Background of class size and special education needs support in Hong Kong Starting from 2004/05 school year, all kindergartens are required to employ 100% Qualified Kindergarten Teachers of the required staff establishment based on a teacher-to-pupil ratio of 1:15 in Hong Kong.
Moreover, in the 2005 Policy Address, the Government announced launching the Head Start Programme on Child Development, currently known as the Comprehensive Child Development Service (CCDS), which aims at early identification and provision of timely support to children and families with special needs. The distinctive feature of this programme is its interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial collaboration among the Education Bureau (EDB), the Department of Health (DH), the Hospital Authority (HA), and the Social Welfare Department (SWD).Through fostering communication and collaboration among different providers of the existing educational, medical, and social services, this programme demonstrates a new service model.
Under the CCDS, a referral and reply system has been developed to enhance the close collaboration with kindergartens/child-care-centres (KGs), Maternal and Child Health Centre (MCHCs) and Integrated Family Service Centres (IFSCs)/Integrated Services Centres (ISCs). If KG teachers detect any physical, developmental, behavioural or family issues with children, they can refer them directly to the MCHC or IFSC/ISC in the respective district for assessment
Although the EDB report starts a step that government considers on special education needed in kindergarten, the service supply is unable to meet the demand. The children may have to wait a long time for support; on the contrary, we know that the early childhood is a golden period for development. Advantages of small class teaching
By having a small class teaching in kindergarten, teachers provide more stimulating, responsive, warm, individualized attention and supportive interaction. When there are fewer children in the classroom, the teacher has more time to devote to each child, more closely mediate children’s social interaction and managing the group requires less teacher time. As a result, teachers have opportunities to have longer conversation with each child. Teachers also have more time to observe each child’s interests and activities so they can develop lesson plan that respond to individual children’s learning style, strengths and weakness. Small-group activities allow these children to work together while avoiding the chaos that may come about from large-group activities. Small-group activities also can be modified to work with different skill levels in children and can allow for more focused attention to teach kindergarten children new concepts. And also teachers detect the special needed pupils easily.
In addition, small class teaching has also proven to be of greatest help to students with the worst learning performances. In a small class teaching environment, the teachers are more concerned with the performance of individual students, there is greater interaction between teachers and students, and teachers tend to spend longer hours on the job. Relatively speaking, other attempts to change the class environment, such as providing teaching assistants or setting up flexible learning groups, do not produce equally obvious results. According to Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio project (STAR) that show pupils reap the greatest benefit from small class teaching, in terms of reading and mathematical ability
Important of early detection and intervention special needed pupils It is vital to identify children with special needs as early as possible to ensure the child receives appropriate services and to prevent further delay. Key characteristics to look for in young struggling learners will be covered. So it is very important for intervention special needed pupils, so that they can receive the special help they need in order to live the best lives possible.
A delay could be a sign of developmental problem. If that is the case, then the earlier it is recognized the more teachers and parents can do to help a child. Teachers can also help with early detection and help by noting to parents any signs they see while a child is in kindergarten. Training of what to look for and how best to approach for special needed pupils, teachers offer advice to parents is also recommended. While not all delays signify a true concern, early detection of developmental disabilities is a key to truly helping children reach their fullest potential. Suggestion on small class teaching
Based on universal standards, to consider a facility ideal and conducive for child tending, the kindergarten should try to follows the right student teacher ratio, the ideal number of children within a group should not exceed 14. And also younger the children are in a group, the lesser number of children should be included in it. It is better to have several subgroups or sections with a small number of children rather than a large group even with several teachers.
So I suggest government should set up different teacher to pupil ratio in different level of class. For four to five years old, pupil to teacher ratio is 1:8 (these ratios can vary depending on enrollment of special needs students), these are the current ratios of staff to children from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. And also the professional development of teachers is therefore vital to the successful implementation of small class teaching.
In sum, the relationship between class size and cost also deserves consideration. Just as smaller classes benefit young children, smaller class also cost more. Therefore policy and parents face a tradeoff. They must weigh the value of the gains to children from reducing class size against the cost. Kindergarten research strongly indicates that smaller class sizes are associated with greater educational effectiveness and other benefits. Every pupil has a right to high-quality education as well as an opportunity to receive guidance and support for learning. Children should feel caring, concern and a good atmosphere in kindergarten.
Tennessee State Department of Education (1985-1990). Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) project: Tennessee State University IED (2007). International Symposium on Class Size: Research, Policy and Practice http://www.ied.edu.hk/jol/jol15/data15/index_c_6.html
Education Bureau 2012. Overview of Kindergarten Education in Hong Kong. http://www.edb.gov.hk/tc/edu-system/preprimary-kindergarten/overview/index.html Education Bureau 2012. Comprehensive Child Development Service http://www.edb.gov.hk/en/edu-system/preprimary-kindergarten/comprehensive-child-development-service/index.html