Curriculum Planning

In document Chapter 3 Curriculum Planning (Page 55-65)



3.2 Progression

The following modes of curriculum planning show that the ERS curriculum can be implemented with different configurations. As illustrated below, the modules can be arranged in various ways and “Faiths in Action” can be introduced at different stages. It is suggested that teachers should take their students’ prior learning experiences, interests, abilities and orientations into consideration, and flexibly develop their learning and teaching plans. The following is some modes of planning for teachers’ consideration.

(a) Mode 1

This mode, which builds on the previous religious education experiences gained in junior secondary level, focuses on Religious Traditions in S4, as this will help to consolidate students’ learning and facilitate effective progression to later studies. Students will gain confidence in exploring familiar religious themes before proceeding to the study of Ethics.

The study of Ethics and experiential learning activities will start in S5.


y Emphasis is placed on Religious Traditions and Ethics in S4 and S5 which has the effect of widening students’ horizons.

y At the beginning of S5, teachers and students start planning experiential learning activities. Through service learning or observing different religious practices, students reflect on shared human experience based on first-hand exposure.

y In S6, students finish the experiential learning activities and complete their learning portfolios for assessment.

Year Ethics / Religious Traditions Faiths in Action

S4 Elective Part: Religious Traditions



Compulsory Part: Ethics y Normative Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 4 out of 7 units

Experience Evaluation S6 Compulsory Part: Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 3 out of 7 units

Figure 3.1 Suggested Progression: Mode 1


(b) Mode 2

Experiential learning activities are scheduled throughout S4 to S6. Most of the topics in Religious Traditions (about 2/3) are studied in S4 and the rest are completed in S5. Ethics is studied in S5 and S6.


y Experiential learning activities are carried out systematically throughout the three years.

y Experiential learning activities have already been started in S4.

y There is greater flexibility in preparing, experiencing and evaluating experiential learning activities.

Year Ethics / Religious Traditions Faiths in Action

S4 Elective Part: Religious Traditions Buddhism: 2 out of 3 units

Christianity: 1 or 2 out of 3 units



Elective Part: Religious Traditions Buddhism: 1 out of 3 units

Christianity: 1 or 2 out of 3 units Compulsory Part: Ethics y Normative Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 3 out of 7 units

Experience Evaluation

S6 Compulsory Part: Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 4 out of 7 units

Figure 3.2 Suggested Progression: Mode 2


(c) Mode 3

Experiential learning activities are scheduled throughout S4 to S6. Both Ethics and Religious Traditions are studied in S4. Religious Traditions and Ethics are completed in S5 and S6 respectively.


y The study of Ethics and Religious Traditions in S4 and S5 brings in broad perspectives and helps students widen their horizons, which facilitate their planning and preparation for the experiential learning activities.

y Experiential learning activities should be planned systematically throughout the three years.

y Students can start learning Ethics in S4 and engage in experiential learning activities right away.

y There is greater flexibility in preparing, experiencing and evaluating experiential learning activities.

Year Ethics / Religious Traditions Faiths in Action


Elective Part: Religious Traditions Buddhism: 1 out of 3 units

Christianity: 1 or 2 out of 3 units Compulsory Part: Ethics y Normative Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 1 out of 7 units



Elective Part: Religious Traditions Buddhism: 2 out of 3 units

Christianity: 1 or 2 out of 3 units Compulsory Part: Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 2 out of 7 units Experience Evaluation

S6 Compulsory Part: Ethics

y Personal and Social Issues: 4 out of 7 units

Figure 3.3 Suggested Progression: Mode 3


3.3 Curriculum Planning Strategies

In planning the implementation of the senior secondary ERS curriculum, schools should take advantage of the flexibility allowed in the curriculum design, consider their own strengths and characteristics, and may adopt the following strategies for curriculum planning.

3.3.1 Interfacing Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary Curriculum

The design of this curriculum, like other senior secondary subjects, is based on students learning experiences during basic education. Schools should review the junior secondary curriculum and ensure that students have a solid foundation of knowledge in different disciplines and a sound development of generic skills and positive values and attitudes. The learning experiences in basic education, especially in the PSHE KLA, will support the building of knowledge about religious traditions and ethics and help students make informed decisions and judgements regarding different personal and social issues. Teachers should obtain adequate information about the learning experiences of their students in junior secondary to ensure that they have solid foundations to start with.

