In the 2004/05 school year, External School Review (ESR), focus inspection on various themes and Quality Assurance (QA) Inspection in its full mode were conducted in 538 schools.
The Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) began to conduct ESR in the second half of the 2003/04 school year, since then it has become the major inspection mode with 139 schools reviewed during the 2004/05 school year. Since ESR implementation, wide consultations have been conducted with schools, as well as with local and overseas experts, to inform appropriate improvements in the ESR procedures so as to complement schools’ self-evaluation for continuous development.
Chapter 2 of this report focuses on the performance of the schools inspected through ESR in the four domains of ‘Management and Organization’, ‘Learning and Teaching’,
‘Student Support and School Ethos’ and ‘Student Performance’.
Chapter 3 summarizes the major findings gathered from various focus inspections conducted in this school year. These findings facilitate the examination of the performance of schools from different perspectives and contribute to a more thorough understanding of education development in Hong Kong.
School practices in the areas of “Professional Leadership”, “Curriculum”,
“Teaching and Support for Student Development” in a number of primary and secondary schools are described, for schools’ reference, in Appendix 3. It is intended that this experience-sharing platform will effectively encourage and support schools in their work on self-improvement.
The schools that underwent ESR in 2004/05 have an overall positive response.
They feel that ESR can act as a “critical friend”, helping them identify their achievement and reflect on areas for improvement so as to establish development goals and prioritize their work. In the 2005/06 school year, ESR procedures and reporting requirements were further refined to dispel excessive worries and alleviate pressure on schools. The changes were also intended to enhance communication and mutual trust so that an open, self-reflective and self-evaluation culture will be firmly established in schools.
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Major findings of ESR: Performance of schools in individual Areas 4
2.2 Management and Organization 2.2.1 Self-evaluation
2.2.2 Planning and Administration 2.2.3 Professional Leadership
2.2.4 Staff Management
2.2.5 Planning and Management of Resources 2.2.6 Summing up
2.3 Learning and Teaching
2.3.1 Curriculum 2.3.2 Teaching
2.3.3 Student Learning
2.3.4 Performance Assessment 2.3.5 Summing up
2.4 Student Support and School Ethos
2.4.1 Support for Student Development
2.4.2 Links with Parents and External Organizations 2.4.3 School Culture
2.4.4 Summing up 2.5 Student Performance
2.5.1 Attitude and Behaviour
2.5.2 Participation and Achievement 2.5.3 Summing up
2.6 Chapter Conclusion
Chapter 3 Thematic highlight: Summary of major findings of focus inspections 29 3.1 Introduction
3.2 Chinese Language Education 3.3 English Language Education 3.4 Mathematics Education
3.5 Catering for Learner Differences
3.6 Promoting Curriculum Planning and Development through School Self-evaluation (SSE)
Chapter 4 Conclusion 59
1 List of Schools Inspected in 2004/05
2 Statistical Analysis of Post-ESR Questionnaires on ESR 3 Sharing of School Practices
List of Abbreviations
APASO Assessment Programme for Affective and Social Outcomes ASP Annual School Plans
CEG Capacity Enhancement Grant
CPD Continuous Professional Development EMB Education and Manpower Bureau
ESR External School Review
HKAT Hong Kong Attainment Tests
HKCEE Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination
IT Information Technology
KPM Key Performance Measures KLA Key Learning Areas MCE Moral and Civic Education
PIs Performance Indicators for Hong Kong Schools PTA Parent-Teacher Association
QA Quality Assurance
QAD Quality Assurance Division SBPS School-based Professional Support SDA School Development and Accountability SDP School Development Plans
SEN Special Educational Needs SMC School Management Committee SSE School Self-evaluation
SWOT strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
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Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 A total of 538 schools were inspected in the 2004/05 school year through ESR, focus inspection on various themes and full QA inspection.
1.2 A total of 139 schools underwent ESR in the 2004/05 school year, as summarized in Table 1:
Table 1: Number of schools underwent ESR
Primary Schools Secondary Schools Special Schools (Note 1)
Government 8 12 --
Aided 62 48^ 8
Direct Subsidy Scheme 1# -- --
Sub-total 71 60 8
Grand Total 139
Out of the 71 primary schools, 23 are bi-sessional (14 AM session and 9 PM session), 46 are whole-day schools, and 2 are under transition from bi-sessional to whole-day schools.
# The school has junior secondary section.
^ One of the schools adopts “through-train” mode of operation.
1.3 A total of 397 schools underwent focus inspection in the 2004/05 school year (Note 2). The areas of inspection and the number of schools involved are summarized in Table 2:
Table 2: Information on Focus Inspections
Focus Areas Primary Schools Secondary Schools Special Schools
* Chinese Language
Education 14 13 --
* English Language
Education 16 31 --
* Mathematics Education 18 17 --
Personal, Social and
Humanities Education -- 17 --
Science Education -- 14 --
General Studies 9 -- --
Arts Education 13 2 --
Technology Education -- 10 --
Physical Education 14 4 --
Efficiency in Curriculum
Leadership -- 27 --
Table 2(Cont’d): Information on Focus Inspections
Focus Areas Primary Schools Secondary Schools Special Schools
Medium of Instruction -- 7 --
* Catering for Learner
Diversity 23 21 --
Special Educational Needs -- -- 6
Follow-up Inspection 5 4 --
Learning and Teaching 1 -- --
* Enhancing Curriculum Planning and
Development through School Self-evaluation
33 24 --
Examination on the Effect of QA Inspection on School Development
32 17 5
Sub-total 178 208 11
Grand Total 397
1.4 A total of 2 schools underwent full QA inspection in the 2004/05 school year, as summarized in Table 3:
Table 3: Number of Schools Inspected in the Full QA Mode
Primary Schools Secondary Schools Special Schools
Government -- -- --
Aided 2 -- --
Sub-total 2 -- --
Grand Total 2(Note 3)
1.5 In assessing school performance, the Inspection Section used the published Performance Indicators for Hong Kong Schools (2002). Four levels of performance were used:
Grade Performance 4 Excellent (major strengths)
3 Good (strengths outweigh weaknesses) 2 Acceptable (some strengths and some weaknesses)
1 Unsatisfactory (major weaknesses)
(1) As the number of special schools inspected is relatively small and their situations vary, it is therefore inappropriate to compare their performance with those of ordinary primary and secondary schools. Chapter 2 “Major findings of External School Review” contains analyses and reports on the general performance of 60 ordinary secondary schools and 71 ordinary primary schools.
