The Independent Schools Foundation Academy
Introduction to The ISF Academy
The ISF Academy is a non-profit, Foundation Year (K3) to Grade 12, Private Independent School, emphasizing
Chinese language and culture, with a global perspective. By drawing the best from the East and the West, The ISF
Academy seeks to educate students for life in the 21st century, nurturing global citizens who are problem solvers,
lateral thinkers and leaders able to thrive amidst uncertainty and social changes in a rapidly evolving global
society. In the past, education has been shaped by the needs of the Industrial Age with an emphasis on discrete
fields of study, linear thinking and intellectual conformity. In the Information Age, however, education demands
applied creativity, innovation, diversity, interdisciplinary approaches, and effective multi-sensory communication.
Students must learn to embrace change and lead innovation.
The ISF Academy’s learning programs develop students who reflect the School’s key descriptors: Independent,
Chinese, Global. Our students develop independence by learning to think critically, communicate effectively and
by participating in experiential learning programs which promote self-esteem, responsibility and compassion. ISF
students are strongly connected to Chinese culture through language immersion in a rich Chinese cultural setting,
and deep appreciation of Chinese traditions and moral values. ISF students also have a rich global
engagement,physically through exposure to other countries and cultures, and intellectually through mastery of
the English language and particularly through the globally oriented curricula of the International Baccalaureate
Our students engage in purposeful learning activities that help them master the skills of analysis, develop
perspective and judgment, respect all living things, as well as communicate, connect, and be empowered to act
within the community at large.
At The ISF Academy, we live by the principles of our core values: The Eight Virtues + One. We expect our students
to embody these values, as they grow to become active and ethical members of society. The Eight Virtues + One
are put into practice through the daily personal interactions within our school, through local community service,
and through service projects abroad. All members of our learning community are expected to live ‘virtuously’ and
seek the ‘One’ – wisdom.
These guiding statements – our Vision, Mission, and Values – have been shaped by the following three questions:
Vision: what does the future look like – where are we going?
Mission: what are we doing now to realize that future?
Values: how do we go about our work to achieve that future?
Our School’s Vision, Mission, and Values provide the framework to guide the daily business of The ISF Academy.
They inform our thinking, planning, and decisions. They are specific and are used to make intelligent choices
between competing and equally meritorious ideas. They help The ISF Academy to make tough decisions about
what to do, which initiatives to pursue or decline. All actions must be viewed through the ‘lens’ of our values
framework, and actions must align with values.
The Independent Schools Foundation Academy is a community of learners, independent in thought and action,
deeply rooted in Chinese culture, global in understanding and experience, and excellent in all endeavors.
The ISF Academy:
Educates learners in a Chinese-English bilingual environment;
Anchors its values on the Eight Virtues + One;
Nurtures curiosity, critical thinking, and a lifelong love of learning; and
Builds life skills through experiential learning.
Our Core Values
The Eight Virtues + One (八德一智)
Grounded in Chinese culture and with a global prospective, The ISF Academy community lives and learns under
core values that draw from the school’s Chinese heritage and which are updated to be relevant to today’s world.
The Eight Virtues + Onegive members of our school community a strong foundation from which to think, decide,
and act. It prepares our students to meet all future challenges as active and ethical members of society.
Zhi 智 (Intelligence and Wisdom)
智 (zhi) means making the right choices in life. Wise choices require more than high academic achievement or
exemplary behavior. Wisdom stems from knowledge, experience, judgment and a clear set of values to know
what is right. The Eight Virtues guide us in our reflections and behavior to make the right choices in our
interactions within and outside the school community. The Eight Virtues culminate in the achievement of 智.
