5. Recommendations for the ENET Scheme
5.5 Proposed Role for the ENET Scheme
In order to build knowledge and understanding of the relationships between teacher decision-making and collaboration and student achievement outcomes, records would need to be
The members of the RNCT might manage this as part of routine work within the ENET Scheme. They would need to monitor, albeit informally, the effects of teacher intervention on student learning outcomes and how these teacher measures could be sustained. They also need to monitor teacher beliefs, accountability, use and knowledge and discuss how these are altering over time to determine the needs for teacher professional development and their relationship to changes in student learning.
Under this model, teachers use standardized test data but need professional development in order to interpret student outcomes within a developmental model. The data should be used by teams of teachers within English Panels working collaboratively across a cluster of schools and supported by members of the RNCT. Panel Chairs and NETs should attend in-service programs conducted by the RNCT and focusing on the use of data and its link to developmental learning. In turn they would then be responsible for the professional development of Panel members in their schools, linking the schools to a general developmental paradigm espoused in the changes introduced in the new curriculum and the assessment regime via the HKEAA.
If NETs, and indeed the ENET Scheme and members of the RNCT, are to be valued for their contributions to the development of English language proficiency in the Hong Kong community, they must be able to clearly link their own activities to student outcomes, and to help schools and teachers to do the same. Without this, the worth of the ENET Scheme can be called into question. Educators, and the broader Hong Kong community, need to be able to link pedagogy to student outcomes, and the ENET Scheme has an opportunity to take up that challenge.
The management of the ENET Scheme and the members of the RNCT are well placed to lead schools as they learn to connect student assessment data to collaborative decision-making by teachers in ways that effect the most positive outcomes for students. Through a series of workshops, teams of teachers need to learn how to structure evidence-based intervention for individual student learning needs and styles in a data-driven approach to intervention.
Following procedures outlined by Griffin et al. (2009), teachers need to learn to be accountable to peers within their English Panel or teacher teams for the way they use evidence of student development, for decisions about interventions and resource use, and how these link to student development in the key learning outcomes. Through workshops led by the RNCT, Panel Chairs, NETs and local English teachers should learn how to link the developmental level of individual students to an intervention strategy only after defending each selected strategy with their colleagues. Decisions taken collaboratively by teachers working in their teams or in the broader context of the English Panel should drive all interventions. The meetings should also allow teachers to explore the theory, research, and information about practices in their own and in other schools and the team leader or Panel Chair should maintain logs of these discussions to account for decisions about strategies and their links to evidence of student proficiency and learning. Panel Chairs should also be supported to compare and defend teaching practices across schools and develop skills in the technical aspects of the use of data and analysis. This is so that they can be the conduits for programs to be disseminated into the teams in their respective schools.
Between-school discussion needs to be built into communication between the Panel Chairs who learn from, and report to, each other and external specialists, perhaps the RNCTs, about mentoring, coaching and translating technical aspects into practice and practical advice for their team members. Thus, the classrooms would be linked through the Panel members so they could learn from and guide each other, discussing, challenging and evaluating information and theory presented by outside specialists. The relevance of professional development would be the driver for the diverse range of students in their classes. The Panel
Chairs should also be responsible for introducing and implementing curriculum and assessment reforms into the school. In addition, all teachers could monitor their own understanding, use of and attitudes towards student assessment data, targeted teaching interventions, and differentiated instruction and associated classroom management. The Panel Chairs should be provided with formal professional development on strategies provided by the members of the RNCT in curriculum, assessment and reporting. They would also need to develop skills in team leadership, curriculum reform, assessment and testing, school reform and action research. Thus, the work of school leaders, and in particular of English Panel Chairs, is central to the process of developing the teachers’ confidence in using an evidence-based developmental framework.
The ability to link student outcomes to school and teacher decisions about the English program, and to vary these to appropriately target the learning needs of students, is a fundamental requirement if the English proficiency of the Hong Kong community is to be strengthened. This is an effort that will require the combined skills, experience and will of school leaders, teachers (both local and NET), and the management of the ENET Scheme. It is an effort that provides the ENET Scheme with structure and focus for professional development programs, and makes explicit the contributions made by different stakeholders.
Ideally, Panel Chairs and NETs should be accountable for documenting teaching strategies and resources for later evaluation and evidence of links between intervention and learning.
