Introducing the new decant manager team.

Andrea Walsh – Decant manager

Paul Bentham – Decant manager

Kate Sommerville – Decant manager

Mei Lau                  – Development and redevelopment administrator

This newly formed team will manage the decant and redevelopment project from January 2017. They will hold weekly meetings, update all stakeholders on progress and are available for contact at the following email;

January 2017 update

Negotiations continue regarding finalisation of decant sites and we will hopefully receive the keys by April 2017. We will not be ready to decant in the summer and a Christmas move is looking to be more likely. This will certainly give time for the refurbishment to be completed to a high specification to ensure the school is  ready to deliver an excellent standard of education.

An invitation to parents

Island School Redevelopment Update September 2016

At the start of the academic year 2016-17 it is timely to reflect on the current state of play with regard to the redevelopment of the Island School campus. We are pleased to report that both the detailed designs of the temporary school buildings and the new school itself are coming on very well and are near completion. All the preliminary drawing submissions have been approved by the relevant government departments and we are well on the way to achieving Gold Beam+ status for the new designs commitment to sustainability.

We have benefited hugely from being able to work so closely with TCA architects. They have been so committed to listening to our needs, wants and ideas. Having said all this we are no nearer receiving a fianl confirmation that the project can go ahead starting June 2017 and therefore can not be 100% sure that we will be relocating for August of the same year. We are hoping that the redevelopment project, and the government funding towards the project, will be ratified by the end of this month. As soon as we have had this confirmation, we are confident that we are on track to plan a very successful approach to temporarily relocating next year.

An invitation

As we embark on what is hopefully our final year in this building prior to decant, it is vitally important that we a. Plan supportive, safe and efficient strategies for student travel to and from the temporary school sites. And b. That we become more strategic and anticipatory in our planning for sustaining our school ethos and community cohesion throughout the decant period. On top f that we need to be mindful that a sensitively planned community engagement programme is essential if we are to integrate with the Tai Wai communities and develop a reciprocally beneficial relationship with the people in the areas around the temporary school sites.

We already have a small group of primary parents that wish to work with us as we contemplate the concrete details of a transport plan, but we need more prospective parents to get involved. We need to hear your views and work together with you to ensure the complete success of the temporary relocation arrangements. Please email me on if you wish to be involved. Also if you wish to accompany us on a visit to one of the school sites on 21 Sep 2016 please let me know. The campus we will be visiting is for Years 7,8,12 and 13

Decant Updated June 2016

Timeline of events

As we approach the end of the school year it is now timely to re-cap on the process so far. The timeline below highlights some of the major decisions that have been made and ends with key dates for the future.

  • 2006 – ESF and Island School met with the Education Bureau to talk about options and funding for the redevelopment of Island School.
  • Spring 2012 – ESF reached an agreement with the Government on the phasing out of the subvention, which included an agreement to subsidise  the redevelopment of Island School. Additional funds needed will be supplied by ESF.
  • Summer 2012 – It was decided that rebuilding sections of the school while other parts are preserved for normal school activities was not feasible as school life on a building site, for the period of redevelopment, seven to ten years, was deemed unacceptable.
  • Spring to Summer 2013 – ESF and Island School worked with the Education Bureau (EDB) to find a possible temporary site for the whole school while the Borrett Road buildings are being redeveloped. A total of 12 sites were considered among which only one primary school site on Hong Kong Island was available but it was too small. Other sites were in unacceptable locations such as Tseung Kwan O. Some others were in a poor state of repair.
  • Oct 2013 – The search settled on two sites offered by the EDB, one in Sha Tin Wai and the other in Tai Wai. Both are large – large enough to accommodate half of Island School with large classrooms and with good transport links. These sites are the best of the sites offered. EDB made it clear that there were no further sites to offer to ESF, and so these sites were provisionally allocated to Island School.
  • Dec 2013 – The decant (move to temporary location) planning process started including communicating the plans to everyone within the Island School community.
  • Jan 2014 – Architects appointed – Thomas Chow (TCA) and Schmidt Hammer & Lassen (SHL). Both firms met with teachers to understand the school’s requirements for 21st Century learning and the refurbishments necessary at the decant sites.
  • May 2014 – Full parent survey conducted with Island School and all partner primary schools. Parents were asked for their opinion on what to prioritise during the decant process and to raise any concerns that they might have at this early stage.
  • Jun 2014 – Survey findings published on redevelopment website.
  • Feb 2015 to Jun 2016 – Staff, parents and students representatives visited the decant schools.
  • Oct 2015 – Curriculum leaders and senior staff drew up timetables and wellbeing plans to be used at the decant sites. Department teams met to plan how they would ensure excellence in teaching and learning.
  • April 2016 – A travel survey looking at different options for students and staff to get to Sha Tin Wai and Tai Wai was conducted. The results show that most students plan to get to the new schools via MTR. It takes 30 to 36 minutes to travel from Central to Tai Wai or Sha Tin Wai MTR stations.
  • Jun 2016 – Finalise refurbishment plans for the decant schools to ensure work starts as soon as confirmation is received from EDB.
  • Aug 2016 – Finalise plans for the redeveloped building at Borrett Road.
  • Aug 2017– Target date for Island School to move into the decant schools.
  • Aug 2021 – Target date for Island School to move into the new building at Borrett Road.

