The new phase of the SDA framework has been implemented since the 2008/09 school year. It aims to promote continuous improvement by giving impetus to the embedding of SSE in schools’ daily work and by placing learning and teaching and student’s whole-person development at the centre of school development planning. To meet this aim, the procedures of ESR have been revised and emphasis is placed on the adoption of a school-specific and focused mode. The complementary role of ESR to SSE has been better defined, in that it has a sharp focus on the development priorities and improvement strategies that schools formulate through SSE. According to the findings of ESR this school year, overall school performance is good.
Schools, generally, demonstrate a good grasp of the key concepts underpinning SSE. They give due consideration to students’ and schools’ development needs when setting priorities. In the implementation process, schools can use resources flexibly, place due emphasis on teachers’ professional development and provide teachers with support. Most schools make use of evidence and data to evaluate the effectiveness of key initiatives and follow up on recommendations in the previous QAI or ESR report. In those schools that perform well, a self-evaluation culture has been developed and teachers are keen to reflect on their teaching effectiveness and share their experience with peers. This not only facilitates school improvement, but also enhances team spirit. In these well-performing schools, importance is attached to consensus building and teachers’ understanding of the major concerns. Planning is meticulous and coordination of work is systematic. As a result of this good effort, the key initiatives are smoothly implemented.
Schools, in general, are actively engaged in school-based curriculum development and good progress has been made. In the development process, different pedagogical approaches are explored, with a view to improving learning and teaching effectiveness. Various modes of, and different approaches to, school-based curriculum development are adopted. In some schools, a progressive approach to curriculum development is adopted. It usually begins with school-based curriculum development initiated by a small number of subject panels on specific focuses. In others, all subject panels are involved simultaneously. In some others, cross-curricular collaboration is promoted among different subject panels at specific year levels or across all year levels. Apart from implementing the four key curriculum reform tasks,
schools have launched a range of school-based curriculum initiatives in different KLA and in General Studies. Coupled with diversified life-wide learning activities, these initiatives provide students with rich learning experiences that help broaden their horizons. They also help enhance students’ generic skills and develop their positive values and attitudes.
Curriculum development is an ongoing process and sustainable curriculum development requires timely review and reflection. To be effective, curriculum review needs to be undertaken with reference to the curriculum goals set and it needs to focus on student performance. The review findings are to be used to support ongoing improvement and to help students learn more effectively. Further, schools need to make more effort to improve the use of teaching strategies, in the process of curriculum implementation, in order to enhance students’ ability to learn how to learn.
Schools have directed much attention to students’ learning differences and indeed, in most schools, one of the development priorities is to cater for such differences. There has, generally, been a switch in emphasis from providing mainly remedial support for academically less able students to catering for students’ whole-person development. With this switch, more opportunities are provided for students of different abilities to realise their potential and to experience success. Different types of remedial support for learning, enhancement programmes and specialised training are provided for students of different abilities, including those academically less able, those with SEN, those of a higher ability level, and those demonstrating strengths in specific areas. Specific support measures are also adopted to cater for the different special needs of the students enrolled, such as those who have recently arrived from mainland China and NCS children. To provide better support for learning, schools have made commendable efforts at exploring different teaching strategies. However, schools need to set appropriate expectations and adapt the curriculum, including the content and the level of difficulty, to cater for students’ different ability levels. There is a need to adopt a wider range of teaching strategies to help build students’ confidence and to develop their learning strategies and abilities. Furthermore, the use of classroom formative assessment needs strengthening. To facilitate and enhance learning, teachers need to learn more about students’ learning progress and attainment of the learning targets through questioning, observing students’ performance in classroom activities and providing specific and good quality feedback.
It is both a core task and a challenge for schools to cater for students’ learning and growth needs. In the 2009/10 school year, small class teaching will be implemented in primary schools and the New Senior Secondary curriculum will be launched in secondary schools. Schools, in general, have done much preparation and they are exploring ways to facilitate the implementation of these policies and related tasks so that student learning can be further improved.
In the development process, schools are constantly faced with different challenges arising from internal or external factors. In this regard, schools need to further enhance SSE and make use of the SSE cycle of P-I-E to improve their daily work and classroom learning and teaching. By so doing, schools can understand more about their strengths and areas that need improvement and, with this understanding, they can set appropriate directions and clear targets for sustainable development.