Workshops led by the RNCT should provide specific training in the use of criterion referenced reports. The data can be used to discuss differentiated intervention and targeting of teaching strategies. Indicators of success for the ENET Scheme would then include change in teacher discourse, targeted intervention practices and resource use and the link between these and student development.
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Appendix A. Participants in Focus Groups
Eight focus groups were held at the headquarters of the NET Section, Hong Kong Education Bureau, in Tsuen Wan during December 2008 and January 2009. Two groups were made up of participants representing the management of the NET Section and the Regional NET Coordinating Team (RNCT). Three of the groups were heterogeneous in composition, and included representatives of school leaders (Principals and English Panel Chairs), NETs, local English teachers, graduate students and parents of students who had been taught by a NET.
One group brought together NETs from different school contexts, a second group was intended to include only English Panel Chairs but was also attended by one NET, and a third group was made up of Principals from schools enrolling students of different Band levels. A more detailed description of the background and experience of participants in the latter six groups is set out below:
Heterogeneous Discussion Group One
• Two English Panel Chairs, each of whom had more than ten years of experience working with NETs.
• A student from Chinese University of Hong Kong representing secondary school graduates who had been taught by NETs.
• A NET who had seven years experience working in Hong Kong, including three years as a primary school NET and four years as a secondary school NET.
• A parent with two grown children who had both finished school and were currently studying overseas in an English speaking country.
• A Principal from a Chinese medium of instruction school with two NETs and four to six other native speakers working in the school in a support role.
• A local English teacher who had more than ten years experience in that role and had worked as an Advisory Teacher within the Primary NET Scheme for three years.
Heterogeneous Discussion Group Two
• A NET with more than ten years experience in the Scheme.
• Two Panel Chairs who came from quite different schools and backgrounds. One had been an Advisory Teacher in the Primary NET Scheme and the other was an experienced school-based teacher.
• A parent who was also an experienced NET.
• A school Principal who was a former mathematics teacher. He examined the role of the NET from an administrative point of view rather than the point of view of an English teacher.
• Two local English teachers who each had extensive and varied experience in the ENET Scheme and as teachers.
Heterogeneous Discussion Group Three
• An English Panel Chair for junior forms, who had more than ten years of experience in her current school which enrolled Band 2 students in a CMI school with 1000 students and ten English teachers. She had also worked as an Advisory Teacher for the Primary NET Scheme.
• An experienced English Panel Chair from a school that enrolled Band 2 students in a CMI school in a relatively remote New Territories location. The school had 1000 students and 15 English teachers. She explained that this higher ratio of teacher to students was needed because the school used split class teaching to cope with the
wide diversity of abilities among students. The school enrolled many students from the mainland, who travelled into Hong Kong each day to attend school.
• A NET who was a very experienced English teacher, but who had joined the ENET Scheme only in the last twelve months. He described his CMI school which enrolled band 2 students in glowing terms. Indeed, he said that he could not imagine a better school or better students.
• A NET who was also a very experienced teacher and who had arrived in Hong Kong six years ago.
• A graduate student, who had been so inspired by her NET that she decided to major in English literature and to become an English teacher.
Discussion Group for Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs)
This group was attended by nine NETs who came from a range of school contexts and brought a diversity of experience to the group, as described below:
• A NET who came from a school with band 1 students and was in the third year of deployment at that school.
• A NET who had six years experience at his current school. He taught 26 lessons in an eight-day cycle but had very little work involving marking and virtually no paperwork.
• A NET who was teaching at S6 and S7 level in a school with Band 2 students. He had been teaching in the school for eight years. The school operated on a ten-day cycle and its medium of instruction was Chinese.
• A NET who was working in a school for Band 1 girls. The teaching load consisted of 19 lessons per week in Language Arts for students in S1 to S3.
• A NET who was working in a school with Band 3 students. She was teaching S4 and S6 students for 24 lessons per week. This was considered to be a full teaching load with additional oral language and English corner duties.
• A NET who was working in the ninth year of deployment in one school. He joined the school as a regular teacher and later was contracted as a NET and had remained at the school from that time. He brought to the focus group experience both as a local teacher and as a NET.
• A NET in a school with Band 2 students and had previously been deployed in another school. He talked about his experiences of an induction period of establishing trust in the school. It was generally agreed by the NETs that it takes the first year of a contract to established credibility with other teachers and school leaders.
• A NET who had joined a CMI school at the very beginning of the NET Scheme.
