School Self-Evaluation of the Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme for Primary Schools Meta-Analysis Report
Native-speaking English Teacher Section Curriculum Development Institute
Education and Manpower Bureau
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
A selected number of local primary schools were asked to perform a self-evaluation to encourage them to be accountable for and reflect upon the effectiveness of the PNET Scheme within their institution. This meta-analysis combines the results of over four hundred independent studies to address a common set of related performance indicators in the areas of English Language Curriculum Development, Professional Development of English Teachers, English Language Teaching Strategies, Students’ Knowledge and Skills in English and Students’ Attitudes and Interest in Learning English.
Analysis of the performance indicators led to recommendations that are focused on themes of change management, leadership and school culture. The role of the Principal is viewed as one of a professional leader, prepared to engage in environmental analysis in order to develop strategies which will drive the school forward. Key among these strategies is the creation of an effective, positive school culture with a focus on the teacher as the most valuable resource in the school. The pressures of change management highlight the considerable difference between leadership and management.
Looking to the future, there is potential for further development of the self-evaluation concept in the schools. With careful consideration, it will be possible to build a culture of self-assessment and reflection among school leadership, teachers and students which will lead to self-evaluation becoming a natural and integral part of the educational process.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the many schools, teachers, and principals who contributed to this report. It reflects the tremendous work being done in the PNET Scheme and is a cause for celebration and a moment to reflect upon our accomplishments. This document represents the culmination of a number of years of hard work, starting with the basic idea of school self-evaluation, followed by numerous workshops supporting the plan from 2002 to 2005 and capping off with the final analysis and recommendations presented here. I am very happy to have such a wonderful team working with me providing unfailing support for this project over the years.
The School Self-Evaluation fills many roles. It informs the on-going development of the PNET Scheme, provides the schools, English panels and policy-makers with evidence of the impact of the Scheme and recommendations for the future. It also provides a grass-roots complement to the Territory-wide Evaluation at the Scheme level.
Encapsulated in this report are a great number of significant findings and suggestions for a way forward and a road map for the future direction of the PNET Scheme. It is my wish that all who read this document will gain an insight into ways we can all contribute to making Hong Kong schools a better place for learning. Together we have achieved a lot and will continue to do so in the future.
Thank you for taking time to read this report and I hope you enjoy the efforts of the many dedicated people who brought it to you.
Chief Curriculum Development Officer Curriculum Development Institute
Many stakeholders played an invaluable part in the production of this document. Our appreciation must be extended to the individual schools for the work involved in the School Self-Evaluation. It is apparent that the teams working on them went to considerable lengths to produce insightful reports.
Further thanks must go to Sandy Shum, former Assistant Project Manager-Evaluation, and the Advisory Teachers who developed and presented the School Self-Evaluation workshops and those members who formed the original self-evaluation team. Their efforts formed the basis of the entire project.
Additionally, sincere appreciation is extended to the many members of the NET Section, including Advisory Teachers and Assistant Project Managers who contributed their considerable and invaluable assistance and advice.
Finally, the wide scope of this project would not be possible without the support of the senior EMB officers responsible for the PNET Scheme. Their vision is changing the face of education in Hong Kong.
Produced by the NET Section
School Self-Evaluation Meta-Analysis Report Committee
Assistant Project Manager, Evaluation – John K C Leung Authors - Michael Agopsowicz, Lynda Atkinson,
Rachel M L Chan, Brian Fricker, Amy S M Lam
Table of Contents
Executive Summary... 1
Foreword ... 2
Acknowledgements ... 3
List of Abbreviations... 5
Chapter 1 Background ... 6
1.1 Background of the PNET Scheme ... 6
1.2 Background of Study ... 8
1.3 Study Design and Methodology ... 8
Chapter 2 Data Analysis... 12
2.1 English Language Curriculum Development ... 12
2.2 Professional Development of English Teachers... 22
2.3 English Language Teaching Strategies ... 32
2.4 Students’ Knowledge and Skills in English... 42
2.5 Students’ Attitudes and Interest in Learning English ... 48
Chapter 3 Recommendations ... 57
3.1 English Language Curriculum Development ... 58
3.2 Professional Development of English Teachers... 60
3.3 English Language Teaching Strategies ... 63
3.4 Students’ Knowledge and Skills in English... 65
3.5 Students’ Attitudes and Interests in Learning English... 67
Chapter 4 Conclusion... 69
Appendix One - Performance Indicators... 70
Appendix Two - Assessment Rubric... 72
Appendix Three - List of Participating Schools ... 73
List of Abbreviations
ATT Advisory Teaching Team
CDI Curriculum Development Institute ELCG English Language Curriculum Guide EMB Education and Manpower Bureau
KS1 Key Stage 1
LET Local English Teacher
NET Native-speaking English Teacher
PD Professional Development
PNET Primary Native-speaking English Teacher PSED Primary Schools English Development QAD Quality Assurance Division
SET School English Teacher SSE School Self-Evaluation
TSA Territory-wide System Assessment
Chapter 1 Background
1.1 Background of the PNET Scheme
“Concern over falling standards of English language proficiency prompted the Hong Kong Government to examine the quality of English teaching in schools, and in 1986 the Education Department proposed a scheme for employing qualified expatriate teachers of English" (Education Department, 1986). The resultant Expatriate English Language Teachers Pilot Scheme and the Expatriate English Language Teachers Modified Scheme became a direct precursor to the Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme.
Given this mandate, the Primary Native-speaking English Teacher (PNET) Scheme was started in 2002 with the following mission and objectives.
Our mission is to create an enriched and effective English language learning and teaching environment in local primary schools through the implementation of curriculum reform, professional development of teachers and adoption of innovative learning and teaching practices.
