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ISF, IMS & KCIS Primary

  1. #1
    Mamamia 1 is offline Registered User
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    Smile ISF, IMS & KCIS Primary

    Hello all

    My daughter is going to Grade 1 next September. She's Eurasian (father English). We want a good English education for her but we also want her to grow up able to read and write Chinese (traditional form preferably because we live in HK). So we want an international school with strong Mandarin (I only speak Cantonese and English) which doesn?t leave us with a lot of choice.

    Primary schools we've applied for are: ISF, IMS and KCIS.

    Would parents with kids from any of these three schools please share their knowledge with us?

    We are struggling to decide because we feel we don't know enough about the schools yet even though we've done basic research on them - school visits, school websites... We really need advice from parents with children already at these schools. From our research so far, these are our thoughts on these schools at the moment which might also be helpful to other parents seeking information about these schools:

    1) ISF - beautiful campus, very happy kids, do IB curriculum. 70% Curriculum taught in Mandarin from Foundation to Grade 4. It offers the best Mandarin out of any International schools in HK. But I?m not sure if it's worth paying $11,500/mth + $200,000 debenture for a predominantly Mandarin education. You can go to KCS and get 100% Mandarin education for free although the building and the style of teaching are old in comparison.

    2) IMS - No secondary school and depressing school campus. Teachers in primary school are not all native speakers of English. Fees are not cheap either - $10,500/mth.

    However, I do love the Montessori teaching method for early years (my daughter's been going to a Montessori pre-school since 2 1/2) But I'm not sure if Montessori is also good for primary. This is my favourite school so far. Would really appreciate advice from parents with kids at IMS primary!!!

    3) KCIS - Not sure about this school although it does have a good balance of Mandarin and English 30% Mandarin and 70% English. British curriculm. Do IGCSE and IB Diploma. School campus is also quite depressing. Heard mixed comments from parents for this school. I don?t know what to think. The school fees are significantly cheaper than the other two though - $6,000/mth.

    We desperately need more advice and reassurance from parents with kids from any of these three schools. If you already have kids in one if these schools, could you please spend a few minutes to share your thoughts with us? Or any other parents who are also considering these schools for their child for Grade 1 / Foundation Year.

    Thank you for your generous sharing!!

  2. #2
    yonge is offline Registered User
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    Our elder son is also going to be in Year 1 UK/ Kindergarten 3 HK/ Kindergarten 2 Singapore/Kindergarten US in 2010-2011, so we had been doing research along the same lines. We also briefly considered ISF, but as you might have been able to gather from different forums, there's a lot of "controversy" right now about this school. Some parents are really happy and some are really unhappy, but I think it comes down to this school being fairly new, so there are lots of different expectations that are being met or not met. In my opinion, a 70% Mandarin/30% English curriculum is not a bad idea, as the target market is English speaking households, where the children are probably pretty fluent in English and much less so in Mandarin. That being said, you made a good point (that a lot of other unsatisfied parents of children at ISF make) that you can get a 100% Mandarin education for almost free. We have English speaking friends that send their daughters there to learn Mandarin, figuring they can learn English at home, church, etc. However, KCS' style of teaching entails a lot of homework (30 new characters a week by Primary 1), so one has to be a pretty committed to support that. Our friends are stay-at-home moms who do three hours of homework with their daughters a day, including weekends. KCIS, with only 30% Mandarin, makes less sense to me, especially if your intention is to achieve fluency in Mandarin, so we did not consider it. We also did not consider IMS as we weren't particularly partial to the Montessori style of teaching. Our elder son did attend a Montessori school for 2 years when we lived in Singapore, but we didn't continue with it.

