Kellett Senior School
A British co-educational day school for 11 -18 year olds opened in 2007 on the foundations of a well-established primary school, Kellett School (Kowloon Bay) offers GCSEs and A-Levels.
- Kellett Senior School
7 Lam Hing Street
- T +852 3120 0700
- E [email protected]
- W www.kellettschool.com
- Senior School Ages: 11-18
- Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
- Senior School Numbers: 270 boys, 302 girls
- Total School Numbers: 570 boys and girls
- Teaching Language: English
- SEN: Mainstream with SEN support
- Boarding: Not available
- Uniform: Yes
- School Year: Late August - end June; 3 terms; Breaks: 2 - 3 weeks Christmas, 2 weeks Easter, 7 weeks summer; 1 week October, Chinese New Year
- School Hours: 7.50 am - 3.05 pm
- Fee Currency: HK$ (HKD)
- Fee Details: Annual Tuition Fees: Years 7-11: 214,500 Years 12-13: 220,800
- Fee Extras: Association Fee (annual, per family): 500; Bus fees, uniform, lunch, extra-curricular activities and overseas educational visits are not included in the annual fees; Compulsory Debentures: 120,000 - 5,000,000
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Memberships: FOBISIA, COBIS; HMC. Positive Education School Association (PESA); AQA; Cambridge International Examinations; Edexcel; ABSM
- State/Independent: Independent: private non-profit
- GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
- IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
- National Curriculum for England
- BSO (British Schools Overseas inspection programme)
- Penta International (DfE BSO approved)
No school can pay to be in
The Good Schools Guide International. Period.
What The Good Schools Guide International says
Head of Senior School Mr Joe Alsop BA MSC PGCE
Since 2019; Joe Alsop, with degrees from Bath, Nottingham and Goldsmith's, comes from being headmaster at St Augustine's in the UK and is highly respected for having turned around this mixed comprehensive in Wiltshire (St. Augustine’s, rated OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ in 2007, under his watch), and for his track record of ‘adding value’ within non-selective schools.
Whilst being justifiably proud of his past achievements, a short time after arriving at Kellett, he recognised that Hong Kong (mainly expat) children are a very different bunch (‘they have no behavioural problems at all’ he marvels). Mr. Alsop’s wife, Rachel, is Head of PE in the Pokfulam campus, and children both also joined Kellett Senior School.
Mr Mark Steed is the overall Principal and CEO of Kellett School. With a traditional British public school then international CV (ex. Oundle and, more recently, Head of the pioneering Jumeirah English Speaking School, Dubai). Mr Steed is moderniser and reformer (‘big into using tech and future-proofing education’). This has proved extremely fortuitous in this era of home-learning caused by Hong Kong's protests in late 2019 followed by the Covid-19 school closures of 2020/2021. Mr Steed was already rolling out mandatory ipads in the lower school and introducing online adaptive learning, well ahead of other schools both in UK and internationally and has been advising others on how to navigate the transition to online learning. His wife, Samantha, will take over the headship of the Kowloon Bay Prep School in August 2021.
Whilst tech is currently number one on his list, 'competitive sport is of equal priority' with a new Director of Sport role being created and recruited for. Mr Steed has 'no interest' in Kellett being compared to or try to emulate a British prep or public school: 'We are an international school and we want to be put on the map for that'.
Kellett School had no qualms about retaining A-levels when others were jumping onto the IB bandwagon (‘there was no debate’). Most families here are British, and A-levels are by far the qualification of preference (and ‘thankfully less stressful’ for the parents and students in the final two years of school).
Kellett recruits teachers directly from the UK so is confident they can deliver the curriculum well, and deliver they do: Recent GCSE and A-level results have been highly commendable for a non-selective school, well above both the overall UK average and the ISC average: just under 80 per cent GCSE A*-A (9-7) in 2019 and 13 out 75 scoring A* (9-8) in all their exams; just over 50 per cent A*-A at A-level with 16 out of 55 candidates achieving three or more A*-A.