The proposed dates are subject to change.

Next Information Session: 20 June 2016

A celebration of Island School’s Achievements and the next stages of relocation and redevelopment . Everyone in the Island School community is invited to an evening of celebration of Island School’s achievements in 2015-2016 and a discussion on the next stages of relocation and redevelopment.

At this meeting we will talk about curriculum updates, the current decant and redevelopment situation and some of the highlights from the recent Council of International Schools Report.

Details of the event are as follows:

  • Time: 6.30pm
  • Date: 20 June 2016
  • Location: Island School

If you wish to attend this event please email to confirm your attendance.

Decant Updates April 2016

Updates on the decanting

ESF senior management is working closely with the Education Bureau (EDB) in an effort to secure the decanting sites as soon as possible. Planning for the move is well advanced with the school completing the teaching and learning strategies as well as engaging with students and parents. The facilities team at ESF Centre are completing the decant school designs and layouts and preparing the logistics plan.

Visits to decant sites

Students, parents and staff including principals, senior leaders and teachers from Glenealy, Beacon Hill and Island School visited one of the two proposed decant school sites on 27 January and 20 April 2016.

Andrea Walsh, Teacher and Member of the Island School Council Buildings Sub-committee commented on the site she visited as being “very spacious, close to MTR” and having “obvious potential”, and “Overall, very positive and great to have shops nearby.”

Sandra Logan, ISPTA Manager commented: “Very easy and fast transport links to Central, about the same as walking from IS to IFC. Larger spaces, easier to navigate. Active local community – restaurants and shops.”

Christine Meaney, member of Island School Council Buildings Sub-committee said: “Buildings seemed to have good space – corridors and stairways were wide. Rooms seemed to be a decent size.  It was much closer to the MTR than I had anticipated and the surroundings were pleasant and didn’t feel claustrophobically built-up.”

Brenda Cook, Principal of Glenealy School thought that the spacious nature of the rooms and the school in general would make it better than the current Island School site.

All those who visited the schools travelled together in a coach and then made their own way home at the end of the visit. Here is what students said about the new school and their journey home.

Niamh Neville, Student; “I liked the layout of the school, it was very straight forward and easy to remember which is an advantage for many of the younger students. It also has good areas for seating which I believe is a great plus since we don’t have any in our school right now. The assembly hall had a stage larger than our current one and has great potential for performances. Most of the classrooms are either bigger or around the same size as our current classrooms and with only four year groups in one school, the school will be very spacious. While quite far from central, the local restaurants and malls as well as the close MTR station make it interesting and accessible.”

Jonathan Fan, Student: “I took the 182 cross-harbor bus back to Central after the visit. The full fare is HK$16 and my journey time was just under 50 minutes. This was not too bad considering that the bus takes both the Lion Rock Tunnel and Cross-Harbour Tunnel.”

The MTR Journey planner estimates the time from Sha Tin Wai to Central as 36mins.  Click HERE to see the travel times on the MTR website.

