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 I/GCSEs and A levels.
- Kellett Senior School
7 Lam Hing Street
- T +852 3120 0707
- E [email protected]
- W www.kellettschool.com
- Senior School Ages: 11-18
- Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
- Total School Numbers: 682 boys & 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 - 3.10 pm
- Fee Currency: HK$ (HKD)
- Fee Details: Annual Tuition Fees: Years 7-11: 236,500; Years 12-13: 243,400
- 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; Individual Debentures: 120,000; Corporate Debentures: 650,000; Capital Contribution (Sixth Form only): 48,000 for the 2 years.
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Memberships: Head's Conference (HMC) - International Member; Federation of International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA); Council of British International Schools (COBIS) - Patron's Accredited Member; AQA; Cambridge International Examinations; Edexcel; ABSM.
- State/Independent: Independent: private non-profit
- A levels
- 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)
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What The Good Schools Guide International says
Head of senior school
Since 2019, Joe Alsop BA MSC PGCE. He joined with an impressive track record for ‘adding value’ within non-selective schools in UK. A short time after arriving at Kellett, he recognised that Hong Kong (mainly expat) children are a very different ('well behaved') bunch. Married to Rachel, head of PE in the Pokfulam campus, with both their children having joined Kellett Senior School.
Interim principal and CEO
Since Aug 2023, Diana Vernon. Kellett's educational advisor and former principal (nine years) of Methodist Ladies' College in Melbourne, one of Australia's leading schools, has stepped in as interim principal and CEO for a year. Ms Vernon is also a former headmistress at City of London School for Girls, one of the UK's leading independent schools.
Paul Tough, currently principal at The British School in Tokyo, Japan, will join Kellett as principal and CEO in April 2024.
Eighty per cent 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 given to those with a debenture and siblings, followed by date of application. Seventy per cent 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. A minimum of five C's at I/GCSE (or equivalent) is required for sixth form entry, with at least a B in subjects to be studied for A level. Any special needs requirements must be open and upfront (at the risk of losing the place later).
New students coming from UK schools should hit the ground running, while 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. Hong Kong expat students are old hands at dealing with newcomers. All are welcomed with open arms and usually great excitement.
Families tend to fall into two camps - 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. I/GCSEs and A level results are of a calibre that students can attend any of the top UK universities (60 per cent of the UK-headed students went to Russell Group) and Oxbridge (at least a couple per year) if they have the ability. Good support for the UCAS process and medical applications. While the majority go to UK, some go to top US, Australian, New Zealand and other European universities. In 2022 one to Cambridge, other popular UK destinations were Durham University, Loughborough, Bath, Manchester and York; other students headed off to Australia, USA, Toronto and Hong Kong. An ‘OK’ website has been set up to support Old Kellettonians all over the world, with careers advice and internship offers, and also supports those heading for gap years and more vocational qualifications.
The second group of leavers tend go to top-end UK boarding schools 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 before they go away. However, Kellett does not specifically prepare them for a UK boarding school life (as a UK prep school would do) and does not invigilate or prepare students for pre-tests, interviews or Common Entrance. This is all part of Kellett's desire to be a standalone international senior (through) school, able to complete with other famous schools on the world-stage rather than a feeder for British boarding schools. ‘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).
In 2022, 78 per cent A*/A (9-7) at I/GCSE; 73 per cent A*/A at A level. In 2021, 87 per cent A*/A (9-7) at I/GCSE; 81 per cent A*/A at A level. Exceptional for a non-selective school, well above both the overall UK average and the ISC average.
Teaching and learning
Kellett School had no qualms about retaining A levels when others were jumping onto the IB bandwagon (‘there was no debate’). Most families 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. There are 21 subject choices, including, most recently, 'innovation'. The sceptics who initially frown at media studies as an A level course in such an academic school put one foot inside the impressive media suite and thought again. The room is like Google HQ, with students on beanbags tapping away furiously on their laptops - fully focused and completely engaged in producing magazines, podcasts, documentaries, you name it. Students are also encouraged to take the EPQ (counting as half an A level) in unlimited topics as diverse as founding an animal charity or building a guitar from scratch.
Kellett recruits teachers directly from the UK so is confident they can deliver the curriculum well, and deliver they do. While the infrequent use of exercise books initially sent more traditionally-minded parents into a spin, this ‘allows a high degree of collaboration’. It has also been a godsend during school closures, allowing a much smoother transition to home-learning than in other establishments.
English, maths and science are all ‘robustly taught,’ as are modern languages. In year 7, 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). Note that those transferring to UK schools at 13 will be able to take I/GCSE Chinese early and very easily, with good results.
While this is not a high-pressure school, there are high expectations among the successful parent cohort, 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. In the Global Citizenship programme that partners the academic programme, 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’. A mini-MBA has been introduced to allow sixth formers to gain real world business skills, no doubt assisted by the well-connected parent body who are key players in a wide range of industries in Hong Kong.
Learning support and SEN
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). 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 while 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.
The arts and extracurricular
The arts in general ‘are a strength of Kellett’, and are ‘encouraged and supported’ across all standards. The design and technology faculty bridges both art and science, physically as well as conceptually, and both are thought to be well taught and resourced. As with the Kellett prep schools (and indeed all over Hong Kong), music is taken seriously, with instrumental lessons offered, as well as music being on curriculum (covering ‘performance, composition and appraisal’). Music popular at both I/GCSE and A level. Music tech impressive.
Some take part in Asia-wide FOBISIA music competitions, others join the orchestras and performances in the 380-seat David Kidd theatre which, along with a dedicated drama studio, is also used for a variety of performing arts and drama - again, popular both on and off-timetable.
Educational visits are exotic, 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 Award Scheme), with the top level gold exploration section taking place in New Zealand.
While tech was initially number one on his to-do list, 'improving competitive sport is of equal importance' to Mr Steed, who appointed a new director of sport and international rugby player to the coaching staff. While academic lessons and arts subject take precedence during the school day, students are 'encouraged' to choose from a wide variety of sport extracurricular activities (ECAs) after school. ‘Talent is spotted early,’ we heard, and there are inter-school competitions for those who excel. ECAs are reasonably priced and there is a late ECA bus. Years 12 and 13 follow a health and wellness programme, incorporating 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 ozone pool, coupled with the warm climate, make early morning swimming sessions a lot less painful than they might be. While Kellett produces a good number of elite swimmers, aided by the very competent director of swimming, all sixth form students are encouraged to use the pool before, after and during the school day in free periods.
Ethos and heritage
The school has a 40-year history with its prep department but the new building also inspires its aim to be a ‘school for the future.’ The location is convenient for those in the new Territories and Kowloon, but island based families are ‘at the mercy of the tunnel traffic’. Many senior school students take the MTR (underground train) back to Hong Kong island.
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, 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 while space is limited, it is not limiting.
While in the same building, 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. Sixth formers are also given their own sense of space with the new sixth form centre, equipped with student kitchens, private meeting rooms and work pods which allow both collaborative and quiet learning, as well as giving students space to relax and socialise.
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 programme, 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 12 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.
Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline
Pastoral care is taken seriously. A fantastic collaboration with Geelong Grammar School in Melbourne has put Kellett at the forefront of the Positive Education movement in Hong Kong, with best practices including daily tutor time for wellbeing for senior school students and camp to prepare year 11s for the challenging exam year ahead.
The school says they do not wash their hands of problems (eg social media related) 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.
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. In 2022, 39 different nationalities within the whole school. Over 44 per cent hold British passports. Lots live in Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung, but also all over Hong Kong island as many 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.
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.
The last word
While 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 broad and balanced British curriculum.
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