School management plays a very important role in school-based gifted development programmes. Attention must be paid to arrangements and issues that concern school management, teacher quality, administration, communication with parents, and allocation of resources.
Review of School Situation
In developing school-based gifted development programmes, a school needs to review its own situation and define its appropriate positions, including:
- Missions and objectives
Each school should develop school-based gifted education programmes that are in accordance with its mission and objectives, as well as the Hong Kong gifted education policy.
- School organisational structure
The school should establish a task force to promote school-based gifted development programmes. This should collaborate with other administrative, academic and functional groups, to prevent work overlapping, confusion about roles between different task force members, or excessive work pressure.
- Student characteristics
- Before designing and implementing school-based gifted development programmes, the school should assess its students' needs in detail. The suggested assessment methods are as follows:
- A review of subject attainment of students during the past few year including an analysis of student needs, with reference to their results in the Hong Kong Attainment Test, as well as other internal assessments, such as regular tests, homework, student portfolios, etc. This analysis may include trends in student internal academic attainment, their relative strengths, relationships between different characteristics and groupings of classes, and individual characteristics of each class.
- A review of non-academic performance of students during the past few years, including an analysis of individual students' trends in participation in extra-curricular activities by class and level. The review should further include the participation and strengths of students in any competitions held within the school, as well as activities in the community.
- After detailed analysis and classification of students' needs and strengths, the school can then decide on the key points and the content of its school-based gifted development programmes for the academic year. The staff can subsequently put the design into practice, and develop related educational programmes.
- The school should regularly review every aspect of its school-based gifted development programmes in order to determine their future directions and key areas in which they should be extended.
- During the comprehensive review, the school should consider the following issues:
- Are the different programmes interrelated? Does any part of them need further improvement?
- How can the programmes be maintained?
- Is the staff qualified to run the programmes? Will there be any overlapping in the work of staff members? Are any areas of authority and responsibility unclear? Are the new arrangements overloading some of the teachers?
- How can gifted programmes support other regular programmes and activities? Is there room for improvement in this area?
- Which gifted programmes should be added or discontinued during the following academic year? If so, for what reasons? How can they meet the school's key concerns? How do they support the school's vision and policies?
- Teacher qualifications
Teacher qualifications form the most important element in implementing school-based gifted development programmes. The school's executives should analyse the current status of teacher qualifications including the number of teachers, their qualifications, their expertise in academic and non-academic areas, and their experience in teaching and organising activities. Lastly, their knowledge and commitment to gifted education should also be assessed.
- Policy and objectives of school-based gifted education
Before implementing school-based gifted development programmes, the school should review the characteristics and academic needs of its students, and the expectations of their parents. Subsequently, it should consider how the programmes can support the school's further overall development. Based on these factors, school executives can then draft their policy and objectives.
Role of the Principal
The principal plays a very important role in implementing school-based gifted development programmes. He or she should take the following issues into account:
- The principal should agree to the ideas and guiding principles of gifted education.
- The principal should receive training in gifted education.
- The principal should actively participate in the early stages of the programmes. The teachers will thus be aware of the importance of gifted education. Also, the principal's support will strengthen their commitment to the programmes.
- The school management committee and parents should understand the plan, strategy, principles and reasons for developing gifted education in school.
- The principal should set up a task force with teachers who share the same commitment as its core members. They will then be able to collaborate in organising and implementing the programmes.
- The principal should provide administrative support to the programmes.
- The principal should seek resources to support gifted education.
- The principal should lead the task force in formulating short and long-term policies for gifted education in a timely manner.
- Each school should establish a task force responsible for planning and implementing the following tasks:
- The task force should be a standing working group in which all members support the implementation of school-based gifted development programmes.
- It should comprise school executives, staff members responsible for the programmes (in primary schools, the task force may include a curriculum development officer) and teachers in charge of major subjects. Its convenor should be a teacher who is more familiar with gifted education. The school can also adjust the number of members to reflect the school's needs. The task force will be even more effective if the school can invite teachers responsible for disciplinary work and parents who understand the principles of gifted education to become members.
