The Independent Schools Foundation Academy (ISF)
About The Independent Schools Foundation Academy (ISF)
The ISF Academy offers a unique education in Hong Kong. It is an internationally accredited independent school offering a Chinese and English immersion education with a global perspective. Striking a balance between tradition and innovation, between East and West, The ISF Academy is a connected community of learners that is based on a vision of education where the power of ideas to shape lives is understood and respected, and where hopes for a better, brighter future forms an essential driving force for learning.
The Academy opened under the leadership of the Founding Board, chaired by Prof. Sir Charles Kuen Kao, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Prof. Sir Kao’s motto for The Academy was “Learning, Learning, Learning.” His view of education that each learner is perfectible and that education is a process of growth, experimentation and change pervades The Academy’s vision and practice today. The ISF Academy aims to educate students to be a community of learners, independent in thought and action, global in understanding and experience, and excellent in all endeavors.
The Independent Schools Foundation (Foundation) was established in February 2000 as a registered charitable organization to provide diversity in choice of education for local students. In 2003, the Foundation established a non-profit, private independent school, The Independent Schools Foundation Academy (The Academy), for Grade 1 to 12 in order to cater to the increasing demand for the highest caliber Putonghua and English education in an inquiry-based learning environment.
Starting with just 56 students in Grade 1 to 4 in August 2003, The Academy soon outgrew its temporary campus in Wanchai. This necessitated in the setting up of a second temporary campus in Causeway Bay before moving to the current campus in Pokfulam in July 2007.
In February 2008, The Academy commenced its Foundation Year program, a preparatory year for students prior to Grade 1. The academic year 2008/09 marked the first full year of the Foundation Year program and the first class of Grade 12 students graduated in 2011/12.
The Independent Schools Foundation Pre-School (Pre-School) is a private, not-for-profit early years educational institute established by the Foundation and started enrolling students in August 2015. It is a unique, Chinese-English bilingual and bicultural pre-school where there is a strong emphasis on the core values of the Eight Virtues + One. The Pre-school believes in establishing a community of young learnings takes place in a supportive, nurturing environment based on mutual trust and respect. It is a place where young learners actively engage in first hand experiences to construct knowledge and develop skills for a better understanding of the world in which they live.
Accreditation / Membership
The Academy is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School offering the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Grade 6 to 10 and the IB Diploma Programme (DP) for Grade 11 and 12. The Academy is an Accredited Member of the Council of International Schools (CIS) and is officially registered by the Education Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government as a Private Independent School. Additional accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Council of International Schools (CIS) was achieved in early 2014.
In 2017, 21% of students achieved an IB score of 39 and above, which is considered the threshold for admission to the world’s best universities. All 19 members of the Class of 2017 outperformed the DP benchmark set by IB schools worldwide, with an average IB Diploma score of 35.3 points, which far exceeds the worldwide average of 30.1, and no score was below 30 points. One student achieved the distinction of scoring 41 out of a maxium of 45 points. Bilingual Diploma results were once again very strong. Of the 19 graduates, 15 (74%) were awarded the Bilingual Diploma, which recognizes students who have achieved native or near-native level in two languages. For the four consecutive year, the overall pass rate of 100% is very impressive and is significantly above the world average success rate of 79.3%. In addition to strong individual subject scores, the Academy’s students demonstrated a strong commitment to the core elements of the IB Diploma — with 96% of the cohort receiving 2 or 3 core bonus points for the Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay components.
Members of the Class of 2017 have received offers from the world’s leading universities, such as University of Oxford , Brown University, Pennsylvania State University, University of St. Andrews, New York University, Durham University, UC San Diego, Northeastern University, Skidmore College, Chinese University of Hong Kong and University of Hong Kong, to name but a few.
In 2016, 26% of students achieved an IB score of 40 and above, which is considered the threshold for admission to the world’s best universities. All 31 members of the Class of 2016 outperformed the DP benchmark set by IB schools worldwide, with an average IB Diploma score of 38.2 points, which far exceeds the worldwide average of 30.1, and no score was below 33 points. One student achieved the distinction of a perfect score of 45 points. Bilingual Diploma results were once again very strong. Of the 31 graduates, 21 (68%) were awarded the Bilingual Diploma, which recognizes students who have achieved native or near-native level in two languages. For the third consecutive year, the overall pass rate of 100% is very impressive and is significantly above the world average success rate of 79.2%. In addition to strong individual subject scores, the Academy’s students demonstrated a strong commitment to the core elements of the IB Diploma — with 96% of the cohort receiving 2 or 3 core bonus points for the Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay components.
