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From Hong Kong to the UK

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

#SponsoredPost St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, Kent.

Mr Barney Durrant, head of St Lawrence College knows precisely what it is like to move from Hong Kong to the UK as he and his family made the

move just over two years ago.

Before moving to St Lawrence College, Mr Durrant spent seven happy years working at the equally renowned Harrow International School in Hong Kong. As a result, he still has strong roots in this region, and it is a place held very fondly in his heart. His recent transition experience means he is well equipped to assist

children moving from Hong Kong. Helping boarding pupils settle in as quickly as possible and giving them a ‘home-away-from-home’ is something both he and the school are very passionate about.

Before children arrive at the College, the school shares as much information as possible with families and seeks to answer any and all questions that families have. Interviews and talks over Zoom with the Admissions team, Houseparents, Head of Boarding and Mr Durrant are all encouraged. Boarders already at the school are introduced to new pupils through video, so they have no anxiety about who they will be living with.

Arriving in the UK

Upon arrival in the UK, all children are met at the airport by a St Lawrence College staff member and driven back to the school grounds in an official St Lawrence College bus.

There is a ‘buddy system’ in place so that new boarders are instantly taken under the wing and made to feel welcome by a current boarder. These designated ‘buddies’ help them settle in, join them at breakfast and dinner and spend time together in the evenings.

I made friends easily, which helped me settle in. The teachers in the boarding house are very nice too.”
Chloe, Year 6 Boarder

As well as being supported by their Houseparent, each child also has a personal tutor, responsible for helping to oversee their academic and pastoral development. Besides meeting with their tutee regularly, the tutor will show an interest in their various activities and contributions around the school and support them at school events.

Mental Health and Wellbeing and Support

St Lawrence College places a strong emphasis on mental health and wellbeing. Being acutely aware of how this links to both academic successes and indeed success in all areas of school life, assemblies, displays around the school and visits from outside speakers help to promote awareness of these important matters. The school uses a pastoral tool called Affective Social Tracking – or AS Tracking – in which pupils complete twice-yearly assessments which reveal how they are self-regulating and how they are thinking and seeing the world around them. This helps to guide the staff in their pastoral interactions with pupils. The Assistant Deputy Head, Mrs Elle Matthews, is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and trainer. Training sessions are in process to ensure many staff members throughout the school are suitably equipped to support mental health and wellbeing.

The pupils have a wide range of people to whom they can turn to discuss any problems or worries they may have: senior pupils and prefects; tutors; housemasters or housemistresses; medical staff; careers adviser; matron; the Chaplain; school counsellors.


The boys' boarding is situated in the main historic building and the girls’ boarding is in a purpose-built house, but every boarding room has en-suite facilities. Pupils are also encouraged to bring their own bedding from home to help them feel more at ease. As well as bedding, pupils have their own spaces in their bedrooms to personalise with photos and pictures.

The boarding house feels like a big family.
Gloria, Year 6

Every boarding house has a common room and social area and access to a kitchen. Boarders can make snacks in their own time and activities are held in the evenings, including cultural sharing nights where boarders can share their cultures, foods and customs with each other.

Pupils are encouraged to contact home regularly, and flexibility is always given to those who are in different time zones. Similarly, Houseparents will keep parents updated on the progress of their child and are always happy to speak to them to offer advice or discuss their child’s wellbeing.

Being both a boarding and a day school is a great strength in terms of the opportunities this gives for integration between pupils from different backgrounds and different parts of the world. Boarders and day pupils can easily forge friendships, which allow for cultural exchange and help pupils make friends and broaden their horizons.


A great emphasis on extra-curricular activity helps contribute to an all-around education and makes St Lawrence College a very special community in which to live and grow. These activities also help foster and deepen friendships. Having a large green campus with excellent facilities, and being so close to the beach, boarding pupils are lucky to have such great recreational space readily available. Additional events and fun day trips over the weekend are also a regular occurrence. This is just a small sample of the varied activities and trips the boarders have enjoyed over the past few terms: Quiz nights, Crazy golf, Cave visiting, Beach trips, Zorb football, Board games, Swimming, Gardening, Cinema, BBQ, Baking, Sports, Sailing… and much more.

The facilities and environment are good. It's a good place for studying and there are many extracurricular activities.
Sarah, Year 7 Boarder

I prefer it to studying in Hong Kong as there is so much more space here”,
Brian, Year 9 Boarder

The school aims to ensure that every individual achieves their potential and this is most clearly illustrated in our excellent Value Added academic results. A combination of dedicated teachers, a broad and challenging curriculum, a strong work ethic and a focus on core educational skills combine to provide a stimulating, inspiring and purposeful learning experience for our pupils. All of this is underpinned by High-Performance Learning; an understanding that intelligence is not fixed and that high performance in education is achievable by all. We are proud to have been one of the first 14 schools globally to be granted the status of a World-Class High-Performance Learning School.


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