3.3.2 Catering for learner diversity

In order to help all students achieve the learning objectives of the curriculum, teachers may vary the degree of support and guidance given to them according to their ability. The cultural and religious diversity among the students should be taken into consideration when planning the curriculum. Some students will have no clearly defined religious background, affiliation or commitment, while others may have deeply held convictions and beliefs. Discussion of religious traditions and ethical issues will be richer where teachers can solicit experiences and views from students with different religious backgrounds. Teachers may also adjust the learning targets, provide a variety of resources and design different learning modes to suit different needs and develop different abilities. In planning the ERS curriculum, teachers should make use of the flexibility allowed in the curriculum design to accommodate differences in students’ learning progress.

This curriculum has built in different approaches to religious education and modes of learning. Teachers should capitalise on this and plan for different learning opportunities to cater for students with different styles of learning. For example, experiential learning activities in the Elective Part “Faiths in Action” may be more effective in motivating students with an active personality type to think about religious teachings and moral principles, than studying religious classics or articles.


Differences among students can create good learning opportunities. Teachers may arrange group learning activities that may involve students in playing different roles, which invite them to make different contributions according to their strengths and interests. Students with different religious backgrounds and life experiences can enrich each other’s understandings about themes and issues in the curriculum.

3.3.3 Making use of ad hoc issues and life events

ERS curriculum provides ample opportunities for students to apply what they have learnt to what is happening around them and to issues which impact on their lives. Flexibility should be provided in the planning of the curriculum in order to make room for discussion on ad hoc issues and life events which are relevant to the curriculum and have some special significance for students. Teachers should react to those moments when students get excited by local, national or global events. Such themes provide a powerful opportunity for teachers to draw out students’ knowledge and to motivate them to learn with commitment. An example is available on the CDI’s website, (911 incident and the learning and teaching of the theme

“Hatred and Forgiveness”, to illustrate the opportunities available for discussion of such important issues.

(Please read Moral and Civic Education, Booklet 3A in “Basic Education Curriculum Guide – Building on Strengths” Series (EMB, 2002), and also visit for more information about the Life Event Approach to conduct moral and civic education.)

3.3.4 Linkages to other learning experiences and informal curricula

The three-year senior secondary curriculum provides for some 15-35% of total lesson time for “Other Learning Experiences” (OLE), in which 5% or more are allocated for those related to moral and civic education and community service. These learning experiences can, at the same time, enrich students’ learning in ERS. For example, students’ participation in service learning during the curriculum time for OLE can be part of their learning of Module 1 in Elective Part II on “Learning to Serve and Serving to Learn”.

Schools should note that the lesson time for senior secondary ERS curriculum can be counted towards that for OLE. Therefore, when planning for the curriculum of this subject, schools should take into consideration the moral and civic education programme and students’

participation in community service, so as to make the best use of curriculum time and to achieve coherence between different learning experiences.


Schools often use assemblies, form teacher periods and extracurricular activities to enhance the spiritual and moral development of students. Schools might also consider aligning these learning experiences with that of Religious Studies to improve the effectiveness of student learning.

3.3.5 Cross-curricular planning

ERS, with its focus on questions of belief and value, attitude and outlook, behaviour and practice, has a major contribution to make in helping students understand and develop a positive attitude towards diversity in a pluralistic society.

Liberal Studies, as a core subject in the three-year senior secondary curriculum, provides learning experiences related to the exploration of personal and social issues. ERS too can highlight the many interrelationships between religion and significant human experiences and provide students with opportunities for developing their own ideas and values and for making informed decisions. Though the two subjects might adopt different approaches and emphases when exploring these issues, they present opportunities for collaboration and mutually enhancing one another’s learning and teaching effectiveness.

ERS is also linked to other subjects in different ways. For example, the study of History and Chinese History might help students understand the historical development of the religious traditions and the impact religions have on the history of the nation and the world. The study of Chinese Language takes character-building as one of its curriculum aims, while ERS also contributes to the development of students’ moral reasoning and value judgements. Other academic subjects, such as Biology and Geography, provide the background knowledge for understanding certain units in the ERS curriculum, such as Bioethics and Environmental Ethics.

Students pursuing studies in Social Services; Creative Studies or Business, Management and Law offered in Applied Learning courses may find the study of ERS valuable, as it helps students to understand not only religious practices and basic beliefs, but also the humanistic principles which lie behind rules of behaviour and codes of conduct. ERS also promotes mutual understanding and mutual respect, which are essential in the modern world.

3.3.6 Integrating learning with assessment

Assessment is an integral part of the learning and teaching process. It provides a further opportunity for learning in addition to measuring achievement. The learning tasks in ERS curriculum can also be taken as assessment tasks, and provide information on how learning and teaching can be improved.