After six years she returned to Australia for one year and then returned to Hong Kong to take up a position in an EMI girls’ school. She reported that her time at this school has been a very good experience. She taught 24 lessons per week to S6 classes and found it possible at that level to teach students in small groups without discipline problems.
• A NET who was in her second year in Hong Kong. The school at which she was deployed had employed expatriate teachers since 1988. She reported that, initially, she was given lower classes to teach Language Arts and always given a junior class.
At the start of her first contract, she was expected to teach oral English classes across all years but had now been given a class of more able students to teach oral language.
She reported that most of the students at the school were Band 1 level and there were
Discussion Group for English Panel Chairs
This group was attended by four English Panel Chairs, and one NET who accompanied her Panel Chair to the meeting. This group comprised:
• An Panel Chair from a CMI school with Band 2 students in the New Territories, who had been teaching English for more than 20 years.
• The NET who worked with this Panel chair at the school. She was a teacher with considerable previous experience working in elite schools, and had been deployed as a NET for three years in her current school.
• A Panel Chair with 15 years experience who worked in a school with Band 2 students that used Chinese as the medium of instruction for junior students and English for senior students. Her school had recently employed a new NET, after a series of earlier unhappy experiences with NETs who proved unreliable and left the school abruptly.
• A Panel Chair with 12 years experience and who came from a school with Band 3 students in New Territories West. The school used Chinese as the medium of instruction to S5 and then English for S6 and S7. The NET at this school had been deployed in her current role for more than seven years.
• A Panel Chair with 14 years experience at a CMI school with Band 3 students. She had worked with two NETs at the school. The first NET had stayed at the school for five years, and the new NET had been at the school for two years. The Panel Chair described the students at the school as coming from impoverished home backgrounds.
Discussion Group for School Principals
Four Principals attended the meeting. They were:
• A Principal from a school located in the New Territories, who had been working in his current role for seven years. The school enrolled approximately 600 students, and was described by the Principal as a CMI school with Band 3 students. In addition to the deployment of a NET, the Principal had employed four native speakers to support English language practice for the students in the school.
• A Principal from a school located in the New Territories that used Chinese as the medium of instruction and enrolled approximately 1200 students. The Principal reported that the school currently deployed three NETs. According to the Principal, these NETs worked well and co-operated well with local teachers. He perceived their role in the school as the enthusiastic promotion of English language coupled with a willingness to listen to the students and other teachers.
• A Principal from a school that enrolled Band 1 students and used Chinese as its medium of instruction.
• A Principal who had recently retired from many years heading an EMI school with Band 1 students..
Appendix B. School Visits
The purpose of visits to schools was to examine the use of, and contributions to, resources made by the NETs in different school contexts. The major emphasis was to address the following questions:
• How does the NET interact with and influence the staff and students in the school and affect the human resources of the English Panel?
• How are materials and facilities at the school focused on the improvement of English language, and what is the NET’s impact on this?
• How is the language program in the school influenced by the NET?
Nine school visits and observation studies were conducted in January 2009. Schools were invited to volunteer interest in being visited by the researchers, and were chosen to represent the different types of schools in which NETs were deployed. The diversity of contexts that were taken into account when choosing schools were:
• The primary medium of instruction at the school.
• The academic Band level of most students at the school – Bands 1, 2 or 3.
• The geographic location of the school.
• Duration of deployment of the current NET.
Descriptions of each of the schools, and deployment strategies for their NETs, are set out below.
An elite girls’ secondary school on Hong Kong Island (EMI, Band 1 students), School A had deployed a NET for ten years, and taught all subjects, including physical education and visual arts, in English. It had an EMI primary campus which acted as its main feeder school. Sixty percent of the students came from this primary school, and so did not require any bridging program or support to allow them to study effectively in English. The school provided a bridging program over summer to meet the needs of students who arrived at the school from CMI primary schools. The NET took an important role in the organization of this bridging program. He alternated management of the program with another member of the English teaching staff.
The school had an expectation that the NET would be able to teach both English Language and English Literature at all Form levels, and would be able to contribute to other enrichment programs offered by the school. The school had a strong tradition in the teaching of dramatic arts, and expected the NET to assist with this program.
The current NET had been working at the school for ten years, and spent his first contract at another school in Hong Kong. He taught three classes of English Language (S1, S3 and S6) plus English Literature at senior level. The Principal’s expectation was that the NET should be able to carry out his duties in much the same way as any other English teacher. She expected that he would be able to teach the same number of classes as other members of the English Panel.