- Members of the task force should meet regularly to discuss and plan the implementation of the programmes. They should also monitor the progress being made.
- The task force will work on a wide variety of areas. However, the school can decide on its workload and priorities to reflect the school's situation. The most important duties of the task force are as follows:
- Formulate the policy for the programmes and report on their progress to the school management
- Outline the school-based gifted development programmes and develop an action plan for their implementation
- Collect reference materials about gifted education
- Participate in and arrange training courses for teachers engaged in gifted education
- Develop a plan to encourage staff to develop programmes
- Co-ordinate all the gifted development programmes in school
- Monitor and assess all work related to the programmes
- Monitor the financial, manpower and administrative arrangements for the programmes
- Create a database about gifted development programmes
- Liaise with and organise all the people involved in the programmes, including teachers, students and their parents; and make the best use of community resources
- Take into account the school's conditions, and assign various tasks to individual groups.
To enhance teachers' understanding of gifted education, the school should consider the following training methods:
- Organise various theme projects within the school on:
- Theories and topics related to gifted education
- Characteristics and needs of gifted students
- Programme models and teaching strategies for the development of gifted students
- Programme design concepts and skills
- Development of gifted education in Hong Kong and around the world.
- The best way forward is to organise whole-school training programmes for all teachers. If time and resources are limited, priority-training areas should be determined according to the school situation.
- Encourage task force members to attend gifted education courses conducted by tertiary institutions or the Education Bureau.
- Invite tertiary institutions and voluntary organisations to hold lectures and workshops.
- Organise study tour to observe the practice of gifted education in other countries, and arrange follow-up activities in the school, such as reporting on the visits to all staff, inviting members to share their experience, and designing and testing the school's own programmes using the information acquired during the visits.
- If only a few teachers support the concepts of gifted education, the school should gather them together to start a small group-training programme. The number of participants can afterwards be gradually increased, and the programme can be expanded. Another starting point would be for school executives to share the concepts of gifted education during staff meetings.
- The school management committee can consider providing funding or establishing an education fund to run training programmes in school. This would give practical support to the teachers participating in training, and nurture the growth of further support for gifted development programmes.
- The school should clearly explain to participating teachers that school-based gifted development programmes will not create extra work for them. Teachers have the unshirkable duty to care for students' needs, including those with high abilities and the gifted.
- When providing training programmes for teachers, the school should realise that most teachers make continuous efforts to learn. By continuing their studies and undergoing training, teachers can leverage their professionalism and set a good example of lifelong learning to their students.
- The various roles of teachers:
- Creating a climate for teaching and learning
- Supporting gifted education policies
- Jointly preparing adequate materials for lessons
- Utilising resources efficiently
- Collaborating in teaching, and observing each other's teaching methods
- Deploying information technology in a flexible way
- Actively participating in training.
Objectives of School-based Gifted Development Programmes
Gifted development programmes should be in line with the school's development directions
- Every school has its own mission and educational characteristics. School-based gifted development programmes should not operate independently, but should be integrated with the school's overall policies.
- The Policy of Gifted Education in Hong Kong suggests that Level 1 should be implemented in the form of regular lessons in all subjects and in all classes. Therefore, to be successful, the programmes should serve the school policies.
Participants should match the needs of the programmes in the following ways:
- Teachers of whole-class teaching programmes should target all the students in a class. However, they should also arrange group teaching to meet the particular needs, interests and abilities of individual students.
- For the pull-out programme, the school should follow the details of the programme and the learning objective to identify the target participants. For instance, if the school plans to provide an enrichment programme on "Interesting Psychology" for gifted students, participants should include various types of students, including those with strong intelligence, introspection or social competence. If an enrichment programme on "Chinese Culture" is provided, the target students could be high achievers in Chinese Language, Chinese History or General Studies.For further information, please refer to the following guidelines:
- The programme plans can be divided into short, medium and long term. Short-term programmes may last for one school term, while the length of medium and long-term programmes depends on the school's actual situation. The school may define its medium-term objectives for gifted education within a three- or five-year time frame, and its long-term objectives or visions may extend over a longer time frame.