(2) As the number of schools involved in the inspection of some focus areas is too small, this report only covers focus areas marked with “*”.
1.6 This report summarizes the performance of the schools underwent ESR and focus inspections.
However, the relevant information and analyses are not meant to be generalized across the schools in the territory.
1.7 A statistical summary of the inspection findings and schools’ post-inspection questionnaire findings are set out in Appendix 2.
Major findings of External School Review:
Performance of schools in individual Areas
The major purpose of ESR is to validate the findings of the schools’ self-evaluation (SSE) and examine its mechanism and process to help ensure the functioning of quality assurance. This validation process will concentrate on whether schools have adequately considered their own development needs, abilities and potential, and applied these to implement their work strategically, evaluate their effectiveness and follow up for improvements to enhance their quality of learning and teaching. This chapter summarizes areas of excellent performance and areas in need of improvement in the SSE, and also in the remaining 13 areas of evaluation of the primary and secondaryschools (Note) that underwent ESR in the 2004/05 school year.
2.2 Management and Organization
Schools attached importance to self-evaluation. They gradually embarked on and developed self-evaluation work. Self-evaluation in most of the schools showed adequate coverage at the school, subject panel/committee and individual levels. At the school level, most schools had in recent years designated a task group to coordinate SSE, define the areas for evaluation and arrange teachers to receive relevant training. To provide assistance strategically for teachers to grasp the rationale and methods of SSE, some schools sought support from tertiary institutions or invited other schools to share successful experiences. Schools adopted an open and positive attitude towards ESR and involved all teachers to apply evidence-based and corporate judgement in SSE. A few schools with excellent performance in this area reported truly their strengths and weaknesses and made proposals for improvement. They had a high transparency in their SSE process, with active participation from teachers. Most schools were able to draw up appropriate areas of concern that were in line with curriculum reform and their own needs in the School Development Plans (SDPs), mostly in the “promotion of self-evaluation culture” and
“cultivation of students’ reading interests”. About half of the schools had developed specific implementation strategies for the areas of concern. Their Annual School Plans (ASPs) aligned well with the SDPs, and some of the schools even developed appropriate evaluation methods.
A small number of schools were able to establish specific and appropriate success criteria in accordance with the areas of concern.
At the subject panel/committee level, the subject panels/committees could generally uphold the SSE spirit and align their programme plans closely with the areas of concern of the school to realize the relevant goals. Subject panels/committees of most schools were able to give a timely evaluation of their work efficacy, and some of them even put forward recommendations for improvement. At the individual level, most schools included teacher self-evaluation in the appraisal mechanism, while a small number of schools conducted performance evaluation of panel heads and school head by teachers. Teachers’ self-evaluation in the good performing schools focused on the teaching performance. Some secondary schools also included students’
feedback in their review of teachers’ performance and appraised the teachers from different perspectives.
Apart from using the self-evaluation tools provided by the EMB, a majority of schools were able to further develop their own school-based evaluation tools, such as questionnaires and lesson observation forms to collect views from teachers, students and parents. A minority of schools also used diversified self-evaluation tools to review work performance from multiple perspectives, like using assessment forms and videotapes to evaluate the design of assignments and effectiveness of learning tasks. Most schools adopted an open attitude to gauge opinions from stakeholders through different channels. In assessing work efficiency at the school and subject panel/committee levels, self-evaluation tools provided by the EMB and school-based tools were employed to collect and analyze data. A small number of schools were able to get a clear picture of learning and teaching as well as students’ development through analysis of the findings. They could fully utilize the analyzed data to make plans for the following school year.
Most of the schools could keep stakeholders and the public well informed of their progress through various means, such as school web pages, annual reports and newsletters. A small number of schools included specifically in their annual reports the progress of work addressing various areas of concern, their achievements as well as reflections. Recommendations for improvement were also made. Schools with excellent rating reflected the spirit of SSE, specifying measures in the programme plans of the coming school year to follow up on the recommendations or modified their implementation strategies.
Areas for improvement
Although schools placed much emphasis on SSE, the SSE spirit of most of the schools has yet to be internalized. Some schools lacked self-motivation and conducted SSE merely for the sake of ESR which had affected the sustainability of their self-evaluation work.
Improvements could be made in the drawing up of areas of concern and implementation strategies in nearly half of the schools. The coverage of the areas of concern was too wide and there was a lack of comprehensive strategies. Coordination among subject panels/committees was also insufficient. A small number of schools were not able to formulate their annual
programme plans in alignment with their major concerns, or draw up specific measures to fully address the areas of concern to achieve the school goals. The subject panel/committee annual review of over half of the schools paid too much attention on the chores, or else the review was too general that problems could not be thoroughly analyzed, reflecting insufficient monitoring of self-evaluation among subject panels/committees. The leading function of the task group in developing self-evaluation work needed to be strengthened.
Most schools could not develop comprehensive success criteria appropriate to the areas of concern, with some of them lacking proper evaluation methods. Schools generally had defined quantitative success criteria, but little attention was paid to the qualitative requirements that were in line with the goals and implementation strategies, so comprehensive assessment on work efficacy could not be conducted. During the process of SSE, schools had formulated plans to collect and analyze data, yet most schools did not make good use of the data collected through the Stakeholders’ Survey, the Key Performance Measures (KPM) and Assessment Programme for Affective and Social Outcomes (APASO) as well as information from students’ performance assessment, to thoroughly examine learning and teaching and students’ development, review the effectiveness of their work and modify the implementation strategies. Improvement in formulating success criteria and the use of data should be made and there is a pressing need to enhance teacher training in this area.
The annual reports of over half of the schools focused on school routine tasks with no SSE on areas of concern or recommendations for improvement. Some schools failed to take appropriate actions or formulate any plans to follow up on the review findings thoroughly at the school or subject panel/committee level.
