Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Reviews and Focus Inspections 2
2.1 Effectiveness of School Self-evaluation 2
2.2 Professional Leadership 5
2.3 Curriculum and Assessment 7
2.4 Classroom Learning and Teaching 13
2.5 Support for Student Development 16
2.6 Implementation of School’s Major Concerns 19
2.6.1 Values Education 19
2.6.2 Self-directed Learning 22
2.6.3 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education
2.6.4 Catering for Learner Diversity 28
Chapter 3 Concluding Remarks 33
Appendix 1 Schools Undergoing External School Review in the 2018/19 School Year
Appendix 2 Schools Undergoing Focus Inspection in the 2018/19 School Year 38
Chapter 1 Introduction
Since the introduction of the School Development and Accountability (SDA) Framework by the Education Bureau (EDB) in 2003, schools have undertaken self-evaluation through the “Planning-Implementation-Evaluation” (P-I-E) cycle, with the aim of fostering continuous self-improvement and promoting quality education, in line with the spirit of school-based management. The EDB continues to implement External School Reviews (ESR) and Focus Inspections (FI) in a “school-specific and focused” manner. This enables schools to access from various avenues feedback and recommendations for improvement, which helps enhance the effectiveness of school self-evaluation (SSE) and facilitate their sustainable development.
In the 2018/19 school year, the EDB conducted ESR in 35 primary schools, 34 secondary schools and 10 special schools (Appendix 1), and FI in 77 primary schools and 99 secondary schools (Appendix 2). This report presents the key findings of the inspections, including SSE, professional leadership, curriculum and assessment, classroom learning and teaching, and support for student development. It also discusses the developments and achievements of various educational initiatives that most schools place a premium on, which include values education, self-directed learning, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, and catering for learner diversity. Exemplars are also included in this report for schools’ reference when they undertake self-evaluation and planning.
According to the findings of the post-ESR school survey of the 2018/19 school year, participating schools have responded positively to the review. There is broad recognition amongst them that the ESR teams have ably and purposefully reviewed their major concerns, taking into account schools’ specific contexts, and have clearly identified schools’ strengths and areas for improvement, helping them reflect on their work effectiveness, and set future targets and formulate plans. The EDB hopes that by reading this report, schools can have a better understanding of the overall performance and progress of participating schools in various areas of work and development. Schools should also refer to the exemplars and suggestions for improvement so as to continue enhancing their development and increase the effectiveness of learning and teaching.
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Reviews and Focus Inspections
2.1 Effectiveness of School Self-evaluation
Based on experiences gained from implementing the SDA Framework, and consistent with the spirit of school-based management, schools have assimilated the principles of self- evaluation through applying the P-I-E cycle as part of their daily operations. Similar to the last school year, schools that have undergone ESR or FI in 2018/19 are generally able to keep pace with trends in education development and cater for students’ learning needs; they prioritise a range of areas, notably values education, self-directed learning, STEM education and catering for learner diversity, as their key focuses for development or major concerns.
Further work, however, is needed, particularly in the area of using evaluation data to inform planning as part of the overall purpose of achieving schools’ sustainable development.
Schools with better self-evaluation effectiveness are capable of providing sufficient opportunities for all teaching staff to engage through various platforms or committees in discussing school development plans, as well as using evaluation data to measure work effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Accordingly, they set their major concerns for the next development cycle, and formulate clear goals and appropriate strategies to effectually promote sustainable development. However, the planning in some schools is found wanting. For example, their major concerns are too broad in scope and their goals lack clear focuses, and thus subject panels and committees are unable to devise well-defined development programmes. Holistic planning is also missing in some schools, which undermines collaboration between different domains, such as “Learning and Teaching” and “Student Support and School Ethos”. In some cases, implementation efforts are hampered due to teachers’ insufficient understanding of the basic principles of the school’s major concerns. Broadly speaking, for school-based management to work even more productively, and for the sake of continuous self-improvement, schools need to increase their understanding of the concept of self-evaluation, and improve their relevant skills to enhance overall work effectiveness.
