By Gavin Jones
Continuing our series in which expatriate parents share their thoughts on international schooling, FT Residential hears from Gavin Jones, director of wine merchants Jebsen Fine Wines. He and his wife Sara left the UK for Hong Kong 25 years ago. Their three children have all attended the Australian International School Hong Kong; the youngest, 16-year-old Erin, is in year 10, while her older siblings are now studying at British universities.
Keeping an open mind
All three of our children were born in Hong Kong and have never lived in the UK. We thought it logical that we enrol them with a school offering the British curriculum, with a view to them continuing their tertiary education in the UK. However, just before Jack, our eldest, was due to start school, we visited the Australian International School Hong Kong (AISHK) and were very impressed with the teaching staff, the campus and the overall feel of the school. The mix of students was truly international, which we saw as a positive.
Choosing a curriculum
AISHK offers two options in year 12 (the final school year): the High School Certificate (HSC) curriculum, which is the New South Wales curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate (IB). Our son did the HSC and the girls the IB — the choice is up to the individual child, what suits them and what will enable them to achieve the best grades. We believe the IB is better for students who want to move to the UK for university, as the HSC is a bit of an unknown entity. However, the world is getting smaller and Jack did well enough in the HSC to secure a place at Cardiff University, his first choice.
The upsides of an international education . . .
All three of our children have a tremendous set of friends from all over the world. This is very enlightening for them. They have been fortunate to travel extensively round the world and I believe their sense of appreciating different cultures and histories has been heightened by their school friendships.
. . . and the downsides
My children’s level of understanding about British history, geography and politics is not where I would like it to be! Also, most expats do not stay in one country for ever, so school life can be quite transient.
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