As the management of some schools paid too much attention to acquiring favourable comments from ESR or bore unnecessary worries about and fear of ESR, and failed to have a full grasp of the rationale and methods of self-evaluation, too much time and effort were spent on unnecessary paperwork, such as requiring teachers to develop excessive questionnaires to collect data. Some schools, when preparing for the ESR, even required teachers to reorganize minutes of meetings and produce massive reports without providing adequate clerical support. This had greatly increased teachers’ pressures and workload and the situation was similar to that in the previous year which requires immediate adjustment.
Most of the schools could not timely review the self-evaluation mechanism, including reviewing the planning, implementation, co-ordination and monitoring functions of the task group which took the lead in developing self-evaluation work. This had affected the development of the schools’ continuous self-improvement.
2.2.2 Planning and Administration
A majority of schools were able to establish a proper organization structure in accordance with the school development and the human and financial resources available. It had clear levels and lines of reporting, and the duties and responsibilities of all subject panels/committees were well defined. Coordination and collaboration among subject panels/committees of nearly half of the schools were effective with good communication between different levels. The presence of a good coordination mechanism could enhance the overall work efficacy of the schools.
Most of the schools had clear educational goals that were in line with the development of education reform and provided a balanced development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics. The School Management Committees (SMCs) of a majority of the schools had clear vision and mission in the running of their schools. With good understanding of the education trends and the school development, the SMCs set the direction of development, provided financial support, led and monitored the operation of the schools. Their duties were clearly defined and they maintained close links with all other members.
Most schools attached importance to the involvement of teachers in policy formulation.
Appropriate mechanism was in place for teachers to express their views in the decision-making process to strengthen their team spirit. A small number of schools also sought parents’ views during the formulation of school policies.
Most of the schools had drawn up clear guidelines that had a good coverage for their daily operation. They had also drawn up guidelines for crisis management for teachers’ reference, resulting in smooth operation.
Areas for improvement
The duties and responsibilities of subject panels/committees in a small number of schools were not clearly defined. The functions of some administrative committees were similar or duplicated and the management framework should be further streamlined. The middle management posts in individual schools had remained vacant for years and this affected the overall efficacy in administration.
Nearly 60% of the schools had not yet included representatives of stakeholders, such as teachers and parents, in the SMC. The transparency and accountability of the school administration needed to be strengthened.
The decision-making process in a minority of schools was not open enough. The school management did not make effective use of various internal communication channels to seek for staff consultation. The culture of corporate discussions had yet to be further developed.
2.2.3 Professional Leadership
The SMCs in most schools were able to draw up clear school aims and guiding principles in light of the education trends and the schools’ own contexts. They actively tapped internal and external resources and provided sufficient financial support for the school development. Most of the SMC members came from professional and educational sectors and were familiar with the education issues. The supervisors possessed rich experience in the running of schools and they trusted and supported the school heads. The SMC of a small number of schools actively participated in school affairs or teachers’ professional development activities, such as panel meetings, lesson observation or workshops, and helped strengthen school-based management.
Most of the school heads were well experienced in administration. They had educational vision and understood the education trends. School heads of over half of the schools were able to lead teachers in mapping out the school development and drawing up appropriate areas of concern in accordance with the school contexts and resources available. They could carry out the function of curriculum leadership effectively, such as the progressive implementation of the four key tasks and development of school-based curriculum. About half of the school heads adopted an open attitude in the personnel and resources management. They encouraged innovation and could properly deploy the staff according to their strengths. They were attentive towards the communication and relationship with staff and parents and could maintain close links with outside bodies. Internal and external resources were also effectively employed to promote teaching and learning. A small number of school heads could foster academic research and action research in a well-planned manner to enhance teachers’ professionalism and develop the school into a learning organization. Deputy heads in nearly half of the schools had good knowledge of the school and effectively assisted the school heads. They not only served as communication channels between the school management and the subject panels/committees, but also played a leadership role in the planning, promotion and monitoring of the school development to realize the development goals. Middle managers in nearly half of the schools were committed to their work. Under their effective leadership, the subject panels/committees were able to establish mutual support and cooperation.
In over half of the schools, the school management worked truthfully with the staff, treasured their views and contributions and strove to establish a collaborative culture among teachers to foster team spirit.
Areas for improvement
About 30% of the school management was not able to carry out their leadership and monitoring functions effectively in leading and fostering the school development. Being the head of an organization, the school heads had yet to strengthen in strategic leadership and curriculum
attained between empowerment and accountability. They did not ensure appropriate and timely review of work effectiveness after delegation of power to foster continuous improvement of learning and teaching. Some school heads paid little regard to the communication with the teachers and had resulted in increasing dissatisfaction among the staff, or they did not fully inform the SMC about school affairs to let the SMC have a full grasp of the situation. Nearly half of the deputy school heads only followed what the school heads instructed them to do and were not able to effectively carry out their communication and monitoring functions.
Performance of the middle managers in about half of the schools, particularly the panel heads, was noted to be unsatisfactory in the planning and monitoring of the panel work. They should devote more effort in promoting learning and teaching in alignment with the new developments of curriculum reform.
The school management of some schools could not effectively relieve teachers’ pressures by providing them with appropriate space for professional development. As some of the school management failed to have a full grasp of individual polices, they gave teachers undue orders or requests, such as reorganizing minutes of meetings of recent years etc. in dealing with ESR, resulting in unnecessary or excessive workload for the teachers.
A small number of schools needed to boost teachers’ morale and their sense of belonging. The school management did not adopt an open attitude in accepting teachers’ views to enhance communication with them. Team spirit was not fully developed to foster collaboration among subject panels/committees.
2.2.4 Staff Management
Most of the schools assigned teaching and administrative work according to the ranks, experience and specialities of teachers as far as possible. The distribution of work was clear, fair and reasonable. Over half of these schools took account of teachers’ wishes, and enhanced transparency through discussion with teachers to gain their acceptance towards the distribution of work. Some of the schools deployed teachers flexibly in the distribution of teaching and non-teaching duties to meet the development needs of the school, such as school-based policies of specialized teaching and catering for the students with special educational needs. A small number of schools formulated plans to involve teachers in administrative work to facilitate the implementation of policies, and also provide further training to those moving up the management ladder.