The PNET Scheme aims at supporting and strengthening English language learning and teaching in all public sector primary schools by
• providing an authentic environment for children to learn English,
• developing children’s interest in learning English and establishing the foundation for life-long learning,
• helping local teachers develop innovative learning and teaching methods, materials, curricula and activities suited to the needs of local children and
• disseminating good practices in language learning and teaching through region- based development programmes such as experience-sharing seminars, workshops and networking activities.
In 2000, 40 schools joined the Primary Schools English Development (PSED) a two- year Pilot Project, the precursor to the PNET Scheme. Given the success of the pilot project, it was decided to initiate the PNET Scheme on a more permanent basis.
In 2002, the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) provided Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) to local schools operating 6 classes or more with two primary schools sharing one NET. In September 2004, the enhanced PNET Scheme began with the intention of having one NET placed in each eligible school.
An experienced School English Teacher (SET) is assigned in each school to work in partnership with the NET towards the objectives of the PNET Scheme. The SET acts as a bridge between the NET and the school management and facilitates collaboration between the NET and the English Panel.
The EMB provides support for the Scheme by way of an Advisory Teaching Team (ATT) comprising seconded Local English Teachers (LETs) and contracted NETs. The ATT designs and operates regular development programmes for the NETs and local teachers, conducts school development visits to individual schools, assists in monitoring
innovative and effective teaching methods and related curriculum resources and disseminates good teaching practices in primary schools.
1.2 Background of Study
The aim of the School Self-Evaluation (SSE) was to encourage primary schools to be accountable for and reflect upon the effectiveness of the PNET Scheme in their school.
There were several objectives of the study:
• inform the on-going development of the PNET Scheme at the school level,
• provide the school and English Panel with evidence of the impact of the Scheme,
• provide the school and English Panel with recommendations for the future directions, goals and targets of the Scheme and
• inform policy-makers on the future directions, goals and targets of the Scheme.
In late 2002, Melbourne University in partnership with the Hong Kong Institute of Education was commissioned by the EMB to complete an evaluation study of the PNET Scheme. This is a territory-wide, longitudinal and cross-sectional study conducted over three years in about 140 primary schools. Concurrently, each primary school provided with a NET and not participating in the Territory-wide Evaluation was requested to conduct a self-evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the PNET Scheme in their school.
In the school year 2002 – 2003, there were 473 primary schools required to participate in the School Self-Evaluation process. There was a steady response to the self- evaluation and by 30 May 2006, 424 School Self-Evaluation Reports had been received.
1.3 Study Design and Methodology
The study was divided into two parts: the school-based self-evaluations, and the meta- analysis of those reports.
Letters from the EMB requesting each school to do their own study and self-evaluation were sent out in late 2002. A series of three workshops were held from December 2002 to February 2003, at which a package with suggested self-evaluation tools, samples of an evaluation focus, questions, procedures, various proformas and a recommended time- plan was distributed. Further workshops were held for new NETs and schools new to the study. Over a period of two years, a total of 60 workshops were conducted by the ATT to provide English teachers with training on conducting School Self-Evaluation in their schools.
The design team suggested several areas for possible study including students’ attitude and interest, students’ knowledge and skills, classroom management, teaching and learning strategies, professional development of teachers, classroom climate and curriculum development.
Schools then followed a recommended sequence in setting up their data generation and gathering process, though considerable flexibility was extended at each stage of the process. Ample time was provided to design and execute the study, compile the data and write the reports.
The aim of the School Self-Evaluation was to encourage primary schools to be accountable for and reflect upon the effectiveness of the PNET Scheme practices within their school. The performance indicators (see Appendix 1) suggested during the self- evaluation training workshops were intentionally broad and flexible to allow schools to develop their own, based upon unique needs as perceived by the school team.
Initially, it seems that the School Self-Evaluations were considered discrete studies, and there appeared to be no consideration of a final consolidated analysis of the reports. In 2004, the original analysis team designed a form with seven focus areas to allow for the separate review and summary of individual reports. By February 2005, about 260
In mid-2005 the original analysis team dispersed and in October 2005, a new formal committee was constituted. The existing reports numbering about 275 were gathered, recounted and organized according to the five focus areas. Thank you and reminder letters were sent out to schools again, which brought in about 150 new reports. The final date for submissions to be included in the analysis was set as 30 May 2006. An updated receiving system for new reports was established and a new vision of analysis and reporting was conceived.
This study was designed as a meta-analysis, one type of which combines the results of several independent studies to address a new common set of related performance indicators. It was hoped to interpret the report in a readable, logical, and user friendly way; and condense data from 424 schools into a format that was understandable and accessible.
The aim was to present a quantitative analysis of the reports using statistics and graphs to support the findings. In December 2005, the team created a rigorous set of new performance indicators based on the originals, and a three-point rubric (see Appendix 2) was then devised to assess the degree of achievement on applicable performance indicators. Each report was read, analyzed, measured against the performance indicators and placed on the rubric. This produced a data set for each category which was then entered into a spreadsheet to allow for statistical analysis and graphing. The graphs were produced and the findings were written by the evaluation committee in mid-2006.
Prior to the cut-off date, 424 reports were received from of 473 expected returns achieving a statistically significant 90% response rate. Some indicators did not apply to all reports within a section, so the total number of responses for each unique indicator varies. Sample sizes across categories vary, as each school was free to choose which category to evaluate.
Distribution of Reports
Section Number of Reports
2.1 English Language Curriculum Development 20 2.2 Professional Development of English Teachers 53 2.3 English Language Teaching Strategies 76 2.4 Students’ Knowledge and Skills in English 40 2.5 Students’ Attitudes and Interest in Learning English 210
Graph 1.3 indicates the distribution of reports in this study. In total, 6% of reports were considered invalid, most of which were of flawed design, employed improper data collection, or missed the deadline for inclusion in the analysis.
