What is special about Gaia School?
We are a private school which promotes alternative education here in Hong Kong. Our core values to education are Nature- affective, people-oriented and responsible and autonomous Learning. We are founded by a group of teachers who believe in Nature Affective education. Teachers are passionate and committed whom have hands-on experiences and the ability to reflect.
What is the qualification of Gaia School’s teachers?
In terms of educational background, all of our full-time teachers hold at least a high diploma certificate while many others have degrees from tertiary institutions or above. Part-time teachers should have demonstrated professionalism and capability in teaching the concerned subjects.
In terms of experiences, majority of the teachers do not only have teaching experiences from main-stream schools, but also have solid practical experience of nature affective education.
In addition, teachers from Gaia School also share similar characteristics as loving, happy and kind individuals who love to share their lives and be contented always.
Experienced teachers with teacher training background understand the values of people-oriented education while new teachers are more open to new ideas. Thus, educational background is not the only criteria we would observe when selecting new teachers. Passionate teachers who share similar vision with the team are also welcomed to join our family.
On-the-job training is provided for all new teachers.
What is the teacher-student ratio?
Our ideal teacher-student ratio is 1:10. For example, if the number of admitted students in the first year is 40, we will have at least 4 full-time teachers. We are keen to have sufficient manpower to ensure whole person development for every student we have.
What is the teaching curriculum of Gaia School?
The teaching curriculum divides into two parts: academic education and life education.
Academic education includes academic subjects which are similar to those in main-stream schools. Apart from core subjects, we also have elective subjects, which range from drama, creative arts, guitar, snake-board, to many more others one may think of. Here in Gaia school, we emphasize more on the learning process than the results (i.e. scores). In addition, we spend much effort in designing our classes to ensure that they are interesting and challenging to the kids.
We employ play in classes to simulate students’ senses to learn different subjects. We first introduce affection (right brain) to learning, with reasoning (left brain) the next. This provides an enabling environment for the children to learn.
Life education does not have preset curriculum content. We hope our students to learn the true meaning of life through different ways, for example through the meeting, the court, the mentor system, teaching by example, discussion, play and various competitions, etc.
Will Gaia School implement specialized teaching?
We identify with the principle of specialized teaching. However, we also value individual teachers’ interest on different subjects.
Teachers teaching Chinese, English and Mathematics are not only proficient in the subjects, they also have strong interest in them. Apart from the subjects they specialized, we also encourage teachers to teach elective subjects according to their own interests and abilities.
Our teachers are interest-oriented. With knowledge and abilities, we try our best to influence our children by examples.
Do your graduates adapt well to the secondary schools? Is there any problem of bridging with the mainstream curriculum? Can they adapt well in society?
This is also a point we care much about.
Similar to any other private school students, Gaia School students will participate in the Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) System held by Education Bureau. This ensures all students to have a place in secondary schools.
However, whether students could be admitted to his/her ideal school is the matter that parents concern most. What is an ideal school? EMI (English as the medium of instruction) school? Traditional prestigious school? In our belief, an ideal secondary school should care about the sustainable development between nature and society. It should be able to provide a strong and motivational learning environment for the children and emphasize on students’ whole-person development. Last of not least, it should include life education in its curriculum. This kind of school will nurture a new generation of youth who love people and animals, with self-respect and enjoy life-long learning. Currently, we are connecting with secondary schools which share these beliefs and are inviting them to become our partnering schools. In addition, Gaia School also plans to start our own secondary school in the long run.
Irrespective to the schools our students are admitted to, the more important thing to look into is the ability they acquire through the years in Gaia School. We believe that, in the first place, a Gaia graduate should have a healthy and strong body and mind. Secondly, they should have motivation and passion to learn. Third, they should possess the basic ability to learn on their own, which include reading ability, writing skills and the ability to do mathematics, etc. We are confident that our graduates would fit the above qualities as there are good examples set in schools by our teachers and staff.
Is there any form of assessment in Gaia school?
Yes. We have continuous assessment and year-end assessment. They are not the only way to evaluate students’ ability though.
What will you do if students play all day and do not get into classrooms?