Schools generally paid attention to the professional development of teachers, allocating resources in line with the schools’ areas of concerns and teachers’ needs. Some schools had assigned a task group or teacher to plan and coordinate teachers’ professional development programme. A majority of schools provided the staff with various external and school-based training and promoted teachers’ professional exchanges by means of collaborative lesson
preparation, peer lesson observation and sharing sessions. To raise the professional capabilities of the teachers, a small number of schools intentionally promoted research in pedagogy or action research, participated in collaborative programmes run by tertiary institutions or arranged exchanges abroad. Most of the schools maintained comprehensive information for professional development and training records of teachers that were useful in the planning and follow-up of the teachers’ professional development needs.
Most of the schools provided teachers with active support. Apart from creating room for teachers by means of allocating resources to hire additional staff and deploying non-teaching staff to support teaching, study grants for continuous development were also provided to meet the development needs of the schools. Over half of the schools rendered appropriate support and training to the newly recruited or less experienced teachers. Through mentor programme and peer partnership programme, teachers were able to adapt to their work and integrate into the school culture in a short time.
Over half of the schools had established an appraisal system with well-defined goals, clear procedures and sufficient coverage. The appraisal process was fair, just and open with focus on reflecting the strengths and weaknesses of the staff for the promotion of professional development. A small number of schools had established well-defined assessment criteria, and staffs were consulted in the formulation process to enhance transparency. Most of the schools had introduced the mechanism for self-evaluation of teachers to encourage self-reflection and self-improvement. Furthermore, a small number of schools implemented the mechanism for evaluation of panel heads and school head by teachers to enhance accountability.
Areas for improvement
Less than half of the schools fell short of having an ideal appraisal system. The objectives of appraisal were not clear and major assessment items in teaching and non-teaching areas were not included. Feedback appropriate to the development needs of teachers was insufficient and hence could not effectively promote reflection and enhance professional development in teachers. The middle managers in a small number of schools only provided opinions for the school management on the performance of the staff. They failed to play the appraiser and monitoring role to acquire deeper understanding and assess thoroughly on the capabilities and professional development needs of teachers. Such arrangement undermined the effectiveness of the appraisal system to a certain extent.
A small number of schools were not able to formulate school-based professional development strategies for teachers that were in line with the schools’ areas of concern. Information gathered from appraisal was not effectively utilized to map out long-term and short-term professional development plans to meet teachers’ development needs and enhance their professional capacity.
2.2.5 Planning and Management of Resources
The school management of most schools was well aware of the schools’ financial situation and deployed the resources according to the development needs so that areas of concern could be addressed to. The SMC of most schools were concerned about the financial management. It could review regularly the use of financial resources and monitor the financial operation according to strict budgetary approval procedures and relevant management mechanism to ensure the proper use of resources. The subject panels/committees in general could examine regularly their use of funds. Some schools even set up a finance panel for budget formulation and established a mechanism to monitor and review regularly the income and expenditure, so that tasks could be carried out effectively and better outcomes could be achieved. The financial operation was transparent in most schools. They reported their financial situation to the parents through their school websites and school newsletters etc.
Most of the schools could make good use of the Capacity Enhancement Grant (CEG) to increase their manpower, e.g. employing additional teachers, teaching assistants, information technology (IT) assistants and external instructors, etc. to relieve the workload of teachers and create more capacity for them. The CEG was also used to provide diversified activities and learning experiences for students and support those with special learning needs. Over half of the schools could actively solicit external resources e.g. the Quality Education Fund, subsidy from other organizations and resources from the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), etc. to develop their areas of concern and implement other projects so that the effectiveness in learning and teaching could be enhanced.
Most of the schools had fairly good facilities and ample resources, and their IT and library facilities were adequate. Teaching resources were properly provided and managed. Schools were able to make good use of campus space to provide additional facilities related to their own development characteristics, e.g. campus broadcasting station, visual arts gallery and reading kiosk, etc. Schools also decorated their special rooms purposefully. They also endeavoured to improve the learning environment, beautify the campus, display students’ work and disseminate information, etc. to create an attractive school environment and enhance the learning atmosphere for students. A small number of schools also arranged activities catering for students’ needs outside school hours to enrich their school life. Facilities including the library and IT centre, etc. were open after school hours to support learning and help develop the reading habit and self-learning abilities of students.
In most schools, teachers were provided with accessible space to keep their teaching resources.
The teaching resources were also kept, maintained and updated in accordance with the established guidelines and procedures and proper control was seen. Most of the schools used IT facilities to develop their own teaching and learning database that teachers and students could access through the school network.
Areas for improvement
The subject panels/committees in most schools did not know adequately how to draw up a budget for their expenditure according to the school’s areas of concern and the subject’s development needs. The subject panels/committees in a small number of schools failed to review the position and effectiveness of their spending regularly and could not properly use the information to make necessary modifications to their plans for the next financial year.
Financial planning in a small number of schools was not properly drawn up. No effective mechanism and procedure was found for the staff to participate in budgeting and financial review. Planning and use of resources would be more relevant to the development needs of the school and subject panels/committees, and greater efficacy could then be achieved otherwise.
2.2.6 Summing Up
Schools that have undergone ESR attained the most outstanding performance in the area of
“Planning and Management of Resources”, but less satisfactory in the “Self-evaluation”. This situation was similar to that of last year. Although schools showed improvements in formulating the areas of concern and greater attention was given to the collection and analysis of data in evaluating the performance at various levels, most of the schools failed to internalize the spirit of SSE and lacked self-motivation, and thus affected their continuous self-improvement.
Most schools had not been able to fully grasp the use of data, especially the internal assessment information of students, to examine the problems in learning, teaching and students’
development so as to review the effectiveness of their work. When success criteria were devised, the qualitative criteria in relation to the objectives and strategies were very often overlooked, and thus the outcomes could not form a comprehensive view. There was still room for improvement in the self-evaluation mechanism so that the function of quality assurance could be adequately achieved. The school performance in “Planning and Administration”,
“Professional Leadership” and “Staff Management” was quite good. Most of the schools had a clear organization structure and valued the participation of teachers in decision-making.
