Frequently Asked Questions
CSS’s Objective and Educational Philosophy
What is the Educational Philosophy of Creative Secondary School?
CSS is a modern and highly effective school in Hong Kong that provides progressive and quality education for its students. The school values each student as an individual who has the potential and willingness to develop and excel. As an award winning Inviting School, CSS is committed to promoting a respectful, trusting and positive school environment in which students feel secure and motivated to learn.
CSS students benefit from a world class curriculum and our exceptionally caring school culture. They enjoy great opportunities to develop their academic and personal qualities to the full in a thriving community that values the importance of collaborative relationships.
CSS's key focus is to prepare our students to become successful at university and in their careers. We strive to educate our students to become positive, responsible and self-respecting citizens. They are ready to face life’s challenges and embrace opportunities in our rapidly changing world with confidence, courage and optimism, and the aspiration to make the world a better place.
DSS Scheme, Advantages of studying at CSS, Scholarship and Remission
What is the Direct Subsidy Scheme?
“The Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) was introduced in 1991 to foster the development of a vibrant private school sector to inject diversity and choice in the education system. The aim is to provide high quality schools other than government and aided schools so that parents have greater choices in finding suitable schools for their children… DSS schools enjoy a higher degree of freedom with regard to curriculum design, student admission and collection of school fees.” (http://www.edb.gov.hk/mobile/en/edu-system/primary-secondary/applicable-to-primary-secondary/direct-subsidy-scheme/featurearticle.html)
What are the advantages of attending a DSS school?
Students attending a DSS school have the advantage of enjoying a higher quality education by paying a reasonable school fee while being subsidised by government funding. A DSS school receives a government subsidy for each admitted student, based on the average unit cost of an Aided School place. They are free to design their own curricula according to their own educational objectives. They can charge additional fees to offer a higher quality curriculum, additional services, support measures and facilities for students. With more flexibility and resources, they can cater for the different needs of students.
What is the advantage of studying at CSS?
We offer a high quality education, such as a world class curriculum, inquiry-based learning, small classes, exposure to large numbers of native English speaking teachers, wide choice of elective subjects, advanced facilities to support learning, excellent advice for tertiary education. We are an award-winning Inviting School, providing an exceptionally caring school ethos and have a high teacher to student ratio of 1:10. Other schools offering a similar level of quality have to charge higher fees if they do not receive a DSS subsidy.
Does Education Bureau impose any key conditions on how DSS schools operate?
Yes. DSS schools have to offer principally a curriculum targeted at local students and prepare them for local public examinations (i.e. HKDSE).
DSS schools can also offer alternative curricula (for example GCSE, A Levels, IB Diploma etc). Secondly, all DSS schools are required to be non-profit making. Thirdly, they are required to provide a fee remission scheme to support those with financial need and scholarship scheme to reward talented students.
How is the CSS Fee Remission Scheme different from other schools?
Firstly of all, a student can apply for this scheme as well as a scholarship and each will be independently assessed. Secondly, in addition to offering different percentage of school fee remission, the scheme also provides extra subsidy (e.g. textbooks, school meals, uniform, study trips & excursions, school bus, teaching support, learning equipment/instrument etc) to further support students from needy families.
How is the CSS Scholarship Scheme different from other schools?
CSS offers two types of scholarship, general and special. Both are designed to reflect the school’s core values – respecting and developing students’ potential. The general scholarship rewards all-round students who show multi-faceted talents and achievements in 5 domains – Languages, Inquiry and Problem-solving, Creativity and the Arts, Action and Sports, Service and Leadership. The special scholarship rewards students with exceptional talent and achievement in a given field.
In addition to offering different percentage of school fee reduction, the scheme also provides extra resources (e.g. equipment, teaching support etc) to better prepare scholars for further success.
CSS School Culture, Language Environment & proficiency expected
With so many overseas teachers and being an IB World School, isn’t CSS’s school culture just like that of another international school?
