bleep Test - Most Participants – Guinness World Records". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Most people planking simultaneously – Guinness World Records". Most people planking simultaneously – Guinness World Records. Guinness World Records. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Looking Forward" (PDF). Looking Forward, December 2012. King George V School. 2012. p. 3. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Aarif Winning Best New Actor, KGV Alumni Affairs". KGV Alumni. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Looking Forward" (PDF). Looking Forward, December 2012. King George V School. 2012. p. 21. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°19′18″N 114°10′59″E / 22.321540°N 114.182953°E / 22.321540; 114.182953