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Primary Schooling in Hong Kong

(13 Posts)
Elsasalterego Wed 01-Nov-17 21:38:43

I'd appreciate some help in helping us make a decision. My husband might be in line for a promotion in Hong Kong but we are wondering what the schooling options would be. My kids (ages 7 and 5) are state school educated as we don't earn enough to go private. Are there any international state schools for English speaking kids or is it essential to go private? I originally posted on 30 days and someone mentioned spaces in schools were few and far between. Is this still the case?

Laptopwieldingharpy Thu 02-Nov-17 01:19:03

It is still the case, particularly in that age group.
amd even ESF schools are becoming unaffordable.
If the offer does not take that that into consideration, it’s a problem.

Elsasalterego Fri 03-Nov-17 00:10:55

Thanks for relying. We don't think the offer will include schooling but he doesn't really want to ask as it looks bad (only applying for the promotion for the benefits doesn't look good). I have no idea about Hong Kong despite having lived in various south East Asian destinations but that was pre kids too. We think we'll probably give this a miss and hope somewhere like Singapore comes up (we have lots of friends and even some family there)

Cantseethewoods Fri 03-Nov-17 11:07:06

Elsa I think he needs to ask because the issue is that it's not realistic for your DC to attend local school in HK (not like, say, moving to Australia or the US when its reasonable to expect DC to go to government schools). Government schools in HK are predominantly Cantonese medium and whilst there are a few English medium schools they are not easy to get into. I do have friends who use the local system but their DC have been in Cantonese immersion from 2 years old and it is still challenging in terms of culture (still a fair bit of rote learning and a lot of homework).

Btw- the issue would largely be the same in Singapore I think. I may be wrong but I don't think expats are allowed to go to government schools in Singapore. Maybe someone can clarify.

Comeymemo Fri 03-Nov-17 15:14:26

I agree it’s standard in HK expat’s employment contracts/offer letters to include a provision for private school fees (and sometimes a debenture, although less usual now).

Presumably your DH doesn’t need to ask at the time he applies for a promotion, but if the package isn’t attractive he won’t be forced to take it?

fatowl Sat 04-Nov-17 05:35:20

Foreigners can go to government schools in Singapore but only where places are not filled by locals, so they tend to be the less desirable schools.

Laptopwieldingharpy Sat 04-Nov-17 06:03:59

It is a big issue in HK. There is no way around it. HR knows about this. Everyone knows. It is reasonable to put that on the table. Unless they expect him to go alone?

Laptopwieldingharpy Sat 04-Nov-17 06:13:58

What fatiwl said about Singapore too. But not as much of an issue. A lesser school in Singapore is still a reasonably good school with English as the main medium of instruction and a chance to learn mandarin rather than cantonese. More useful in ge long run.

Elsasalterego Sat 04-Nov-17 11:34:32

Thanks loads. Deadline is Monday so we have to make the final decision this weekend. Maybe he will apply and then not take it further if school fees are not part of the offer. It's a tricky one as he also doesn't want to give the game away to his current manager that he's looking unless he is sure that it's a viable option- what a quandary! Laptop what are ESF schools?

Laptopwieldingharpy Sat 04-Nov-17 14:57:37

english school foundation. Remnants of pre handover Hong Kong. Traditionally heavily subsidized but that is being phased out.
To give to an idea, up to 3 years ago they were about 70k (HKD) per annum per child. They are now closer to to 100k and have a sort of debenture system like others ? One if entry fee and/or annual levy ). Most international schools at between 100-200/year.
So you can quickly do the math. Did you look at rents?
Honestly, it’s worth applying but then be bold and ask for a decent package. Rent allowance, medical insurance and school allowance. There is room in HK for all scales of salaries and there are lovely areas with decent rent. But schools are just a huge problem.

Laptopwieldingharpy Sat 04-Nov-17 15:03:13

Google ESF and you will find their website with all info + some articles from
The SCMP newspaper to help understand the current situation. But he équation s simple. Places are scarce, you need to pay top dollar to secure one.
Another great local international
School offering IB is ycisin kowloon tong.
Also look at Delia school Canada & thé Korean international school which follows a uk curric. They will be slightly more affordable than the big names too.

citychick Sun 05-Nov-17 05:38:17

Hi OP, just found your post.
We are a british family living with here in HK. We have one dc who is at the Korean international school. Yes, it’s the UK curriculum. The primary school is busy, and like most schools, it’s harder to get in, mainly due to high number of applications.

However, the English headmaster is keen to keep the numbers of international students up. It’s become quite a local school of late. Mainly due to the number of local boys not coping with the local schooling. It’s not a big school, but the international section is all taught in English. Facilities are good with tennis courts, playground, swimming pool etc. Lots of extra curricular activities too. It’s in the sai wan ho area, next to Tai Koo, where the delia school is. The teachers are great, many are English and it’s a very nurturing place. Also has a busy PTA who are always looking for help. Beware the habit of Asians getting westerners to do chairman positions. Most don’t like responsibility and see the westerners as a way out of it. Unless you love PTA stuff, of course!

I agree with the others to try and negotiate school fees and or rent paid outside of your husbands take home salary. Despite tax being low here, rent is a killer and if you have school fees on top, there won’t be much left over. Will you be working?

We have been back here nearly 3 yrs. my husbands contract offered no rent or fees paid. But, bonus etc made up for that so it’s affordable for us. We only have one dc. We also live in a local area, in an older building with no “vertical village” that can offer expats the immediate social life, especially for the children. Older builds are slightly cheaper. The quality of flats is poor, but you can be lucky, we have a great flat, very neutral and our landlord is great. Some are sharks. It’s a landlords market here. But they do like to negotiate.

Western food is pricey, but it depends on how fussy you are. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrison’s and M&S are all sold here. For a price. Online delivery services are becoming popular, but the culture is an old one and HK is small so people tend to buy daily.

Cars are expensive to park £300pcm for a space, but second hand market is good and leavers are always looking to off load. We don’t have a car.

A live in domestic helper will cost around £500 a month or more. You don’t have to have one of course. Then there is club membership too. Many expats have that as part of their package. That is becoming less available now. Are you sporty?

I have waffled on, but really, you want to work out if you’ll be better off here. It’s a different lifestyle. Will there be a flight home per year included? Whatever you decide, you want to make sure you don’t end up stuck here. I might also add that it is cheaper to live on the Kowloon side. Areas like sai Kung have a vibrant uk expat scene. Also Gold Coast, and further up towards the border. There are so many schools in the area. Make sure you do a thorough search. There’s also a Facebook group, Ho ng Kong Schools. That’s worth looking at. Maybe a school search company too? . Will your husbands company pay for a school search?

Will you get the chance to come to HK and see for yourself before you commit? I think it’s important that you do.

Good luck.

Elsasalterego Tue 07-Nov-17 22:46:35

Laptop and Citychick thank you so much for your replies! I can’t believe I didn’t spot them till today. We had the most crazy weekend - car broke down, had to go meet tenants in our flat, tons of stuff happening so we kind of didn’t even talk about it- only briefly to say it didn’t look much of a goer.. we just left it and he didn’t even apply - now I’m kicking myself that he didn’t. We know for sure that a housing allowance was provided but there was just no mention of schooling. I worked in Thailand in my 20s and have always wanted to get back to Southeast Asia and we had big quite fancied the adventure, it was a two year contract. I might suggest he applies late. Thanks so much for all the info.

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