Teachers were also assigned teaching and administrative work according to their ranks, experiences and specialities. Staff was provided with various external and school-based training. However, the appraisal system required further improvement in nearly half of the schools. School heads in most of the schools were well experienced in administration, had educational vision and were familiar with the developments in education. Nevertheless, the leadership and monitoring functions of nearly 30% of the school management and nearly half of the middle management had yet to be strengthened. The school management in a small number of schools should actively enhance their communication with the teachers and the collaboration among the subject panels/committees.
2.3 Learning and Teaching
The curriculum in a vast majority of the schools was in line with curriculum reform and the coverage was sufficiently broad. Over half of the schools were able to devise the school-based curriculum as well as long term and yearly focus areas for curriculum development according to the needs of students and school development. The objectives of the curriculum were clear and specific. A small number of secondary schools had started to plan for the new senior secondary curriculum by trying to integrate related subjects to offer Liberal Studies, and the planning of their curriculum was forward looking.
Schools were active in implementing the key tasks to help students develop independent learning abilities as well as positive values and attitudes. A great majority of the schools endeavoured to promote “Reading to Learn”, with more than 80% of the schools formulated it as their area of concern in the previous three years. To encourage students to develop good reading habits, suitable reading activities were arranged, including reading schemes, reading lessons, morning/afternoon reading sessions, etc. to create an atmosphere conducive to reading.
Reading strategies were taught in some primary schools in relevant subjects to help students grasp their reading skills, and the effects were gradually apparent. Most of the schools introduced “Moral and Civic Education” (MCE) by means of diversified activities and curriculum. The positive values and attitude of students were developed through morning assembly, personal growth learning programme, service learning and thematic activities, etc.
“Project Learning” was introduced in over half of the schools, and among them over half employed the cross-subject approach, and arranged outdoor learning activities, such as visits and field trips etc, to develop students’ study skills. As regards “IT for Interactive Learning”, over half of the schools earnestly improved their hardware facilities. They built up on-line platforms for teachers to share the teaching resources, and also developed self-learning and teaching software to facilitate student learning. IT facilities in a small number of schools provided relevant support for project learning and helped to improve students’ abilities in data collection and report writing through the use of computer.
Most of the schools were determined to develop the generic skills of students. Apart from focusing on developing students’ communication, creativity and critical thinking skills, schools also looked into students’ needs and further developed their skills in studying, collaboration and problem-solving, etc. through relevant subjects and activities. This was properly arranged.
Over half of the schools also focused on promoting biliteracy and trilingualism. In English Language, native English-speaking teachers were employed to teach the subject and assist in curriculum adaptation. Along with this, activities such as “big books”, phonics, writing and reading, etc. were introduced, and English Corners were also set up. All these provided more opportunities and facilities to encourage students to use more English. As regards Chinese
Language teaching, a small number of schools participated in the related seed projects and student-oriented education. A small number of schools also introduced the character-learning approach and creative writing. Individual schools even adopted Putonghua to be the medium of instruction in Chinese lessons. Students were developed to be biliterate and trilingual through various measures and strategies.
To tie in with curriculum reform, nearly half of the schools arranged life-wide learning opportunities for students to enrich their experiences. Co-curricular activities introduced in over 30% of the schools were closely related to the curriculum. Apart from visits and field trips, individual schools even organized visits to the mainland and video-conferences with students in foreign countries, and the nature of which was quite diversified. As regards catering for learner differences, a great majority of the schools could timely identify students who needed enhancement and remedial measures. With measures like remedial teaching groups, Intensive Remedial Teaching Programmes in Primary School and enrichment courses, etc., learning support was provided for students. Some schools adopted the ability grouping approach, arranged curriculum adaptation and after-school tutorial classes according to students’ abilities. Individual schools also organized Primary 1 (P1) adaptation courses or Secondary 1 (S1) bridging courses to help newcomers adapt to the learning environment, and such arrangement was appropriate.
Lesson time in schools was in general appropriately arranged. Over half of the schools arranged lesson time flexibly to tie in with curriculum reform and school-based curriculum.
Various measures, including school-based curriculum periods, co-curricular activity time, reading time, project learning week, etc. were introduced. Double periods or collaboration lesson preparation periods were also arranged so that teachers were allotted sufficient time for learning activities and lesson preparation to optimize the use of their lesson time. Schools in general could deploy the resources properly for curriculum development, e.g. using CEG to employ additional teachers or teaching assistants to support the implementation of their curriculum. A small number of schools also used the Quality Education Fund to develop their major concerns such as reading schemes and project learning, etc. In addition, nearly half of the schools also solicited external support to assist teachers in developing the curriculum.
Schools in general had committed themselves to promoting professional exchanges among teachers so as to establish a collaborative culture. Collaborative lesson preparation and peer lesson observation were carried out in a majority of the schools to promote the culture of professional sharing. A number of schools organized review meetings regularly to enhance the learning and teaching effectiveness through discussion, reflection and improvement recommendations. In a small number of schools, professional exchanges and collaborative culture were further enriched through collaboration among subject panels/committees and cross-subject collaborative teaching. A small number of schools set up a task group to systematically review the effectiveness of various curriculum measures. Some of the primary
effectively, follow curriculum reform closely, plan, coordinate and develop school-based curriculum practically. They strove to assist colleagues to implement the various curriculum programmes and had had shown remarkable performance.
Areas for Improvement
The planning for the implementation of the key tasks was not comprehensive enough in a small number of schools. Some schools did not provide sufficient guidance to students on reading strategies. Some schools failed to duly merge MCE into subject teaching. Neither could they promote independent learning and develop students’ generic skills effectively. Project learning in some schools was still at the initial stage and the study skills of students had yet to be developed. As regards IT for interactive learning, the progress in a small number of schools was slow and self-learning software for students was yet to be developed.
There was still room for development in catering for learner differences. Curriculum adaptations and implementation strategies in a small number of schools did not suit students’
abilities and needs, and thus were ineffective in helping students learn and meet their diversified needs.
The group in charge of curriculum development coordination or some subject panels/committees in a small number of schools could not adequately function in curriculum planning and management. Their supervision on curriculum development was inadequate. In most of the schools, subject panel heads were not given the proper authority to conduct lesson observation and see how effective the curriculum was in order to carry out reviews and give support to curriculum development. A small number of schools failed to formulate specific success criteria based on curriculum objectives, and therefore could not effectively evaluate the overall curriculum development.
