- In his Policy Address delivered in October 2006, the Chief Executive announced the establishment of an Academy for Gifted Education (the HKAGE) to provide more structured, articulated and challenging off-site programmes for students with exceptional talent, and to promote the concepts and practices of gifted education to support teachers and parents. The Legislative Council Panel on Education discussed in November 2006 the Administration’s proposal to provide financial support for the setting up of the Academy.
- The HKAGE informally started its planning and preparatory work in early 2008 when the Executive Director took up his post. Delivery of its services started in September 2008 with the migration of responsibility for student programmes and parent support from EDB to the HKAGE and the beginning of the Academy’s own programmes.
- The HKAGE is structured to provide information, support and advice to three main stakeholder groups in Hong Kong: students, teachers and parents. Since early 2012, research has been added to the portfolio of support.
POSITIONING OF THE ACADEMY
- The HKAGE operates independently of Government bureaux to provide for flexibility of management and operations.
PROVISION AND SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
- Our target population is Hong Kong’s exceptionally gifted students, defined as those who consistently perform in the top of their age-related ability range, in one or more domains. Though concentrating our resources in the 12-18 age range initially, it is our intention to give more attention to the needs of the 10-12 year olds as our internal capacity grows. We aim to provide challenging learning opportunities for gifted students to enable them to stretch their potential in a wide range of specialist areas, including leadership, creativity, personal-social competence. In due course the range and variety of these courses will be extended as the range of partners increases to include local universities, professional organizations, individuals and NGOs. All the courses will be available “off site”, though school venues will not be uncommon.
- Such programmes will include workshops, master classes, weekend courses, exchange programmes, mentoring, field trips, and the like in a wide variety of different domains. We have catered for more than 10 000 students during the period of 2008-2011, the first three years of our operations.
- A central plank of our work is to promote a better understanding of the needs of gifted students and of their holistic development as well as developing their confidence in the pursuit of excellence and their commitment to serving the community.
PROVISION AND SUPPORT FOR PARENTS
- The need for parent and school support is also recognized. We nowprovide a Consultation and Assessment Centre for parents and teachers within the Academy structure. This Centre provides a territory-wide phone and email Hotline and an assessment facility for those students whose learning needs are complex and in need of clarification.
- Parental education is provided in a range of subjects including the identification and nurturing of gifted children. Workshops, seminars and support groups are held on a regular basis as part of our Parent Education Programme (PEP).. It is expected that around 5 000 parents could be served each year.
PROVISION AND SUPPORT FOR TEACHERS/SCHOOLS
- Diversified training opportunities in specialist areas are provided to teachers to develop their skills in nurturing gifted students in schools. The core programme is our jointly developed Professional Development Framework (PDF) with EDB that identifies several training pathways in a tiered structure for school GE Managers and GE Coordinators. Additionally, further training programmes include, short thematic courses, seminars, workshops and talks, though increasingly schools will be encouraged to support their work through exchanging best practice ideas in learning network communities. From a base of only a few hundred teachers in the first years we intend to reach out to all dedicated professional posts in GE but we hope that through our service provision ALL teachers in Hong Kong will have the opportunity to develop their skills in GE.
SUPPORT FOR RESEARCH
Since 2012 the Academy has begun to conduct research and development conducive to a sustainable growth and advancement of knowledge in gifted education in Hong Kong. In the medium term we aim to partner closely with local and overseas universities to set up a network of mentors comprising different expertise to support the development of gifted students in Hong Kong. We will also initiate and conduct research to provide evidence-based advice on services for the gifted, effective pedagogy, and government policy conducive to a sustainable growth and advancement of knowledge in gifted education in Hong Kong.
THE WIDER GIFTED EDUCATION LANDSCAPE
All of these developments will enable EDB to concentrate its efforts on collaborating with schools to promote effective learning and teaching practices in the classroom (Level 1) and provide support to pull-out programmes inside schools (Level 2). EDB will continue to offer relevant professional development programmes for in-service teachers and may provide some of these programmes in collaboration with the Academy. We hope this will ensure a ‘seamless’ development of gifted students across learning contexts inside and outside schools.
The Fung Hon Chu Gifted Education Centre, currently managed by EDB, will continue to serve as a teaching resource centre for promoting general gifted education in Hong Kong with an emphasis on Levels 1 and 2.