An education for everyone
ESF long-serving staff: Jane Foxcroft
[Sponsored article] Strong conviction regarding the importance of inclusiveness, excellence and community service has seen West Island School (WIS) establish itself as one of the trend-setters in the Hong Kong’s education landscape.
“If a child walks through the door and we accept him or her, we are going to provide a suitable environment for that student no matter what,” says Jane Foxcroft, former WIS principal. She joined the school in 1991 as part of the founding team after a six year stint as an English teacher at Island School.
“It’s just a matter of looking at what resources you can use in a creative way, and the staff has always been willing to walk the extra mile to make it happen,” says Jane.
The school embraces diversity in every sense – be it in regards to nationality or ability. It was one of the schools to launch learning centres for students with special learning needs such as autism and downs syndrome, and integrate them into the mainstream education system.
“ESF has really led the trend in terms of inclusive education,” explains Jane. “While society sometimes tends to avoid people with disabilities because of misunderstandings, we embraced them. We helped them access the mainstream system as much as possible, and as a result our students are not afraid of people who are different from themselves.”
Jane and her team also introduced vocational programmes in various fields; such as tourism, sports business and performing arts alongside the launching the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, so that students with different learning dispositions could receive the right support and thrive.
She also helped to develop the school environment to make sure it fostered a creative and vibrant atmosphere. The spacious layout provides plenty of open space for students to meet play and perform. Additionally, the school has top-notch facilities including a gymnasium, auditorium and dance studio.
Service learning has always been a core aspect of both WIS and ESF education. Students are encouraged to participate in community service both at home and abroad, and WIS invites illustrious leaders such as former chief secretary Anson Chan as guest speakers in order to engage students in local affairs. “We always believe that it is important for students to appreciate the enormity of opportunities beyond the classroom,” says Jane. ”That’s why we always make sure students have plenty of time for extra-curricular activities and community service.”
“We don’t want students to be doing something just because they’re supposed to. We encourage them to pursue something they are genuinely interested in, and form a deep, meaningful connection with whatever it is they’re doing.”