No. CSS is a local school and its culture is not like an international school. CSS caters overwhelmingly for students whose families are rooted in Hong Kong. We encourage our students to be globally-minded in their outlook and at the same time respectful of their own culture.
In fact, more than half of IB students in the world study in local state schools (ie not international schools). Many international schools around the world are actually schools with a distinctive national culture operating in an overseas location.
What is CSS’s expectation on students’ standard of English and Chinese?
Our approach to learning & teaching requires students to participate actively in discussions. At the most basic level, a student should develop good listening and speaking skills. In addition, students at CSS often research and read for information, organise their thinking and present their findings clearly in writing and orally. Students will become more versatile and fluent as they practise using English in all their subjects.
Chinese is taught through the medium of Putonghua in junior forms and in upper forms as an option. Students are encouraged to develop a strong Chinese reading habit. We therefore have similar expectation on students’ Chinese language fluency.
How can CSS help students to effectively and promptly improve students’ fluency and versatility in their languages?
The school’s staff team has over 40% who are native English speakers and another 25% overseas returners, teaching all subjects across the curriculum. Together they help students to reach a proficient level of English as early as S1 and S2.
In Chinese Language, lessons are conducted interactively to create interest and enjoyment. Students learn Chinese through the study of literature, including classics. In the lower forms, Chinese language courses are taught through Putonghua medium. As a result, their Putonghua will become progressively more fluent.
Besides the language curriculum, students also read every lunchtime at school, and can participate in language-related co-curricular activities such as debating, public speaking and stage performances. All S1 and S2 students study drama in English as a compulsory subject. Drama is available as an elective subject up to S6.
Are there any policies to cater for students with different standards of proficiency in English and Chinese when they join the school ?
The school offers 1st language courses based on literature study, in both English and Chinese, to students with native level of fluency in either or both languages. We also offer 2nd language courses to cater for students whose Chinese or English are not at native level. The school carefully assesses each student’s language background and skills and offer them the appropriate courses accordingly.
Students with specific challenges in English are offered focused learning support individually or in small groups. Likewise, additional support for 2nd language Chinese students is also offered.
Curriculum, HKDSE and IBDP
What is so unique about the CSS curriculum?
Our broad and balanced curriculum is designed to meet the interests, aspirations and abilities of our students.
The curriculum is taught through eight key learning faculties. In the lower school (S1 & S2), students are offered a diverse range of age-appropriate learning experiences designed to stimulate and their enthusiasm in learning. In the middle school (S3 & S4), the curriculum is designed to further encourage proactive and independent learning. Students make choices from a flexible and wide range of elective subjects to further their different learning interests. In the upper school (S5 & S6), students specialise in fewer subjects closely related to their higher education and career aspirations.
We offer the HKDSE and the IB Diploma as two pathways for students to progress towards tertiary education. In each of the two diplomas offered there are sufficient numbers of elective subjects that students can choose from. Learning groups in S5 and S6 are not more than 20 students.
How does the CSS curriculum benefit its students?
Under the Hong Kong education reform policy, the new HK secondary curriculum aims at all-rounded education and balanced development of students. It emphasizes language & communication skills, creative thinking & independent learning, responsibility & citizenship as well as acquisition of knowledge through the 8 key learning areas etc. The IB Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) includes similar educational objectives. In order to deliver the new Hong Kong curriculum more effectively, CSS, as an IB World School, actively uses the pedagogy of the IB. Furthermore, we are able to access the excellent teacher training and resources of the IB organisation.
In our lower forms, students receive a broad and balanced education through the 8 key learning areas. In addition, CSS’s uniquely designed curriculum places much emphasis on interdisciplinary and inquiry based learning, research skills & information literacy, critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration skills, civil responsibilities and international mindedness, as well as development of students’ broad & positive outlook in life. These generic skills & personal qualities are most important for students to acquire for their future learning, career and life in the 21st century.
