Understanding the Hong Kong British Curriculum

Understanding the Hong Kong British Curriculum

International schools in Hong Kong prepare your children to be informed global citizens and pursue higher education in their school of choice globally. There are many schools in Hong Kong to choose from, but one of the most critical factors to consider is the type of curriculum that the school teaches. Although there are various curricula available such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme and US curriculum, the British Curriculum is the most popular in Hong Kong.

The British curriculum, otherwise known as the English national curriculum, is a well-structured and balanced education system that covers an array of subjects such as arts, humanities, and science subjects. This English national curriculum is widely used in public and private schools, including Invictus International School in Hong Kong. The objective is to teach students to become logical and creative individuals to better prepare them for higher education and future employment.

While Hong Kong's colonial history is part of the reason why it uses this national curriculum, it is also used largely due to its benefits. The clear structure and standardised content allow for clear measurements in progress. As a result, primary and secondary schools can identify the weaknesses of their students, help them obtain their diplomas and achieve post-graduate success.

Objectives of the British Curriculum

The English National Curriculum stresses critical thinking, creativity, and flexibility. Here are the objectives of the Hong Kong English National Curriculum:

Globally Recognized System

Many international schools in Hong Kong have chosen the English National Curriculum because it is one of the most widely recognized programmes globally. This educational system is well-balanced and student-centred while offering depth to each subject matter.

The teachings in this curriculum discourage students from learning purely through memorisation. The objective is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the subject and develop rigorous ways of thinking that will serve them well in the future. This allows for discovery and promotes the inquisitive side of each student. Hong Kong students learning this curriculum will be assessed through benchmarking for their mastery in the subject matter. As a result, your children will be prepared for A-level qualifications and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), a globally recognized qualification that isn't only used for entry into British schools but also into schools around the globe.

Focus on Depth and Breadth

The British education system encourages students to learn a wide range of subjects. Not only are core subjects taught like English, science, math, and literature, but students in Hong Kong also learn art, music, physical education, and even foreign languages. In the early years, students will focus on the fundamentals of each subject. As the students progress from primary to secondary school, teachers will dive deeper into the subjects. Students will learn more complex and nuanced aspects of the particular subject and how it relates to other studies.

Well-Defined Key Stages to Measure Progress

The English National Curriculum has defined stages and assessments to clearly measure the progress of your children's learning. Since each stage is clearly defined, it's easy to measure the progress that students have made and help them to understand how they are doing.

Promotes Growth Beyond the Classroom

An international school in Hong Kong will aim to develop your children into well-rounded individuals with a global perspective and cross-cultural perspective that extends beyond Hong Kong. That's why British education emphasizes real-world application and extracurricular activities. Students will understand the principles of the core subjects and how to apply this knowledge in real-world situations. Extracurricular activities like performing arts and team sports help children develop teamwork and leadership skills and understand the intricacies of camaraderie and competition. International schools that follow the English National Curriculum encourage children to participate in extracurricular activities that deepen their understanding of academic subjects such as math competitions, robotics, speech and debate, and Model United Nations. These activities can help students develop their love of learning by attaching these academic subjects to a competitive environment.

What are the Subjects Taught at Various Ages?

The Hong Kong British Curriculum is structured with blocks of years called 'Key Stages.' Each Key Stage follows its own curriculum and has a specific set of subjects taught to these students. Students are assessed at the end of each stage. Here are the age ranges for students in each Key Stage in Hong Kong.

  • Key Stage 1: Age 5 to 7 (primary school)

  • Key Stage 2: Age 7 to 11 (primary school)

  • Key Stage 3: Age 11 to 14 (secondary school)

  • Key Stage 4: Age 14 to 16 (secondary school)


Here are the subjects taught at each Key Stage:

Key Stage 1: English, Mathematics, Science, Computing, Physical Education, Geography, History, Music, Art & Design, and Design & Technology

Key Stage 2: English, Mathematics, Science, Computing, Physical Education, Geography, History, Music, Art & Design, and Design & Technology, and Modern Foreign Languages

Key Stage 3: English, Mathematics, Science, Computing, Physical Education, Geography, History, Music, Art & Design, and Design & Technology, Modern Foreign Languages and Citizenship

Key Stage 4: English, Mathematics, Science, Computing, Physical Education, Citizenship and Work-related learning

This rigorous curriculum also means meticulous training of teachers who teach it to maintain teaching standards. This ensures the curriculum is taught effectively, and schools can collect data on how to help Hong Kong students flourish individually.

Type of Assessments Carried Out

The National Curriculum assessment is a statutory assessment that is carried out in primary and secondary schools. These assessments are carried out at three different ages - 7, 11, and 14. The first assessment will be at the end of Key Stage 1, the second will be at the end of Key Stage 2, and the third will be at the end of Key Stage 3.

Some subjects will be assessed through examination tests, while others are assessed by the teacher. Although the British curriculum covers a wide range of subjects, the children are only tested on the core subjects.