Graph 1.3 Distribution of Reports (N=424)
2.1 English Language Curriculum Development
2.2 Professional Development of
English Teachers 13%
2.3 English Language
Teaching Strategies 2.4 Students' 18%
Knowledge and Skills in English
2.5 Students' Attitudes and Interest in Learning English
Chapter 2 Data Analysis
2.1 English Language Curriculum Development
Of the seven suggested areas, twenty schools chose curriculum development. The perception that curriculum development is a difficult area seems to be validated by the fact that so few schools chose it as an area to evaluate.
This section focuses on the following concepts:
• Development Strategies
• School Policy
• Strategic Planning
• Parents’ and Students’ Views
• Learning Outcomes
Due to the small number of responses in this area, care must be taken in the analysis and extrapolation of the data. The small sample is not sufficient to give definitive answers, yet there are concerns that need to be addressed and further study is recommended.
“It is anticipated that this evaluation will provide an understanding of how current changes through the NET Scheme have been perceived and supported by English teachers and what steps can be taken to further the development of the English curriculum in the schools in question.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Lee Chi Tat Memorial School, 2004)
2.1.1 Area of Focus
School-based Curriculum Development was spread over the following five areas:
Phonics, Reading, Textbook Adaptation, Themes and Writing. Many schools begin developing a school-based curriculum with textbook adaptation. Therefore, textbook adaptation constitutes a large percentage of this performance indicator.
Additionally, with the publication of the revised English Language Curriculum Guide (ELCG, 2004), a major emphasis is being placed upon reading. The data clearly shows the increased focus on this skill.
Prior to the PNET Scheme, the development of phonic skills was frequently taught out of context as a separate programme. Recently there has been a shift to teaching phonics within the reading programme. Consequently, isolated phonics teaching only accounts for 11% of the total study.
“The evaluation will explore the “Reading Programme” developed for [the] P1 [curriculum].” (School Self-Evaluation Report, SKH Kei Tak Primary School,
Graph 2.1.1 Area of Focus (N=18)
2.1.2 Curriculum Development Strategies are Trialled and Refined
In all cases, it was stated that schools were trialling and refining strategies regarding curriculum development. Considering the emphasis placed on curriculum development by the EMB to which the PNET Scheme contributes, it is clear that this is of considerable importance to schools.
It is encouraging to see that 80% of the studies involved medium to high levels of trial and refinement of curriculum development strategies. Analysis showed that 50% of the samples were undertaking this extensively. However, there remains 20% whose minimal level of trialling and refining strategies is of note.
“The P.6 curriculum development team planned collaboration and designed more pupil-centred activities ... previous units’ activities were reviewed and ...
materials that were not considered effective to the task were amended or improved so that they were ready for next year ... building up a school-based curriculum.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, TWGHs Lo Yu Chik Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.1.2 Curriculum Development Strategies are Trialled and Refined (N=20)
2.1.3 The Process of Curriculum Planning is Collaborative
Current educational research shows that collaborative planning produces high quality output. All the schools in this aspect of the study are involved in collaborative curriculum planning of which 70% are engaged in medium to high levels of collaborative planning.
Of schools involved in this aspect of the study, 45% reported a high level of both frequency and involvement in collaboration and curriculum planning. Given that one of the basic tenets of the PNET Scheme is co-planning, the results show the successful influence of the PNET Scheme as the concept of collaborative curriculum planning has been successfully established and implemented.
A total of 30% of the schools reported that collaborative planning was infrequent and teachers regularly made independent decisions regarding curriculum planning.
Experience informs us that most independent curriculum decision making follows a top down leadership approach, in contrast to a grass roots technique which enhances collaboration.
Graph 2.1.3 The Process of Curriculum Planning is Collaborative (N=20)
2.1.4 Teachers are given Opportunities to Participate in Curriculum Decisions
Performance indicator 2.1.3 examined the concept of collaboration, while Graph 2.1.4 examines the application and implementation of this process. Compared to the previous graph, this data shows relatively less involvement by classroom teachers in the decision making process. While Graph 2.1.3 shows high collaboration, Graph 2.1.4 shows low involvement by the classroom teachers. The data reveals that 32% of schools showed very low involvement by teachers in curriculum decision-making.
Some possible explanations are that major decisions are made by people holding positions of responsibility. Additionally, school leadership structures or school cultural influences have an effect on stakeholder involvement.
“Co-planning and co-teaching is useful in fostering a culture of change and flexibility towards school-based curriculum development.” (School Self- Evaluation Report, Tong Mei Road Government Primary PM School, 2004)
Graph 2.1.4 Teachers are given Opportunities to Participate in Curriculum Decisions (N=19)
2.1.5 Participants have a clear Vision for the Direction of Curriculum Planning
While 95% of the participants show a lack of a clear vision for the direction of curriculum planning, 5% of the schools have adopted a more strategic model of planning and curriculum development, one which will optimise and rationalize future actions and directions in response to changing environmental factors. Clearly this data shows room for considerable improvement in site based management and decision- making.
Dependence on the use of textbooks may have led to an inability to think strategically and long-term. Furthermore, leadership structures within the school may also have created a lack of independent decision-making ability. The data shows that there may be an opportunity for the EMB to provide this much needed strategic support by way of leadership training.
“They cannot visualise the curriculum as one independent whole, it is viewed as separate component[s], all of which are impossible to complete within one term
Graph 2.1.5 Participants have clear Vision of the Direction for Curriculum Planning (N=20)
2.1.6 There is a School Policy to Guide Curriculum Development
Only 14% of the reports indicated the presence of a school policy to guide curriculum development. However, those compiling the reports may have been unaware of a policy or simply did not refer to it.
In the event that a policy does exist, all participants in curriculum development must be made aware of the policy and follow it. In the event that a formal written policy does not exist, there is a clear need to formulate and publish it. This process would rely heavily on school leadership and EMB guidance. This data, in conjunction with the findings presented in Graph 2.1.5, exemplifies how a lack of clear vision leads to deficiencies in school policy.