- In formulating gifted development programmes, the school term is the basic time scale. There are two important areas to be considered in this regard:
- The school should review its work during the year prior to formulating its gifted education plan. It should systematically and comprehensively analyse the status of its existing school-based gifted education programmes, so that it can then define its objectives and key issues for further development during the next term.
- When formulating its gifted education plan, the school should consider a variety of issues. They include: What are the strengths of the teachers and the staff as a whole? Which of the previous projects are worth continuing? Which should be revised? What do students and parents expect from the school? What are the students' immediate needs?
- In the process of developing a gifted education plan, the principal should first discuss with the administrative team and reach a consensus with all the teachers. Afterwards, the school can define the direction and principles of the programmes for the academic year. The task force will then take up the responsibility of discussing and formulating specific practical details of the programmes.
Selection of Gifted Students
Significance of the selection mechanism
- The objective of the selection process is to identify high ability students and gifted students, thus allowing the school to arrange the right programmes in a systematic way that meets their needs. Hence, a sensible selection mechanism should support the related programmes; otherwise, it will simply become a tool for labelling certain students.
- The needs of students will change as they grow older, gain experience and develop their interests. So, the selection process should incorporate a review mechanism. The school will then be able to arrange the right learning opportunities to meet the needs of those students in different stages of their growth.
- All students who apply to participate in Level 1 B, 2 C and 2 D programmes should undergo the selection process. The school should consider setting up a selection committee for this purpose. Since Level 1 A consists of whole-class enrichment activities, it is unnecessary to conduct selection at that stage.
Selection of students for Level I B of school-based gifted development programmes
- Level 1 B programmes – objective of selection
The objective is to select gifted students in various subjects or areas (such as Chinese language) from different levels. When teachers conduct regular lessons in particular fields and areas, they can adopt the teaching strategy of Level 1 B programmes in the forms of group learning, curriculum compacting, or extension curriculum. This will meet the needs of high ability students and gifted students within their classes.
- Selection of participants for Level 1 B programmes
The participants for Level 1 B programmes should be the 10% of students in the same level who give the best performances in particular subjects or areas. High ability students and gifted students in certain subjects and areas may be different from those in others.
- Tools and standards for selection of students for Level 1 B programmes
To design tools and standards for selecting gifted students, the school should take into account the availability of internal and external resources, as well as the characteristics, individual needs and related fields or areas of learning of its students. It can exercise flexibility in using the following tools and standards, or it can make adjustments to accommodate its actual needs:
- Students ranked in the top 10% in terms of standard accomplishment tests (such as the Hong Kong Attainment Test (HKAT)
- Students in the top 10% in terms of their academic attainment at school
- Students who attain outstanding results in local and international competitions, or those highly commended and recommended by their teachers.
Selection of students for Level 2 C and 2 D programmes in the school-based gifted development project
- Principles for selecting students for Level 2 C and 2 D programmesI.
In determining the number of students who will participate in Level 2 C and 2 D programmes and the types of selection criteria to be used, the school should consider a variety of factors apart from the suggestions made in the guidelines. Among these are its resources (teachers' experience in gifted education), vision of education (the school's priorities in implementing gifted education), teachers' expertise (the special skills possessed by its teachers), students' characteristics (their interests) ( primary schools'
and secondary schools' editions
) and their needs (such as emotional needs). In the light of this information, the school can then formulate a gifted education plan to meet its unique requirements and realise the concept of school-based development.
Wide variety of choices
- The selection mechanism should cover various categories of high ability students and gifted students, including the following three types of students:
- Those with outstanding academic achievements
- Those with special talents
- Those with strong intelligence.
But the school should not neglect minority groups, such as new immigrants, disabled or poor students, who display outstanding performance; nor should it disregard very intelligent students who have failed to display a good performance.
- The school should apply different tools to include different types of gifted students. In addition to standard tests, it can take into account the results of observation checklists (both teachers' and parents' editions), students' performance in the school and community, assessment of their work, and interviews.
- The school should also create various channels to include gifted students in other fields, rather than just high achievers in internal assessments. Apart from the school teaching staff, e.g. guidance masters, teachers, social workers, parents and other people, such as psychologists and professors, should be allowed to nominate students for the programmes. The school can also include students who have been nominated by their peers and in a mutual nomination process.