Kellett Senior, whilst building on the 40-year (old by Hong Kong standards) traditions of its prep department, is housed in a spanking new building (has serious ‘wow’ factor) and we’d say it’s a ‘school for the future’ academically, too.
Whilst the infrequent use of exercise books may send more traditional parents into a spin (lots of old-school Brits here), this ‘allows a high degree of collaboration, particularly for homework’. It has also been a god-send during school closures, allowing a much smoother transition to home-learning than in other establishments.
The skeptics who initially frown at Media Studies as an A-level course in a highly academic school like Kellett put one foot inside it's impressive Media Suite and think again. The room is like Google HQ, with students on beanbags tapping away furiously on their laptops - fully focused and completely engaged in magazines, podcasts, documentaries, you name it - and a new A-levels computer science lab is now in place next to the textiles room (the much loved space formerly known as the ‘parents sewing room’).
English, maths and science are all ‘robustly taught’ (if a bit light on old-fashioned pen and paper for the old-school brigade) as is a wide variety of modern languages. In Year 7, only one modern language is taught (French or Chinese). Then from Year 8, students can add in Latin, Spanish or German (one must be at beginner level, the other can be more advanced). NB Those transferring to UK schools at 13 will be able to take GCSE Chinese early and very easily; Kellett pupils taking Chinese GCSE early got all A*s (2018).
Whilst this is not a high-pressure school, there are high-expectations as parents are successful, and children are well brought up, with teachers infusing enthusiasm in their subjects. Unlike some schools that vigorously de-select less-able students (both in the entry to their senior schools and prior to sixth-form), Kellett strives to bring out the best in every single student. The Global Citizenship program that partners the academic program, small class sizes and a low student-teacher ratio means that on the whole they succeed, producing ‘confident, capable, responsible and well-rounded young men and women’.
As with the two prep schools, Kellett Senior ‘happily welcomes’ children from both ends of the academic spectrum. The school has the resources to provide for a maximum of 20 ‘units’ of SEN provision per year group, ranked by number. A child who needs a ‘1’ unit requires a minimal amount of help; ‘4’ means a much more all-encompassing level of assistance is required.
Those in the system will be looked after by all the specialists and extra assistants they need (at the parents’ own cost). However, once this quota is full, students must wait until there is space. Most needs dealt with are academic (dyslexia/dyscalculia/dysgraphia) rather than behavioural (Autism spectrum). The SEN room is considered to be a comfortable, welcoming refuge, with students coming in and out throughout the day.
English is the language of the classroom and whilst many are bilingual, almost all children are native English speakers. Students need to have a high level of English if they are to successfully access the curriculum, and no specific support is provided to non-native speakers.
Games, Arts and Options
The arts in general ‘are a strength of Kellett’s’, and are ‘encouraged and supported’ across all standards. The Kellett design and technology faculty bridges both art and science, physically as well as conceptually, and both are thought to be well taught and resourced.
Parents note that Year 7 and 8 children benefit from being able to use the outstanding specialist teachers and resources required by sixth formers (unlike at a prep school where they are the top of the tree age-wise, but don’t get the top-notch facilities of a senior school).
Whilst academic lessons and arts subject take precedence during the school day, a wide variety of sport extra-curricular activities (ECAs) are put on after school (and ‘encouraged’) for anyone who is interested. ‘Talent is spotted early’ and there is the opportunity for those who excel to take part in inter-school competitions. ECAs are reasonably priced and there is a late ECA bus, but parents have to organize transport to most competitions independently.
Years 12 and 13 follow a ‘health and wellness program’ which incorporates team sports, physical fitness, leadership and first aid. The idea throughout the school is to encourage children to find a sport or physical activity they’d want to carry on for a lifetime.
The house system is the cornerstone of the pastoral care system; house matches are where most children compete, although some enter the HKSSF and ISSFHK competitions.
