Inspectors may not be over-impressed with the efforts of schools in England, but Hong Kong pupils are doing extremely well.
Sha Tin College in the New Territories is, according to the inspection services unit at Manchester Metropolitan University, an "outstandingly successful school" with remarkably high standards compared to the United Kingdom.
In a report dripping with praise, inspectors note that the number of students gaining five or more of the top three GCSE grades - 90.3 per cent - is more than double the UK average and better than in many grammar and independent schools.
The results are particularly impressive, say the inspectors, because Sha Tin, an 11-18 mixed comprehensive run by the Hong Kong-based English Schools Foundation, has a wide spread of ability including some pupils with special needs. Many of the 900 pupils do not speak English, the teaching medium, as a first language. About 40 per cent are British, 20 per cent from North America and 15 per cent from Australasia.
A-level results are also excellent and entry to higher education is impressive, says the report, written after a six-day visit by the OFSTED-registered team of 10 last year. Standards of classroom work are high and the college is stretching the capabilities of all its students .
The management wins a glowing plaudit, the development plan is "a model of its kind" and "the thoroughness of the pastoral care is exceptional", says the report. It concludes: "The fact that the college is rich in innovations and that . . . its members are perpetually seeking further improvement should ensure that it is able to . . . move from strength to strength."
Principal David Cottam says one of the inspectors told him Sha Tin was the best school he had seen in 22 years. "These accolades are not for a school in the Home Counties, but for one 8,000 miles from Britain," he said.
In a rare note of reserve, the inspectors say monitoring of pupils' performance should be improved and projects costed more carefully. Better development plans are needed for information technology and accommodation could be improved.
The Sha Tin brochure hints at the key to its success. It serves Government quarters and the residential areas for the Chinese University and two polytechnics. "Parents have high academic aspirations for their children who themselves are highly motivated," says the brochure .