Transparency and flexibility
- The school should inform its staff, students and their parents about the objectives, content, selection criteria and methods of its school-based gifted development plan to ensure it is fair, open and impartial to everybody.
- The school should respect the will of its students and their parents. It should encourage students to join the programmes, but not make them compulsory; and it should also allow them to leave the programmes if they choose to do so.
- The selection mechanism should be flexible. It can include a by-selection process to ensure that high ability students and gifted students receive a second chance to join the programmes. IV. Student-based development i. The selection criteria should support the objectives and content of the programmes, to ensure gifted students receive proper training.
The objective of the selection process is to identify and develop the talents of students.
- The school should avoid using "gifted student class" as a label for the study groups.
- Neither should it put pressure on gifted students, nor place a negative label on unsuccessful candidates for the programmes.
- Selection objectives and target students of Level 2 C and 2 D programmes
The selection process consists of three stages – preliminary, secondary and complementary selection. Each stage targets different types of students and has different objectives.
Preliminary selection – establishing the school's talent pool
- The preliminary selection should be open to a large spectrum of candidates. The purpose is to include all high ability students and gifted students in the talent pool. It can systematically use internal and external resources to cater for the needs of these students during different learning stages.
- The talent pool should contain a wide variety of students with outstanding academic attainments, special talents or strong intelligence. It should not be limited to particular types of students. The talent pool can comprise up to 15% of the school's students. This percentage may be adjusted according to the available resources and the quality of students.
- Generally, students selected for the talent pool can participate in the enrichment activities, i.e. elementary programmes of Level 2 C, for example:
- Exploratory activities, such as visits and lectures
- Basic learning skills, such as reading, memory training and note taking
- Basic study skills, such as skills in the application of IT knowledge for data collection, and report-writing skills
- Basic skills of reasoning and creative thinking
- Basic affective education training, such as self-understanding and emotional control.
- The objective of secondary selection is to identify those students with the most outstanding performance and special expertise in the talent pool. Based on the selection results, the school can arrange different programmes for the students, such as:
- Advanced programmes – the intermediate programme of Level 2 C
- Specialized training – the specialized programmes of Level 2 D, such as advanced mathematics and creative-writing classes
- External training for the most outstanding students if necessary– the programmes of Level 3 E
- Enrichment programmes of Level 1 B for students with special talents in particular learning areas or domains to be conducted in normal lessons.
- Those students not selected in the secondary selection may attend the basic programmes of Level 2 C. They will still have the opportunity to be nominated for various programmes through secondary selection methods.
The objective of by-selection is to ensure high ability students and gifted students who have not been identified at the preliminary selection stage have a second chance to join the programmes.
- Selection tools and standards for Level 2 C and 2 D programmes
The school should clearly list the tools and standards for selecting high ability students and gifted students as the bedrock for the selection mechanism, and the basis for responding to parents' inquiries. When selecting candidates who show outstanding academic attainments, special talents or strong intelligence, the school can consider the following selection tools and standards (Please see Appendices 4-17
- Students with outstanding academic attainments:
- Students among the top 2% in terms of their results in standard accomplishment tests or standard learning aptitude tests
- Students among the top 4% in terms of their academic attainment at school.
- Students with special talents:
- Standard special talent tests, such as students who achieve the top 2% in creativity ability assessment
- Students who achieve the top 4% in non-academic areas
- Students who attain good results in local or international competitions
- Students who demonstrate outstanding performance (obtaining an average of four points or more) in areas related to their talents in the Behavioural Characteristics Checklist (see Behavioural Characteristics Checklist for Gifted Students (for teacher use))
- Students who receive highly favourable comments about their talents with solid evidence
- Students who perform outstandingly in interviews
- Students whose work attains highly favourable comment from an academic or non-academic committee.
- Students with outstanding intelligence:
- Students who achieve the top 2% in a standard individual intelligence test
- Students who achieve the top 2% in a standard group intelligence test.