3.4 Managing the Curriculum

3.4.1 Areas of work

The curriculum leader of the subject should oversee the professional development of ERS teachers and the selection and use of appropriate learning and teaching resources. In managing the ERS curriculum in a school-based context, teachers should consider the following:

(a) Understanding the curriculum and learning context

y Understand the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide (CDC, 2007) and this Guide with a view to adapting the central curriculum for school-based curriculum development;

y Understand the school’s vision and mission, strengths and needs, as well as students’

abilities and interests, and align them with the aims of the ERS curriculum; and

y Understand global religious trends, the community culture and the changing needs of society.

(b) Planning and implementing the curriculum

y Design and implement schemes of work to help students achieve the curriculum aims and learning objectives of the ERS curriculum; and

y Design modes of assessment and tasks to promote assessment for learning.

(c) Evaluating and improving the curriculum

y Evaluate continuously the ERS curriculum through collecting data from different sources and analysing evidence of student learning; and

y Review the curriculum in accordance with the learning and teaching context, student experiences, school provision etc. and make adjustments whenever necessary.

(d) Developing resources

y Develop, collect and organise learning and teaching resources. Make all learning supporting materials accessible to students whenever needed. Many of the resources which are currently used for Religious Studies (S4-5) and Ethics and Religious Studies (ASL) will continue to be suitable for supporting senior secondary ERS curriculum. For example, the Curriculum Supporting Materials for ASL Ethics and Religious Studies (CDC, 2001) can be easily adapted for most learning units of this curriculum;

y Make effective use of the resources in schools, religious organisations and the community to facilitate student learning ; and


y Expand learning and teaching resources by the use of information technology. Over time, teachers should build up a variety of resources in school, so that students can have access to sacred texts, reference books, religious artefacts, audio-visual resources, maps, posters, computer software and works produced by other students.

(For more ideas on learning and teaching resources, please refer to Chapter 6 “Learning and Teaching Resources”.)

(e) Building capacity

y Keep abreast of the latest curriculum development, teaching strategies and subject knowledge; and

y Build networks with other schools, conduct peer lesson observation, share effective practices and strategies with others to foster mutual support.

(f) Managing change and monitoring progress

y Undertake action research, teacher self-evaluation and periodical reviews of learning and teaching. These give teachers valuable data and provide evidence on which to base refinements and improvements to the ERS curriculum; and .

y Make reference to the latest global trends in ethics studies and religious education to adjust schemes of work.

3.4.2 Roles of different stakeholders

Principals, ERS panel chairpersons, ERS teachers and parents play different roles in the planning, development and implementation of the ERS curriculum. Collaboration is vital in developing and managing the curriculum.

(a) ERS teachers

y Keep abreast of the latest changes in curriculum, learning and teaching strategies and assessment practices;

y Contribute to ERS curriculum development, implementation and evaluation, and suggest strategies for learning, teaching and assessment;

y Stretch students’ potential in learning ERS, and encourage them to learn actively;

y Participate actively in professional development, peer collaboration and professional exchange; and

y Participate in educational research and projects so as to enhance learning and teaching.


(b) PSHE KLA Co-ordinators / ERS Panel Chairpersons

y Lead and plan ERS curriculum development, and set clear directions for it;

y Monitor the implementation of the curriculum, and make appropriate adjustments to strategies for learning and teaching and assessment to respond to students’ needs;

y Facilitate professional development by encouraging panel members to participate in training courses and workshops;

y Hold regular meetings (both formal and informal) with panel members to strengthen coordination and communication among them;

y Promote professional exchange of subject knowledge and learning and teaching strategies;


y Make the best use of resources available in school, religious organisations and the community.

(c) Principals

y Understand students’ strengths and interests, as well as the significance of ethics and religious education;

y Take into consideration students’ needs, school context and the central curriculum framework in formulating the curriculum, instructional and assessment policies;

y Coordinate the work of KLA leaders and subject panels, and set clear targets for curriculum development and curriculum management;

y Promote a culture of collaboration among teachers to facilitate the planning and implementation of the curriculum;

y Understand the strengths of teachers and deploy them flexibly and rationally;

y Convey a clear message to parents regarding the significance of ethics and religious education; and

y Build networks among schools, community sectors, and various religious organisations at management level to facilitate the development of the ERS curriculum.

(d) Parents

y Support the development of the ERS curriculum;

y Encourage their children to explore not only various beliefs and values, but their own thoughts and feelings about them; and

y Understand the value of ethics and religious education, and encourage and support their children to pursue their study of this curriculum.


In document Chapter 3 Curriculum Planning (Page 55-65)