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School of Thought

 1.	EtonHouse Hong Kong, located in Tai Tam, opened this month
 EtonHouse Hong Kong, located in Tai Tam, opens 10 February

With its emphasis on connecting to nature, EtonHouse International Pre-School, which opens next week, is located in picturesque Tai Tam on Hong Kong Island, with green views from all classrooms. The school, part of Singapore’s EtonHouse International Education Group, offers an inquiry-based curriculum modelled after Italy’s Reggio Emilia approach and is closely aligned to the International Baccalaureate programme.

The Singapore group was founded by the school’s Managing Director, Ng Gim Choo, and her brother, Jimmy Oh, the company’s Chairman. The first EtonHouse campus opened in Singapore in March 1995, and has since expanded to the Chinese mainland cities of Suzhou, Shanghai, Wuxi, Jinan, Nanjing, Chengdu, Dongguan, Yiwu and Zhuhai, as well as to Japan, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia. A campus in the Middle East is now in the planning stages. 

Valued Addition

Light-filled classrooms overlook green views 
Light-filled classrooms overlook green views 
“Hong Kong is an important market,” said Bipasha Minocha, the company’s Group Brand Director. “It is very close to China, where we have a strong presence. Hong Kong also has an international community, which values high-quality education. We have long-term plans for Hong Kong and intend to open more pre-schools and primary schools here.” 

The group researched the city for some time to generate an understanding of the Hong Kong market before starting operations. It found that, as an international city and leading trade and business hub, Hong Kong attracts a highly talented international workforce. 

Business Hub

 A variety of sections, indoors and out, promote inquiry-based learning

A variety of sections, indoors and out, promote inquiry-based learning

“This is an important consideration for starting an international school as it attracts discerning and evolved international families, as well as offering many exciting opportunities for international educators to work here,” Ms Minocha said. “Hong Kong is also a very well-organised city, with excellent infrastructure, simple tax structure and low tax rates. The government’s commitment to free trade and enterprise, coupled with an open and liberal investment policy that encourages inward investment, make Hong Kong a preferred destination for business.” 

There is also a strong demand among Hong Kong families for high-quality pre-school and primary school spaces, according to Ms Minocha. “EtonHouse is strongly positioned with its established track record and innovative learning environment and curriculum to offer high-quality international education programmes in Hong Kong that will be appreciated by families here. 

“We also hope to enhance Hong Kong’s position as an international education hub by bringing in international research and experts on education, create more opportunities for collaboration and dialogue between educators and operators, and establish even higher standards of practice in the international schooling sector.” 

High-Calibre Staff

Allison Banbury 
Allison Banbury, Principal, EtonHouse International Pre-School, Hong Kong 
Principal Alison Banbury arrived in Hong Kong in 2010, after living and working in London for 20 years, including nine years as a nursery school principal. She was attracted to the school’s high standards. “EtonHouse recognises the contribution that well-qualified staff makes to a child’s education and employs core teachers with degree-level qualifications, and assistant and Mandarin teachers with at least a teaching diploma. Thus, EtonHouse’s ratio of qualified teacher to students is very high.

EtonHouse plans to offer high-quality professional development opportunities for all educators in Hong Kong, “thus enhancing the standards of practice across the profession,” Ms Banbury said.

She believes that many Hong Kong parents are looking for an educational approach that differs from their own formal education, or replicates ones that they have experienced in international schools or school systems abroad.

“Hong Kong parents are often looking for a creative approach to education and one in which their child has ownership and influence over what they learn. The curriculum at EtonHouse is individualised and highly in tune with children’s ideas and interests. It affords children the opportunity to inquire and learn through active engagement.”

Brand Potential

 “I have no doubt,” Ms Banbury added, that “parents will recognise in EtonHouse the quality, creative and child-responsive educational approach they are looking for.”

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