Quality of Education

Each of the decant schools has accommodated a school community of over 1,000 people. Island School has only 1,250 students, so there will be much larger learning spaces at the decant schools. Most of the classrooms in the schools are bigger than the current ones at Island School.

The temporary relocation means teachers can prototype new ways of configuring classrooms. They will be able to test new ideas out before committing to such designs in the new school.

Curriculum Leaders have agreed a baseline for generic classrooms which is as follows.

  • perimeter shelf desking with stools against external windows;
  • LED lighting throughout;
  • a variety of different tables, chairs and other furniture for different types of activity / modes of learning;
  • flexible and agile-use furniture that allows for quick reconfiguration of classrooms;
  • wireless data projectors;
  • existing whiteboard / storage combination in each room;
  • LCD screen(s) to provide an alternative teaching focus;
  • durable carpeting;
  • trial of different acoustic solutions; and
  • faculties to determine ratio of student wall writing area to display

Council of International Schools Report

The body that accredits international schools the Council of International Schools came to Island School in February for their five year review. Their report following their visit directly refers to the challenges of the relocation and their confidence in Island School’s ability to make it a success. They say:

“The visitors have no doubt that, with the experienced school leadership and the expertise and support provided by ESF, the transition to temporary accommodation and the final move back to the redeveloped campus can be achieved successfully.”

This is part of a strikingly positive report on what we are doing. The opening paragraph of their summing up is as follows:“Island School is a high quality and innovative school and one that is confident of its direction, has a clear Vision for its future, and enjoys a high degree of support from its stakeholders. The school enjoys stable, visionary and thoughtful leadership, a faculty and staff dedicated to the well-being and learning of their students, students who are proud of their school and eager to attend it and strong governance provided through the ESF and the School Council.”

To see the visitors’ comments on the report, which is a one page summary, click HERE.

Redevelopment and Decant Update December 2015

Island School opened in 1967, making it one of the oldest ESF schools. An assessment of the building in 2011 showed that major redevelopment are needed. Since then, senior staff within the school and the ESF have been working to secure funding and draw up detailed plans to demolish the current building and develop an exemplary campus.

Built over eight floors, the new school will include a performing arts centre, an indoor swimming pool, a sports hall, basketball courts, modern laboratories, sky gardens, a central café, innovative learning environments and creative studios. As well as a range of other facilities, there will be a designated parking for school buses under the school buildings to facilitate pick-up and drop-off and thus relieve pressure from Borrett Road itself.

While the site on Borrett Road is being redeveloped, the Education Bureau has offered Island School two temporary school sites in Shatin Wai and Tai Wai. One of these sites will accommodate students in Years 7, 8, 12 and 13 and the other Years 9-11. Both sites have a similar size and layout and it is anticipated that we will be occupying these sites for three to four academic years.

We are committed to ensuring a continuity of quality teaching and learning and maintaining Island School’s unique ethos during the decanting period. The detailed plans for the decant sites address three most vital issues – student wellbeing, ensuring the continued commitment to the top quality education of our students and maintaining the identity and ethos of Island School itself.

The refurbishment plans were drawn up in consultation with staff to ensure that all classrooms and learning environments have the facilities to deliver a quality education, considering everything from visual display screens in classrooms to storage spaces in the laboratories. This means we will significantly enhance the current teaching facilities to a level much higher than the current Island School building.

The move to two separate sites will mean we have to recruit more teaching and non-teaching staff. This will mean we can reduce class sizes in the lower years. We are currently calculating our staffing needs. To create a stable environment on both campuses, we aim to minimise staff movement between the two. Student wellbeing and academic success are our chief concerns when planning staffing for the temporary relocation period.

All the possible travel options are being considered and students and parents will be a part of the decision making process. The average travel time by car to each site from Central is around 25 minutes depending on the site and traffic. From Central Station, it is 30 minutes to Tai Wai Station and 38 minutes to Shatin Wai Station. Both sites are a few minutes walk from the MTR stations.

NB: This information may be subject to change if we encounter situations or decisions that are out of our control.