Research Studies on Gifted Education
Two research studies were launched in 1992 and 1993, one on the adaptation of assessment tools and the other on the distribution of academically gifted children in local schools. The first research on the adaptation of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking for use with local children was completed in October 1994. The final report and test manuals are in the process of production by the Research Team. This adapted assessment tool will form part of the assessment battery for identification of giftedness by educational psychologists. The second research was on the distribution of academically gifted children in local primary schools.
The preliminary findings have facilitated the selection of students for the pilot school-based programme commenced in September 1994. This study also included the development of checklists for parents and teachers to identify the characteristics and educational needs of gifted children. This study was completed by the end of 1995 and a report will be ready shortly.
Pilot School-based Programme for Academically Gifted Children (1994)
Recognizing that it is the responsibility of schools, not special school, to stretch and nurture gifted students with appropriate learning opportunities and challenges, the Education Commission Report No. 4 (ECR4) recommended a 3-year "Pilot School-based Programme for Academically Gifted Children" in Hong Kong.
In 1994, the "Pilot School-based Programme for Academically Gifted Children" (SBP) was launched in 19 primary schools. Educational psychologists (EPs) of the existing manpower establishment under the Services Division provided teacher training and coordinated with a research team comprising academics from tertiary institutes to select the first batch of target students. From 1994-1997, these EPs provided regular school-based support to the 19 pilot schools on programme planning, curriculum development, student selection and teacher training.
Setting up of the Professional Team with the Support of a Resource Centre (1995)
In order 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 Assistant Inspector (Graduate) would be required. Upon the establishment of the CDI in 1992, the professional team could become part of it.
The Fung Hon Chu Gifted Education Centre (FHCGEC) should be re-established as a multi-functional resource centre for teacher training, sharing of views/researches/products among professionals and academics, providing consultation to schools/teachers/parents, experimentation and development of curriculum materials and resources, networking community resources and coordinating activities relating to gifted education in Hong Kong.
There is a consensus among Members that gifted children with special needs should be adequately supported and awareness of giftedness should be promoted in all schools at all levels. The Sub-committee reckons that the purpose of gifted education should be equal opportunity, not elitism and that our society should give support to gifted education. Members are concerned about the labelling effect on gifted children and their emotional and personality development. Therefore the need of the gifted should be met in the regular class using flexible and creative teaching approaches. We are pleased to learn that gifted education will be extended from the primary to the secondary level, so that it will not be a lost cause.
Members agreed that teachers should be trained to handle gifted students within their classes. Gifted education should be included in the core curriculum of initial teacher education, in refresher courses and in long term development programmes for teachers. The Sub-committee reckons that SEN children including maladjusted children, have different levels or areas of giftedness and that their teachers should also receive training in identifying and referring students with giftedness for additional support. We hope that teachers of all special schools can be included in the ED seminars/workshops on giftedness in future and support should be provided to the gifted children in ordinary and special schools according to needs.
The ED's professional team to support the school-based programme for the academically gifted children should be strengthened. Tertiary institutions in Hong Kong should consider offering a local post-graduate degree course to train up professionals for gifted education.
School-based Approach on Gifted Education (1994-1997)
As the Education Commission Report No. 4 (ECR4) laid down that Hong Kong should develop school-based programmes in mainstream schools to meet the needs of academically gifted students instead of segregating them in a special school setting, it is stressed that:
(a) Gifted education should be provided on the principle of equal opportunity and not elitism.
(b) There should be comprehensive provisions to support gifted students and that will involve teachers at all levels. Provision for gifted students should be extended from primary to secondary schools.
(c) All school teachers should be aware of the needs of gifted students so that appropriate support and services to gifted children can be rendered. Teachers of special schools should also participate in the ED seminar/workshops on giftedness.
On the other hand, there is a need to strengthen the ED professional team to support the school-based programme for the academically gifted children.
In short, 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.
Evaluation on Pilot School-based Programme for Academically Gifted Children (1997-1998)
Evaluation of the Pilot Project
The evaluation report of the SBP supported that the SBP, which involved three core areas of students' development, i.e. higher order thinking skills, creativity and personal-social competency had brought about positive changes not only to the identified gifted students but also their classmates. This is because SBP was conducted in two modes:
(a) inside the regular classroom for ALL students with enriched materials immersed in the existing subject-based curriculum so that the highly able students can be adequately stretched;
(b) as additional pull-out programmes conducted outside the regular classroom for a homogeneous group of gifted students to allow systematic training and mutual challenges among themselves.