08 Dec, 2023
15 : 06
Since Madam Tsang Chor-hang founded the first Yew Chung School in Hong Kong SAR in 1932, the Yew Chung Yew Wah Education Network (YCYW) has always believed that scientific and high-quality early childhood education will have a profound impact on children.
Over the past three decades, building on the success of Yew Chung schools, YCYW has established Yew Wah International Education Kindergartens, Yew Wah Infant and Toddler Education Centres, and Yew Wah Infant and Toddler Discovery Centres in many cities in the Chinese mainland. YCYW also established the Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education (YCCECE) in Hong Kong SAR. To date, it remains the first and only Asian institution of higher education focusing on early childhood education.
In conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai), YCYW, YCIS Shanghai, and YCCECE jointly hosted two seminars on "Exploring the Nature and Practice of High-Quality Early Childhood Education" on 21-22 November in Shanghai. The events attracted the enthusiastic participation of many early childhood educators and parents in Shanghai.
In her remarks, Dr Betty Chan Po-king, YCYW CEO & School Supervisor, and Chairperson of the YCCECE Board of Governors, introduced the purpose of the seminars.
"We all want to know what high-quality Early Childhood Education looks like, how it impacts children’s development, how can we assess it, and how do we continue to raise the bar,” she said. “As the CEO of our YCYW Schools, quality assurance and self-improvement are always on my mind. Similarly, for our country, the Chinese Ministry of Education also issued the Guidelines for Assessing the Quality of Kindergarten Care and Education in the past year. So today's topic is both a timely and timeless one."
The first seminar kicked off on 21 November at YCIS Shanghai Lingang. Early childhood education experts from the University of Oxford and YCCECE discussed the impact of preschool quality on the development of children in early childhood education, and the YCYW Early Childhood Education Quality Supervision and Assessment System. Ms Ji Xiaohong, Director of the Social Development Division of Lingang Special Area Administration also attended the meeting.
In her welcoming speech, Dr Lydia Chan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of YCYW and Chairperson of the YCCECE Council, provided an overview of YCYW's development in Shanghai with a particular focus on the Lingang Special Area over the past three decades. Dr Chan expressed gratitude for the consistent and robust support extended by the local government.
Ms Ji expressed her appreciation for YCYW's professionalism in the early childhood education sector. Highlighting YCYW's extensive collaboration with the Lingang Special Area, she remarked,
"The establishment of YWIES Shanghai Lingang in 2015, the recent opening of YCIS Shanghai Lingang, the upcoming opening of Yew Wah International Education Kindergarten and the construction of an international school for expatriate children next year signify Yew Chung and Yew Wah’s dual presence in providing a through-train education service in the Area."
Professor Kathy Sylva, Professor of Education Emerita and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, and a Member of the YCCECE Board of Governors, gave a presentation on "Capturing Quality in Early Childhood through Environment Rating Scales". Professor Sylva is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the British Psychological Society. She has extensive professional research experience in the field of early childhood education, with a particular focus on the effects of early education and teaching quality on children's development.
In her presentation, Professor Sylva presented a longitudinal study undertaken by her research team, involving a sample of 3,000 children over a span of more than a decade. Through the utilisaton of two early childhood environment quality observation rating scales, namely ECERS-R Global and ECERS-E Pedagogical, the study focused on assessing the impact of preschool quality in early childhood education on children's cognitive and social behavioural outcomes. The findings indicate that the quality of the educational process influences children's academic and social outcomes.
Ms Zhang Dandan and Ms Pan Ruifeng, YCCECE Lecturers and Senior Researchers at the YCCECE Chor Hang Educational Research Institute, provided insights into the background, process, and practical application of the YCYW Early Childhood Education Quality Supervision and Assessment System. They also discussed the application of the System in evaluating the 12 Values of Yew Chung Approach to Early Childhood Education.
