Serving the ISF Community Through Experiential Education
Jun 2, 2022
With the conclusion of our formal academic calendar just two weeks away, many ISF families are finalizing plans for the summer, including the selection of experiential and extension learning activities for children. Over more than a decade, recognizing the need for engaging and educationally rich learning activities for children beyond the classroom and the formal timetable, ISF has continued to invest in building up experiential activities and programs that extend beyond the regular curriculum and reach across the globe. The Experiential Learning Program (ELP) just concluded last week for Secondary School is but one of these educationally essential experiences offered to our students. Each summer, the number of ISF parents choosing to register their children for one or more programs has grown steadily, particularly in the last five years. This year, the demand for places in our Summer Extension Program during the final weeks of June has been unexpectedly strong, with many programs seeing full enrolment just minutes after the opening of bookings. This is an area of expected growth for the future at ISF.
As was reported to parents in an earlier message, one of the unusual circumstances affecting our ability to accommodate a larger number of places in many summer experiential programs this year is the limited availability of teachers, instructors, and coaches. For our ISF teachers, many of whom have not traveled outside of Hong Kong for the past three years, this summer presents an opportunity to reunite with family and friends in other parts of the world, so our volunteers are fewer in number. External service providers in Hong Kong have been severely impacted by the suspension of classes in school and government prohibition on nearly all co-curricular programs for extended times over the last two years. These educational services have largely vanished from Hong Kong, as many service companies and freelancers have ceased to participate in this sector of education.
One of our responses to this collapse in the co-curricular service provider sector in Hong Kong has been to develop our own, in-house capability to provide engaging, relevant, and meaningful experiential learning opportunities for ISF students. Established just before the first wave of COVID-19 infections hit Hong Kong, the ISF Services Company (ISFSC) was founded to provide a richly varied, robust and sustainable suite of co-curricular learning programs to the ISF community, building on our passion for experiential learning and supporting the ISF mission in many different ways. Under the leadership of Mr. Simon Joyce, ISFSC is the home of a highly qualified team of professional experiential educators, specialist coaches, and talented support staff, who work together each day to ensure our programs are educationally sound, well planned, safely executed, and thoroughly reviewed. To find an ISFSC ‘classroom’, one only has to look at a map, just about any map, as all locations offer opportunities for learning.
Perhaps the best known ISFSC program, the Outdoor Exploration Society (OES), had very humble beginnings under the leadership of Mr. Geoffrey Ko and Mr. Trevor Wong many years ago as an experiment to build confidence in experiential learning among our young students and uniquely, their parents. OES, when operating normally, sees over 350 students walk into our outdoor classroom each week to explore the richness, diversity, and complexity of the Hong Kong SAR environment; it has become the backbone of our experiential learning program, the launching pad from which many more demanding programs in the later years of education take flight.
With incremental growth and development, our own ISFSC has matured into one of the most highly regarded and inspirational school experiential learning programs in Hong Kong. It now serves the ISF community in so many different ways, from playgroups in the ISF Pre-School through to advanced leadership training for our most senior students. ISFSC aims to provide a 52-week, all-year program for ISF students and the wider ISF community that nurtures a deep love for learning and adventure, while building character, expanding knowledge, and imparting practical skills. We achieve this by recruiting and retaining the most talented staff, keeping each of them up to date through continuous advanced training, and evaluation. Each team member is equipped to manage safety, prepare sites and activities thoroughly, communicate knowledge, inspire learning, nurture reflection, and evaluate student performance with a keen eye to ensure we are making the most of each learning opportunity for our students.
During the 2022 summer, ISFSC will be offering Hong Kong Adventurers programs for students from Foundation Year through to Grade 10. Our ever popular team of instructors in the Athletic Honors Program in Basketball, Netball, Squash, Swimming and Wushu will also be offering a range of high quality programs that cater for novice students as well as competent athletes in their respective disciplines. ISFSC recently launched a new program to enhance Chinese culture and language through creativity. The 2022 Summer Holiday Program will provide an opportunity for ISFSC to launch an innovative new initiative, the Putonghua immersion program titled Creativity and Culture. This program strives to impart a passion for Chinese culture in students through themed based project learning that enhances creativity alongside critical thinking.
The ISFSC provides an essential component in a complete education for all ISF students. Its leadership and staff are looking forward to the Summer of 2022 with keen anticipation, ready to resume the experiential journey that has been somewhat interrupted in recent months. During late June, through July and even into the first weeks of August, we can expect wonderful things from our ISFSC team and their happy band of volunteers.
Dr. Malcolm Pritchard
Head of School