Catering for Learner Diversity

In document List of Abbreviations (Page 53-57)

Chapter 3 Thematic highlight:

3.5 Catering for Learner Diversity

3.5.1 Inspection mode and purpose

During the 2004/05 school year, focus inspections on Catering for Learner Diversity (LD) were conducted in 23 primary schools and 21 secondary schools, with a total of 419 lessons observed (primary: 223; secondary: 196). The aim is to understand and analyse the situation of how schools address the issues related to learner diversity.

3.5.2 Major findings

As a whole, schools continued to perform well in Student Support with a majority of the schools displaying pleasing performance. There was significant improvement in the domain of Management and Organisation with over half of the schools achieving good performance.

Schools were relatively weak in Learning and Teaching. The quality of classroom teaching in over half of the lessons observed was merely acceptable with ample room for improvement in classroom practices in addressing LD. About a quarter of the schools were found devising concrete evaluation plans with appropriate success criteria. Though some progress was made in the self-evaluation of catering for LD, the overall performance was far from satisfactory.

3.5.3 Management and Organisation

Almost all schools formulated policies to cater for LD and established a mechanism for implementation. A majority of the schools adopted LD as a major concern, with a noticeable increase in the number of schools addressing the issue as a prime focus in the subject departmental annual plans when compared with the previous year.

Schools’ internal assessment and teachers’ observation remained the major reference for identifying students’ diverse abilities. Most of the primary schools made good use of information from parents and professional assessment reports to enhance teachers’

comprehensive understanding of students’ needs. Streaming by ability and dual-class teacher system were more commonly adopted as a means to cater for LD in secondary schools.

However, school support measures were more inclined to attending the needs of the less able students. Most schools adopted remedial teaching and conducted pre-lesson and post-lesson remediation programmes. A majority of the secondary schools arranged remedial programmes during holidays. The remedial measures adopted in schools were in general appropriate. To cater for the needs of the more able students, a majority of the schools organised enhancement programmes. Most schools admitted a small number of students with special educational needs and were able to arrange appropriate measures according to relevant guidelines to cater to their needs.

3.5.4 Learning and Teaching

Schools in general heightened the awareness to cater for LD in curriculum planning when compared with the previous year. There were more schools adopting life-wide learning and enrichment programmes, which were widely adopted strategies to enrich students’ learning experiences. Though it was not a common practice to adopt curriculum integration to address LD, there were more schools attempting selection and re-organisation of the central curriculum to meet students’ diverse needs and abilities, with a few schools adopting flexible learning schedule. About half of the schools made good use of information technology to enhance students’ interactive and independent learning through commonly adopted means such as providing online reading and self-access learning materials.

A majority of the schools made attempts at both the school and subject levels in exploring different teaching strategies to cater for LD, such as organising project learning / lesson study and diversified learning activities to enhance students’ learning interest. About half of the schools adopted split-class teaching or co-teaching to better cater for individual needs as well as to enhance teacher collaboration and sharing. However, other plausible strategies such as breaking down the teaching content into smaller parts and cooperative learning were adopted only in a small number of the schools, showing a decrease when compared with the previous year.

More than half of the lessons observed were well-prepared and organised with teachers displaying good professional knowledge and attitude. A variety of teaching methods were used to enhance class interaction. In general the classroom practices in catering for LD was relatively weak. Teachers were inclined to attending the needs of the average students in their teaching and were not able to use effective questioning techniques to stretch students’

potential. There were not many occasions in which teachers deliver timely care or adjust teaching pace in response to students’ different needs and reactions, thus inadequate attention was given to catering both the academically more and less able students. In individual remedial lessons observed in the primary schools, the teaching content was not adjusted to suit students’ ability, thus unable to enhance students’ learning interest. On the other hand, the data analysis on lesson observation reveals that teaching strategies, organisation of learning activities, opportunities for student participation and questioning techniques adopted are closely related to the effectiveness of catering for LD in classroom teaching.