“One of the long-term targets at Ho Lap Primary School in 2003-2005 has been to develop a school-based English language curriculum which is within the guidelines of the English language curriculum framework and encourage[s]
collaboration among language teachers. Within the NET Scheme, LETs and the NET are developing a suitable, balanced and cohesive school based English Language Curriculum.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Ho Lap Primary School, 2005)
Graph 2.1.6 There is a School Policy to Guide Curriculum Development (N=18)
2.1.7 Strategic Long-term Curriculum Planning has been Initiated
The findings indicate that many schools are devoting their time and energy to short and medium-term planning with very little long-term planning. A reported 61% of schools are engaged in strategic curriculum planning with neither a clear vision, nor school policy to guide it as evidenced by the data in Graph 2.1.6 and Graph 2.1.5.
The fact that 39% of respondents indicated a low level of long-term curriculum planning further reinforces the opportunities for improvement of school leadership and guidance from the EMB.
“Teachers in the P1-2 levels have undertaken some short and long term trials of adapting the curriculum … This process of reforming the programme is being done incrementally.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, SKH Wei Lun Primary School, 2005)
Graph 2.1.7 Strategic Long-term Curriculum Planning has been Initiated (N=18)
2.1.8 Parents’ and Students' Views are taken into Consideration when Curriculum Changes are made
The data shows that there is a lack of involvement by the primary stakeholders in education. It would appear that there is minimal consultation with parents in more than half the schools.
Some possible explanations could be a lack of willingness on the part of the school leadership to give up the power through the consultation process or unwillingness by third party sponsoring bodies to cede control of education to the primary stakeholders.
This may indicate a lack of focus on fiduciary responsibilities on the part of the school directors and private non-educational agendas.
“It is therefore recommended that parents are included in the change process more fully and given adequate information and education regarding curriculum reforms being implemented in the school.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Lee Chi Tat Memorial School, 2004)
Graph 2.1.8 Parents’ and Students' Views are taken into Consideration when Curriculum Changes are made (N=16)
2.1.9 How Effective are the Curriculum Changes in Enhancing Learning Outcomes?
Among the respondents, 93% found that curriculum changes had significantly changed student learning outcomes. Even though schools and school leadership may be reluctant to implement school curriculum reform, there is definitive evidence from the data that curriculum changes are positively enhancing learning outcomes. This gives further impetus to the belief that curriculum reform is necessary. Clear policy should be developed, all stakeholders need to be involved and strategic long-term plans should be formulated and then put into action.
“… a more positive response to the proposed curriculum changes and their effect on student’s motivation and learning…less emphasis on grammar over communication…clearly support the innovations as positive and productive.”
(School Self-Evaluation Report, Tsang Mui Millennium School, 2004) Graph 2.1.9 How Effective are the Curriculum Changes
in Enhancing Learning Outcomes? (N=14)
2.2 Professional Development of English Teachers
In the field of education, on-going professional development is universally recognised as indispensable. Educators have a professional duty to continually improve their craft;
and administrators have a professional duty to provide high quality professional development experiences. The commitment to professional development in Hong Kong by both administrators and educators is a measure of their dedication to their profession.
This section focuses on the following concepts:
• Teacher Growth
• Classroom Practice
• Inventive Resources
• Improved Outlook
The PNET Scheme has been successful in providing a catalyst for on-going professional development and the dissemination of innovative learning and teaching methods.
Additionally, the ATT provides a programme of continual professional development opportunities, primarily focused on centralized workshops.
From September 2002 to June 2006, a total of 435 workshops were held and 15,716 teachers (in real terms) were trained. The workshops covered a wide range of topics on English learning and teaching such as Setting up an English Language Environment, Collaborative Lesson Planning and Teaching, Textbook Adaptation, School-based Curriculum Development, Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Phonics, Choral Speaking, Poetry, Portfolios, Managing Group Activities, Formative Assessment, Parent Education, and Language Camp.
“The professional development of English teachers in this school was significantly enhanced by the NET scheme, EMB organized associated Seminar Programme. The seminar topics were relevant, well presented and timely.”
(School Self-Evaluation Report, Xianggang Putonghua Yanxishe Primary School of Science and Creativity, 2004)
2.2.1 Professional Development has led to Teacher Growth
In this data set, 23% of the respondents feel they made significant professional gains.
Over time, it is likely that these high gains will produce a knock-on effect, positively influencing classroom practice throughout the system.
It was also determined that 34% of the respondents felt they had not gained much from their professional development, because some participants attended workshops to fulfil mandatory requirements, rather than as an expression of their commitment to further learning.
“In assessing the impact of the PNET Scheme on the professional development of local teachers, the centralised seminars have made a significant contribution and their value should be acknowledged.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Christian Alliance SY Yeh Memorial Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.2.1 Professional Development has led to Teacher Growth (N=47)
2.2.2 Professional Development has led to Improved Classroom Practice
Classroom practice refers to activities such as co-operative learning, communicative tasks, and shared reading. A comparison of Graph 2.2.2 and Graph 2.2.1 shows a similarity of distribution. This can be attributed to the notion that professional development tends to correlate with improved classroom practice.
School leaders need to address that segment of teachers who have shown low gains in teacher growth and classroom practice and may not have benefited fully from professional development opportunities.
“The impact that the scheme will have on the learning outcomes of students is very closely tied to and dependent on the professional development outcomes of the whole English panel (including the NET) as they move towards school- based English curriculum development.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, CCC Kei Faat Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.2.2 Professional Development has led to Improved Classroom Practice (N=47)
2.2.3 There is Formal Reflection of Teaching Practice
Formal reflection, a key element of quality teaching practice, is a cornerstone of the PNET Scheme model. Timetabled, structured reflection is part of the co-planning process and is supported by the 88% of respondents who indicated that they have formal reflection as part of their planning and teaching cycle.
