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Creating an Exceptional Primary One Portfolio for School Admission


As a parent in Hong Kong, you are likely well aware of the competitive nature of school admissions. Securing a spot for your child in a top school can be a daunting task, but one way to increase their chances is by creating an impressive Primary One Portfolio. This document showcases your child's achievements, talents, and potential, and serves as a valuable tool for schools to assess their suitability. In this article, I will guide you through the process of creating an outstanding Primary One Portfolio that will set your child apart from the competition.


What is Primary One Portfolio?

A Primary One Portfolio is a 4–6-page document that highlights your child's personal information and academic and physical development.


What is the Portfolio used for?

A Primary One Portfolio is submitted to the school/s of your choice as part of the Primary One application for enrolment. It is your chance to show prospective schools the incredible skills your child can add to the school.


Do I have to submit a Portfolio?

Many schools in Hong Kong request that you submit a portfolio together with your application, however there are others that don't require it. It is therefore important that you do your research with your chosen schools before submitting your application.


Why is the Primary One student portfolio important?

The Primary One Portfolio plays a crucial role in the school admissions process in Hong Kong. It provides schools with a comprehensive overview of your child's abilities, interests, and achievements, allowing them to make informed decisions about their suitability for the school. In a competitive environment where schools receive numerous applications each year, a well-crafted Primary One Portfolio can help your child stand out and increase their chances of securing a coveted spot by providing a holistic view of your child's abilities and demonstrating their readiness for primary education.

Admission to primary schools in Hong Kong is highly competitive, and schools have limited vacancies.

What should be included in a Primary One Portfolio?

When creating your child's Primary One student portfolio, it is essential to include a variety of elements that showcase their achievements, abilities, interests, and above all, what makes them unique. Here are some key components to consider:


Academic achievements:

Include copies of your child's academic transcripts, certificates, and awards. Highlight their outstanding performance in subjects such as mathematics, languages, and sciences. If your child has participated in any academic competitions or achieved notable results, be sure to include those as well.

Extracurricular activities and interests:

Demonstrate your child's involvement in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, arts, or community service. Include certificates, photographs, or videos that showcase their participation and achievements. This section allows schools to assess your child's well-roundedness and their ability to manage their time effectively.

Letters of recommendation:

Include letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or coaches who can vouch for your child's character, abilities, and potential. These letters provide valuable insights into your child's personality, work ethic, and interpersonal skills. Choose endorsers who can provide a balanced perspective and highlight your child's strengths. Teachers, mentors, or coaches who have worked closely with your child are ideal candidates for writing these letters. Ensure that the letters are recent and specific to your child's abilities and achievements. Including letters of recommendation in your Primary One student portfolio adds credibility and reinforces the positive impression of your child's abilities.


 

Here is an example of a reference letter written by a classroom teacher for one of her students.



Primary one application
 

Tips for creating an exceptional Primary One Portfolio

Crafting an exceptional Primary One student portfolio requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you create a standout portfolio:


Start early:

Begin gathering relevant documents and materials well in advance. This will give you ample time to organize and curate the portfolio effectively. Starting early also allows you to seek additional support or guidance if needed.

Be selective:

Choose your child's best work and achievements to include in the portfolio. Quality is more important than quantity. Select pieces that highlight their abilities and demonstrate growth and improvement.

Tailor the portfolio to each school:

Research the specific requirements and preferences of each school you are applying to. Customize the portfolio to align with their values and priorities. This shows your commitment and understanding of the school's ethos.

Keep it organized and visually appealing:

Ensure that the portfolio is well-organized and easy to navigate. Use dividers or tabs to separate different sections. Consider using a professional portfolio binder or folder. Use clear and concise captions or descriptions for each item.

Seek feedback:

Before finalizing the portfolio, seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or professionals in the field. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.

Proofread:

Before submitting your portfolio, thoroughly proofread all the documents and materials included. Check for any grammatical errors or inconsistencies. A well-presented portfolio demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism.


Let's now take a look at an example Primary One Portfolio:


Primary one portfolio

Page 1:


1. The applicant's name is clearly displayed.

2. The photo is a clear shot showing a happy child.

3. The design is simple and doesn't detract from the main subject, which is the child.

4. The year of application is clearly stated.


Primary one portfolio

Page 2:


5. The applicant's name, gender and nationality are clearly displayed.

6. Parent's names are listed.

7. Address and contact information is visible.

8. Past and current education is shown.



Primary one portfolio

Page 3:


9. Photo shows family 'togetherness' and healthy activity.

10. Photo of family holiday depicting cultural awareness.

11. Photo showing willingness to share family responsibilities.

12. Photo showing commemorative activities.



Primary one portfolio

Page 4:


13. Photo showing static activity. This one incorporates mother's profession.

14. Photo depicting special talent and ability to concentrate.

15. Photo showing social skills and the ability to get along with other children.

16. Photo portraying kindness. This one incorporates father's profession and future aspirations.


Highlighting extracurricular activities and interests

Extracurricular activities play a vital role in shaping your child's character and well-roundedness. This section of the Primary One student portfolio allows you to showcase your child's involvement in activities such as sports, music, arts, or community service. Include certificates, photographs, or videos that highlight their participation and achievements. Schools in Hong Kong value students who can manage their time effectively and engage in activities beyond academics. Highlighting your child's extracurricular activities demonstrates their ability to balance responsibilities and pursue their passions.