    Two other schools we did consider are Chinese International School and Singapore International School. Both have fairly new campuses (in fact, SIS is building it's secondary school campus), have 50/50 Mandarin & English teaching and uses the IB curriculum. We're actually partial to learning Chinese using simplified characters, which is used in China and Singapore, as we're hoping to be able to put him into local Singapore schools (specifically, my husband and his father's alma mater) as and when we move back to Singapore. He just started this year at SIS in Preparatory Year 1, which is the equivalent of Reception Year UK/ Kindergarten 2 HK/ Kindergarten 1 Singapore/ pre-Kindergarten US, where he's enjoying himself very much. He has Chinese and English homework once a week and he's speaking/reading more Mandarin at home than when we were living in Singapore.

    Hope this helps. The good news is that your daughter will more likely be shaped by influences from home as opposed to school, so that should take the pressure off finding the "perfect school". I think if you find a school whose educational philosophy fits well with your own, you'll be able to be more supportive and your daughter will be encouraged by your positive attitude. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Mamamia 1 is offline Registered User
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    Unhappy

    Thanks very much for the sharing. In fact we have applied to CIS Year one. But I think there is zero chance of getting in, as Year 1 places are very rare because all kids from Reception get moved up and very few kids leave. Even if places do become available they give priority to Corporate Debenture Holders (currently selling for 3.6 million!! Mad!!) We have ourselves to blame for not doing our research earlier and missed the Reception application deadline earlier this year. We only started looking at the CIS website and realised that it was the best dual language school in Hong Kong after the Reception deadline had passed. Previously, I was put off by other parents saying how this school is full of rich snooty parents and rich kids with bodyguards waiting outside the school. Although we are willing to pay the hefty school fees $12,500 (2009/10), the possibility of our daughter developing an inferior complex or learning the wrong values in life mixing with the richest kids in Hong Kong is a concern.

    As far as SIS is concerned, the admission officer told me on the phone that they start with 50/50 Mandarin and English in prep years and then the ratio becomes 80% English and 20% Mandarin in Year 1. So it seems that neither CIS nor SIS is a possibility for us.

    Like you said, ISF's curriculum (70% Mandarin / 30% English) is targeted at English speaking families (we speak mainly English at home), it might suit us quite well as long as we encourage our daughter to read more English books at home and get a Mandarin tutor to help her with her homework.

    I think peers influence play an important part in all areas of a child's learning including language. We will have to move to give our daughter, who will be 5 soon, more English speaking kids to play with as we think her speaking is not as good as it should be for her age. There are not many English speaking kids where we live at the moment.

    Despite the disadvantages with IMS primary (depressing campus, no secondary school), I am strangely attracted to it because of the great comments I've heard from parents of IMS CASA (Kindergarten) programme. After having read lots of the materials on Montessori on numerous web pages / forums, and with my daughter having spent two years in a Montessori preschool, I must say I'm a convert, at least for the early years programme. But I am desperate to hear from parents with children in the IMS primary programme. Maybe these parents don't read this forum? Will I have a better chance in the Geokids forum? It's so difficult to get in-depth information when you are an outsider.

    Any IMS Primary or ISF parents out there? From a desperate mother.
    Last edited by Mamamia 1; 12-21-2009 at 06:21 PM.

  4. #4
    Neha is offline Banned
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    Ims primary is having an open day on 30 th Jan 2010

  5. #5
    Mamamia 1 is offline Registered User
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    Hi Neha

    Thanks for the reply. I saw IMS's Open Day ad in in 'Playtimes' magazine so I called up the school to enquire about it. To my surprise, they said that their Open Day is only for parents with children in their school. Why would they advertise it in a magazine if it is only for parents in their school? Very strange indeed! I shall call again to double check.

  6. #6
    chubbysan is offline Registered User
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    Hi Mamamia, I hv juz PM you. Hope i can help you.

  7. #7
    Mamamia 1 is offline Registered User
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    Sorry chubbysan. I've just joined recently. Can you tell me how to get to access PM in this forum?

  8. #8
    flo
    flo is offline Registered User
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    chubbysan, i am also interested in IMS primary. Can you PM me also?

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