Louise Duncan, SKIP’s departing principal

From London to Hong Kong, Louise Duncan details about raising a family in the SAR and moving on from SKIP after almost 10 years.

Meet Louise Duncan

I used to come to SKIP as a parent. I am from London and moved to Hong Kong in 1993. I met my husband here and both my children were born locally. I taught in a Kowloon Tong school for 10 years but I wanted to be nearer our home in Nam Shan. As a parent, I got to know the staff and liked the set-up so when a vacancy came up I applied.

I started as the playgroup leader in 2006, soon became the class teacher and I moved into the principal’s role in 2007.

SKIP embraces the whole family and not just the child. Our staff get to know the children extremely well because it is so small. Parents volunteer in the classroom and help with the fundraising. The philosophy is learning through play, which often takes second place to academia in Hong Kong. We have managed to keep the play-based curriculum and environment to a high standard. One of our keys to success is the dedication and invaluable teamwork of the staff.

I have learned so much as principal. It’s a big juggling act and takes patience and perseverance to stay true to what you believe in. There is more opportunity to put your stamp on a place like SKIP than in a big organization with a senior management team. It is a huge responsibility. Hundreds of families come through SKIP. When my mum visits and we have a coffee in Sai Kung she always says, “I can’t believe how many people you know, Louise!” I think it is one of the nicest things about living here.

SKIP is a community school and we try to embrace that. For a lot of parents as well as the children, this is where they meet friends and get to know new people. It’s invaluable in a transit society. Parents respect my knowledge not only on a professional basis but also because I am a parent and I can share my experiences of bringing up children in an expat community.

I am going to miss the children, first and foremost, but also their families and my colleagues. Leaving SKIP is a new page in my life. I would like to spend more time with my family in Hong Kong and in Britain without being tied to school holidays.

My son is 14 and my daughter is 12 and they think I am too young to stop working, but with exams and school I feel the need to be around more. As they get older I have found it gets harder, not easier.

SKIP is a home from home for me and will always hold a special place in my heart. We have two lovely teachers. One has already been working with us for the past year and we have a new teacher joining, so I am quite confident the school will continue to thrive.

SKIP, 159 Che Keng Tuk Road, Sai Kung, 2791 7354, www.skip.edu.hk