Zhong 忠 (Loyalty and Commitment)
The character 忠 (zhong) embodies the concept of loyalty and commitment to others and to ourselves. Through
忠, we show our devotion to people around us and to our own being. We are loyal to The ISF Academy, each
other, our families and our community. In the community, we strive to be exemplary citizens of Hong Kong and
the world. Among our peers, we stand by each other, help each other, and overcome all difficulties together. On
a personal level, we are committed to our own values and principles, and we devote ourselves in the pursuit of
our ideals, dreams, and passions, always striving for excellence.
Xiao 孝 (Respect and Obligation)
recog孝 (xiao) recognizes that we have an obligation toward our parents in our role as children, we respect our
teachers in our role as students, and we respect and cherish our histories and traditions that define who we are.
Xiao calls for an attitude of respect for not only those around us, but also for ourselves. Through 孝 we are
connected to our past and our traditions; we are the inheritors and guardians of our culture, bridging the gap
between the old and the new, building on the strengths of the past to create the future.
Ren 仁 (Compassion and Kindness)
We show kindness and care to all through 仁 (ren). We care for the natural world by being kind to all creatures
and protecting the environment. We are kind and compassionate to those who are less fortunate than we are.
We choose forgiveness over revenge, generosity of word and action over meanness. The character for 仁 depicts
two people together, showing that 仁 is expressed outwardly, towards others. By treating each other with
kindness and empathy, we move beyond difference and indifference, to create common ground and become one
with those around you.
Ai 愛 (Love and Passion)
愛 (ai), or love, is an expression of our passion in life. We give our best in all of our endeavors; nothing is ‘half-
hearted’. We show a love of learning and intellectual curiosity that goes beyond the classroom. We immerse
ourselves in our hobbies and interests and appreciate the achievements of others. 愛 means that we find
happiness in our friendships, with our families and our loved ones.
Li 禮 (Etiquette and Ceremony)
The spirit of 禮 (li) is found in the exemplary, cultured behavior of the true gentleman or lady. In 禮we find the
rules and precepts that constrain our actions, and mold our routines and interactions. 禮 also shapes our school
discipline and ceremonies, providing signposts and rules to guide us through life. A person with 禮 treats others
with courtesy and respect. We control our impulses and act after careful consideration. Our ceremonies and
formal actions express 禮, showing our deep understanding and respect for our core values.
Yi 義 (Principles and Justice)
義 (yi) embodies the quality of being principled, committed to justice, and standing up for our beliefs. We believe
in fairness, that right will prevail, and that we are all held accountable for our own actions. We show personal
integrity in all that we do; we strive for higher standards that go beyond what is expedient, convenient, or
arbitrary. We believe in justice in society and support it with our actions. We are trustworthy and always ready to
help those around us.
He 和 (Harmony and Tolerance)
We live in moderation, tolerance, good humor and joy through the virtue of 和 (he). We control our tempers and
promote peace. We seek to include and embrace others, replacing confrontation with understanding. We are
peacemakers, avoiding words and actions that might cause unnecessary misunderstanding or conflicts. We seek
to live with nature. We recognize that to achieve harmony, we need to give generously and receive graciously.
We promote international and cross-cultural understanding.
Ping 平 (Balance and Equality)
平 (ping) means balance and equality. We know that in all dimensions of life there is a time for work, a time for
rest, and a time for play. Through 平 we learn to find the balance between external demands and internal
desires. Equality in our community is both the right and the responsibility of each member. We share common
aspirations and goals that consider all genders, ethnicities, faiths, beliefs, socio-economic backgrounds, and
physical abilities to be equal. 平 is closely tied to the concept of 和 (he): when we place these two characters
together, they form the word ‘peace’ (和平). The ISF Academy strives to be a place of balance and peace.
Situated on the southeast coast of China, Hong Kong’s strategic location on the Pearl River Delta and
South China Sea has made it one of the world’s most thriving and cosmopolitan cities.
