Curriculum Planning

In document Contents Page Preamble i Chapter 1 (Page 30-37)

This chapter provides guidelines to help schools and teachers develop a flexible and balanced curriculum that suits the needs, interests and abilities of students, and the context of their school.

3.1 Guiding Principles

Students should be supported to understand the complementary and supplementary nature of Applied Learning, so as to make informed choices in deciding the elective subjects for their senior secondary studies. They need to understand that:

 each Applied Learning course is based on a cluster of trades or industries which reflect the social, economic and technological needs of Hong Kong and global trends, and are close to students’ daily life;

 the T-shaped curriculum of Applied Learning enables students to acquire an overview of the opportunities associated with particular trades and industries so that they can explore possibilities for further studies and careers. At the same time it enables them to pursue in-depth studies in a selected area and to develop transferable skills such as foundation skills, thinking skills, people skills, and values and attitudes; and

 the authentic contexts within the Applied Learning courses complement students’ studies in other subjects, thus contributing to whole-person development.

3.2 Planning for Implementation

The duration of each Applied Learning course is 180 contact hours and that of Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students) is 270 contact hours.

Schools are encouraged to adopt different mode(s) of implementation to offer Applied Learning according to the learning needs of students in order to cater for learner diversity. Schools may arrange for students to attend courses at venues of course providers, to be taught by course providers’ staff and according to their timetables. Schools may also collaborate with course providers and/or network with other schools in making arrangements for courses to take place in schools fitting their timetables. Generally, Applied Learning courses extend over two school years in Secondary 5 and 6.

Flexible arrangements of Applied Learning implementation, for example, early course commencement in Secondary 4, may also be adopted in order to cater for students’ diverse learning needs.

3.3 Connection with Other Senior Secondary Subjects and Learning Experiences

A flexible combination of Applied Learning courses with the core/elective subjects of the senior secondary curriculum and Other Learning Experiences broadens students’ learning experience and enhances diversification within the senior secondary curriculum for holistic learning.

Knowledge in Applied Learning is acquired mainly through hands-on, practical experience. As in other senior secondary subjects the aim is to enable students to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes which are transferable.

Applied Learning courses will be introduced in Secondary 5. In order to provide students with the prior information necessary for choosing a particular combination of elective subjects in their Secondary 5 studies, taster programmes can be introduced in Secondary 4. These will be supplemented with guidance and advice offered through careers talks, structured visits and workplace-related experiences.

The progression of studies at senior secondary level is set out diagrammatically as follows:

Connection with Core Subjects

Applied Learning provides an authentic or near-authentic context for students to acquire the skills of the workplace. It also aims to complement their studies in core subjects in the senior secondary curriculum.

Connection with Languages – Applied Learning provides a language-rich environment for students and authentic contexts for the promotion of Language across the Curriculum. Students engage in the learning and use of language in a range of workplace tasks (e.g. handling telephone enquiries and the complaints of customers in courses related to hospitality services, or writing reports in business courses), and they use language to communicate with others about work-related matters. In courses such as media and communication, students use languages for a wide range of purposes, involving different contexts and audiences, and learn to understand what functions language fulfils in work-related contexts. They can then apply this understanding to the use of language in their daily life.

Connection with Mathematics – The different areas of studies of Applied Learning also provide real-life situations for students to apply the concepts and knowledge they

Progression of Studies at Senior Secondary Level

( ) optional

* including Applied Learning courses X = Elective Subject

Secondary 6 X1* X2* (X3)*

X1* X2* (X3)*

X1 X2 (X3) (X4)

Elective Subjects Chinese Language,

English Language, Mathematics, Liberal Studies

Chinese Language, English Language,

Mathematics, Liberal Studies

Chinese Language, English Language,

Mathematics, Liberal Studies

Core Subjects Other Learning


Secondary 5

Secondary 4

students need to interpret algebraic relations from numerical, symbolic and graphical data. In courses related to design, engineering and production, students make use of their knowledge of measures, shape and space to formulate and solve two-dimensional and three-dimensional problems. In conducting research in courses such as retail and merchandising, students need to handle data and apply knowledge in statistics to identify central tendencies and dispersion.

Connection with Liberal Studies – The concepts, knowledge and skills students acquire in different areas of studies of Applied Learning also facilitate students’

learning in Liberal Studies. For example, in courses related to health care, students need to understand the importance of personal hygiene in public health. In marketing, students learn how to set up and execute a marketing plan for a specific international market. This complements their studies in globalisation. In all Applied Learning courses students learn about planning, leadership and time management, which are indispensable for the independent enquiry study.

Further suggestions on how Applied Learning can contribute to the study of the core and elective subjects are set out in Appendix 2.