Even though the EMB places a high level of importance on formal reflection during the co-planning process, 12% of respondents indicated a low level of involvement. This presents an opportunity for school leadership to support the concept of formal reflection by providing the resources and time necessary for a successful co-planning session.
“… teachers who attended PD workshops … were also more successful in achieving the objectives of this evaluation. The results show … a distinct correlation to teacher development, planning, and the children’s attitudes to English. In other words, the more reflective the teachers are, the better the student’s outcomes are, including both results and pleasure gained from
Graph 2.2.3 There is Formal Reflection of Teaching Practice (N=25)
2.2.4 There is an Informal Collegial Culture of Sharing
Traditionally in Hong Kong, some teaching programmes have been proscribed and collegial informal sharing regarding professional matters was rare. With the advent of the PNET Scheme, a culture of professional sharing has begun to develop in many schools. This is reflected in the 73% of respondents who indicated a medium to high level of informal sharing.
“Concerning the influence on the teaching practice of the local English teachers, it seems that a large percentage of the co-teachers are grateful for the opportunity to observe a range of teaching practices, and this has given them the confidence to try new approaches. Both classroom observation and informal contact with the NET have been appreciated.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Tin Ka Ping Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.2.4 There is an Informal Collegial Culture of Sharing (N=37)
2.2.5 Factors Influencing Professional Development
This performance indicator looked at the degree to which professional development fulfilled either student focused learning needs, PNET Scheme objectives or was curriculum driven.
Graph 2.2.5 indicates that 44% of the respondents said their professional development was fulfilling PNET Scheme objectives, 16% noted that it was curriculum driven whilst 40% believed it to be student focused.
Some professional development satisfied the definition of more than one area.
Therefore, the three categories are not mutually exclusive. Any school may have professional development that was simultaneously curriculum driven, student focused and fulfilled the PNET Scheme objectives.
“Professional Development in terms of disseminating good practices, collaboration, and interaction was stifled owing to the passive and stale personality of the NET.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Shamshuipo Kaifong
Graph 2.2.5 Factors Influencing Professional Development (N=43)
Fulfilling NET Scheme Objectives
2.2.6 The NET Facilitates Professional Development
NET facilitated professional development may fall into two broad categories: incidental and formal. Contact with the NET on a day-to-day basis may, for some local staff, be considered incidental professional development. This performance indicator looked at formal NET initiated professional development such as delivery of school-based workshops.
There is a natural distribution in the ability of NETs to facilitate professional development. Within this natural distribution, the data indicates that 72% of the NETs are seen to be facilitating professional development at a medium to high level.
“The NET has provided professional development workshops on various areas including creative writing, catering for gifted students in the regular classroom ...
The topics selected have been dependent on the teachers’ needs and school’s targets ... The needs assessment assists in determining the focus area of future professional development activities, together with the targeted goals of the school in accordance with EMB trend.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Central
& Western District St. Anthony’s School, 2004)
Graph 2.2.6 The NET Facilitates Professional Development (N=43)
2.2.7 Observation is a Tool to Improve Classroom Practice
Formal observation, as currently implemented in the Hong Kong system, is used in the evaluation of teacher performance. There may be negative perceptions and practices surrounding the use of peer observation which hinders its use as a beneficial tool. This negative perception of peer observation is borne out by the fact that 0% of respondents reported high improvement resulting from observation and 53% found it to be of low value.
This negative connotation needs to be overcome before the benefits of observation can be realised in improved classroom practice. Perhaps there is an opportunity for school leadership to address the deficit in current practice by refocusing the rationale of classroom observation and release the potential benefits.
“Careful and considered peer observation is extremely valuable information to have when implementing a new teaching approach. It was reassuring to have the support of peers to help at the implementation stage …” (School Self-
Graph 2.2.7 Observation is a Tool to Improve Classroom Practice (N=19)
2.2.8 Professional Development has led to Inventive Resources
The similarities in distribution of the data presented in Graph 2.2.1 and Graph 2.2.2 and Graph 2.2.8 illustrate professional development and its effects. The correlation between teacher growth, classroom practice and resource development is strong.
Better and continued modelling of resources and strategies such as communicative activities for children, games and oral activities may improve resource development.
The real challenge is to create a positive shift the distribution of data through continued professional development, more in-depth teacher education and motivation.
“… picture cards, songs, communicative card games and other games, a birthday party that was video-taped then used later for follow-up work, class books, story-telling, show & tell, the walk around the town, shared reading, the shopping role game … all helped to motivate students and meet their needs.”
(School Self-Evaluation Report, MCC Holm Glad Primary School, 2004) Graph 2.2.8 Professional Development has led to
Inventive Resources (N=13)
2.2.9 The PNET Scheme has brought about Improved Teacher Outlook and Self-Confidence
Positive outlook and self-confidence are essential characteristics of effective teachers.
The vast majority, 93%, of the respondents attribute moderate to high gains in self- confidence and outlook to the PNET Scheme.
There are generally accepted methods for improving outlook and self-confidence that include modelling, controlled practice, in-depth understanding of the material, thorough preparation as well as praise and encouragement. The data clearly indicates that the PNET Scheme is successfully utilizing these techniques.
“This shows that the more they become involved, the more confident and enthusiastic they become. There have been huge shifts in teachers’ thinking about ways to teach English.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, St. Mary’s Canossian School, 2004)
Graph 2.2.9 The PNET Scheme has brought about Improved Teacher Outlook and Self-Confidence (N=41)
2.3 English Language Teaching Strategies
The PNET Scheme has introduced a wide variety of different teaching practices and strategies. Factors which contributed to providing an authentic, meaningful communicative environment were analyzed.