Hong Kong as we know it today was born when China’s Qing dynasty government was defeated in the First
Opium War in 1842, when it ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain. Within 60 years, Kowloon, the New
Territories and 235 Outlying Islands were also leased to Britain. However, the history of the more than 1100
square kilometres that Hong Kong now occupies predates the events of the Qing dynasty by more than a
thousand years. And, as you explore the city’s colourful heritage, you’ll discover stories of powerful clans,
marauding pirates and European traders.
From its earliest days as a British colony, Hong Kong served as a centre of international trade. In the
turbulent years of the early 20th century, the city’s population was bolstered by refugees, mostly from China.
The arrival of immigrants in large numbers helped launch a new role for Hong Kong as a major
manufacturing hub. It also brought economically stimulating energy and industry to the city’s character. In
recent decades, as the economy of Mainland China has undergone a process of opening up, Hong Kong
has transformed yet again – this time into a service-based economy as well as an important gateway to the
world’s largest market.
Under the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of
the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997. This arrangement allows the city to enjoy a high degree of
autonomy, including retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and
freedom of speech.
Language and Culture
Hong Kong can mostly thank its colonial history and international harbour for the rich blend of cultures that
give it its unique character. While the majority of the city’s population are Chinese speakers, simply walking
the streets will expose you to a medley of Asian and European languages.
Cantonese, a minority dialect of Mainland China, is spoken by 88 per cent of people in Hong Kong.
Nonetheless, other Chinese dialects, such as Hakka, Taishanese and Teochiu are also present, as is
Mandarin of course – China’s official dialect, which has become more widely spoken in Hong Kong since
the reunification in 1997.
From Hong Kong’s establishment as a colonial port, through its period as a manufacturing hub, and up until
its current role as an international financial centre, the city’s population has always looked outwards. As a
result, English is widely spoken. Today, it is the language of preference in the government, business and
tourism sectors. All official signs and public transport announcements, as well as most menus, are bilingual.
As a visitor, you can expect to encounter minimal problems communicating in English as most taxi drivers,
salespeople, tourism industry employees and police have reached competent levels of the language. In
fact, many locals even pepper their Chinese speech with English words and phrases.
The comfort with which these languages and dialects co-exist reflects the high level of cultural tolerance in
Hong Kong, where multiple denominations of Christian churches share space with Chinese joss houses;
Buddhist, Taoist and Sikh temples; mosques and synagogues. Moreover, the presence of enduring and
ancient cultures in a society that has had to constantly adapt to change has created a unique contemporary
culture that is a true mixture of tradition and innovation. Hong Kong is where you’ll see elderly men playing
ancient Chinese board games on digital tablets, where Christmas is celebrated with as much fervour as
Chinese New Year, and where state-of-the-art skyscrapers are designed in consultation with feng
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. The only predictable weather events that could
have a significant impact on your travel plans are typhoons.
Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November. When a typhoon is approaching, warnings are
broadcast on television and radio. There are various degrees of warning signals issued by the Hong Kong
Observatory, but when the no. 8 signal is in place, most businesses and shops close down and flights may
be cancelled. There is a separate warning system for heavy rain.
You can find detailed information about current and seasonal weather on the Hong Kong Observatory
website. While you’re in Hong Kong, you can also dial 1878 200 and press ‘3’ for English to check the latest
What to expect from Hong Kong’s seasons
Spring (March to May)
Temperature and humidity are rising. Evenings can be cool.
Average Temperature: 17oC – 26 oC
Summer (June to August)
Hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C
but high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter.
Average Temperature: 26oC – 31 oC
Autumn (September to November)
There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these
as the best months of the year to visit Hong Kong.
Average Temperature: 19oC – 28 oC
Winter (December to February)
Cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas.
Average Temperature: 12oC – 20 oC
There are plenty of ways to get around Hong Kong, whether it’s by taxi, ferry, rail, bus or tram. The city
claims one of the world’s safest, most efficient and frequent public transport systems and a convenient
payment method in the form of the Octopus Card.
Some useful websites:
Discover Hong Kong
Hong Kong Observatory