Family E contacted Top Schools in Sept 2012 to start planning for their daughter, J, aged almost one year. At that time, J was enrolled in a playgroup taught entirely in English. While Mum spoke fluent Cantonese, she had left HK at the age of 10 and her written Chinese was weak. Dad was English and Hebrew speaking. The parents really wanted to try to have J fluent and literate in Chinese.

Family E were able to secure a PN place for J in a trilingual kindergarten with priority to a through train to primary and secondary. Mrs E participated fully in kindergarten life and J enjoyed her PN and KI there.

We advised Mr & Mrs E that it wasn’t safe to rely on one primary school and they therefore submitted two other applications – one to a bilingual international school and another to an immersion Chinese private independent school.

We assisted with providing support on providing essay questions in advance and checking all application forms. After several rounds of revision, the parent questionnaire was thoughtful and authentic. We gave guidance on all assessments and parent meetings. J passed the assessment, Mr and Mrs E felt comfortable about how the parent interview went and J was placed on the reserve list.

So, we proceeded to submit further applications to the other primary school on the list. At the same time, we advised on submitting PN applications for the younger daughter.

While J was waiting to attend further assessments, she received an offer from one of the parents’ top choices. It was clear that they would accept. We then advised on how to inform the kindergarten that she would be leaving whilst preserving the relationship for the younger daughter to enter later that year. J started in a fully bilingual through-train school in Sept 2015.

Family D was a British expat family living in Tianjin, China with two young girls, ages 7 and 4. Mr D, a senior manager, being moved to the company’s Hong Kong office was entitled to a full relocation package with a company based in Hong Kong. Their service included Hong Kong schooling placement.

Mrs D contacted Top Schools in March 2015 as she felt dissatisfied with the school advice given by their relocation agent. The relocation agent had suggested three schools for the D family to consider, none of which matched the family’s preferences and priorities. The relocation agent recommended that the D family apply to these schools based on the fact they had the shortest wait list(s). Mr and Mrs D were not comfortable with this approach. They successfully convinced Mr. D’s HR manager to engage Top Schools to provide school consulting services for their family.

The D family wanted a top notch international school in Hong Kong offering a British style curriculum as their children had been going to a similar school in Tianjin. They also wanted their children to be in the same school, as both were still so young.

The biggest challenge was timing, as their applications for the new school year were so late. The other challenge was getting both children in the same school.

We were quick to understand their needs and immediately organised meetings with four suitable schools for Mr and Mrs D within three weeks of their initial contact with us. We accompanied Mr and Mrs D to the schools and provided valuable insights on each other schools.
A top choice merged very quickly – a school that their relocation agent had never mentioned.

We assisted in submitting urgent applications to their top school choice and another equally popular school which fulfilled their requirements, and we diligently followed up on all the necessary paperwork and payments. We kept in close contact with the admissions officers at both schools and kept Mr and Mrs D updated on the status of their applications.
We provided guidance on the assessments for their children who were interviewed by their first choice school via skype.

In May, the younger sibling received an offer from their first choice school. There was still no space available for the older child so we kept in close contact with the school. One month later in June, an offer came through for the older sibling.
Mr and Mrs D are very pleased that both their children will be attending a school that they truly feel is best for their family.

Family T contacted us in late August 2017 after they had already been to HK for look see visits with the relocation firm they had been allocated through their company. As it had been the school holidays, they had not been able to visit any schools beyond the school gates.

They planned to relocate to Hong Kong in January 2018 with their twin girls and were looking for G8 places. The duration of their secondment to Hong Kong was for 3 years and this would mean potentially relating back to the US mid way through G11. The initial advice was to apply to a number of schools as soon as possible and they would get a place somewhere.  Following this advice they submitted applications to two schools with one clear favourite; a school offering a US curriculum that would allow the girls to seamlessly transition back into the US. Unfortunately, their second choice school came back and made an offer within a few weeks. At this point the family contacted us as they were confused as to what to do next. Their relocation agent was suggesting they accept the offers and pay large deposits for a school they didn’t really feel comfortable with. The only alternative appeared to be to wait for the preferred school and risk having no places.

After careful review of the family profile, student reports and applications it was decided that the family were ideal candidates for their first choice school. Furthermore, there was not an alternative that would offer the continuity and transferability for their family. We advised that they don’t accept the offers, and we would monitor place availability at their second choice school.

We continued to personally liaise with both schools throughout September and October and in early November, they finally received an offer for both girls at their first choice school. They had not had to pay a deposit to any other school.

Family F In April 2014, Mrs F contacted me, her son, C, had almost finished a whole year in a “good” local school and the family was miserable. He was spending hours each night on homework and becoming less motivated to learn every day.The family spoke cantonese at home and C’s school conducted most of the lessons in Cantonese. His English was OK, but he was shy to speak and far from native level.

The parents felt that they’d prefer to switch him to an international school with English as the medium of instruction. They had vague plans to move to Canada at some point in the future since they had Canadian citizenship.