This section focuses on the following concepts:
• Alternative Grouping
• Real-time Feedback
• Resource Utilization
• Relevant Situations
• New Strategies
• Improved Learning
• Learner Focus
• Interactive Opportunities
• Questioning Techniques
The schools’ self-evaluation reports have shown that the strategies used had a direct causal effect on the improvement in learning and therefore an increase in the frequency of application of the strategies would lead to a comparable increase in learning. Other factors to consider revolve around the importance of teacher attitude rather than specific technique or strategy and the PNET Scheme as motivator injecting new ideas into the local teaching population.
“The school self-evaluation has given us an effective snapshot of what teaching and learning methods are being used within the school and also provided us with a clear direction to take in the future.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Kwai Shing Lutheran Primary School, 2004)
2.3.1 Alternative Groupings Improved Student Learning
Grouping students is a function of teaching activities which lead to improved communication and student learning. The configuration of groups varies according to the teaching objectives and student needs. This performance indicator looked at combinations other than a whole class group.
As mentioned in the ELCG 2004, “Flexible grouping is one of the strategies used to cater for variation in learners’ needs, abilities and interests.” (ELCG, 2004)
This use of alternative grouping has led to 69% of respondents noting improvement in student learning. Further exploration of alternative groupings may be warranted.
“Enjoyment of learning was increased by using cooperative learning [group]
structures.” “The overall quality of learners’ work improved when CL [cooperative learning] structures were applied conscientiously.” (School Self- Evaluation Report, Bui O Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.3.1 Alternative Groupings Improved Student Learning N=47
2.3.2 Teacher gives Suitable Real-time Feedback
Real-time feedback consists of praise, encouragement and constructive criticism delivered concurrently with production in a timely and relevant manner. Current practice shows a deficiency of real-time feedback, with 34% of respondents reporting low levels of this teaching strategy.
Real-time feedback is part of a formative assessment approach. Existing local practice takes more of a summative assessment approach. Frequently, local teachers grade class work and home work after the event with little or no review or real-time feedback. The PNET Scheme is actively promoting formative assessment and the data in the graph below shows there has been some success in this regard.
“To assist the students to stay on task and continue with their efforts the teachers provided the students with effective, frequent, and adequate feedback.
This feedback also furthered the students’ growth and learning.” (School Self- Evaluation Report, YLPMS Alumni Association Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.3.2 Teacher gives Suitable Real-time Feedback N=35
2.3.3 Teachers use a Variety of Teaching Resources
A majority of educators believe that a variety of teaching resources stimulates and motivates students. Multimedia, IT, realia, children’s reference materials, flash cards, games and language art materials are various forms of resources.
In general, schools are well resourced from both the EMB and publishers. However, the data shows 50% of respondents fail to use these resources adequately. Utilization may be hampered by a lack of motivation to access the resources or a deficit in organisation and categorisation of the resources. Additionally, schools may lack the leadership necessary to drive the use of alternative resources, promote the enthusiasm to experiment and to engage in comprehensive textbook adaptation. There also appears to be an element of cultural resistance to reuse effective lesson plans and the accompanying specifically developed resources.
“It was disappointing to see an increase in the use of textbooks after the
‘Reading Workshop’ professional development. Teachers claimed to understand and use ‘Shared Reading’ often, especially in KS1, but only 30%
Graph 2.3.3 Teachers use a Variety of Teaching Resources
2.3.4 Meaningful and Relevant Situations are Utilized
Lessons developed around students’ own personal lives, family and interests are engaging, motivating and effective. This creates meaning and relevance in learning situations, and is considered good teaching practice.
A total of 33% of respondents are not adequately using meaningful and relevant activities in classroom teaching. Creating these situations is not difficult and, perhaps the textbook is being overused in the classroom. Of the respondents, 18% utilized a high level of significant situations incorporating students’ personal experiences and daily life when designing programmes of work.
“Therefore, we provided opportunities for students to write on topics as authentic or related as possible to their daily life, and some students were requested to read their writings aloud before all the students in class and sometimes in the morning assembly.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, SKH St.
Basil’s Primary School, 2005)
Graph 2.3.4 Meaningful and Relevant Situations are Utilized
2.3.5 The PNET Scheme has Introduced New Strategies
Teaching strategies promoted by the PNET Scheme include: grouping for specific purposes, giving student feedback, creating meaningful and relevant situations, providing interactive opportunities, developing questioning techniques, using learner focused teaching, making use of a variety of appropriate resources and materials based on students’ abilities.
The analysis of the data focused on the quality of the implementation, not the quantity of strategies introduced and measures the introduction rather than the long-term adoption of the strategies.
The graph shows an even response which suggests the influence of a bi-polar distribution. This may mean a large number of respondents implemented their strategies well while an equally large number of respondents struggled with the implementation.
The successful implementation of new strategies is not only dependent on the knowledge of the strategies, but is also dependent on attitude, commitment, confidence and openness to change. The way forward includes change management techniques to create an environment conducive to the long-term, in-depth adoption of new strategies.
Graph 2.3.5 The PNET Scheme has Introduced New Strategies (N=70)
2.3.6 New Strategies have Improved Learning
Improved learning is the ultimate goal of quality teaching. This data set is more educationally significant than the previous graph because merely introducing a strategy does not ensure that learning will take place. The graph below shows the high success rate of new strategies in improving learning.
In Graph 2.3.5, 70% of respondents indicated a willingness to successfully adopt the introduction of new strategies and, in Graph 2.3.6, 75% of respondents show moderate to high improvement in learning outcomes. This may indicate a link between teacher’s attitude and student learning.
The results indicate that given the right circumstances and support such as the PNET Scheme, local teachers create effective learning situations. Examination of the raw reports that constitute the low data set in many cases indicated poor research methodology or study design and inconsistent implementation of strategies.
“We wanted to find out which methods were most successful in raising student motivation…” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Kwai Shing Lutheran Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.3.6 New Strategies have Improved Learning (N=69)
2.3.7 Strategies are Learner Focused
Learner focused strategies are the creation and delivery of “learning activities that suit the learners’ age, needs, interests, abilities, learning styles, prior knowledge and experiences.” (ELCG, 2004)
Learner focused strategies are based on formative assessment as a way to determine the comprehensive needs of the student and provide efficient learning.