2.3.2 Teaching Strengths
A small number of schools were able to take students’ needs into account and devise teaching strategies for the whole school to promote interactive learning in class. Teachers in these schools could generally use the whole-school teaching strategies, such as group learning activities, and give students opportunities to answer questions, participate in discussion and presentation. The collaborative and communication skills of students were strengthened and the effect was pleasing.
In general, teachers possessed good communication skills. Their clear and organized explanations as well as eloquent demonstrations of the teaching contents were conducive to students’ better understanding of the lesson. Teachers in about half of the schools could set out specific teaching objectives. Their lessons were well planned with well-organized
activities. Teaching thus proceeded progressively and was effective in facilitating learning.
Most teachers possessed sufficient subject knowledge. They were conscientious in teaching and lesson preparation was adequate. They were friendly and maintained a good rapport with students, thus creating a harmonious learning atmosphere in class. They could also manage the classroom discipline properly, so teaching was conducted smoothly and students could learn effectively.
Teachers in nearly half of the schools could use teaching resources properly to facilitate student learning, e.g. using classroom resources and teaching aids like real objects and pictures, etc. to motivate students’ learning and strengthen the teaching effects. Most teachers could use IT to support teaching and display the teaching materials and contents appropriately. Students’
interest in the topics was aroused and they could understand and master the contents better.
Teachers in a small number of schools were able to relate the topics to students’ own knowledge and experiences and arrange class activities relative to their abilities and interests, e.g. group discussion, presentation and role-play, etc. Students’ learning motives were sustained and their initiative in learning was aroused as they were allowed adequate opportunities to discuss and exchange views to strengthen classroom interaction, and develop generic skills in communication, collaboration and problem-solving, etc. Some teachers could also tactfully incorporate self-evaluation and peer evaluation to nurture students’ critical thinking skills and the spirit of self-improvement.
Areas for Improvement
Teachers in nearly half of the schools did not give sufficient praise and encouragement to students. They therefore could neither boost students’ confidence and motivation in learning nor reinforce their positive behaviour. As for students’ responses, teachers did not provide timely follow-ups and specific feedback to help students construct knowledge.
In nearly half of the schools, teachers’ questioning techniques were merely mediocre. Their questions mostly focused on checking the knowledge students had acquired rather than using different levels of questions to provoke students’ thinking. As the questions were not stimulating enough, teachers could not effectively guide students to reflect and boost their creativity, and hence students’ critical thinking skills and creativity were not fully developed.
Most teachers also failed to take account of the unique features of the subject and inject elements of creativity in class aptly to develop the students’ creativity.
Teachers in nearly half of the schools had low expectations of their students. As a result, the depth and breadth of their teaching could hardly suit their students’ learning abilities, and the difficulty of class activities and tasks was not being elevated sufficiently to develop students’
In some English Language lessons or subjects using English as the medium of instruction, teachers used a mixed code of English and Chinese. They were not able to stick to the language policy of using English as the medium of instruction. Students were not provided with a suitable language learning environment, one with greater exposure to listening and more opportunities to use the language, to boost their confidence and raise their proficiency in English.
Class interaction in most of the schools was average. Lessons were teacher-centred, focused on the chalk-and-talk approach and were textbook-bound. Students’ participation was insufficient. Interaction between teachers and students as well as among the students was inadequate. Effective ways to encourage students to engage in proactive learning were absent.
For lessons with group learning activities, some of the activities did not have clear objectives and failed to tie in with the learning and teaching objectives. The planning of some activities was not thorough enough and did not match with students’ abilities and their prior knowledge.
Before the group activities commenced, instructions or requirements from teachers were not clearly given. During the activities, some teachers did not follow closely to give timely guidance and feedback to help students construct knowledge. They also failed to master the techniques in leading group activities, and as a result the effectiveness of collaborative learning and group learning was weakened.
IT was seldom employed for interactive learning in class, and instead it was mainly used for displaying teaching materials and lesson contents.
In the aspect of catering for learner differences, most teachers could not flexibly adjust their teaching strategies or contents to cater for students’ varied abilities, needs and performance and could hardly develop their potentials appropriately.
2.3.3 Student Learning
Students in a majority of the schools were attentive in class. Class discipline was good and students showed interest in learning. They could follow teachers’ guidance in class activities.
They were willing to respond to teachers’ questions and were cooperative. Students in a small number of schools were proactive. They were eager to express their views and raise questions to clear up doubts so as to understand the topics better and improve learning. For lessons with group activities, most students were active and willing to share with their classmates.
Most students could comprehend and master the learning objectives of their lessons. In a small number of schools, students were able to use appropriate learning strategies, including preparations before lessons, listening attentively in class, jotting down key points on their own initiative, etc. to facilitate learning. As seen from their assignments, students in some of the schools could master the IT skills, including searching websites and collecting, organizing,
analyzing and presenting information, etc. to complete their tasks such as project learning reports. A large number of students had already developed the habit of on-line reading.
Students in over half of the schools were able to express themselves well in Chinese verbally.
From students’ responses to questions raised by teachers or discussions with classmates and oral presentations, the meanings expressed were in general complete. Their speech was clear, eloquent and organized. Their communication skills were quite good and some students also displayed sufficient confidence.
Schools were active in trying various means to promote reading, e.g. whole-school morning/afternoon reading sessions as well as other reading award schemes and activities, etc.
Consequently, students’ interest in reading was enhanced and students could in general read in silence during the reading sessions. From the key performance measure data, about 60% of the primary students read once or more per week, or borrowed reading materials from their school library once every two weeks.
Areas for Improvement
Given the restrictions of the teacher-centred approach, the mode of learning in most of the schools was of a passive nature. Most of the time, students listened to teachers’ elaborations and followed teachers’ instructions to carry out class activities. Students seldom took the initiative to ask questions or express their views. Learning strategies such as jotting down key points and pre-class preparation, etc. had yet to be promoted. In general, students’
self-learning abilities should further be strengthened.
In less than half of the schools, students’ power of expression in oral Chinese was mediocre.
