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During the late 1980's the English Schools Foundation (ESF) identified a need for a third secondary school on Hong Kong Island, but it was only in November 1990 that the government finally offered a site and statutory finding for a new school to be built.

Work on the site began at the same time as the first pupils were admitted to West Island's temporary accommodation at in the old military hospital at No.10 Borrett Road.

The new school was designed by Patrick Lau, who was also the architect responsible for the French International School in Tai Hang  and the American International school in Tai Tam. The first staff for the school were appointed in March 1991, in preparation for a start in September 1991. At that time the school took in 84 Year 7 students in four small classes.

Although ultimately answerable to the Foundation, each ESF school is in the hands of a School Council. In addition to the Chairman of the Council, the Principal of the school and an ESF secretariat member, the council consists of representatives of parents, teachers and the Hong Kong community.

From the very beginning of the school's life there was a Parent-Teachers Association. The brief of this association is to raise funds to provide those extras which, while not absolutely essential for the education of our students, certainly enhance their time spent in school. However, it is our belief that parents should be involved in the life of the school as much as possible.

Unlike other ESF schools, West Island was fortunate in that it was well supported, from its inception until established in its current building, by a small group of concerned members of the community in what formally became the West Island School Support Group. Ably chaired by its founder Mr Chet Tschetter until he left Hong Kong, and then by Mr David Knight, the Support Group made life much easier for the ESF, the Principal and the staff. It was these people who started West Island School on the path to becoming the best island school.

The Old Building

While the  new school building was being built in Pokfulam, the staff and students were occupying a large part of No.10 Borrett Road. This fine old building, beautifully restored for our use, was originally the British Military Hospital. It has wards with high ceilings, wide airy corridors and splendid views overlooking Central and Victoria Harbour.

There was a full complement of teaching rooms as well as a library and all of the necessary offices and equipment. Sporting activities would be held at Happy Valley as there were no facilities on site. The computer room was initially better than any other school as was the CDT area. The hall, though ideal for drama lessons was not big enough for audiences of parents and friends at school productions, and was only just able to accommodate the whole school for assemblies. One advantage of cramped conditions was that there was a limit of 24 students per class for the first three years.

Other tenants shared the building with us and this gave the students firm ties with some of the charities they support, as well as opportunities to show how well they could integrate with the community. Other schools including Island School, began in the old British Military Hospital, and some of the parents of students spent their own school days there.

The Current Campus

The new school building in Pokfulam is at a beautiful location, with green views and the sea at the bottom of the hill. Because ESF schools have been partly funded by the government, the schools have been built according to a regulation government design. West Island is the first to step out of this mould, so it is by far the most exciting ESF school both visually and conceptually.

The new building was officially opened by the Governor of Hong Kong Mr Chris Patten in 1994. West Island was the first ESF school to offer the Mandarin (Putonghwa) language to all of its students and the first to be divided into dynasties instead of houses.

The first students of West Island to sit GCSE exams did so in the summer of 1996. Year 11 students were keen to follow the traditions of other ESF schools by holding a formal dinner at a hotel to celebrate the end of Year 11.

This led to the setting up of an Upper School to accommodate Year 12 students from September 1996. This was a challenging year with many businesses and students leaving Hong Kong before the hand-over of Hong Kong back to the Chinese which took place on the 1 July 1997.

At the start of September 1997 for the first time ever the school had a full compliment of students. The new building for the first time felt full with over 700 students making their way around between lessons. It also saw the first cohort to sit A Level GCE exams.

By 2001, the school had expanded to over 1000 students. The school felt cramped and was bursting at the seams. It was agreed that an extension to the school should be made in order to accommodate the number of students. Work started on this extension in September 2002 and students moved into the extension in September 2003.

As we go into the 2009-2010 school year, more changes and expansions are being made.  A new Learning Centre will open up on the 10th Floor.  

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250 Victoria Road
Pokfulam, Hong Kong
P: (852) 2819 1962 F: (852) 2816 7257