When determining the selection tools and standards for students taking Level 2 C and 2 D programmes, the school should consider the following criteria:
- The talent pool should contain various types of gifted students
- When selecting high achievers, the school should not require students to demonstrate outstanding performances in every subject. Students who are outstanding in just one academic subject should be eligible for inclusion in the talent pool.
- Students with special talents may include those who show outstanding performance in any area, such as arts, music and sports
- The talent pool should be selected through the use of various types of tools
- The school should use different tools to select gifted students with outstanding academic achievement, special talents or strong intelligence.
- The school should use different tools to select particular types of students. For instance, it can use the external results of standard accomplishment tests and internal attainments in academic fields or areas in order to select students with outstanding academic performance.
- Adoption of the school-based approach
The school should adjust the selection tools and standards listed in this guideline in line with its resources and students' needs. For example, when selecting students to join an advanced mathematics programme, i.e. Level 2 D programme, the school, using the results of Hong Kong attainment test as a selection tool, may find that most of the students attain the top 2% ranking in the test. Yet, the programme cannot provide places for every eligible student. In this case, the school may use other methods, such as:
- Internal attainments.
- Adding some prerequisites, such as requiring students to demonstrate outstanding attainment in an observation checklist and other fields related to their expertise; or whose expertise has been highly commended by nominators.
- Using a higher level standard accomplishment test for mathematics for further selection;
- Reviewing the arrangements for the school-based gifted development programmes, and using programmes of various levels more effectively. The school should try its best to provide outstanding students with the right learning opportunities, such as the whole-class teaching programmes of Level 2 D.
- Selection process for Level 2 C and 2 D programmes
- The first year's work – setting up the selection mechanism
- If a school is implementing school-based gifted development programmes for the first time, it may begin its organising work one year before the implementation. This includes the establishment of a selection committee, and determining the selection tools and standards it will use (see Figure 4, Figure 5 and Appendices 4-10).
- The school can conduct preliminary selection for the talent pool during the last term of the academic year before the programmes are implemented (See Figure 4 and Figure 5). It is suggested that the school starts selection with Primary One or Form One students. After three or four months, teachers will have acquired a certain degree of knowledge about their students. The school can also invite teachers, parents and other parties to nominate gifted students (see Appendices 11-17).
- The school may commence selection work in advance, including the consolidation of student information, arranging interviews and determining the enrolment list (See Appendix 5 " Full List of Students for Selection")
- The school may announce selection results in May or June. Those students who pass the preliminary selection stage will become primary members of the talent pool. During the following academic year, these students may join programmes for Primary Two or Form Two students.
- The second year's work – conducting programmes, by-selection and secondary selection
- The school can start nomination and preliminary selection in March or April, during the last term of the academic year, to select candidates from among the high ability and gifted students in Primary One or Form One. Successful candidates will become members of the talent pool, and may then join the programmes in Primary Two or Form Two.
- The school should conduct by-selection at the same time. It can openly invite teachers and parents to nominate students who were not previously identified as high ability and gifted students to participate in the selection process. Successful candidates may become members of the talent pool and join the programmes in Primary Three or Form Three.
- The school may announce results of preliminary selection and by-selection in May or June.
- The school may conduct secondary selection for students in the talent pool around May to identify students with outstanding ability and talents. It can then arrange them to join some specialized programmes during the following academic year.
- In the third year and thereafter, the school can repeat the processes of the second year (see Figure 4 and Figure 5). It can also organise more advanced level programmes to support the development of students in the talent pool. See Figure 4 for details of the selection process.
- Financial budgets and arrangements
The principal and school management committee play a very important part in allocating resources. The task force can also give its input on this subject. When the school designs school-based gifted development programmes, it should make proper financial arrangements, such as programme resources, special equipment, apparatus, employment of programme teachers and demonstrators, salaries of support services personnel and funding for activities.
- Classrooms, special equipment, programmes and related resources
In terms of hardware resources, the school can consider the following issues:
- Programme resources, e.g. reference books, audio and video resources.
- Teaching equipment, e.g. computers, art instruments, facilities, audio equipment, projectors and stationery.