Useful Combinations of Applied Learning and Elective Subjects

The study of Applied Learning complements other senior secondary subjects by offering studies with stronger elements of practical learning linked to broad professional and vocational fields. Choosing a sound combination of Applied Learning and elective subjects enhances student learning and lateral coherence within the senior secondary curriculum.

While the core and elective subjects offer learning and thinking tools, Applied Learning contributes to them by:

a. enhancing and enriching subject knowledge:

e.g. students taking Business, Accounting and Financial Studies may take related Applied Learning courses such as accountancy, financial management and marketing to enhance the breadth and depth of studies in these fields;

b. generating cross-fertilisation:

e.g. students taking Physics may benefit through studying civil and mechanical engineering, as these Applied Learning courses share common concepts and processes such as force and motion, electricity and magnetism, and conservation of energy. This helps students consolidate learning across both subjects;

c. expanding students’ horizons:

e.g. students taking Science or Arts subjects may take an Applied Learning course such as performing arts, financial management, food and catering or personal services to broaden their horizons and enhance their all-round development; and

d. consolidating and synergising students’ studies:

e.g. Applied Learning courses provide a multi-disciplinary context and an encouraging learning environment for students to reflect on their learning across the curriculum, so that they develop generic knowledge and skills which they can apply in solving problems such as global warming, food safety, selection of programmes for further studies, national identity. Some students, with the support of their tutors, may even be able to take their learning beyond the level of information, knowledge and skill development to the level of conceptualisation and meta-understanding.

The elective subjects and Applied Learning courses are also complementary to each other, e.g. Visual Arts is related to design studies in Creative Studies; Integrated Science is related to health care in Applied Science. A list of examples of combinations of Applied Learning and other senior secondary subjects is given in Appendix 3.

3.4 Connection with Junior Secondary Education and Career Pathways Students acquire the essential skill of learning to learn from the eight Key Learning Areas at the junior secondary level, and at the same time develop curiosity and interests in a wide range of subjects. They may, for example, become interested in Chinese and Western approaches to medical care, or the application of scientific knowledge to sports and fitness. Other students may want to further explore their talents in design, or develop their skills in dance, etc. Applied Learning provides a means for students to meet this curiosity and realise their aspirations under the umbrella of formal education and the acquisition of recognised qualifications.

Provision for articulation pathways for further studies and/or career development is a critical design principle of Applied Learning and this has been substantially developed during piloting (Please refer to Chapter 2). Related information on the articulation pathways of individual courses can be found at the website of Applied Learning (

3.5 Vocational and Professional Education in Secondary Education Vocational and professional education and training plays a role in providing flexible and multiple pathways for students with diverse aspirations and abilities. In secondary education, students are progressively provided with career-related experiences, from the junior secondary to the senior secondary level. Students acquire career-related experiences and relevant exposure through life-wide learning activities, such as career talks, visits to workplace, workshops and camps, and other subjects. Students could experience a sense of the world of work and explore different career pathways.

At the senior secondary level, the understanding of vocational and professional education can be deepened through Applied Learning, which offers learning contexts linked to broad vocational and professional fields. Applied Learning courses are offered under six areas of studies: (1) Creative Studies; (2) Media and Communication; (3) Business, Management and Law; (4) Services; (5) Applied Science; and (6) Engineering and Production. Applied Learning also complements core and elective subjects of the senior secondary curriculum for holistic learning.

Building on the foundation knowledge and experience students acquired at the junior secondary level, Applied Learning provides the context for students to develop beginners’ skill set, career-related competencies and generic skills necessary to prepare them for further studies and employment in the future.

Students, especially those with an interest in vocational and professional education, could consider their abilities, interests and aptitudes to participate more in Applied Learning courses as elective subjects in their senior secondary education.

Diversified career-related activities are offered in Applied Learning, e.g. hands-on experience with trade-standard facilities and various eye-opening visits, providing authentic experience in the workplace. Through the learning experience in vocational and professional contexts, students explore their career aspirations and orientation for lifelong learning. Specialisation in Applied Learning may serve as foundation for vocational and professional education. Secondary schools are encouraged to make good use of the provision of Applied Learning courses at the senior secondary level to help students with different aspirations and abilities to articulate to multiple pathways.

To facilitate students’ self-understanding and exploration of multiple pathways including vocational and professional education, secondary schools are encouraged to adopt a whole school approach in career and life planning education, and enhance individual guidance and support to students in choosing elective subjects for holistic learning. For example,

Students with different aspirations and abilities may take one Applied Learning course in combination with other elective subjects to enrich their learning experience through exposure to vocational and professional fields.

Students with interest in vocational and professional education and who learn better in those contexts may take two Applied Learning courses to explore their career aspirations and orientation for lifelong learning through authentic experience in a work-related environment.

Applied Learning as part of the broad and balanced curriculum with diversification and specialisations is set out diagrammatically as follows:

In document Contents Page Preamble i Chapter 1 (Page 30-37)