Since our last redevelopment and decant information briefings, Island School has spent the past few months working around the clock to formalise arrangements for the decant to Shatin. As you can imagine, our planning has taken us from the initial stages of tentatively assessing minimal disruption to the students’ current curriculum and teaching staff timetables to putting such practices into realistic action plans. To do this our architects, Thomas Chow & Associates were formally appointed last month to manage the decant process with the development staff from Island School and the ESF.
Co Creation Workshops
During the past few weeks, Thomas Chow Architects held co-creation workshops with faculty heads from each department to build long term flexibility. This enabled each faculty to identify classroom designs, teaching styles and curriculum requirements, and an opportunity to assess multi-teaching or individual classroom spaces. It may be that some faculties are able to house a combination of both space concepts.
During the month of June, further co-creation workshops will be held with all Senior Leadership Teams to allow for teaching staff to have the greatest input into the overall design concept of Borrett Road. We shall be assessing the whole campus from multi-purpose and open plan classrooms, to individual to whole school communal areas to retaining the individual house system, exclusive areas for parents / student meetings, house events and charity events. Island School’s Vice Principal, Mr Gareth Stevens together with Billy Tam from Thomas Chow Architects visited schools and educational institutions in Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark at the end of May/early June. The purpose of this trip is to assess whether we are able to adopt new concepts into our educational model which accommodates the IB curriculum and teachers’ needs.
Condition of Buildings
The ESF Maintenance team continues to carry out monthly structural inspections of the Borrett Road site. There were few defects detected but general repairs and upkeep is required which will take place during the summer months.
All faculties attended the Summer Works Meeting on 24 March to consider refurbishing the classrooms and communal areas. Furthermore we are considering transforming redundant spaces into larger teaching spaces, removing built in cupboards to accommodate larger teaching areas, reconfigure storage areas and the purchase of new furniture such as chairs and tables for the classrooms.
During the past few months, Senior Team Leaders from each faculty have been attending meetings with Thomas Chow & Associates. These meetings focused on the current facilities at the decant sites. As we mentioned in our previous parent briefings, the decant sites have adequate space to accommodate 600 students per site but we are undergoing a remodeling of each decant site to provide large classrooms particularly for specialised subjects. We are also planning various other internal remodeling schemes to enlarge spaces for the teaching and support staff, redecoration works, and installation of new hi-tech equipment.
We aim to continue to offer our wide range of extra-curricular activities and are reviewing available sporting facilities in the New Territories. We are also fortunate that we are able to forge relationships with other international schools notably ESF Sha Tin College and Renaissance College, and have the use of Government facilities in the locality of the decant sites such as the Sports Institute of Fo Tan.
We are of course aware of parents’ concerns regarding travelling arrangements. For the past few months we have been assessing various transport options and travel times to the decant sites with the PTA, ESF feeder schools and our bus companies. This is no easy task. We have had to take into consideration our current school bus times, traffic situations, pick up/collection points and school start and finish times. We are therefore considering the following options:
(1) To avoid lengthy bus journeys using our current bus timetable, have one pick up/drop off point in Central to transport students and staff direct to Tai Wai and Sha Tin. This would mean students finding their own way to Central but we realise that younger students (Years 7 and 8) may find this problematic.
(2) Continue with our current bus timetable picking up students from designated points across Hong Kong Island and transport to a Central location. This would of course incur higher costs for parents which we hope to avoid.
(3) Continue with our current bus timetable and using those individual buses, transport students direct to Sha Tin and Tai Wai. This again would incur higher costs for parents.
(4) MTR and public bus options.
Of course, students remaining at school for extra-curricular activities at this current time are able to ride the activity bus to Admiralty and Pier 3 in Central. Our aim is to continue to offer our wide range of extra- curricular activities which are currently held within and outside of the school and thus are looking at viable bus options.
Lastly, we have had very positive meetings with principal heads of our feeder schools for those students who will be joining Island School in Year 7 this August. Principals from our feeder schools have been and will continue to engage with parents and the PTA in seeking to avoid disruption for all. Thomas Chow & Associates will continue to spend a great deal of time meeting with all relevant parties over the next few months. We therefore hope to be in a position later in the year to advise parents accordingly.