In the roundtable discussion, Mr Clayton Mullins, Western Co-Principal of YWIES Shanghai Lingang, along with three guest speakers discussed ways for parents to establish a supportive home-learning environment and for schools to cultivate positive home-school co-operation, etc. The audience appreciated the valuable insights gained from the guests' sharing of both their parenting experiences and professional perspectives.
"One of the most important things in the home-learning environment is that you devote time to your children," said Professor Sylva. "I'm a parent myself. This is the most difficult thing. Our jobs are busy. Life is demanding. Parents are very quick to buy them iPads and iPhones and pay for their expensive piano lessons to grade 8, their swimming lessons, but what the young child really wants is your time."
On 22 November, the second seminar took place at YCIS Shanghai Puxi Ronghua Campus in Changning District. The event drew a crowd of over 200 ECE educators, researchers, and parents, with more than 30 key kindergarten teachers from the Changning District, attended this seminar. Ms Zong Hong, Head of the Nursery and Kindergarten Section of the Changning District Education Bureau, and Mr Chen Dejiang from the Changning District Institute of Education were among the notable attendees at the event.
In the opening remarks, Dr Betty Chan Po-king recalled the establishment of YCIS Shanghai in the Changning District in 1993, marking the first YCIS school established on the Chinese mainland.
"In many ways, Changning is the home-base of our YCYW schools, and I must take this opportunity to thank the Changning Education Bureau for their strong and continued support. We are honoured to serve here, and look forward to the next 30 years!" said Dr Chan.
Ms Zong highlighted the growing collaboration between YCYW and the Changning District over the past three decades. She outlined the partnership between YCIS Shanghai and the Changning District Institute of Education, where a six-week training programme was organised for key teachers from the District to enhance their education and teaching skills.
Mr Ryan Peet (2nd from the right), Western Co-Principal YCIS Shanghai Puxi, and Ms Jane Sun (1st from the right),Chinese Co-Principal YCIS Shanghai Puxi, attended the signing ceremony for the training programme partnership
In addition to Professor Sylva's presentation on the longitudinal study, Professor Shi Ping, Director of the YCCECE Chor Hang Educational Research Institute and Head of the YCCECE Mainland Development Office, along with Ms Tao Huimin, YCCECE Lecturer and Senior Researcher at the YCCECE Chor Hang Educational Research Institute, shared their insights on Guidelines for Assessing the Quality of Kindergarten Care and Education (the Guidelines).
Professor Shi offered a comprehensive analysis of early childhood education quality as emphasised in the Guidelines which included the enhancement of quality across all kindergartens through an "all-encompassing" approach, the employment of a "child-centred" assessment method, the specification of assessment content, the establishment of an effective assessment system, and a focus on the educational process, quality, and the professional development of teachers. Additionally, Professor Shi explored the potential challenges that may emerge during the implementation phase.
Ms Tao shared insights into YCYW's experience in navigating practical pathways to enhance preschool quality in early childhood education, including ways to conduct process assessment and self-assessment.
During the roundtable discussion, Ms Bernadette Silcock, ECE Vice Principal at YCIS Shanghai Puxi; and Ms Daisy Xu, YCIS Puxi ECE Chinese Coordinator, joined the guest speakers in discussing the key factors contributing to high-quality early childhood education and offered suggestions to ECE teachers on their self-assessment and evaluation.
Professor Sylva underscored that the most important component of high quality early education lies in the teacher, emphasising the need for professional training opportunities and fair treatment for ECE teachers. The group then move to explore how parental involvement can help enhance the quality of early childhood education with discussions over the establishment of a professional partnership between parents and schools to foster the growth and education of young children.
Addressing recommendations for ECE teachers, Professor Sylva stated the importance of self-assessment as a catalyst for professional development. She advised teachers to take ownership of the process, highlighting that it is for their benefit rather than for the school principals. According to her, job satisfaction increases when teachers actively contribute to improving the overall quality of education.