- A resources room for gifted education – the school can set up a resources corner or an interest corner in its school library or a standard classroom.
- School intranet facilities – the school can set up an intranet and build up a programme database to facilitate communications between staff, teachers and students.
- School Library – the school library can provide electronic services and Internet connectivity, so that teachers and students can easily search for information. It can also consider creating a school-based online database for staff to share teaching resources.
- Parents, community and other human resources
Human resources are one of the most important resources. In this area, the school may consider making good use of parents, school management committee members, alumnae, social workers, school operators or their organisational network, the alumni network and community resources. In addition, it can consider the following suggestions:
- Inviting parents, alumnae and social workers (or guidance masters) to act as mentors for gifted students. They can help lead visits and organise other activities. Young graduates can share their experience with students. Social workers, guidance masters or teachers can co-ordinate and plan enrichment activities or extension activities relating to personal-social competence.
- In addition to administrative support, the school management committee can help in seeking other resources to facilitate the operation of programmes. If there are additional resources, the committee can allocate funds or provide funding to develop gifted education.
- The school can share experience and resources with other schools and networks. It can team up with other schools and organisations to jointly organise different types of enrichment activities in a pull-out approach.
- Effective use of community resources.
For example, the school can contact Museum officials to arrange a guided tour when visiting the Hong Kong Museum of History in order to enhance students' understanding of the activity. In addition, the school may actively participate in various types of community training programmes or competitions (such as leadership training) to provide more professional and multilateral development programmes for gifted students.
- Studying the programme resources of the Education Bureau and related activities of gifted education for reference, including briefing sessions, teacher training seminars and experience sharing meetings about various courses.
- Schools that maintain close contact with students' parents can have a better understanding of students' needs, including their academic interests, expertise and weaknesses, that is helpful when determining the right ways to provide whole class or pull-out programmes.
- If a school plans to implement a pull-out programme, it should communicate and co-operate with parents in various ways, such as:
- Informing parents about the relevant arrangements.
- Inviting parents to nominate their children to apply for the programmes.
- Inviting parents to complete nomination forms, such as the student behaviour table.
- Giving notice to parents whose children have been selected for the pull-out programme. The school can also consider arranging briefing sessions to clearly explain the objectives and content of the programmes to successful candidates and their parents as well as encourage parents to support their children properly (e.g. by making proper scheduling arrangements for other extra-curricular activities, supervising their children in attending and completing all their tasks, acting as mentors in the programmes, providing assistance during visits, and attending students' programme closing ceremonies).
- Helping parents to understand the progress of their children, such as the requirements of the programmes, via a programme brochure. Parents may help to assess their children's tasks, read with their children, and prepare the necessary instruments for programmes. Therefore, the brochure can function as a link between the school and parents.
Other Support Measures
- Timetable scheduling
- Arrange free time for members of the task force to prepare lessons together.
- Arrange some common periods for teachers who wish to conduct collaborative teaching and classroom observations.
- According to curriculum reforms, flexible lessons are required for every academic area. The school can consider introducing programmes with the three elements of gifted education, such as "creative thinking" and "life education" in the flexible lessons. During the lessons, the teacher can observe outstanding students and arrange advanced programmes for further pull-out activities.
- Deployment of supporting personnel
To support school-based gifted development programmes, the school can deploy clerical officers, IT staff and librarians to meet the requirements of the programmes. For instance, clerical officers can help prepare paper and materials for the programmes; IT staff can provide technical support; and librarians can teach students how to collect information and assist teachers in collating materials about gifted education.
- Creating space for the task force
The school can consider the following methods to create space for members of the task force:
- Reduce the number of lessons
- Leave time for training
- Swap lessons for the task force members to attend training activities if necessary
- Allocate funding to subsidise the members to attend related seminars and programmes.
- Explaining the concept, policy and progress of school-based gifted education programmes to the school management committee and parents.
The successful operation of the programmes requires the full support of the school management committee and parents. Therefore, the school should explain the programmes' concept and policy to these groups, as well as report on their progress. In addition, it can invite them to attend some activities, such as greeting ceremonies, farewell parties and closing ceremonies.