International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen
Source: International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen

It’s important for children to prepare for the challenges of the future — and to start early. The best schools understand this.

They provide a holistic education filled with opportunities inside and outside the classroom, taking children to places far and near, either by imagination or in person. By going beyond the confines of the traditional classroom, it opens up many ways of hands-on learning that lets students apply theory to practice. This enlivens their minds and all their senses — giving them so much more than just books and conventional rote-learning instruction can.

The results can be profound. These children are set to develop soft skills, such as effective communication, creativity and critical thinking, which in turn moulds them into leaders. Not only will they have a solid foundation to do well in their passions, at high school and university, but in their professional lives as well.

Here are four well-reputed schools around the world that will prepare your child for the challenges of tomorrow:

International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen

International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen

Deep, meaningful learning engage International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen’s students.
Source: International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen

At the International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen (ICHK HLY), children evolve into global changemakers by mastering three dimensions of intercultural learning that are backed by UNESCO research: Be Great, Feel Great and Do Great.

It’s a simple approach that’s transformed a school started by a group of parents into one of the top schools in the country. Today the school offers the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IB PYP) to ensure students from 2.8 years old until 11 years old benefit from deep and rich learning experiences. When students reach 11 years old, they have priority places at ICHK HLY’s partner school ICHK Secondary.

The achievements of ICHK HLY have not gone unrecognised. The school was the winner of the 2023 International Schools Award for its work in ensuring that students learn to love and engage with nature.

Located in a valley surrounded by spacious, green surroundings, ICHK HLY ensures it uses its great location and whole campus to engage children holistically. Outdoor programmes blend seamlessly with strong academic programmes — its 2023 International Schools Award for Sustainability is a recognition of its Miyawaki tree planting scheme that helps students to take ownership for the natural world and develop an understanding of their role in sustainability.

ICHK HLY students learn happily and flourish, thanks to their school’s innovative, science-backed and play-based approach to outdoor learning. This community school, in a semi-rural location yet only 35 minutes into Central has a giant natural playing field (a one-of-a-kind space for a kindergarten and primary school in Hong Kong), a playground, a back garden, play apparatus, a mini forest, an outdoor forest classroom and a nature area. To find out more about the best outdoor learning environment available in Hong Kong, click here.

Colegio Marymount Colombia

Colegio Marymount Columbia

Source: Colegio Marymount Colombia

Built on Catholic principles, Colegio Marymount Colombia has stuck to its roots and established a school that aims to educate and empower the future leaders of tomorrow. The school is guided by “The Marymount Way” which focuses on teaching students based on examples to become entrepreneurial leaders with global competence.

The school believes that nurturing students is a team effort. As such, directors, teachers, parents and collaborators work together to build stronger ties, to be united and to increase the potential of each student.

All their hard work to raise leaders has led to the school being shortlisted in the International School Awards 2023. Colegio Marymount Colombia won the Digital Technology in Learning award. It’s given to a school that best supports learning in a way that includes the development of digital responsibility.

Such an approach ties in with the school’s focus on preparing students for the rigours of school, university and beyond. They are equipped with 21st-century skills, global competence and positive entrepreneurial leadership. By the time they graduate, they’re set to become tomorrow’s leaders in many fields, including government, medicine, business, arts and sports. To find out more about Colegio Marymount Colombia, click here.

Gordonstoun School

Gordonstoun School

At Gordonstoun School, dance is taught as part of the curriculum.
Source: Gordonstoun School

For over 80 years, the Gordonstoun School has been preparing students for life.

Here, they indulge their curiosity. Collaborate and innovate. Develop intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The school’s location on the Moray Coast in the North of Scotland provides a peaceful and safe campus experience that allows them to do all the above and more.

At this school, described as “Outstanding” and “Sector leading” by HM Inspectors in 2019, pupils — including three generations of the British royal family — follow the English GCSE and A Level curricula. They do so in small classes, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 7:1, allowing space and time for extended learning and in-depth exploration of subject matter.

Learning continues outside the classroom through an extensive array of athletic, artistic, and extracurricular opportunities, which include distinctive offerings such as sailing, expedition and community service. Plus, as the only school in the UK to have its own Fire Engine, students get to work with rescue service personnel on real emergencies too.

Another key feature? It’s big on pastoral care. HM Inspectors judged it to be “a model of best practice” and “outstanding”. Activities like the School Pipe Band give older children an opportunity to guide and lead younger children and help them feel that they’re part of the GS family. After Gordonstoun, students move on to university — including Oxford, Cambridge, Central Saint Martins, MIT and the Northern School of Music — and into the world with confidence. They are ready.

United World College (UWC) – USA


UWC USA is focused on helping students succeed and grow in life. Source: UWC USA

Few schools offer an education that unites people, nations and cultures the way UWC-USA does. Here, over 200 students from more than 90 countries live, study and adventure together in a change-making community that aims to make a difference in the world.

Such impact is thanks to the school’s Constructive Engagement of Conflict programme, designed to give students the tools to work across cultures, languages, and ethnicities to build teams and partnerships desperately needed to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Each year, students contribute over 17,000 volunteer hours to community service, pushing them to build peacemaking skills, conflict resolution, goal-setting and collaboration.

Located on the edge of the Pecos Wilderness, UWC-USA provides the ideal setting for students to learn how to lead in the outdoors and build a strong sense of stewardship for the natural world through the Wilderness Programme. They also learn sustainable agriculture and contribute to the community, as seen in their activities, clubs and service opportunities.

Pair the school’s values-based social engagement with rigorous IB academics, and students here emerge with a stronger sense of self and all they need to lead a meaningful life. Their IB credentials are not only accepted at more than 600 universities and colleges in nearly 50 countries; every year, many impress admissions officers at Ivy League and other highly selective universities with their intellectual curiosity, solid academic fundamentals, and capacity for living in a diverse environment too.

Graduate Andrea Parry can confirm this: “This is the education I have been seeking my entire life. The open-mindedness to diverse perspectives, critical thinking, and personal challenges are perhaps the key qualities underlying the mission of the UWC movement.” Click here to learn more about how students at UWC-USA are working to become agents for change.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International