South Island School

South Island School (Chinese: 南島中學) is a private school founded by the English Schools Foundation of Hong Kong, and is located at 50 Nam Fung Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, with about 1,400 students enrolled and 107 teachers. Students come from diverse backgrounds, with over 38 nationalities represented. The school offers the GCSE/IGCSE syllabus, IB Diploma Programme, IB Career-related Programme and the BTEC qualification. The school is one of three ESF secondary schools on Hong Kong Island, the others being West Island School and Island School.

South Island School
South Island School's logo
50 Nam Fung Road
Aberdeen, Hong Kong
TypePrivate, comprehensive, international, primary, co-educational.
MottoMaking a Difference
PrincipalMr. Tom Vignoles
Enrollmentapprox. 1,400[1]
HousesBahay, Casa, Shtepi, Namas, Kuca, Maison
Colour(s)Green, white and blue
Year7 - 13
South Island School
Traditional Chinese南島中學
Simplified Chinese南岛中学

According to an inspection report from 2019 by the Council of International Schools (CoIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), South Island School 'passionately promotes the development of global citizenship and intercultural learning, and the school climate is such that there is a very strong sense of mutual trust amongst all the school’s stakeholders.' [2]


In 1977, South Island School was founded as an annex of Island School, a fellow English Schools Foundation School. The school opened with 165 students and 6 teachers, with three classes in Form 1, and one class in Form 2 and Form 3 respectively. Mike Taylor was the first principal.

The school moved to its current location at 50 Nam Fung Road in 1983. It consisted of the Ching Ling Soong Block and an outdoor swimming pool. [3]

As the school grew in size, more facilities were required. The next big change to the school came with the construction of the Stephen Hawking Building (named after physicist Stephen Hawking), and the swimming pool became an indoor one with the Sports Block being built on top of it, allowing for year-round swimming lessons.[4]

By 2003, the increase in student population warranted the construction of a new school block. Construction began on a new eight-storey building that would accompany the C Block and the S Block. By 2004, the new block was completed and was named the Da Vinci (after Italian polymath, Leonardo da Vinci) Block.

In the school year of 2007-2008, the school was accredited to teach the IB Diploma programme. The IB Centre was opened, a section of the school designated for International Baccalaureate students in Years 12 and 13. This was renamed the Diploma Centre in the school year of 2009-2010.

In November 2010, the new John Wray Atrium, named after previous principal, John Wray, opened for all students.

In the following years, many of the school facilities underwent renovations. The library in the C Block was renovated in the summer holidays of 2012 and re-opened in late September the same year, and was renamed as the "Learning Resource Center". In November of 2012, the renovation of the library was completed, and was reopened as the Learning Resources Centre (LRC).

In February of 2014, additional floors were added to the Sports Block to create The Space, a multipurpose learning space. There is also an astroturf on top of the Space which was completed in the same year. In November, the school completed a redesigned School Hall with state-of-the-art facilities and a 400-seat auditorium.

In 2016, South Island School adopted the Middle Years Program and the IB CP (career-related) programme. The IB CP was offered in addition to the IB Diploma programme, which places greater emphasis on developing vocational skills. The programme combines academic courses from the IB Diploma programme with the career-related experiences of the BTEC courses to create a personalised and career-focused pathway for students. [5] Also in the same year, the School Foyer and the Refectory were renovated.

In 2017, South Island School celebrated its 40th anniversary. Students and staff walked down to Deep Water Bay Beach for charity and participated in activities commemorating the event, such as a time capsule and an art mural. [6] A giant birthday cake was also made, with enough cake for every teacher and student in the school. Later that October, an exhibition was shown in the Atrium commemorating the school's history [7], and an alumni gathering was held in Hong Kong.

In 2018, the Food Technology laboratories were renovated, along with the Science classrooms on the 6th floor. In 2019, the classrooms on the 3rd and 4th floors of the C Block were also renovated.


South Island School is part of the English Schools Foundation of 22 schools [8] in Hong Kong that operates within the ESF government ordinance.

