Gifted kids' school
Kids take a breather
from cramming

By Samantha Wong

     For quite some time educators have claimed that the local education system fails to satisfy the thirsts of gifted children for specialized knowledge.
     Thus the first primary school for gifted children in Hong Kong was recently founded in Lei King Wan.
     The school provides all-day primary schooling to 90 gifted and talented children this year.

          Bonnie Ko
     Mr. Leung Siu Tong, school principal, explained the school’s purpose.
     “As most schools in Hong Kong cram their pupils for public examinations,” said Mr. Leung, “we want a breakthrough in the present curriculum.”
     In order to achieve the above aim, the curriculum of the school is different from other schools’ programmes.
     According to Mr. Leung, the students are expected to finish their primary education in 5 years instead of the conventional practice of 6 years.
     Said Mr. Leung: “Our curriculum follows the one set by the government, and we are using textbooks on the market as well.
     “But since our students generally possess high intellectual and academic ability, our curriculum is integrated so that our students will finish their education of Primary 1 to Primary 3 within 2 years.”
     For general studies, students are not only taught in lessons, but they are do projects, allowing them to pick up knowledge on their own. Their projects are then assessed as a part of their examination results.
     As the school advocates interactive teaching, students are encouraged to participate in lessons. The small class sizes, with 15 students in Primary 1 and 20 in Primary 2 and above, allow students to ask questions, discuss matters and make presentations.
     Apart from the usual school subjects, the school puts reading lessons and a study hall in its timetable.
     “During the reading lessons,” Mr. Leung said, “we introduce words, sentences and passages to our pupils systematically. We hope that this helps them to enhance their language ability. We also want to encourage our students to read more.”
     The study hall, or homework time, after lunch enables pupils to finish much of their homework in school. As a result, they need not spend much time doing their homework at home.
     Apart from the above courses, the school provides other training classes such as talent class and an enrichment class for its students.
     “When children apply for our school, they have to take the Multiple Intelligence Test, which assesses their linguistic, logico-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and spatial intelligence,” Mr. Leung said.
     “Since they all have their special abilities, we invite professionals to give them specialised training so that they can develop their special potentials.”
     In the talent class, different students receive different training so as to foster their distinct abilities. They can have lessons on music, art, drama, dancing or gymnastics, depending on their own talents and interests.
     The enrichment programme is prepared by the school. In the enrichment class, students are taught various subjects such as study skills, memory-enhancing skills, computer knowledge and civil education.
     There are also some special facilities for kids in order to expedite the training.
     For instance, the school has a multipurpose room with mirrors and a stage, making it possible for the students to carry out various physical activities such as dancing and gymnastics.
     The school also has a lecture theatre with innovative facilities. Seminars as well as video-shows can be held there.
     As the pioneers of providing schooling to gifted children, Mr. Leung and the teachers encountered difficulties when running the school.
     Said Mr. Leung: “First, we faced some difficulties when we integrated the 6-year curriculum into a 5-year one. In Hong Kong, the education programme for teachers does not provide training for such integration. We also lack such experience. Thus, we had to make references to other countries, like Singapore and England.”
     Teachers in the school have encountered difficulties in teaching as well.
     “Many gifted students like to attract people’s attention,” said Mr. Cheung Hin Keung, a class teacher of the school. “They not only seek the teacher’s attention, but also seek the classmates’. Sometimes the progress of the class is affected.”
     “Moreover,” Mr. Cheung added, “the Primary 2 students who studied in other schools last year bring in the prevailing habits of their former schools. During lessons, some of them do not raise their hands when they ask questions. They also fight with other classmates.”
     At the same time, teachers find that there are chances for the students to develop their talents.
     “When students take different assessment tests for the enrichment class,” said Mr. Chan Ka Wai, disciplinary master of the school, “we find out what talents they possess and then offer them special help.
     “For example, there is a naughty student who can sing very well. By taking the enrichment class, he can further develop his potential and ability.
     “So the assessments taken enable us to know the talents of the students, and then we can offer them the best training.”
     To the children themselves, the school is a good place for study.
     When asked if she liked to study at the school, Tsoi Yan Tung, a Primary 2 pupil , said, “I like to study here. The lessons are not boring and we play lots of games.”
     Though Mr. Leung said the effectiveness of the school cannot be assessed at this moment, in the eyes of the students, the school is an attractive place to be.

 Revision of texts      Abacus

November 1997

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