• Recently renovated campus
• Located next to Sha Tin College
• Easily accessible by public transport
Sha Tin Junior (STJ) has been teaching students at its site in the New Territories since 1988, and this recently renovated primary school is well-maintained. Compared to some of Hong Kong’s newer schools, which can dazzle with their chrome and glass, STJ has a more lived-in, traditional feel about it.
Read our review of Sha Tin Junior here.
Located at the end of a quiet tree-lined street, the school is easily accessible from the Sha Tin MTR station. This school is next door to the secondary school, Sha Tin College (STC), and the two schools share various facilities including the swimming pool. Although the two schools feel like one all-through campus, they are run independently with their own principals, and have separate secure entrances for the students.
• Refurbished gym and performing arts hall
• Shared swimming pool with Sha Tin College
• Impressive rooftop play area with creative play equipment
A small entrance opens out into a warm and friendly campus at Sha Tin Junior, where a collection of low-rise buildings surround a central sports court and play area. There are some charming features around the school, including a small fish pond and hydroponics garden. And the school’s Learning for Life motto is proudly displayed on the main school building.
STJ is one of ESF’s newer schools; Kowloon Junior, for example, is around 100 years old. This is still a 30-year-old school, though, so it’s unsurprising that it feels old in places. Originally opened for 540 students, the school has grown in recent years and there are signs of ESF’s ongoing investment to keep it modern, fresh and large enough for its current student body of 900. In early 2000 it opened a new block complete with library and classrooms, and most recently it has refurbished a gym and performing arts hall used for year-group assemblies, dance classes and circle time.
Other facilities including a language centre where children have library sessions and information literacy classes, a canteen serving hot lunches, and music rooms. STJ shares a large sports hall, swimming pool and rooftop playground with Sha Tin College, although the two schools are not physically connected to each other… yet.
STJ says: “For our structured swimming programme, we focus on Years 2, 4 and 6. This means that we can offer those three year groups a substantial lesson, rather than trying to get all 900 children in here during the limited time we have available.”
We visited a ground-floor Year 1 class where students were having a Mandarin lesson; the rooms were all brightly decorated, colourful, filled with displays of student work, and learning walls. There’s plenty of visual stimulation here, and a wide variety of books, role play stations and learning resources. We saw plenty of natural light streaming in and noted that most classes have access to outdoor play areas.
Children move up through the main building as they progress through the school which was purpose-built for three-form entry. Today, the school is five-form entry so space is limited; the classrooms are not enormous and the class sizes are fairly large at 30 children – but the school has a way of tackling this problem.
STJ says: “We need enough space for the children to carry out their inquiry-based learning effectively. So, we try and split the class; so one half will be having a lesson in the classroom while the other half may be out riding bikes and trikes, doing a wellbeing session, or having a phonics lesson in another learning space.”
From Year 4 upwards, the classrooms have a different, more mature set-up. These recently refurbished rooms have plenty of natural light flooding in, are less cluttered, and are very flexible learning spaces. Year 6 was refurbished in 2017; there is space here for research and independent study and, very importantly, the space required for the Year 6 IB exhibition.
STJ says: “We go from a linear model to a pod model. We have five classrooms around a central pod. Teachers open the doors here and the children move in and out of the classrooms; you’ll always see at least 30 children in this central area.
“We run an enrichment programme on Fridays where we pull out some of our able musicians and sports players; most of the upper school run their i-time on Friday morning so they have independent inquiry learning. It’s such a lovely vibrant atmosphere here then; the children are doing their own research, asking questions and so on. It’s what education should be.”
A highlight at the school is the rooftop playground, where we saw children during a morning break. As well as boasting some fantastic views of the surrounding greenery, there are bikes and trikes, and plenty of space to run, climb, cycle and play.
There’s also a relaxation garden on the roof where we saw a group of girls playing quietly. Breaks are divided between Years 1-3 and 4-6, and students can choose which playground to play in, which prevents both areas from getting overcrowded.
We were impressed by the Imagination Playground equipment which is used to “promote play in the school”. We heard how children have made everything from slides to conveyor belts using these innovative blue building blocks, which provide children with an interesting alternative to fixed play equipment. The cubes, bricks, cogs, curves, and cylinders have holes and shapes that fit together. It’s also used by teachers to support learning activities such as building 3D shapes, mazes and towns.
STJ says: “The roof was converted five years ago and all the equipment came from ideas put forward by the Student Council.”
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