The school is accountable to the Board of Governors (Executive Committee) of English Schools Foundation and its local governing body: School Council. The council meets around six times per year. It has two sub-committees, namely Finance & Personnel (FP) and Learning and Professional Development (LPD) both chaired by community representatives. Among other matters, the FP sub-committee reviews the school's annual budget and recommends acceptance to the full council. It also reviews personnel matters and considers health & safety issues. The LPD subcommittee's work is more aimed at, inter alia, curriculum development, teaching methods and examination performance.[9]



Between Year 7 and Year 9, students take the Middle Years Programme (MYP) offered by the International Baccalaureate. The MYP is usually a 5-year programme, but the programme was shortened to 3 years so that the IGCSE programme could still be offered. During Year 7 and 8, all students follow a common curriculum, which includes English, Maths, Science, Chinese, a modern foreign language (French or Spanish), Individuals and Societies, Global Thinking, design, and the arts. At the end of Year 9, all students participate in the Community Project. Students work in groups to investigate, propose, plan and implement a project that serves a need within the school community or the wider Hong Kong community. [10]

During Year 10 and 11, students follow the I/GCSE curriculum. All students must take English, Mathematics, Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), PE (examined or non-examined), a language, a humanities subject, and Global Citizenship. In addition, students can choose to take either another language, or another humanities subject. [11]

In Year 12 and 13, students can either choose to do the IB Diploma or the IB Career-related Programme. For the Diploma Programme, students must choose 3 Higher Level subjects and 3 Standard Level subjects, where subjects in the student's first language, additional Language, the humaities, the sciences, mathematics are required. Students also need to complete the Extended Essay, CAS, and the Theory of Knowledge course. Students in the Career-related Programme can choose to substitute some of their IB DP subjects with more applied BTEC subjects, but must still complete the CP core.

Higher Education Destinations

In 2019, 40% of South Island School students matriculate to the United Kingdom, 19% to Hong Kong, 13% to theUnited States, 9% to Canada, 6% to either Australia or New Zealand, and the remainder matriculate to countries such as Korea and Japan. In Hong Kong, 17 students chose to study at the University of Hong Kong, five to HKUST and six to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, while in the UK, 6 students matriculated to Imperial College and UCL. In addition, the most popular universities in Canada were the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto with five students each.

South Island School graduates usually apply to a range of courses. Fields such as Economics, and Business and Management have been consistently popular among South Island School graduates. Ten students each have matriculated to the traditionally popular Law and Psychology courses. The social sciences remain popular: a particular favourite is Psychology, with 11 students choosing this as their major. 20 students pursued creative degrees such as Design, Film and Performing Arts as well. [12]

Examination Results

In 2012, 3 students scored the maximum 45 points on the IB Diploma (out of 109 worldwide), and another 5 students scored 44 points. 32% of the graduating body scored 40 points or more. The mean score was 36.3 out of 45, in comparison to the world average of 30.1.[13]

In 2018, 2 students scored the maximum 45 points on the IB Diploma, while three others scored 44, and a further six scored 43, exceeding international averages by substantial margins. In 2018, 98% of students achieved the full IB Diploma, compared to 78.4% worldwide. That year, the mean score for all IB Diploma students was 35.0 in comparison to the world average of 30.0. Furthermore, 22% of students at South Island School achieved 30 or more points, compared to 8% worldwide. [14]


Students come from diverse backgrounds, with 38 nationalities represented as of 2019. [15] In 2019, the most represented was those with United Kingdom citizenship. As of that year, 50% of the students were ethnic Chinese, 14% were Caucasian, 8% were Eurasian, 7% were Indian, and 21% were of other races [16]

The school is non-selective towards academic ability and reserves 24 places in the Learning Support Unit for students with additional learning needs.

Student Leadership

Prefect Team

The school has a well-established prefect system in which the Year 12 and Year 13 students are assigned key positions of responsibility to help with the day-to-day operations of the school. Serving as chief representatives of the student body is the Head Prefect team, led by the Head Boy and Head Girl. The Head Prefect Team is selected through a rigorous process that includes written applications, student and teacher voting, a panel interview, and a final interview with the Principal, Vice Principal, and a School Council member.

Student Council

Sustainability Council

The Sustainability Council, or SusCo in short are a student group that promote environmental awareness in South Island School. Aside from installing water fountains and recycling bins around the school, they have installed solar panels on the roof of the D Block. [17] They have also sold reusable cutlery sets in January of 2019 in response to the loss of metal cutlery from the school cafeteria. In March, they raised awareness of environmental issues by organising a 'Green Week'. During this week, they organised a talk raising awareness about plastic use, served meatless meals in the cafeteria for one day, and conducted a 'Power Down Day' where no electrical devices were allowed to be used. In August, they successfully introduced reusable bowls, plates and containers to replace the disposable plates and cups for snacks. [18]

Making a Difference Council

The MaD Council are a student group that promotes the school's philosophy of 'Making A Difference'. They are responsible for organising and making decisions for MaD Week, a week where students go overseas or stay in Hong Kong to make a difference to themselves and the community around them. In addition, they work with the House Councils to organise school events and initiatives, such as each House's MaD Week's, as well as the student-led events.