Our curriculum therefore provides our students with a strong foundation and prepares them to do well in the HKDSE and the IB Diploma exams as well as further studies at university level.
Why does CSS offer the HKDSE and the IB Diploma programmes?
As a DSS school, CSS principally offer the HKNSSC and prepare its students for the HKDSE exams. The school offers the IB DP as an alternative option.
The school operates the two Diplomas because they are differently designed for students with different aptitudes & aspirations. Students in the school benefit from a common curriculum from Secondary 1 to Secondary 4. It provides them with a strong academic foundation and ample opportunity to develop as positive, responsible and effective all-round learners. At Secondary 4, when they would have the necessary maturity to consider their elective subjects and future tertiary education, the school will consult students & parents before the school decides which Diploma is to be offered to them.
What are the key similarities and differences between the HKDSE and the IBDP at CSS?
At our school, both Diplomas have enabled students to successfully enter good universities locally and overseas.
In HKDSE, students must study 4 compulsory core subjects - English, Chinese, Mathematics and Liberal Studies, which includes an Independent Enquiry Study project (IES). They also follow a programme of Other Learning Experiences (OLE). In addition, our HKDSE students can choose up to three from 12 elective subjects offered, including 3 sciences, 3 technologies, 2 arts and 4 humanities.
In the IBDP, students must study 6 subjects - 2 languages, Mathematics, a science subject, a humanities subject and a 6th subject. This 6th subject could be an Art subject, or another science, humanities or language. Among the 6 subjects, students must study 3 at Higher Level (HL) and 3 at Standard Level (SL). In addition, they also study Theory of Knowledge (TOK), write an Extended Essay (EE) and complete a programme of Creativity, Action & Service (CAS). At CSS, we offer 3 languages, 5 sciences, 3 arts and 4 humanities.
What types of CSS students are suited to follow the IBDP?
In order to be successful in obtaining the IBDP Diploma, students are expected to possess certain attributes – strong all-round academic ability, especially in languages; very disciplined in managing study time and meeting deadlines; strong critical thinking and research skills; persistence & commitment in handling academic challenges, especially in Higher Level (HL) subjects.
The IBDP requires students to study 6 subjects often with substantial coursework, plus Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity Action and Service (CAS) . This heavy workload is all compulsory. Furthermore, 3 Higher Level subjects combined are very challenging. From our experience, to be successful in Higher Level subjects, we expect CSS students to achieve at least a level 5 in those respective subjects at MYP levels.
In the IBDP, students must study at least one language as a first language level, which is literature-based. The critical study of a large number of literary works (in Chinese or English at CSS) may be too challenging for some students.
IBDP students must study at least one science and one humanities subject. Students who do not wish to study any science, or any humanities subject, will not meet the IBDP’s requirement.
To achieve the IB Diploma, a student must fulfil a large number of specific requirements, such as minimum grades in HL and SL subjects, overall score of 24 points, passing EE and TOK and completing CAS etc, failing which would result in the student not able to obtain the Diploma at all.
What types of CSS students are suited to follow the HKDSE?
Almost all CSS students are suited to follow the HKDSE (except for example, those overseas-returned Chinese students who find the Chinese language examination too challenging). HKDSE offers more flexibility in numbers and combinations of elective subjects, because it is designed for a wider spectrum of students with different aptitudes and interests. In particular, the HKDSE permits students to choose any combination of electives without restriction. This offers the opportunity for both all-rounders as well as those with focused interests (e.g. only sciences, only arts) to be successful.
What are the benefits of studying HKDSE at CSS?
We offer students an effective English language learning environment through our large number of native English speaking teachers. Students learn interactively in small classes and receive close individual support & supervision from highly caring and effective teachers. The school offers as many as 12 elective subjects - Music, Design & applied technology, Visual arts, Technology & living (food) / Technology and Living – (Food Science and Technology), Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business, accounting & financial studies (BAFS), Economics, History, Geography and Information & communication technology (ICT). Our Higher Education advisory team has an excellent track record in maximizing students’ prospects to gain entry to good universities and colleges locally and overseas.