We believe that every child enjoy learning. Their desire to learn is way beyond adults’ imagination. Children are intrigued by all the things in their surroundings, just that they may not be interested in the academic subjects as adults preferred. Sometimes, children do not enjoy learning a particular thing simply because it is not a right time for them to do so and it does not mean that they cannot be a good learner. We would not force our students to learn advanced and complicated theories; instead we choose to teach them basic skills such as reading, in order to preserve their motivation to learn. Once children find interest in learning a specific knowledge, they would learn with their best effort. As a result, Gaia School aims to design for a good learning environment which preserves students’ desire to learn and nurtures their autonomous learning ability. If students are not interested in class, we would not leave them alone. We would wait and grasp the moment to come when they show their enthusiasm to learn. We place children’s motivation to learn on top priority in education.
How do teachers manage students? Will students become too rough because of too much freedom?
It is true that some teachers share similar experiences that students get too rough when they are given much freedom. However, this is exactly the results of using authority in education. Let us explain why. When students are used to learn under the pressure of parents and teachers instead of out of his/ her own wish, they do not understand why they should learn and many would think that schools are boring. In Gaia School, we decide to abandon the authority as we believe that children are born curious and they have the natural desire to learn. With a natural environment, children should be able to find things that interest them. In addition, freedom is not equal to indulgence, and it does not necessarily leads to rougher kids. In Gaia, freedom comes with responsibilities and boundaries while boundaries are set by students and teachers together, not teachers alone. When students exercise their freedom unduly, conflicts would eventually set in. And through resolving conflicts, students would grow a better understanding on the preset boundaries. This is a life demonstration of democratic literacy.
In fact, Gaia School has our own conventions that adults and children are required to obey. The conventions are open to discussion and revision by teachers and students.
Who can study in Gaia School?
We are open to all students and parents who are “ready”. We believe there are no children who cannot be taught well. With a belief that “No Child Left Behind” and with favorable conditions, Gaia School would not exclude students according to their ability and characteristics. Students who like our school and with parents whom identify with and understand our beliefs are suitable candidates.
What role do parents perform? Can parents volunteer at school?
Parents pay a key role in children’s development as children spend a lot of time with them. Children would be confused and frustrated if they live a different way at home from at school. In addition, most parents grew and learnt in main-stream schools and they tend to interpret “Responsible and Autonomous Learning” with their past experiences which might not be applicable now. Thus, we put much emphasis on parents’ role in children’s upbringing. Parents are welcomed to join the PTA and to be school volunteers and assistant tutors, etc., according to their abilities and interests. In this way, parents could understand the daily operation of our school better. We also invite professionals from different fields to organize various parent-children workshops and to share tips on children upbringing.
Does Gaia School provide any financial assistance to families with economic difficulties?
Yes. Through fundraising, we have set up a special fund for needy families to apply for tuition subsidies.
Where is Gaia School? How is the environment? Are there school buses?
We are at Tseng Tau Sheung Tsuen, San Hui, Tuen Mun. It is located on a small hill. The campus is full of trees, with a diverse ecosystem (over 200 plant species). The campus is surrounded by mountains and streams, with Tai Lam Country Park at the back and Castle Peak in the front. Nevertheless, the campus is just a 10-minute walk from Tuen Mun city center.
For school bus, we have once arranged a few school bus routes when the school was founded. However, the school bus service has been stopped because of high cost. We do not provide school bus service now.
Will Gaia School accept donations?
Yes. We organize fundraising activities every year and welcome donations from all walks of life at any time. The funds received would be used to subsidize tuition fees for needy families, the construction and development of the school, etc.
Apart from English, will the school teach other languages?
Yes. Putonghua is compulsory for primary 3 students. If students want to learn other languages, we will try to arrange for them as in elective courses.
Is there religious background with the school?
No, but we hold a diverse, open and inclusive attitude towards all religions.
Can SEN students study in Gaia school?
Believing in “No Child Left Behind”, we would not exclude SEN students in principle. However, we would look into the application and decide on the final decision with thoughtful understanding of our man power, facilities and class conditions. Whether parents identify with our educational belief is a more important concern to us.
How does Gaia School accommodate students with ‘lesser’ abilities?
We believe every student is unique and possesses different learning abilities and needs. Every child deserves individual care to learning. Learner diversity should not be categorized as good or bad and children should not be labelled as ‘less’ able. We would look into the difference in ability of various students and help students strive through their obstacles and shine on their bright sides.
Is there any course outline for each class?
Yes, there are course outlines for core subjects. However, we also leave room for flexible adjustments.
Are there insurance covered for the teachers and students?
Do you arrange meals for students?
We have chefs and volunteers to cook for lunch and we provide healthy vegetarian meals. Students can order the meals in advance or bring their own lunchboxes.