Character and Ethos
The English Secondary Department (ESD) is similar to a traditional English grammar school as we are selective and have high expectations of our students. However, we are unique in that we form part of the German Swiss International School and so are able to provide our students with enhanced exposure to the German language and to the culture of German speaking countries.
We currently prepare our students for the English I/GCSE, AS and A level examinations, but will commence teaching the IB Diploma in August 2013, with first examinations planned for 2015. Both sets of qualifications are well regarded by universities worldwide.
The teaching staff in the ESD are drawn from the English speaking world, predominantly coming from the UK and Australia. They are very experienced and committed and use a variety of styles, methods and technology to engage and stimulate the students. Throughout the department, lessons are interactive with students expected to participate actively in discussions, questioning the material and developing their critical thinking skills.
First and foremost we aim to ensure that the students are happy and confident in their school environment, through the pastoral care system. Each student is directly under the care of a class teacher, and further supported by Trust Teachers, Lower and Upper School Co-ordinators and School Counsellors. With this system in place, we operate a policy of zero tolerance to bullying and are able to respond quickly and effectively to any problems and issues that arise.
Our students are, for the most part, highly motivated, keen to learn, and eager to make the most of their opportunities. They show characteristics typical of many international school students, as they are entertaining, friendly and ambitious. This makes for a wonderful atmosphere and, despite the high expectations and hard work required of both students and teachers, the ESD is a very happy environment and a real sense of fun permeates all aspects of school life.
Years 7 to 9
For the first three years in the ESD we determine our own curriculum, which aims to give students the strong foundation of knowledge and skills that they will need for their later studies. Our curriculum is broadly based on the National Curriculum of England and Walesbut it has been adapted and extended to suit the selective and international nature of our students, drawing upon best practice in education worldwide.
Strong emphasis is placed on learning the German language, with French and Mandarin available as second foreign languages. The foreign languages (from Y07) and Mathematics (from Y08) are taught in streamed groups, which cater to the varied strengths of the students and allow us to offer accelerated programmes in these subjects. In addition to the more traditional subjects, classes in Art, Drama, ICT and Music enhance the students’ creativity and presentation skills.
|Year 8||Year 9|
|From GSIS Primary||New to GSIS|
|English (5)||English (5)||English (5)||English (5)|
|Mathematics (5)||Mathematics (5)||Mathematics (5)||Mathematics (5)|
|German (4)||German (6)||German (4)||German (4)|
|French or Mandarin (4)||French or Mandarin (4)||French or Mandarin (4*)||French or Mandarin (4)|
|Science (4)||Science (4)||Biology (2)||Biology (2)|
|Chemistry (2||Chemistry (2|
|Geography (3)||Geography (3)||Geography (2)||Geography (3)|
|History (2)||History (2)||History (3)||History (3)|
|Inform. Tech (2)||Inform. Tech (2)||Inform. Tech (2)||Inform. Tech (2)|
|Art (2)||Art (2)||Art (2)||Art (2)|
|Drama (2)||Drama (2)||Drama (1)||Drama (2)|
|Music (1)||Music (1)||Music (2)||Music (2)|
|Physical Education (2)||Physical Education (2)||Physical Education (2)||Physical Education (2)|
|Core Period (1)||Core Period (1)||Core Period (1)||Core Period (1)|
Years 10 and 11
Over the course of these two years, students are prepared for the International/General Certificate of Secondary Education (I/GCSE) in eight to ten subjects. The Examination Boards in the UK determine the syllabus for each subject and set and mark the public examination papers. Students must study English Language and English Literature, Mathematics and German. They can then select an additional four to six subjects, which must include one science and one humanity, to ensure sufficient breadth of study. In response to the interest and ability of our students in the sciences, GSIS offers the single award sciences, allowing students to choose, one, two or all three of the science disciplines. Students in our accelerated programmes who sit for their I/GCSEs early are able to continue their studies at AS level in Mandarin and German. Our accelerated programme in Mathematics may lead to the Additional Mathematics IGCSE qualification.
