As Hong Kong continues to increasingly attract expatriates from around the globe, the shortage of international school places is a problem, and new players are likely to be welcomed. Since 1992, Nord Anglia Education has been operating international schools in Europe, the Middle East and China, offering a British-style education to about 6,000 students. Now, the organisation is moving its headquarters to Hong Kong from Britain, and hopes to open a school here for around 1,000 students.
Why is Nord Anglia moving its base to Hong Kong, and when will this be?
We are transferring to Hong Kong from October 2011 to April 2012, and plan to have the team fully up and running by the end of April. One of our main reasons for coming was to find a school here, and we are exploring every avenue to try and achieve a school opening as soon as possible.
Hong Kong would be a fantastic place for us to open one of our premium international schools. We already have four premium schools in China - two each in Beijing and Shanghai - and we plan further growth in China and Southeast Asia.
What is your educational philosophy and what programmes do you offer?
Our philosophy is to "help others thrive" and we want all students in our schools to "be the best that they can be". This means we put the student at the centre of everything we do, and look to make leading global citizens of all our pupils.
We currently have 13 premium schools in the Nord Anglia Education family and offer a variety of curricula, depending on the location of the school and students' requirements. We offer the English National Curriculum leading to IGCSE [International General Certificate of Secondary Education] and the IB [International Baccalaureate] programme and A-levels for our students in years 12 and 13. [Our programme for Hong Kong] is yet to be decided. However, it will most likely offer the English National Curriculum and the IB programme.
How many places do you envisage will be offered?
We are talking with the Hong Kong authorities about opportunities to open a large day school for students between the ages of three and 18 years, which will replicate the schools we operate elsewhere in the world. We hope to have a school with over 1,000 places.
A majority of our schools in China have 1,500 to 2,000 places. We are open-minded about the location. We are also open-minded about a new build or the conversion of an existing school. We have had successful experience of both approaches.
What is the language policy in your schools?
All our schools teach via the English language, but we pride ourselves on the diversity of our students, who come from over 70 countries. We have excellent language programmes in all our schools, and two of our schools in Switzerland are bilingual, teaching through English and French.
What differentiates you from other international schools in Asia?
We believe we offer an excellent education, which is inclusive for all students, and excel at the international aspect of their learning through our "Global Citizenship" programme. We attract and retain great teaching staff, aided by our Nord Anglia Education University, which develops all our teachers.
How many staff will move with you?
We expect some of our staff to move with us, but we will need to recruit around 30 staff - locals from Hong Kong - for our head office here. These individuals will fill administrative roles.
What kind of profiles will you be looking for?
The majority of teachers for a school in Hong Kong would come from the UK. We like to recruit on attitude as much as anything - we want people who are fired up about working in education for one of the world's top school organisations. We are recruiting in finance, human resources, legal and information technology, across a variety of levels. We hope to have the majority of posts filled by the end of February and are advertising.
How would you describe your sector's outlook?
There is a shortage of quality schools in the region and we hope that we can solve this.