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Tai Po School Aims to be Asian Centre-of-Excellence

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In the overcrowded metropolis that is Hong Kong, one visionary school is aiming to become Asia’s inaugural Forest School Development Centre.

ICHK Hong Lok Yuen is leading a pioneering programme, which will culminate in the prestigious accreditation.

The Tai Po school is set to achieve its vision of being a leader in outdoor learning and Forest School education by the summer.

As well as the Development Centre status, it is on track to be the only school in Hong Kong to achieve the acclaimed Learning Outside the Classroom Gold Award.

Over the past 18 months, a major programme has been underway to embed the Forest School philosophy into the school curriculum.

Forest School Leader Ho Mei Chau delivers a structured programme of lessons, which enable students to learn and thrive in the outdoors.

Ho Mei is among the first of Hong Kong’s qualified Level 3 Forest School Practitioners, and passionately believes in the benefits of outdoor learning. His role at the school marks an amazing personal journey, as he was a student himself when the school first opened 35 years ago, and now has a child of his own in pre-nursery.

Ho Mei said: “Research shows that if children have access to a rich outdoor environment, they will have greater self-esteem, be more confident and develop better concentration, resilience and independence. In Hong Kong this is especially important as outdoor space is so limited and many children don’t get enough opportunities to be outside.

“At Forest School, students are engaged in activities, which as well as developing a deep appreciation for nature, encourage them to become independent, solve problems, use their imagination, take appropriate risks within boundaries and initiate learning for themselves.”

The school’s stunning location in the New Territories provides students with unrivalled opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. As well as regular outings to unique locations like Tai Po Kau and Bride’s Pool, an outdoor forest classroom has been created in the school grounds.

As part of its drive to raise the profile of outdoor education in Hong Kong, ICHK Hong Lok Yuen will organise the territory’s first Forest School practitioners training course in March.

Principal Ruth Woodward said: “Our vision is to be a leader in outdoor education, and we are committed towards achieving this goal by becoming Asia’s first Forest School Development Centre.

“This is a huge step for us, and is especially meaningful as we are celebrate our 35th anniversary. But more than that it represents a real milestone for outdoor education in Hong Kong.”

 

Captions:

  1. Ho Mei Chau during his Forest School training in the UK.

2-3 .ICHK Hong Lok Yuen students learning in the school grounds.

  1. ICHK Hong Lok Yuen students experiencing Forest School learning.