Key Stage 1: Hong Kong schools have some freedom to choose when and how these tests in writing, reading, and math are administered. The 7-year-old student is expected to meet the standard to Stage 2. However, it's not a pass-or-fail grading. Instead, teachers evaluate and provide an indicator of whether a child is above, below, or working the target level of knowledge and understanding. In addition to the subjects tested, teachers will also assess their student's listening, speaking, and science skills. Hong Kong schools may designate when the tests may be taken. Typically, it's issued at the end of the school year in Hong Kong.

During the early years, a phonics screening test may be issued by Hong Kong international schools to verify your child's ability to decode words. This is an indication of their reading and English-speaking capability.

Key Stage 2: Stage 2 covers children who are between 7 to 11 years old, and the assessment is taken at age 11 or year 6. The subjects tested are English, science, and math. The results of this assessment are reported to parents.

Key Stage 3: This stage 3 assessment is more comprehensive and will test students in the core subjects along with other areas such as citizenship, art, geography, design technology, history, PE, and music.

Key Stage 4: Most students will take either the GCSE or IGCSE to gain a qualification for higher education. The grades that Hong Kong students receive on their examinations will determine whether they qualify for university.

Students who take the A-Levels can use them as entry qualifications to most universities and higher education institutions worldwide. The grading system is graded on a scale of A to E. For many subjects in Hong Kong, A-levels are assessed through a written examination at the end of the 2-year course study.

Differences Between How Public and Private Schools Adopt the British Curriculum

Although many public and private British schools may adopt the English National Curriculum, there are some differences in how these educators may choose to implement them.

Public schools must follow the structure and delivery of the British curriculum. They may not have the freedom that private schools have. This means a public schools will have to craft its lesson plans to meet the quarterly and weekly objectives of the curriculum, even if students may be struggling to keep up. If schools adopt a specific textbook, educators will likely stick to those teachings.

Private schools aren't obligated to follow the British curriculum, although many do. Stringent inspections are undertaken to ensure all primary and secondary school standards are met. However, independent private schools such as international schools have the flexibility to customize their curriculum to meet the needs of their students in Hong Kong.

How Private Schools Adjust Delivery of Curriculum

Rather than learning a wide range of topics throughout the week, some private schools may decide to focus on one subject the entire week. This allows the student to fully immerse themselves in the subject for the whole week and gain discovery and deep insight into each topic. Without the short time constraint, students have a chance to dig deep into the content. For example, if the class was learning about the solar system, the educator may assign a science project that week to have them construct a planetarium. This enables students to have real-world application in a supportive environment which enables a bigger educational discovery and breakthrough.

In addition, private schools may also incorporate outdoor education. Depending on the subject matter, learning outdoors can increase a student's love of learning and get them excited about the curriculum. For example, students can perform community service for a non-profit organisation of their interest or take expeditions off-campus relating to their field of study.

Cambridge Curriculum at Invictus International School Hong Kong

At Invictus International School Hong Kong, we offer the Cambridge curriculum at the Chai Wan campus to help students receive holistic education to become skilled young adults in the workforce. For children years 7 to 9, we provide the Cambridge Lower Secondary curriculum, which is based on the best practice for international schools in Hong Kong. This secondary school curriculum helps students establish a solid foundation in math and literacy while encouraging them to gain discovery in other areas. These specialized areas will depend on their strengths, interests, college aspirations, and abilities.

For students in years 10 and 11, the teaching is geared towards preparing them for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams and eventually the Cambridge International A-Levels. This is a highly-regarded international school-leaving qualification that qualifies you for admission to the best schools globally, including Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the Ivy League institutions. The Cambridge IGCSE curriculum adopted at Invictus International School Hong Kong provides students with the flexibility to choose their desired course of study to ensure that it is in line with their future career and education goals.

The subjects covered in the IGCSE programme include English, Mandarin (Chinese), English Literature, Business, Geography, Music, History, Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Information and Communication Technology.

The Invictus School Hong Kong provides world-class education at a campus with top-notch facilities and helps your children to achieve internationally recognised qualifications, so they can have the foundation needed to be successful young adults.

Hong Kong British Curriculum

The British curriculum is globally recognised and seeks to develop children into well-rounded and capable young adults and expand their knowledge in a wide array of subjects. The assessments used to grade students ensure that every student achieves mastery in the most important subjects and measures their learning progression over time. It prepares them for the IGCSE and A-Levels so that they can apply to the universities of their choice.

Students can easily transfer courses to another international primary school or secondary school, and qualify for admission to any college or university worldwide with a high-quality British education. The English National Curriculum emphasizes real-world application rather than memorizing knowledge to pass the exams, helping them to develop important skills.

For more information, visit https://www.invictus.edu.hk/. Visit https://www.invictus.edu.hk/secondary-school?locale=en for more information about the Cambridge curriculum at Invictus.

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