CHAPTER 4 : SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL PROVISION : EDUCATION ENHANCEMENT MEASURES
4.3 MEASURES TO PROVIDE FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE ACADEMICALLY GIFTED .1 In this section we consider means to help gifted students develop their potential more fully
4.2.19 The expenditure involved in running the proposed school-based remedial support programme is as follows ($ million at current prices)
-91-92 92-93 93-94 94-95 95-96 96-97 97-98 98-99 99-00 00-01
5.41 10.99 20.91 34.43 42.25 44.08 44.08 44.08 44.08 44.08
4.3 MEASURES TO PROVIDE FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE ACADEMICALLY GIFTED
4.3.3 While we recognise that all these areas are important and sometimes overlap, we will in this report concentrate on academically gifted students, that is to say, those who have one or more of the first three characteristics listed above. This is because at present there is no specific provision in Hong Kong for academically gifted students within the main stream school system, although outside the system, the Gifted Education Council, a non-profit-making organisation, promotes public interest in gifted education and provides enrichment programmes in summer vacations. In contrast, we note that in respect of students gifted in other areas, there are a variety of avenues in Hong Kong open to them for developing their talents in music, arts and sports. These include the Music Office, the Jockey Club Ti-I College in Shatin and the Academy for Performing Arts. We would like to encourage all schools to provide opportunities for talented students in various fields.
Where schools cannot provide such opportunities, they should encourage students to attend institutions that could help them achieve their potential in these areas.
4.3.4 At present, we are not aware of research or documentation of the number and characteristics of academically gifted students in Hong Kong. In Britain, students with an IQ above 130 are regarded as being gifted. The British Ability Scales show that 2% of the School age population fall in this category. In the United States, research findings using an IQ score of 130 as the cut-off point indicate that about 2-3% of the school age population would be considered gifted. In Singapore around 0.5% of students are provided with special programmes for the gifted. Based on a 2% prevalence rate we estimate that in Hong Kong there are around 20 000 gifted students aged 6 - 18.
4.3.5 It could be argued that we should not use our resources in helping academically gifted students since they are generally more able to develop their potential on their own and do very well in their education.
However, one of the aims of our education system is to offer equal opportunity to all children. This does not mean that once every child is granted a place in school that our duty as a community towards them is done. As we have said earlier, the quality of our education is of vital importance. As part of this we should be giving all children, wherever they fall in the ability spectrum, the opportunity to develop more fully, both intellectually and as a person. Accordingly, we believe that the time has come to cater for the gifted. Assisting these students to realise their potential not only benefits the students themselves, but also society.
4.3.6 To meet the needs of academically gifted students, there are two main options -(i) to place such students in special schools for gifted children; or
(ii) to develop school-based programmes for them in ordinary schools, possibly supplemented by territory-wide out of school programmes.
4.3.7 We discussed carefully the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The former would mean that gifted students would have the opportunity to work with peers of comparable ability, special guidance and teaching would be readily available and resources allocated to help these students could be concentrated and more readily utilised. Notwithstanding these advantages, we rejected the idea of special schools for these students. If they were placed in separate schools they would lose the opportunity to learn to mix with other less able classmates and this could give rise
to problems of social adaptation in adult life. Moreover, ordinary schools would be deprived of the contributions of these students. Gifted students are of course able to benefit from the common-core curriculum. What they need is extra challenge, stimulation and attention to develop their potential further. We believe this can be provided within the mainstream system.
4.3.8 The development of school-based programmes would aim to encourage schools to take the initiative in meeting the needs of their gifted students by offering suitable educational programmes for them. This option would enable gifted students to learn to live and work with those less able than themselves. They would be treated like other children and yet have the chance to develop their potential.
4.3.9 Before devising such programmes it is necessary to identify the students who are academically gifted. The first step of this process is teachers' nominations. After this initial screening students would be individually assessed by EPs using intelligence and achievement tests. The results of these tests would be supplemented by observations from parents and teachers. The identification process, we believe, should take place throughout the primary stage of schooling since it may take some children a little time to demonstrate their giftedness.
4.3.10 The school-based programmes will provide school heads and teachers with opportunities to experiment with and improve their current teaching of academically gifted students. In developing the programmes, they will need to match them to the individual needs of students and to ensure that resources are used to the best effect. Having regard to overseas experience in these areas, programmes may be developed in several or all of the following forms
-(i) grouping - placing several gifted children in a particular programme for a given time;
(ii) acceleration - including early entry to school, grade-skipping, placing students in higher classes for certain subjects and the provision of advanced level programmes;
(iii) extended curriculum - by breadth, when a child studies an additional topic or by depth, when he pursues a topic in greater detail. A bilingual curriculum may also be included; and
(iv) extra-curricular programmes - activities such as extension programmes on selected topics, special interest groups and educational visits.
In relation to extended curricula and the provision of advanced level programmes, the framework for attainment targets and target-related assessments which are explained in detail in the next chapter will provide the opportunity within the education system for gifted students and indeed less able students to progress at their own pace.
4.3.11 Since, as we mentioned earlier, there is insufficient data in Hong Kong on academically gifted students, we intend to commission further research to establish how gifted students are taught in our schools at present. As part of this task, it will be necessary to ascertain whether gifted students are spread out through the education system or concentrated in particular schools. Clearly, this would affect how the school-based programmes are developed and how resources should be spent. Additional research should also be carried out into the measures adopted overseas to provide a suitable education for such students.
4.3.12 On the basis of existing data, we recommend that a pilot project as proposed by the BoE be carried out in which school-based programmes would be designed and their effectiveness in schools tested. The pilot project would
take four years including one year for planning. Programmes would be organised in the second year for six students in each of 20 primary schools interested in taking part in the project and a further 120 students in the third year. The pilot would be extended to secondary schools in the fourth year when around 40* of the original 120 students in the pilot project would have completed Primary 6. In this way, it would be possible to see whether the students benefit from the school-based programmes in their primary education and how these programmes could be developed in secondary schools. After the fourth year, we recommend that a review be conducted of the project.
4.3.13 To devise and run the pilot project, we recommend that a professional team be set up, with the support of a resource centre, to
-(i) devise identification programmes;
(ii) develop school-based programmes, teaching strategies and resource materials;
(iii) provide training programmes for teachers;
(iv) provide counselling; and
(v) monitor the pilot school-based programmes.
The professional team would comprise in the second and third years, two EPs, one Senior Inspector and one Inspector (Graduate) as well as support staff (no additional staff would be needed in the first year planning stage). In the fourth year, in addition, one Inspector (Graduate) and one
* The figure of 40 is based on an assumption that a proportion of the 120 students in the second year who enter Primary 5 in September would enter Secondary 1 in September of the fourth year.
Assistant Inspector (Graduate) would be required. Upon the establishment of the CDI in 1992, the professional team could become part of it.
4.3.14 The expenditure involved in conducting the pilot project and the research is shown below ($
million at current prices)
-92-93 93-94 94-95 95-96 96-97 97-98 98-99
Recurrent 1.08 4.64 3.81 4.75 4.85 4.95 5.41
Non-recurrent 0.58 0.58 0.14 0.34 0.22 0.22 1.46
Total 1.66 5.22 3.95 5.09 5.07 5.17 6.87
4.4 MEASURES TO HELP STUDENTS WHO ARE UNMOTIVATED OR WHO HAVE SEVERE