Their vocabularies were not rich as seen from their responses and reports. Contents of their reports were too simple and they had inadequate expression skills and confidence. When using English, most students were not capable of using the language fluently and they lacked confidence. Their answers were mainly in short phrases and they did not get accustomed to using English to express their views and communicate with the teachers. On the whole, students needed to strengthen their ability of expressing themselves well in English.
The critical thinking skills and creativity of students in over half of the schools were average.
There were insufficient opportunities to develop students’ critical thinking skills and creativity.
Students generally failed to make use of the learning opportunities in class to reflect and carry out in-depth analysis and examination of the topics covered.
2.3.4 Performance Assessment
and curriculum development objectives. They had suitably adopted formative and summative assessments. Some schools could strike a balance between “Assessment of Learning” and
“Assessment for Learning”. Apart from using tests and examinations for summative assessment, diversified modes of assessment were also adopted. Nearly half of the schools adopted assessment modes other than tests and examinations systematically so as to have a comprehensive assessment of students’ learning progress. Project learning was most commonly used, and other methods, like daily assignments, class performance, reading reports, etc. were also widely employed. Individual secondary schools assessed students’ performance by means of on-line exercises, experimental tasks and international assessment programme, etc.
Furthermore, different modes of assessment by various parties were adopted. In addition to teacher assessment, peer assessment and self-assessment were implemented in certain subjects to encourage students to reflect and improve learning. Some schools also invited parents to participate in assessment, enabling them to gain more insights into their children’s studies.
Most schools could formulate appropriate student assignment policies for all subject panels/committees to follow. Schools paid attention to the effectiveness of the assignments and endeavoured to design diversified assignments. A majority of the schools designed assignments that would develop the generic skills of their students. Apart from communication skills and creativity, they also gave priority in developing students’ skills in collaboration, study, problem-solving and the use of IT. A small number of the primary schools also managed to develop their students’ generic skills through the design of project learning and the effects were gradually seen. A small number of schools could design excellent assignments that were related to their students’ life experiences, so that the students could demonstrate what they had experienced in real life. This arrangement was appropriate.
More than half of the schools had clear question-setting guidelines and a proper examination papers review mechanism to ensure the effectiveness and fairness of their assessment system.
The frequency of tests/examinations was generally appropriate, and individual schools could suitably reduce the number of tests/examinations to create capacity for teachers and students to engage in more learning and teaching activities. The coverage of tests/examinations was sufficient. A small number of schools used open-ended questions to assess students’ abilities more extensively, in particular their skills in thinking and analyzing. Subject panels/committees were able to provide clear marking schemes for teachers’ references. As regards catering for learner differences, some schools adopted a fair assessment policy. The contents of their tests and examinations had taken into account the abilities of both low and high achievers. A small number of schools also made special test or examination arrangements for students with special educational needs, e.g. enlargement in the font size of test/examination papers, extended examination time, oral reading of test/examination contents, etc. Learners’
special needs were properly taken care of.
Students’ assessment information was systematically recorded in most schools. A small number of schools uploaded the assessment information on their own intranet for teachers’ easy
reference and follow-up. Individual schools also had a special register for recording students’
non-academic performance so that more comprehensive assessment information was maintained.
Over half of the schools used different means to keep parents informed of the academic and non-academic learning progress of their children, e.g. report cards, activity records, school intranet, parents’ association, exhibitions to display the outcomes of project learning and task reports, etc. Individual schools also used learning portfolios to enable the parents to better understand their children’s learning.
Areas for Improvement
Some schools had not formulated a whole-school policy for the implementation of “Assessment for Learning”. A small number of schools still focused on summative assessment and their modes of assessment lacked diversification.
The test/examination papers of a small number of schools still focused on checking students’
rote memorization of the knowledge taught and failed to assess students’ learning progress comprehensively. In a few Chinese-medium schools, English questions were included in the test/examination papers at the junior level. The medium of instruction policy was not strictly adhered to and students with slower progress were especially affected.
Most schools could not make good use of the assessment information to improve learning and teaching. Although reviews were made after tests or examinations, the focus was placed on comparing students’ marks. There was not any in-depth exploration of students’ strengths and weaknesses or evaluation of the effectiveness of learning and teaching. As a result, no specific follow-up plans were formulated to enhance learning.
2.3.5 Summing up
In the domain of ‘Learning and Teaching’, schools performed relatively well in the area of
“Curriculum”. They could largely formulate their long term plans and ASPs for curriculum development according to curriculum reform and school needs. They also attached importance to enhance students’ generic skills and facilitate teachers’ professional development. Schools also showed considerable achievements in “Performance Assessment”. Some schools employed diversified modes of assessment and assessment by various parties to evaluate and discern the learning progress of students. As for “Teaching”, there was much room for improvement, in particular in the area of class interaction and catering for learner differences. Teaching was mainly teacher-centred and class interaction was inadequate. Teachers had yet to employ suitable teaching strategies to cater for learner differences. Regarding “Student Learning”, there was also much room for improvement. Students were passive in learning and were not provided with adequate
learning performance and teaching performance.
2.4 Student Support and School Ethos
2.4.1 Support for Student Development
A great majority of the schools paid much attention to the support for student development.
They had drawn up goals in this area according to the school’s own vision, trend of education reform and students’ needs. SDPs and ASPs were also devised with reference to these goals.
To carry out their work, schools deployed internal resources and actively solicited external resources to provide diversified support services for student development to meet students’
various needs. Over half of the schools had a clear support framework with a clear delineation of duties. Task groups were also established according to the development needs so that the support services could be planned more comprehensively. As such, different subject panels/committees were well coordinated to realize the goals of development. Some schools had their monitoring function effectively carried out and they could make use of the school-based information and various data to evaluate the quality of their services. They also had proper follow-up measures for continuous service improvement.
Most schools had established their own policies and priorities for support services. A series of support schemes and activities, with wide coverage and in diversified modes, were implemented to facilitate students’ whole-person development. The support programmes and activities in some schools were carefully planned. They were carried out with cross-committee collaboration to integrate the activities of all the subject panels/committees. A whole-school participation atmosphere was created, which had proven to be effective in addressing the needs of students at different stages.