Primary one portfolio

Page 5:


17. Photo that illustrates child's interest in learning new things.

18. Photo showcasing child's ability in art.

19. Photo showing active participation in school sports.

20. Photo portraying empathy and a willingness to help.



Primary one portfolio

Page 6:


21. Copies of certificates and awards showing accomplishments and a well-balanced, all-rounded educational journey.


Showcasing academic achievements in your portfolio

The academic achievements section of your child's Primary One student portfolio is an opportunity to showcase their excellence in various subjects. Include copies of their academic transcripts, certificates, and any awards they have received. Highlight their exceptional performance in subjects such as mathematics, languages, and sciences. If your child has participated in any academic competitions or achieved notable results, be sure to include those as well. These achievements demonstrate your child's intellectual capabilities and their dedication to their studies.




a happy asian girl

Schools look for candidates with the following:

  • Good Social Skills,

  • Good Communication Skills,

  • Good Self-Management,

  • Command of Language at an Age-Appropriate Level, and the

  • Curiosity and an Eagerness to Learn.


 

Organizing and presenting your Primary One student portfolio

When it comes to the format of your Primary One Portfolio, there are several options to consider. The most common formats include a physical binder, a digital presentation, or an online portfolio. Each format has its advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the one that best showcases your child's achievements and is convenient for the schools to review. Consider factors such as ease of access, visual appeal, and the ability to update or modify the portfolio if needed.

​Having an online or digital portfolio to showcase academic achievements offers huge benefits for students by providing a visual representation of their growth and accomplishments. These can be regularly updated and provide a more thorough understanding of your child's academic journey - especially useful when applying to overseas schools! Contact Us about Designing a Digital Portfolio for your Child.


What type of photos are good to use?

  • Photos of your child playing with other children to highlight his/her social skills.

  • Family fun photos showing parent involvement.

  • Photos showing the child actively involved in sharing responsibilities i.e., housework, cooking, gardening.

  • Photos depicting self-confidence i.e., performing in a concert, scaling a rock-climbing gym.

  • Photos showing community involvement and volunteer activity i.e., beach clean-ups, donating toys, helping the elderly.

  • Photos showing a willingness to learn new information. i.e., science experiments, visits to nature reserves, baking.

  • Photos that show good concentration i.e., playing a musical instrument, reading, building Lego.

  • Photos that show a healthy level of activity i.e., bike riding, dancing, swimming


Important Notes on Making a Primary One Portfolio:

  • Portfolio should be clearly printed on to A4 paper (210x297mm) in portrait (vertical) orientation.

  • The more commonly accepted number of pages is between 4 to 6, however some schools will accept more.

  • The entire portfolio should be neatly stapled, bound, or filed. Whichever method you choose, it is important that you take care in ensuring that none of the pages will fall out when being read.

  • It is vital to fully understand the school's requirements before you start making the portfolio. Every school is different, and while some will accept 10 pages, others will reject the application if there are too many pages.

  • Focus on quality over quantity. A portfolio stuffed with too many photos and irrelevant information is unlikely to secure and interview. Remember: Bigger is NOT always Better!

  • Choose a plain font that is easy to read. Use a consistent font and style throughout.

  • Font size should be no smaller than 12pt. Some parents cram so much into a portfolio leaving very little space for eligible text, and if your chosen school can't read with ease, your portfolio will very quickly be binned.

  • Photos should be clear and accurately depict the activity referred to.

  • Keep the overall design neat and minimalist. Having too colourful or overbearing a design will only distract the reader.

  • The whole portfolio should be written in one language. Do not attempt to mix Chinese and English. Choose the language you are best able to express yourself in and avoid providing translation.

  • The ideal image-to-text ratio you should aim for is, 3/4 photos and 1/4 text.

  • Avoid including outdated or irrelevant information that does not add value to your child's application.

  • Ensure that the portfolio is organised, well-structured and easy to navigate.

  • Proofread. Proofread. Proofread! Careless grammatical and spelling errors will create a very negative impression.

  • Seek the guidance of other parents, your child's teacher, or another mentor who has experience in creating student portfolios.

  • If you are unsure of your ability in creating a Primary One Portfolio, let us create a unique one for you!

  • Be wary of enlisting the services of a design company. These organisations often use templates which result in many students presenting identical portfolios.

​Take the stress out of creating your child's Primary One Portfolio by enlisting our help. We offer uniquely designed, one-of-a-kind, error-free portfolios to showcase your child's suitability to prospective schools. *Please Note: This service is only offered in English. Contact Us about Creating your Child's Portfolio.

 

Do I need to submit a letter to the school principal as part of the application?

Yes. A well-written letter expressing your interest in your child joining the school is very important. This letter should be formally formatted and addressed to the principal of your chosen school.


Here is an example letter to the principal:


Primary One application

By avoiding common mistakes and seeking additional resources and support, you can create an exceptional portfolio that increases your child's chances of admission.


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