Digital Leaders

The Digital Leaders are a student group involved in organising technology-related initiatives at South Island School. They have worked with Year 8 InterD students and have supported them in the media literacy unit, as well as supported the Laptop Induction evenings for Year 7s. They have also organised a photography club and coding club, as well as organised an 'Internet Safety Week'. [19][20]


Students at South Island School were originally allocated into one of seven houses, named after notable people in history. These houses were:

  • Hillary (blue)
  • Tolstoy (red)
  • Aylward (yellow)
  • Schweitzer (green)
  • Jefferson (purple)
  • Marden (orange)
  • Nobel (light blue)

These 7 houses later were then reorganised to form six houses and were named after the word 'House' in six different languages.

These houses, along with their respective colours and the language where their name originates from, are:

The house colours were allocated after each head of house pulled slips of paper from a hat with a colour written on them. In each year, a house consists of two tutor groups of about 18 students, headed by a tutor of one tutor group, who oversee the students' well-being and performance in school. There is a small 10-minute period at the beginning of each weekday (except for Tuesdays, where the tutor period lasts for half an hour, and Fridays, where there is also another half an hour period before school ends) where all students meet with their tutors. The houses are then grouped into three separate "Learning Families", named Bamboo (consisting of students in Years 9-13 in the Kuca, Maison and Namas houses), Banyan (consisting of students in Years 9-13 in the Bahay, Casa and Shtepi houses), and Bauhinia (all students in Years 7-8). Each house is headed by a Head of House which liaises with student leaders in that particular house.

Sports and Activities

Extra-curricular activities at the school include debating, MUN, squash, netball, basketball, football, swimming, chess, tennis, singing, rugby, field hockey, cricket and more. Every student is obliged to take part in inter-house athletics, and inter-house swimming. As well as inter-house competitions, South Island School competes in various inter-school competitions such as basketball and football. There are also musical activities culminating in a range of performances throughout the year.[21]

In 2019, South Island School beat Island School to win the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Football Tournament. This was the first time that the school has won. [22][23]

The school also organises events such as Nightfest, International Evening, the Innovation Fashion Show, Diwali Night, the ICM yearly fundraiser, etc. Such events are wholly managed by the student body.

Campus and Facilities

The school's campus is in the south side of Hong Kong Island against the backdrop of Mount Nicholson, facing the South China Sea. It is in a semi-rural location. Students have their own locker and form room. For Years 12 to 13, there is a dedicated study facility and common room space. [24]

Facilities include:

  • The Space (multi-purpose venue)
  • The John Wray Atrium (contains a cafeteria)
  • 25m Indoor Swimming Pool
  • Sports Hall
  • Fitness Gym
  • Artificial Astro Turf
  • 2 Outdoor Playgrounds
  • Covered Playground
  • Covered Multi-Sports Area
  • Hall
  • 2 Drama Studios
  • 12 Science Laboratories
  • 4 Design Technology Workshops
  • 2 Food Technology Workshops
  • 2 Large Art Rooms
  • 3 Media Studies Rooms
  • 2 Music Rooms (Contains 6 smaller music rooms)
  • Refectory
  • Cafe
  • Learning Resource Centre (Library)
  • Diploma Centre

See also


  1. "South Island School – A Celebration of Excellence". 15 February 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  2. "The History of South Island School". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 November 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "South Island School's new IB curriculum offer". 23 September 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  5. "Student Council: Catering, Interhouse and more on SIS40". SIS Student Council Facebook page. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. "SIS 40th Birthday Celebration - Archive Exhibition Tour". 27 October 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. "About ESF". ESF. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  9. "Family Bauhinia Newsletter (June 2019)". Curriculum Update. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  10. "Y10-11 Curriculum". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  11. "South Island School Higher Education Destinations 2019". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  12. "IB Results - July 2012". Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  13. "South Island School: IB Diploma Provisional Results (May 2018)" (PDF). July 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  14. "For New Families". Student's Welcome. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  15. "Annual Report 2018-2019". 1 November 2019. p. 27. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  16. "The Environmental Sustainability Group". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  17. "Green Catering at SIS". 19 August 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  18. "Digital Leadership Team". 26 October 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  19. "Internet Safety Week 2019". 15 February 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  20. South Island School - Activities Programme Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. "South Island School won the 2019 Jing Ying Football Tournament". 22 March 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  22. Joanne Ma (18 March 2019). [All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Football Tournament "South Island School defeats Island School in Jing Ying Football Tournament"] Check |url= value (help). Young Post. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 April 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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