Members of the Class of 2016 have received offers from the world’s leading universities, such as Australian National University, McGill University, University of Toronto, Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong, Imperial College London, LSE, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Boston University, Cornell University, New York University, Stanford University, UCLA and University of Pennsylvania, to name but a few.
The Academy’s professional teaching staff are carefully selected from countries and regions around the world, including Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Mainland China, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States. Of the some 250 faculty members, including senior management, more than half hold masters degrees, and above. A number of the faculty members serve as IB- Senior Examiners and workshop leaders, as well as CIS accreditation team members.
The current student-teacher ratio across The Academy is 7:1.
As a Private Independent School, The Academy ensures that 70% of the student intake is from the local population. Other than HKID holders, The Academy also enrolls students from the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. Through the merit-based scholarship scheme, which recognizes excellence in academic and special talents, and financial aid schemes, The Academy provides opportunities to students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. The size of the student body is more than 1,500, including students studying in the Pre-School and both Primary and Secondary sections in The Academy.
Structure and Size
The Independent Schools Foundation is governed by a Board of Governors. The ISF Board sets out the overall policies and core values of The ISF Academy and established a School Management Committee in accordance with the Education Ordinance and Education Regulations.
The Independent Schools Foundation Academy is a community of learners, independent in thought and action, deeply rooted in Chinese culture, global in understanding and experience, and excellent in all endeavors.
The ISF Academy:
- Educates learners in a Chinese-English bilingual environment.
- Anchors its values on the Eight Virtues plus One.
- Nurtures curiosity, critical thinking, and a lifelong love of learning.
- Builds life skills through experiential learning.
The Eight Virtues + One (八德一智)
Grounded in Chinese culture and with a global prospective, The ISF Academy community lives and learns under core values that draw from the school’s Chinese heritage and which are updated to be relevant to today’s world. The Eight Virtues + One give members of the school’s community a strong foundation from which to think, decide, and act. It prepares the students to meet all future challenges as active and ethical members of society.
Zhi 智 (Intelligence and Wisdom)
Zhong 忠 (Loyalty and Commitment)
Xiao 孝 (Respect and Obligation)
Ren 仁 (Compassion and Kindness)
Ai 愛 (Love and Passion)
Li 禮 (Etiquette and Ceremony)
Yi 義 (Principles and Justice)
He 和 (Harmony and Tolerance)
Ping 平 (Balance and Equality)
Learning Philosophy and Accreditation Pathway
The ISF Academy believes that learning is the active construction of knowledge best experienced through meaningful activities. Learning is visible when students enthusiastically discuss and debate issues, express themselves freely and demonstrate intellectual curiosity. Therefore learning is best done in groups through collaboration with other individuals.
To bring about this kind of learning, teaching methods need to cultivate the joy of learning as well as develop in students the social, creative, communication, and critical thinking skills necessary to achieve success in an ever-competitive and changing world. This means asking questions, taking risks, and not being afraid of making mistakes. The students learn to learn in their primary years. This individual responsibility for learning continues on in the Secondary. It is reflected in the curricular framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) and is the reason that The ISF Academy has selected the IB Middle Years Programme® (MYP) and the Diploma Programme® (DP) as the core academic programs in the Secondary School.
An added component to ensure academic success in an inquiry based learning environment is the small class sizes, with no more than 20 students in a Primary School class to a maximum of 22 in the Secondary School.
Assessment plays an important role in shaping The Academy’s programs. Students are assessed on their ability to achieve set criteria in each learning area. The Academy’s assessment model focuses on the student’s portfolio, class performance, and/or written tests after each unit. Clear sets of scoring criteria or rubrics, setting out standards and benchmarks, are established in each subject for each grade. Summative as well as formative assessments are conducted along with students’ self-evaluation and peer assessment for special projects.
Assessment = Portfolio + Class Performance + Written Tests
For more information about ISF, please refer to http://www.isf.edu.hk/