Pupils are sought by the Lee Siu Yam Memorial School, spokesman Vaughn Hill said, because it is well below capacity. The 20-year-old school with its prominent waterfront site can accommodate 600. Just 350 children are studying there now.Tuition is government-subsidised and free.
Vaughn, a nine-year NET teacher at the LSY, said the school campaigns to attract students with open days, by visiting kindergartens and attending community events.
“Any child between the age of 5 and 12 will get into the school if they have some Chinese ability,” he said. Older children may be turned away if they have zero Chinese, because it would be too difficult to catch up. The school runs two streams from Primary One to Six, English and Chinese, but the English course still has many lessons in Chinese. About 40 per cent of the pupils are in the English stream. Vaughn said the school takes in special needs kids as well.
Lee Siu Yam was the first Education Department-run school to accept non-Chinese-speaking children. That was six years ago. The new curriculum has worked well gaining some renown for the school. Hong Kong-wide the number of ED schools with such English curricula is only about 10.
The fact that the school is below capacity is not a concern, rather it’s beneficial, Vaughn said. “We make good use of all the space we have.” The school has rooms fitted out for computer training, cooking, dancing, special needs, private tutorials and even ping-pong. Twenty-two teachers are on staff, headed by seven-year Principal Lewis Ng.
Under Lewis, the school has been quite progressive. “Lewis is open to suggestions. We have moved away from traditional teaching. In some classes we do away with textbooks and the students are assigned written tasks.”
In sports LSY is competitive in football with several teams. Youngsters practise tae kwan do. Cultural activities include drama and orchestral performances. In January and February LSY students can be seen in the musical, “Do Re Me”, at the volunteer award ceremony on January 16; in a production called “Mr Men” at the Hong Kong Association of Youth Development on January 30; and at the Schools Music Festival on February 22.