The ozone pool coupled with the warm climate make early morning swimming sessions a lot less painful than they might be, and the recent appointment of a new Director of Swimming is felt to have been a huge boost to the whole school, not just the elite swimmers (of whom there are many).
As with the Kellett prep schools, music is taken seriously here (as it is all over Hong Kong). Instrumental lessons are offered, as is curriculum music (covers ‘performance, composition and appraisal’), music tech, and music GCSE and A-level, both of which are very popular options.
Some take part in Asia-wide FOBISIA music competitions and others take part in orchestras and performances in the 380 seat David Kidd theatre. The theatre, along with a dedicated drama studio, is also used for a variety of performing arts and drama, which again, are very popular both on and off-timetable.
Educational visits are exotic at Kellett, with the annual Global Outlook Week taking children to Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Malaysia and New Zealand. Year 11 students nip off to China, France, Spain or Germany for language immersion.
Year 10 students can join the Hong Kong Award for Young People (HKAYP) (Hong Kong equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award), with the top level Gold exploration section taking place in New Zealand.
Background and Atmosphere
The location of the school is both a positive and a negative - convenient for those in the new Territories and Kowloon, but ‘island’ based families ‘at the mercy of the tunnel traffic’. Many senior school students take the MTR (underground train) back to Hong Kong island and there are thrilling reports that a new MTR station is soon opening up very close to the campus, which will link it directly to Central.
Kellett's neighbourhood of low-rise factories and warehouses has inspired a cool industrial-style modern campus, with curved lines mirroring nearby buildings to great effect, and is definitely an area on the up, complete with new Michelin-starred restaurant opposite the school. Kellett itself is a modern, state-of-the-art, stunning building, inside and out.
Universally mentioned and wildly popular with students is the Sky Pitch, with its athletics track, three-quarter-sized football pitch, food kiosk, a great sense of space and views over Hong Kong harbour. The school also has use of extensive public sports pitches across the road, so whilst space is limited, it is not limiting.
The senior school is completely separate from the primary school (to prevent ‘school fatigue’). Although still a relatively small school (570 pupils) Kellett feels huge inside - quite a feat in space-starved Hong Kong.
The canteen and Starbucks-like café offer salads, wraps, croissants and coffee throughout the day and hot food at lunchtime (healthy, of course, in keeping with year 12-13 Health and Wellness Program, along with team sports, fitness, leadership and first aid).
Kellett was started by a group of parents over 40 years ago and is still governed by a board of twelve elected parent members (who retire on rotation and have voting rights). The Principal and Bursar are also on the board (along with an Education Advisor) but have no voting rights.
Pupils and Parents
Families are mainly Western (usually with some sort of British background or connection), with some mixed Chinese-English and a few local Chinese and other Asian nationalities as long as they have excellent English. Slightly more local Chinese further up the school than at the prep school. Lots live in Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung, but also all over Hong Kong island as lots have come from the Pokfulam feeder school. Parents are a mix of all professional expat types, from CEOs to tech entrepreneurs, shipping magnates, pilots, lawyers and lots of bankers.
The British disregard of ‘flashiness’ still holds at Kellett, although of course the children are keen on ‘labels’, having such easy access to downtown Hong Kong and more independence than they would probably have in London or other, less safe, cities.
Parents mix together less in the senior school than the prep schools (as children can get themselves to and from school independently), but those new to town can definitely find a circle of friends through the school.
Pastoral Care and Discipline
Pastoral care is taken seriously at Kellett. In the past, as a new school finding its feet, lessons were learnt along the way. However, in the past year, a fantastic (parent funded) collaboration with Geelong Grammar School in Melbourne has put Kellett at the forefront of the Positive Education movement in Hong Kong, with best practices like daily tutor time for well-being for senior school students and camp preparing year 11 for the challenging exam year ahead.
Being a day school, social media bullying can off course happen off-campus, however the school insists that they don’t wash their hands of problems once students go home for the night or weekend. Any bullying done out of school is still regarded as the school’s responsibility and dealt with seriously.