The school rules and the system of reward and punishment were clear and reasonable in most schools. They used a positive approach to nurture good behaviour and attitude. In handling students’ misconduct, about 40% of the schools could provide opportunities for students to realize positive behavioural change and encourage them to improve. Individual schools also revised the school rules and their system of reward and punishment where necessary. They could also obtain opinions from parents and students in a timely manner and gained their support. In over half of the schools, the Discipline Team and Guidance Team were supportive to each other and with good collaboration. They formulated appropriate policies for discipline and guidance, and carried them out with concerted efforts. The two teams could also provide appropriate professional counselling for students in need and could follow-up students’
Most schools provided activities relevant to students’ abilities and interests to enrich their learning experiences and develop their potential. The types and modes of extra-curricular
activities were diversified and with sufficient coverage. Some of them had proper coordinating and monitoring mechanisms to ensure the students had fair chances to participate in activities. They could also provide financial support to students in need. Individual schools recorded students’ participation and performance in the activities systematically, and commended those with outstanding performance.
In most schools, MCE was promoted through formal curriculum and diversified activities to cover various areas of value education. A small number of schools could even devise their own development theme and the coordination among various subject panels/committees was effective, and achieved significant results. A small number of schools also tried to make good use of life events to encourage students to pay more attention to current social affairs. Under specific contexts, students were asked to analyze specific issues from different perspectives and their positive values and attitude could be gradually developed. Nearly half of the primary schools and a small number of secondary schools endeavoured to develop students’ spirit of serving others and sense of responsibility by various internal and external serving opportunities.
A small number of schools also organized different kinds of activities to enhance students’
knowledge of their mother country and the Chinese culture to strengthen their national identity and the effect was quite good.
More than half of the schools could provide relevant orientation support for new students to facilitate their early integration into school life. As regards the guidance on further studies and career, most of the schools could provide suitable information for students. A small number of secondary schools could even approach this strategically by inviting professionals or working alumni to participate in mentor schemes. Through such activities, students had a better understanding of themselves and were properly guided to consider their plans for future studies and career as well as to get more prepared for future development.
Most schools had established mechanisms and procedures for the early identification of students with special educational needs and arranged professional referral and follow-up services for them. For schools admitting students with special educational needs, over half of them provided various means of support, such as enrichment/remedial lessons, Peer Support Assistance Scheme, individualized learning support programmes, etc. to cater for students’
different needs and let them integrate into school life.
Areas for Improvement
Although most schools had formulated relevant support policies, the coordination and monitoring mechanisms in some schools were still incomplete in supporting various subject panels/committees in planning their work according to their needs. There was insufficient coordination among different subject panels/committees, and also inadequate supervision on the progress of implementing support services. The assessment information was not used to examine the effectiveness of their work, and so the overall efficacy of the support services was
The discipline and guidance work was just superficial in a small number of schools. Their activities or programmes could not meet students’ needs. The disciplinary and guidance skills of the teachers were inadequate and fell short of implementing disciplinary and guidance policy of the school.
A small number of schools had to strengthen their coordination in extra-curricular activities.
They could not yet plan activities according to students’ interests and abilities. They had not provided students with ample opportunities and fair chances for participation in activities, and obviously, the needs of junior primary students were relatively more neglected. A small number of secondary schools failed to provide sufficient opportunities to develop students’
skills in leadership and activity planning.
The coordination of MCE in a small number of schools was insufficient. The planning of the related curriculum could not fulfill the school objectives. Teachers also did not possess adequate skills to implement MCE and failed to embed the elements of value education into the subject curriculum or activities. They had to put in more professional training in this area.
As regards the support to students with special educational needs, a small number of schools could not provide adequate and relevant support to help such students integrate into school life.
The skills of teachers in supporting students with special educational needs also had to be enhanced.
2.4.2 Links with Parents and External Organizations
Most of the schools had devised policies on home-school cooperation and could use various channels to maintain contact with parents. They also organized various forms of activities and parent education, and through these the parents were informed of the school development and student learning. The schools had a good relationship with parents. Most of the parents were supportive and had faith in the schools. They concurred in the direction of school development and were glad to cooperate with the schools and in expressing their opinions. A small number of proactive schools could even maintain an open campus, allowing parents to get to know more about the school policies and to convey their views through parent lesson observations, evaluation of students’ project works, etc. A small number of schools even set up resource centres to effectively aggregate the parents and enhance their sense of belonging to the schools.
The PTA of more than half of the schools could help enhance home-school communication.
They enthusiastically planned a variety of activities to establish effective links with parents.
Committee members in general participated passionately to bring benefits to the students.
Volunteer parents in most of the primary schools were proactive and enthusiastic. They provided great support by committing themselves as interest class tutors, leading students to participate in outside activities after school, taking care of students during lunch time, while these also helped strengthen the bond between the schools and the parents.
Most of the schools could maintain a close link with external organizations by strategically drawing on outside resources to support school development in various areas and to effectively support students’ development, such as widening students’ learning experience by allowing them to take part in volunteer community services or activities. About half of the schools could even tactically co-organize activities on professional exchange, curriculum development, teaching research, etc. with educational organizations to help enhance the schools’ learning and teaching quality.
About 20% of the primary schools and half of the secondary schools could motivate their alumni to support the schools, such as setting up scholarships, or donating funds to support the schools’ development projects, or to act as tutors in school activities.
Areas for Improvement
Though the majority of schools could aggregate some of the enthusiastic parents to participate in school activities, parents in general were not proactive in understanding the development of the schools. Schools needed to put in more effort to encourage parents to participate in school activities.
The links with the alumni were weak in some of the schools. These schools were unable to motivate their alumni strategically to support the school development. While some alumni were concerned about school development, a formal mechanism had yet to be developed for them to participate in the decision-making process.
2.4.3 School Culture
A great majority of staff was conscientious about their work and maintained good relationship with one another. They proactively dealt with the reform and strove to enhance quality in learning and teaching. Most schools encouraged collaborative lesson preparation and peer lesson observation. Teachers of half of the schools even actively sought cooperation with external professional institutions to jointly conduct teaching research. Subject professional exchanges or open lessons were organized to allow teachers to learn from one another and to explore ways to improve learning and teaching. They made concerted efforts to develop the school into a learning organization. Some schools also improved staff morale in the process of developing their self-evaluation culture.