The Students at South Island
The students at South Island come from a very wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Our biggest population groups by passport are British, Canadians and Australians, with large minority groups from Korea and Japan. Thirty nations are represented in our student body. About 70% of our students are permanent ID card holders – meaning that they have been in Hong Kong for more than 7 years. So passport identity on its own is not an accurate indicator of background or ethnicity. In common with many international schools, we have around a 10% turnover of students each year but the large majority stays with us through the secondary phase, many having come through our Primary feeder schools.
South Island is non-selective on the basis of academic ability although there is an English test to ensure that for non-native speakers, levels of written and spoken English are sufficient to access the curriculum and to perform in English in advanced level exams. We reserve 24 places in our Learning Support Unit for students with high levels of additional learning need.
The School is coeducational with roughly even numbers of boys and girls. Students join us between the ages of 10 to 11 in Year 7 and will typically be 17 to 18 in Year 13. We accept students into all Years (not often into Year 13 but it is possible on transfer), with the caveat that there may be difficulties in completing examination courses. This is particularly true in Year 11 but we are still more than happy to try and work out a personal learning package that makes sense.
Our students participate actively in their own education. Many have very high aspirations, not only academically but in all other respects and there are very high levels of participation in our Making a Difference (MaD) initiatives that run vertically through all Year Groups. In the IB programme, this becomes Creativity, Action and Service (CAS).
All students from Years 8-10 and in Year 12 are required to make a service contribution as part of their MaD Week activities that occur both within Hong Kong and overseas. Many students are involved in charity work and charity fund raising. We have a number of charities that we support at individual class, House and Learning Family level. The student MaD council coordinates all work and authorizes trips and activities.
Our mission statement, ‘Making a Difference’ indicates our belief that our students have the potential, in fact the responsibility, to become leaders and shapers of their world. There will be some that no doubt will become high profile leaders in the traditional sense but we also believe that all our students have the potential to take leading roles in their families, their communities, their education or workplace or in their chosen fields of interest or endeavor. Opportunities for leadership training roles in school are extensive at all levels in the school including: Prefects, House Captains, Sports Captains, Charity Representatives, PTA Representatives, Student Council Representatives, MaD Council Representatives and so on. There are also almost limitless opportunities for students to take leading roles in running and organizing events. Senior students sit on Full School Council.
Students in the Senior School have a greater degree of freedom and a number of privileges, but along with these privileges go certain responsibilities and obligations. We place a very high value on respect, consideration for others and a sense of community.
There are many opportunities both to become involved and to show leadership in a variety of ways. All students are expected to enter our Senior School knowing that we have an expectation of breadth of experience and service. As well as the CAS expectations of the Diploma Courses all our students are expected to be leaders, role models and ambassadors for our school.