Is there a limit of IBDP places offered by CSS at the S5 & S6 level and why?
How does CSS determine which student can be admitted to the IBDP?
The school has developed and shared a set of criteria with existing parents detailing when and how it will decide which students will be admitted to follow the IBDP option. In this respect, the school tracks the progress of students throughout their earlier years at CSS, and parents are given feedback through teacher-student-parent conferences in addition to detailed school reports. When students have reached an appropriate level of maturity in Form 4 and have chosen their elective subjects according to their interests, aptitude, tertiary education and career aspirations, the school will consult students and parents, and make a final decision on who will continue with the HKDSE and who will be admitted into the IBDP option.
School Life and Personal Development
What is School Life like at CSS?
Students and parents describe school life at CSS as happy, vibrant, exceptionally warm and friendly, full of opportunities and choices. Teachers are caring and understanding, respectful and trustful of students.
The academic programme of the school is rigorous yet stimulating, relevant and engaging for our students. Students enthusiastically participate in school life including a wide variety of co-curricular activities. There is a strong sense of belonging and ownership of the school among its students, teachers, parents and alumni.
What is so unique about the pastoral care and personal development of students at CSS?
CSS takes a holistic approach to foster all-round development of each student – personal, social, moral, academic and physical. This is implemented through a unique Guidance and Achievement (G&A) framework, which consists of the vertical house system complemented by horizontal upper, middle and lower school sections.
House tutors are supported by Heads of Schools and a Head of Student Development, together with guidance counsellor, Social Worker and Careers & Higher Education Adviser. Together they oversee students’ academic progress, personal development, conduct & discipline as well as their social & emotional well-being. The G&A team designs and delivers age-appropriate personal growth programmes in the form of lessons, projects and co-curricular activities to foster students’ development throughout their teenage years.
How well is the HKDSE accepted by overseas universities as an entry qualification?
The HKDSE is increasingly well recognized by overseas universities. In particular, the UK’s UCAS system provides detailed tariff points for HKDSE, so that universities can easily compare HKDSE scores against UK A Levels and use it to consider admission of overseas students from Hong Kong. This is confirmed by the successful entries of CSS HKDSE students to good universities such as Manchester, Durham, London etc.
What is the proportion of places that Hong Kong universities will reserve for HKDSE & IB diploma students?
HKDSE students enter Hong Kong universities through the JUPAS scheme, which accounts for around 80% of Hong Kong university places. IBDP students enter Hong Kong universities through the non-JUPAS scheme. Together with other students from China and overseas, as well as Hong Kong students who have studied other non-local qualifications such as UK A Levels, the non-JUPAS scheme accounts for the remaining 20% or so places.
How successful are CSS past graduates in entering universities and colleges locally and overseas?
We publish our graduates’ tertiary education destinations every year on our website. Over 95% have entered tertiary education over the past two years.
What is the process and the criteria for admission?
CSS expects potential Secondary 1 students to be proficient in their academic subjects at primary school, as well as possessing a positive attitude and a lively & broad interest in learning. They should be confident communicators and be motivated to learn through the medium of English.
Students are asked to provide school reports for the last two academic years, together with any certificates or other evidence of achievement. A supporting statement from parents and other referees are welcome. Suitable students will be invited to attend an admission interview accompanied preferably by parent or guardian. They will be asked to converse, and assessed on a piece of reading comprehension in English and Putonghua, as well as be interviewed by the Principal or his designate.
S2 to S5 students will be given additional written assessment tasks in addition to an interview.
Will priority be given to CPS graduates?
The founding mission of CSS is to extend the quality education of CPS into the secondary stage, enabling its students to continue their education under the same philosophy. We also welcome students from other schools. All students are assessed using the same set of criteria.