Because C was born in October and younger in his year, we advised the parents that they had some choice in whether they preferred him to continue on to the next grade, or “repeat” the year in a school with an August cut-off.

Since it was already April, the parents applied to more schools than would have been necessary had they started the process earlier. They had applied to seven schools in total. Since C’s English language proficiency wasn’t native level, these seven included a few schools with good ESL support.

C was invited for six assessments. He attended five, failed one and passed four. He received four offers. We were able to manage the offers such that the parents didn’t need to lose money by securing offers with deposits before making their final decision. They chose the best by far of the four offers – a school running the English National curriculum where C would repeat his P1 year by entering Year 2.

After the first year, C and his parents are happy with the school, with C’s progress and with the decision to switch into an international school.

Family M contacted us very late; in June 2015. They were seeking advice on whether it was possible to move their daughter from S2 in a prestigious local secondary school to an international school and when. M’s parents are both professionals – an academic and a lawyer. A Cantonese family, they were concerned about what they perceived to be a decline in the standard of English at M’s current school. They also planned to send M overseas to University.

The parents felt their top choice – a top brand IB through-school – was unattainable since friends had mentioned it was extremely difficult for a “local” family to access. Therefore, Mr and Mrs M came to us for alternative schools to try either for 2016/17 or the following year.

In fact, Mrs M preferred that M begin in a new school for Grade 9. However, we advised the family to try for G8 for the immediate year, given that she was born at the end of the year (31 Dec!). If unsuccessful, she could follow her original plan and apply for entry the following year.

Her academic record was not that solid and she had the opportunity to start in G8 as an older girl, which would surely be an advantage. Since assessments at Upper Primary and Secondary are age/grade-appropriate, they only become more difficult.

We moved fast and organised all the paperwork. As it was M’s application for the G8 was submitted in June, way past the deadline. Often a sticking point in transferring from a local school to international is that the international school will seek a confidential reference from the child’s class teacher and local schools and their teachers do not usually entertain such requests. This was smoothed out and a later assessment requested to accommodate the family’s holiday. M sat for the assessment on the 12 August and received an offer on the same day.

Then, the parents hesitated. Everything had happened so quickly that Mr & Mrs M hadn’t had time to investigate the school properly. We were able to quickly arrange a private school tour and meet key staff, after which they felt comfortable to accept the offer.

Family B’s son, J, was in K2 in an international kindergarten for the academic year 2015/16. The parents, both local Cantonese speakers, had been confused about when their son would start school – at Year 1 (5 years old) or Primary 1 (6 years old). When they realised that they were late to apply for international school, they panicked and were very seriously a very small, low-profile school.

Family B contacted us late in November 2015. They felt they had no option but this one school and were desperate.

Both B’s mother and father were both native Cantonese speakers, but spoke to J in English. As such, J had little to no exposure to Cantonese.  Additionally, he only held a Hong Kong passport and many of the international schools have a limited quota for these children.

We evaluated J and found he was a near native speaker of English. We then suggested a few schools for the parents to consider – the top choice was a top-tier international school but had no space.

We duly submitted applications for two other schools while all the time, following up with the preferred school almost daily.

J attended assessments for the two other schools and, while we were waiting for the result, he was invited to assess at the preferred school. This was at the very end of January, almost 3 months after submitting the application.

J subsequently passed and the school made a straight offer without any need to purchase a debenture (usually required for HKSAR passport holders).

J started at the International School in August 2016.

Family C

Mr & Mrs B, a Hong Kong family living in Beijing, contacted us in Aug 2015 when they got word that they’d be moving back to Hong Kong in Summer 2016.

Their two boys – N & H – were aged 3 (H) and 5 (N) at the time, both attending an international school in Beijing and both holding US passports.

The family were keen to have the boys in a bilingual school. However, their English language proficiency was not strong, and their Chinese literacy was not strong.

Parents came to HK twice before their move. On both visits, we arranged private meetings with principals and admissions staff. These meetings allowed the parents to make an informed decision on whether the school was a fit for their family. For some schools, they proceeded to submit applications; for others, they decided not to.

The parents’ top choice school – School X, a bilingual school – invited both boys for assessment. H was accepted whilst N was not, due to lack of English language proficiency.

We quickly lined up other assessments for N. At the same time, we discussed with School X the strategy to have N reapply and have another chance for assessment later in the year. N would enjoy sibling priority as soon as H started the school.

N was accepted into two schools – School A and School Y. Since School Y was a 5 minute walk from School X, this was their choice. School Y was a pure English language environment for N. Since this was the area in which he needed to improve, it made sense. The parents supplemented with Chinese tuition.

N had a further assessment at School Y in July and, again, did not pass.

Family B moved to HK in Aug 2016 and the boys started at their respective schools. In October, Mr & Mrs B revisited the idea of having N reapply to School Y. We checked and advised them to resubmit an application. We were able to arrange for N to attend an interview one week later. Two days later, the offer came. N will start at School Y in Dec 2016.