The QAD External School Review indicated that the majority of lessons were teacher centred, and textbook bound (QAD Report, 2005). On the contrary, our findings of this performance indicator show that 83% of the respondents’ classes have a high or medium usage of learner centred strategies. This indicates the tremendous impact of the PNET Scheme in influencing educational strategies as compared to non-PNET Scheme classrooms and represents a fundamental shift in pedagogy.
“… a few things that we looked at for improvements include: sufficient preparation time prior to speaking tasks, more picture aids for students who have low abilities, the grouping of students to ensure the less capable students
Graph 2.3.7 Strategies are Learner Focused (N=63)
2.3.8 Interactive Opportunities Provided
Interaction, as the foundation of communication, leads to improved skills and abilities.
Interaction encompasses working collaboratively and is just one aspect of quality teaching. Many interactive opportunities are incidental. However, this data does not measure the amount of incidental interactivity but the formally structured opportunities for interaction.
Regular non-NET classes appear to have very little interaction due to local practice which tends to focus on transferring a body of knowledge. However, in this data set, 77% of the respondents claimed moderate or high levels of interaction. This demonstrates a significant increase in the amount of interaction that the PNET Scheme has facilitated.
“Large numbers of students enjoyed the Communicative Activities lessons and every involved staff member agreed that these lessons allowed for greater English–speaking opportunities.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Chow Chin Yau School, 2005)
Graph 2.3.8 Interactive Opportunities Provided (N=47)
2.3.9 Questioning Techniques are Varied
Questioning is an essential component of teaching and learning, and Bloom’s taxonomy is one useful structure with which to categorize questions (ELCG, 2004). Effective teaching incorporates questions from all levels of a recognised questioning hierarchy of this nature. However, many teachers tend to lack questioning skills as they often use predominantly recall questions.
It is atypical that the data shows only 26% of the respondents indicate a high level of variation, given the importance of questioning to educators. This may signify a lack of awareness of the importance of questioning or a cultural bias in the school. The PNET Scheme School Self-Evaluation has highlighted questioning as an area for improvement.
Questions from all hierarchical levels to be asked in class should be planned just as content and activities are planned. Higher education of prospective teachers, monitoring by school leadership and ongoing professional development must all play their part in improving the quality of techniques for questioning.
“An advantage of ‘higher order’ thinking and an enhanced ability to solve problems in English is an attribute that the school would like to pursue. Bloom’s
Graph 2.3.9 Questioning Techniques are Varied (N=34)
2.4 Students’ Knowledge and Skills in English
By design, this section doesn’t examine the learning process but rather focuses on the quantitative gain in skills and knowledge and how the students’ level of knowledge and skills impacts the elements of the PNET Scheme. The knowledge and skills that a student exhibits is a synthesis of all school learning activities and experiences.
This section focuses on the following concepts:
• Focus Area
• Improvement Levels
• Current Practice
The respondents generally focused on small discrete elements of learning and this may reflect a reluctance to think strategically about education at the grassroots level. Graph 2.4.5 shows, from the wider perspective, that schools are not learner focused even when positive outcomes have been demonstrated. Hopefully, this report will provide the impetus to look at issues from a larger, student needs perspective.
“The main focus of this action research was on student learning. There have been encouraging signs of students gaining greater interest and competence in learning English. The same could be said about the teachers.” (School Self- Evaluation Report, Oblate Fathers Primary School, 2004)
2.4.1 Area of Focus
The examination of students’ knowledge and skills was spread over the four language areas of Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing, with the greatest emphasis on reading. The advent of the revised English Language Curriculum Guide and the EMB recommendation that 40% of the English curriculum can be reading may have provided the drive to focus on this area.
Designing a listening programme may be considered complex and the learning process is difficult to analyse. This may have led to the low percentage of respondents focusing on listening.
“It became apparent that the teaching team needed to focus on students reading skills if they were to acquire proficiency in the language and develop independent learning skills.” (School Self-Evaluation Reports, TWGHs Yiu Dak Chi Memorial School, 2004)
Graph 2.4.1 Area of Focus (N=40)
2.4.2 Research Methodologies
Measuring students’ gains in knowledge and skills is conducive to diagnostic testing, action research and ongoing sampling. In this section, we see a variety of research methodologies employed. Interviews were mainly conducted with staff members and action research was mostly conducted with students.
“Using the specific text given by the LET, the NET, in consultation with the other stakeholders, decided to use the data from the Running Records taken for the Speaking test, as a base line to evaluate the effectiveness of the establishment of a Supported Reading programme, and to take the same test using the same text a year later.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Confucian Sam Lok Chow Mud Wai School, 2006)
Graph 2.4.2 Research Methodologies (N=40)
Action Research (pre and post test)
2.4.3 Level of Improvement of Knowledge and Skills Attributable to the PNET Scheme
This performance indicator consists mostly of considered opinion of each school’s self- evaluation committee. Of the respondents to this performance indicator, a substantial 57% reported a high level of improvement attributed to the PNET Scheme although there is no conclusive evidence that the PNET Scheme is solely responsible for this improvement.
One of the ongoing effects of the PNET Scheme is the establishment of a strong foundation in English language knowledge and skills leading to the acceleration of growth and development, therefore, acting as a catalyst for further learning.
“The survey indicates that we are having a significant effect on three of the weaknesses identified at the beginning of the NET Programme here and outlined in our School English Programme (NET Scheme Aims and Objectives).” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Chuen Yuen Second Primary School, 2004)
Graph 2.4.3 Level of Improvement of Knowledge and Skills Attributable to the PNET Scheme
Medium High 37%
2.4.4 Activities that Lead to Significant Improvement
The graph below shows the major types of activities that were highlighted in the reports.