This indicates that with students’ increased participation in learning through adopting a student-centred approach in lesson preparation and while conducting activities, as well as flexibly modifying the teaching content and strategies, the teachers could invariably enhance catering for LD and the overall learning and teaching effectiveness.

As observed in the lessons, the overall performance of student learning was acceptable.

Students were generally well behaved and attentive in class. They were friendly with each other and could work collaboratively in group activities. Some were willing to respond to teachers’ questions and were able to make use of teachers’ feedback to improve learning, with others relating what they learnt in their daily life experiences. However, students in

general assumed a passive role in learning and were over-reliant on teachers’ instructions.

Their learning strategies and independent learning skills had yet to be developed.

Schools demonstrated some improvement in performance assessment when compared with the previous year. Most schools formulated policies and focus on addressing LD at the subject departmental level. About half of the schools made use of the assessment data to diagnose students’ learning needs, improve teaching plans and modify teaching strategies.

However, about a-third of the schools made good use of the data to improve the design of assignment/ assessment tasks as well as to help students’ improve their learning skills.

Teachers in nearly half of the schools inspected gave appropriate feedback in marking students’ assignments.

3.5.5 Student Support

Schools on the whole provided adequate and diverse support programmes to cater for students’

different abilities. Most schools devised award programmes to recognise students’ good performance in conduct, services, and academic work so as to stimulate their learning motivation.

There were, however, fewer schools providing training to develop students’ learning skills.

Around half of the schools showed concern for cultivating students’ positive learning attitude through organising thematic talks and personal growth lessons to foster students’ learning motivation. Schools in general organised a great variety of interest groups to develop students’

potential and boost their self-confidence. Students were also encouraged to participate in voluntary services in both the school and local community to build up their self-confidence and sense of achievement. Primary schools were more active in fostering home-school co-operation, with a majority of them providing relevant training to parents and enhancing their parenting skills.

3.5.6 Evaluation and Follow-up

In addition to conducting statistical analysis on the progress of students’ academic results, there was a significant increase in the number of schools adopting non-academic data analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of work plans when compared with the previous year. One plausible reason is EMB encouraging schools to make reference to the results of teachers, parents and students’ questionnaire surveys and the provision of the Assessment Programme for Affective and Social Outcomes (APASO) to facilitate review of students’ related behaviour and attitude.

However, less than half of the schools had the evaluation mechanism in place or conducted annual review on the overall effectiveness of catering for LD, with even less than one-fifth of the schools devising appropriate success criteria. This remained an area of concern though some improvement was made when compared with the previous year. Although a majority of the schools followed up the evaluation findings, schools had yet to strengthen the use of data to feedback on curriculum planning and classroom learning & teaching as well as to improve the overall work plan of catering for LD.

3.5.7 Key Issues

Though policies in addressing LD were formulated in a majority of the schools, they were mostly inclined to the planning and implementation of the support measures. For the overall direction of development of LD, sharper focuses should be placed on enhancing learning and teaching effectiveness and students’ independent learning ability, as well as devising appropriate measures to ensure the effectiveness of catering for the needs of both the academically more and less able students.

Despite the attempt to adopt diversified teaching strategies, teachers in general were not well aware of the need to cater for leaner differences. Some were not equipped with the relevant teaching skills to flexibly modify the teaching content and strategies as well as to provide appropriate care to individual students to enhance student learning. Schools should provide more opportunities for professional sharing on catering for LD coupled with more training on questioning techniques and adopting a student-centred approach when planning teaching strategies so as to enhance the teaching effectiveness of catering for LD.

Schools should establish a clear evaluation mechanism and conduct annual review on the overall effectiveness of the various measures in addressing LD. The evaluation data should be better utilised in formulating follow-up actions to improve future work plans and to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness.

3.6 Promoting Curriculum Planning and Development through School

In document List of Abbreviations (Page 53-57)