Hong Kong expat students are old hands at dealing with newcomers. All are welcomed with open arms and usually great excitement.
Whilst it is a ’4-18 through-school’, the transient nature of the international population in HK means some families will inevitably be moving back to UK as well as other countries and postings. The high socio-demographic of Kellett families also means that UK boarding schools are a consideration for many. A relatively large number therefore leave every year at 13 (year 9). This is taken into account in the school structure and the school goes from having 5 classes in years 7 and 8 to 4 classes in year 9. They are therefore able to lose 23 children without having to recruit further students. If they did need more students however, there would be a fairly hefty waiting list to choose from. ‘Supported but not encouraged’ has so far been the name of the game as far as 13+ departures go (although Mr Steed admits that it's possibly better for pupils to go to UK at 11 rather than 13 to minimise disruption to the remaining students). A helpful and thorough report will be written for new school applications (with only small cost occurring if a reference letter is also required) and the curriculum will be pretty much in-line with UK standards, so only short-term exam and interview preparation will be required (out of school). A full term’s notice must be given (a policy strictly observed).
New students coming from UK schools should hit the ground running, whilst those coming from IB PYP will usually have to catch up on certain areas that are more thoroughly taught in the National Curriculum.
Socially, children find the transition easier than the parents, with those coming from the UK loving the independence and getting to take the MTR to school.
80% come from the two Kellett prep schools. Waiting lists are less onerous in the senior than the prep school(s) and there is always movement, but it is still worth getting your child’s name down early. Priority is given to those with a debenture and siblings, followed by date of application. 70% of the student body must be non-Hong Kong passport holders so non-locals have an advantage.
Applicants are judged on their latest school report, an externally moderated online computer assessment, a writing assessment and (for entry higher up the school) assessment of option choice subjects. Any special needs requirements must be open and upfront (at the risk of losing the place later).
Families tend to fall into two camps at Kellett senior: those who have been through the prep (primary) school and are using the senior school as a two year stop-gap before heading to a UK public school, and those who are in it for the long haul.
On the whole, the second group do exceptionally well, with high degrees of student happiness and parental satisfaction reported. GCSEs and A-level results are of a caliber that students can attend any of the top UK Russell Group Universities and Oxbridge (at least a couple per year) if they have the ability.
They are very well supported through the UCAS process and medical schools. Whilst the majority go to UK (impressive Oxbridge numbers), some go to top US, Australian, New Zealand and other European universities. A new ‘O.K.’ website has been set up to support Old Kellettonians all over the world with careers advice and internship offers, and some head for a more vocational qualification.
The second group of leavers tend to be going to UK boarding schools, from Eton to Harrow, (lots of) Marlborough, Oundle, Sherborne and Uppingham (Kellett is their third biggest feeder anywhere) post Year 8 (aged 13). They have usually gone through Kellett prep school and two years at Kellett senior - (‘the best years of my life’ said one old boy) which allows them to make life-long Hong Kong friends plus gain a huge amount of independence managing their own time and learning.
However, that route definitely does not specifically groom them for a UK boarding school life (as a UK prep school would do) and does not invigilate or prepare students for pretests, interviews or Common Entrance. This unwillingness to 'prep' children for boarding schools is all part of Mark Steed's uncompromisable wish to put Kellett on the map as a stand-alone international senior (through) school, able to complete with other famous schools on the world-stage.
According to former principal, Ann McDonald, Kellett School is now at a ‘level of maturity where it can give back’ to others. In her honour, a new fund for scholarships and bursaries supports a small number of students who ‘cannot access local schools due to language barriers’ yet cannot access international schools due to Hong Kong’s wealth gap, which has ‘never been wider’. It supports recipients through secondary and also into tertiary education, including foreign universities, for those who cannot enter the local university system.
Whilst being born out of the oldest ‘British’ school in Hong Kong, Kellett Senior School is an exceptionally modern and forward thinking 11-18 day school, providing a robust British curriculum alongside a rigorous Global Citizenship program.