My daughter attends an international primary school that seems to focus heavily on academic subjects. She is not very academic but has a flair for art and drama. Art is taught only once a week and drama very rarely unless there is a special performance for parents, which the teachers organise, rather than the students. Should I move her to a different school? Teacher Julie McGuire replies: Educational approaches and pedagogy tend to be cyclical. In recent years there has been a stronger focus on academic subjects in many schools. Although some teachers and managers understand the importance of the arts in a well-rounded education, pressures on the curriculum have left little time for these subjects. It is a great shame if your daughter is not being given the opportunities to fully develop her talents. School drama performances are often prescriptive rather than creative, which may mean she is getting very little in the way of 'real' drama. If she is constantly struggling with academic subjects her self-esteem may suffer. It may be worthwhile looking at other schools if only to consider your options. If you decide to visit some schools ask if they have specialist teachers for arts subjects as this may indicate that they hold an important place in the curriculum. Also find out about the time spent per week on the arts. Check if there is space available for drama activities as this is often a problem for Hong Kong schools. Facilities such as the school hall tend to be tightly timetabled and although classrooms can be used it takes time to clear tables and chairs. You have not mentioned the type of curriculum your daughter's school is following. Many international schools in Hong Kong have recently opted to follow the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate Organisation. This would be good news for your daughter as the arts are seen as an integral part of the curriculum in the PYP. Visual arts, drama and music are subjects in their own right, not added extras but seen as vital for children. Teachers are trained to value and encourage imagination, creativity and original thinking which are the keys to inquiry-based learning, which is at the heart of the programme. These in turn promote initiative, life skills and a lifelong love of learning. Such a school should have a positive influence on your daughter's self-esteem. If you make the decision for your daughter to remain at her present school you could get involved in the PTA and governing body in order to bring up the issue of the arts. You can also help your daughter pursue her strengths and interests out of school. Enrol her in extra-curricular activities and make sure your home is a haven for the arts: lots of available art materials, a dressing up box of clothes, hats and unusual objects so she can role play either with friends or on her own. Show that you value her talents by displaying her artwork around the home. Invite friends and relatives to be an audience for her plays.