The concept of community sits at the heart of the philosophy of ESF Wu Kai Sha International Kindergarten. The school believes that working in partnership with families is key to providing a thriving environment where children can achieve and succeed.
“We believe that our school is more than a place where children receive an education,” explains Principal Christopher Coyle. “It’s a community in which children, families and others feel connected, share values and feel a sense of belonging.”
The school builds strong relationships between teachers, children and parents and uses these to support the children’s learning and experiences.
“We believe that a strong community working together will create the best opportunities for children as is seen in our community events,” says Christopher. “Parents and staff support a very strong programme of community events taking place over the year. For example, the Parent Staff Association organises a Mid-Autumn festival in Ma On Shan Park, a large school fair and the Christmas and Chinese New Year celebrations every year.”
The annual Family Fun Fair is a day to enjoy with children singing, dancing and playing musical instruments and being entertained by a magic show, drumming session, bicycle race, as well as face painting and other activities.
Situated in Ma On Shan, the school was opened in 2009 at Lake Silver with 210 students. Demand quickly rose and today the school accommodates 345 children with 10 full-time teachers and 15 educational assistants with seven morning and afternoon classes.
The school follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme curriculum and its learning environment has been designed using concepts from the innovative Reggio Emilia approach to education, with natural materials emphasising the beauty of the world. Children make use of logs, stones, cones, shells and various other open-ended materials in their learning experiences.
Having undergone refurbishment twice, the school added a garden and a new kitchen designed to be accessible to three to five year olds. Experiences in growing plants and cooking are fundamental to children understanding the world, as they enable children to develop a sense of interconnectedness with the environment, health and well-being.
The school also values inclusion and diversity and caters to children with a range of educational learning needs. “Students with additional learning needs can now get professional support in our dedicated therapy centre,” explains Christopher. “It has a range of specialised equipment to support children with sensory and language needs.”
A comprehensive range of after-school activities is available including language enrichment, playgroup sessions, drama, and sport. The school offers practical workshops to parents to help them better understand the school’s educational philosophy and learn more about child development. “Our parent workshops are very practical in nature, giving adults the opportunity to work with teachers and practice their own skills in raising young children,” Christopher says.
Young children can find it difficult to articulate their learning, says Christopher. To assist with communication and assessment and to support professional research, teaching staff have been developing pedagogical documentation, involving the reflective analysis of children’s work, which makes learning visible for the children, teachers and parents.
Looking towards the future, the school wants to further enhance their inquiry-based teaching. “Over the next five years, we want to ensure that the children have as many opportunities as possible,” Christopher says. “We want to maintain a high quality educational experience and continue to develop the school as centre of excellence in the region.”