However, they are not all of the activities that occur in classrooms. It is important to have a wide variety of activities to meet learners’ needs and address the various ELCG generic skills. Teaching phonics was used by 32% of the respondents and has shown to lead to significant improvement.
The activities mentioned all share the characteristic of being active rather than passive.
This reinforces the correlation between active learning and student achievement.
“In an attempt to move passive, exam oriented English students towards active creative learning and hence critical thinking the NET sorted the target classes into mixed ability teams … Within these teams, problem solving, grammar games, conversation cubes, board games and team learning activities have been featured. The level of enthusiasm among those students of lesser competency has increased dramatically. In conventional ranking examinations, scores went up in relationship to their new level of dedication to their learning”.
(School Self-Evaluation Report, St. Stephen’s Girls’ Primary School, 2004) Graph 2.4.4 Activities that Lead to Significant
Enhanced use of Resources
Teaching Phonics Skills
Peer Tutoring and Mentoring
Opportunities and Encourage-
ment for Critical and
2.4.5 The Assessed Level of Students’ Knowledge and Skills is Driving Current Practice in the Focus Area
This data set looks at assessment within the study being used to drive current practices.
The bi-polar distribution indicates a dichotomy in the application of assessment in classroom teaching.
A total of 43% of respondents indicated a low level of change resulting from assessment, confirming the concept of assessment driving practice is not well received. These schools identified learning needs through the evaluation study, but have only included recommendations relating to these needs that may be implemented in the future. A further 37% of respondents indicated a plan has been implemented. Many of these schools have a learner centred, needs based curriculum and are aware of the value and purpose of formative assessment.
“The evaluation has led to an increase in the use of English in the classroom by the English teachers and pupils have found purposes and opportunities to speak English”. (School Self-Evaluation Report, Buddhist Lam Bing Yim Memorial School, 2004)
Graph 2.4.5 The Assessed level of Students' Knowledge and Skills is driving Current Practice
in the Focus Area (N=35)
2.5 Students’ Attitudes and Interest in Learning English
This section had the largest number of responses and sample size for evaluation, probably due to the ease of measurability of responses. Most respondents used a type of action research to create data that could be tabulated and graphed. Following the advice given in the self-evaluation workshops, many schools constructed a questionnaire which was administered twice: once in autumn and again in the spring after a six-month interval. Many reports showed an enormous improvement in students’ attitude and interests which they attributed to the influence of the PNET Scheme.
This section focuses on the following concepts:
• Attitude and Interest
• Comfort Levels
• Risk Taking
• Teacher Interaction
• Peer Interaction
• English Use
Much of the analysis of this section relates to the theories of Stephen Krashen and the affective filter hypothesis. His view, that a number of 'affective variables' play a facilitative but non-causal role in second language acquisition, has great importance in the Hong Kong setting. Conversely, positive affect is vital but not sufficient on its own for acquisition to take place.
“Pupils with positive attitudes and genuine interest are better equipped for L2 learning success. Those with poor attitudes raise an affective ‘wall’. They form a mental block that impedes or even prevents effective L2 learning. We seek to determine whether our work within the PNET Scheme has helped to remove or prevent such ‘walls’.” (School Self-Evaluation Report, Yan Oi Tong Madam Lau Wong Fat Primary School, 2005)
2.5.1 Attitude and Interest toward English has Improved
Attitudes consist of those feelings or opinions related to a topic, while interest refers to the level of enjoyment derived from a topic. Overall there is an overwhelming positive response in both attitude and interest due to the inherent differences of the PNET Scheme in general, with 83% of respondents showing a medium to high level of improvement.
A possible factor that may lead to this improvement could be the diversified language learning environment created under the PNET Scheme. High levels of student interest follow from an increase in interesting activities delivered by motivated and engaged teachers. Additionally, the introduction of Language Arts and the creation of an English rich environment have made learning more enjoyable and appealing for many students.
“[The teachers] felt [their methods were] now more systematic and focused on teaching the skills needed to read. [This] was of great benefit to the students, evidenced by them displaying a greater interest in and enthusiasm for reading
Graph 2.5.1 Attitude and Interest toward English has Improved (N=190)
2.5.2 Confidence in Using English
Confidence indicates an understanding of one's skills and a belief in one's own ability to deal with situations successfully. On this performance indicator, 87% of the respondents indicated robust improvement in confidence.
Providing students with more opportunities to practice their communicative skills will lead to improved confidence. The PNET Scheme acted as a catalyst to drive a paradigm shift adding a new dimension to teaching and learning approaches and created a language rich environment. Additionally, the PNET Scheme has teachers who, due to the nature of their duties, reduce the students’ affective filter, generating more opportunities to practice their English skills.
“Teachers, classrooms and learning environments need to provide the scaffolding which gives all pupils the support and confidence they need to risk using English”. (School Self-Evaluation Report, Holy Family Canossian School, 2004)
Graph 2.5.2 Confidence in Using English (N=157)
2.5.3 Students feel more Comfortable when making a Response
Comfort levels increase when anxiety levels are reduced. Students who have reduced anxiety are more prone to make a response, and as a result, 86% of the respondents show a high to moderate increase in comfort level leading to improved response rates.
A teacher may reduce anxiety through a number of techniques. One suggested method is to provide scaffolding. Scaffolding consists of modelling, preparation, background information and structure, among other things. Building up a student’s experience and prior knowledge creates a zone of comfort enabling more relaxed responses.
Additionally, reducing the affective filter may also reduce response anxiety. Consistent teacher behaviour, constructive feedback, a supportive non-threatening environment and student-teacher trust all contribute to an effective learning environment where students have a feeling of well being when making responses.
The objectives of the PNET Scheme encapsulate these practices, and the data illustrates their effectiveness.
Graph 2.5.3 Students feel more Comfortable when making a Response (N=66)