Years 12 and 13
In these final two years, often referred to as the Sixth Form, students will follow the International Baccalaureate (IB_ Diploma programme from August 2013 (first exam in May 2015). This will replace the current AS & A Level programme. For more information on the IB Diploma, please follow this link (http://www.ibo.org ). Members of our school community may follow this link (https://portal.gsis.edu.hk/Portal/_IB%20Dip.aspx ) for more specific information on the IB Diploma programme at our school
The wider curriculum
Learning also takes place outside the classroom and in the ESD we aim to encourage the personal development of our students in a variety of ways.
We offer a wide variety of clubs and activities to allow students the opportunity to learn new skills, explore new interests and develop their talents. These include a choir, orchestra and big band in the field of music, a wide variety of sports including sport climbing and horse-riding as well as debating, the Model United Nations and the outdoor activities focussed Hong Kong Award for Young People. Whilst the school offers a range of activities, a pleasing trend has been the increasing eagerness of the students to initiate and organise their own contributions to our programme, allowing them to share their skills with their peers, whilst gaining valuable experience in organisation and leadership.
Our Community Service Programme is thriving under the umbrella of the Community Involvement Group – a student run organisation that co-ordinates the many different fund-raising and service groups within the school. Our students work with organisations such as Christian Action, Orbis, Room to Read, Caritas, etc. and they have been involved in teaching in local schools, working with refugees and fund-raising, amongst many other initiatives.
During this week in the autumn term, normal school is put on hold as the students embark on a programme of activities designed to stretch and challenge our students. For our junior years this involves residential camps in Hong Kong, China and Germany, as well as the opportunity to try out a variety of new sports and skills that would not normally form part of the curriculum. Year 10 sees the students travel to Sabah in Malaysia, where they claim Mt Kinabalu, SE Asia’s highest peak. In the senior years students have the opportunity to spend a week as a camp prefect for our junior students, or to join one of a variety of overseas trips. These trips are designed to introduce the students to a range of new environments and cultures and to give them opportunities to engage in service activities such the Schools to Schools project in Northern Thailand or to take on challenges such as trekking to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Each of the activities within the Discovery Week Programme helps to develop life-skills such as teamwork, organisation and independence. Whilst these are the aims, the rewards of Discovery Week come in the very obvious enjoyment of the students as they interact happily with their peers and help each other to rise to each new challenge.
Each year our students perform very strongly in the Public Examinations. In recent years over 99% of our I/GCSE grades have been at grade C or above and over half of the results are awarded an A* (61.8% in 2012). At AS and A level, pass rates are similarly high. In 2012, 58.1% achieved an A at AS level . At A level 38.3% achieved the highest grade of A* and 67.5% were at A* or A.
Life after the ESD
Virtually all of our graduates go on to tertiary education, with the majority opting to study in leading universities in the UK and US. Our Careers Department is well resourced and provides our students with advice on which universities to apply to, help in writing their personal statement and essays, as well as how to complete the necessary application forms. We arrange a programme of visitors from the universities and prepare comprehensive references to support our students. To further facilitate applications to the US, we an SAT centre, to ensure that our students can sit these important examinations in the familiar surroundings of their own school.
Approximately 60-70% of our students head to universities in the UK, with the US and Canada accounting for most of the remainder. A number of our students also choose to continue their studies at Hong Kong universities, particularly in the field of Medicine and Law. The universities most popular with our graduates in recent years are listed below:
- Cambridge University, UK
- Durham University, UK
- Imperial College London, UK
- King’s College London, UK
- London School of Economics, UK
- Nottingham University, UK
- University College, London, UK
- Brown University, USA
- New York University, USA
- Stanford University, USA
- University of Pennsylvania, USA
- University of Southern California, USA
- University of Toronto, Canada
In addition to their academic knowledge and a wide range of skills, our graduates also take with them many lasting friendships and happy memories of their time at GSIS.