This year marks both 450 years of Harrow School, and ten years of the ancient establishment’s sister school: Harrow International in Hong Kong
The former commemorates an institution layered in history, the latter is a milestone for a young school in one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic locations.
However, the two share a strong bond, both underpinned by a focus on ‘excellence, leadership, and learning’.
‘Our ethos is very much based on Harrow London and what has been successful at the mothership,’ says Ann Haydon, the Head of Harrow International School Hong Kong. The school even uses time-honoured Harrovian terminology such as calling blazers ‘bluers’ and holding the ‘Long Ducker’, a charity run, every spring.
‘[The anniversary] is a time when we remember those who’ve gone before us,’ the Head continues. ‘We’re inspired by those people and the great things that they’ve done.’
When Harrow International opened in 2012 it set out to bring together the best of Western and Eastern traditions, and it’s fair to say that this objective has been achieved. There are 36 nationalities at the school – something that Haydon says ‘enriches the school community’.
A young school, Harrow International’s spaces are modern, with purpose-built classrooms set within a vast, crescent-shaped building in Hong Kong’s New Territories.
Situated 40 minutes from the main island, the school enjoys not only ample space (which allows pupils to go off-site to play golf and go horse riding), but impeccable views of the MacLehose Trail on one side and the ocean on the other.
Pupils study the core academic subjects and are given ample opportunity to find and develop further passions – Harrow International boasts state-of-the-art facilities including specialist art, music and drama studios, a recording studio, a library, a ‘learning lounge’, modern science laboratories, an enormous sports hall, six tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool.
And that’s not all. The school also offers a ‘super curriculum’ – a range of activities intended to provide ‘academic extension’ twice a week. This could be anything from preparation to get into Oxbridge, to reading Larkin’s poetry, learning about a classical civilisation, or studying the ‘art of dissection’. The school also offers around 200 clubs and societies, many of which are pupil-run. ‘Pupil voice is very important,’ says Haydon.
The school upholds the academic excellence for which the Harrow name is known. Students achieve ‘outstanding’ examination results, says Haydon, and are ‘taught by high-calibre, talented, committed members of staff ’.
They also go on to top-class further education, sometimes in Hong Kong but often abroad – around 75 per cent of pupils gain entry to G5 or red brick universities in the UK, and many opt for Ivy League institutions. It’s not just about the academic results, but rather the ‘differentiators’, adds Haydon.
Harrow International also offers careers fairs, mock interviews and work experience programmes to pupils, as well as creating an environment where they grow into ‘strategic, creative, adaptable’ individuals with a ‘can-do’ attitude.
All in all, the legacy of the establishment that educated Winston Churchill and Robert Peel is alive and well at Harrow International.
Indeed, Haydon firmly believes that the school is educating the world’s future leaders: ‘I want to give them the confidence to go out and make a difference. If they can change the world in a positive way, we feel that we’ve done the job.’