Whether school development plans can be smoothly implemented depends a great deal on the level of support and monitoring provided by the school management and middle managers. In general, schools develop corresponding support measures to facilitate their priority tasks. These measures include, for example, engaging teachers in professional development programmes organised by the EDB and tertiary institutions to enrich their understanding of the priority tasks and enhance curriculum planning; strengthening the collaboration between subject panels and committees to promote internal professional sharing; and using resources wisely to raise the efficacy of school support for students’
learning and growth. A small number of schools are able to maintain a close communication between their management teams and teachers, manage a firm grasp of the progress and effectiveness of their priority tasks, and when necessary, render assistance according to teachers’ needs. However, some schools lack close monitoring and timely support, affecting their development programmes’ outcomes.
Most schools employ the evaluation tools provided by the EDB or those designed by themselves to collect data and evidence from a wide range of sources, including teachers’
observations and parents’ opinions, to access different stakeholders’ views on their various
projects and development. A few schools even manage to evaluate their work effectiveness with close reference to the objectives of their major concerns, specifically identifying the reasons for achievement and shortfalls, and devising appropriate follow-up strategies. By and large, however, there is room to further improve the quality of schools’
self-evaluation. For example, evaluations are not evidence-based, and there is a tendency on their part to merely focus on reporting programme progress and completion rates. In other cases, schools fail to analyse the collected data in detail and review the effectiveness of their initiatives as a whole. It is therefore highly important for them to draw on the findings from students’ performance as well as learning and teaching effectiveness, in order to conduct a thorough and in-depth evaluation of their work performance, and to inform their planning for the next phase of development.
Effective implementation of the P-I-E cycle is key to schools’ sustainable development. In the future, the school management needs to continue to refine their strategies for development planning. They need to make sound use of evaluation data and findings, such as undertaking cross-curricular reviews to conduct a holistic evaluation of school performance, which in turn informs future planning and the formulation of progress schedules for development and implementation relevant to the school context. In addition, schools should provide timely oversight and appropriate support. The school management also needs to build consensus with teachers, so that subject panels and committees are able to appreciate the purpose and nature of the school major concerns. By integrating different areas of expertise, and strengthening cross-curricular collaboration, schools make it possible for the three domains — “Management and Organisation”, “Learning and Teaching” and “Student Support and School Ethos” – to function jointly and complementarily, which helps advance and deepen their work on students’ whole-person development.
Thoroughly fulfilling the P-I-E cycle to promote sustainable development in school The school continually refines their planning efforts, and makes timely adjustments to their development focuses and directions. In the previous development cycle, they adopted
“Stimulating Students’ Proactivity, Engaging them in Active and Self-directed Learning”
and “Continuing to Enhance Students’ Moral Qualities” as their major concerns, and accordingly established clear targets and specific strategies to address them. Through examining their rich and copious evaluation information, they recognised that their students had achieved good progress in terms of self-care, self-discipline and caring for others.
However, work was still needed in helping students develop their positive emotions, self- perception and sense of belonging to the school. Taking these considerations, the social climate and other related factors into account, the school consequently focuses on
“Fostering Students’ Affective and Health Development” as their principal major concern for the current cycle. They appropriately set “Enhancing Learning through Affective Engagement” as their development direction. Under the school management’s leadership, teachers recognise the complementary relationship between personal growth and learning, and undertake to actualise this in practice. Apart from revising the curriculum frameworks for values education and life-wide learning, they also seek to build a positive learning environment, which includes giving students more encouragement and reassurance in class,
and creating a harmonious atmosphere through strengthening classroom management.
These strategies have effectively enhanced students’ positive emotions and their sense of belonging to the school, and in turn, their motivation to learn.
In terms of learning and teaching, the school has sustained their priority work in the previous development cycle, setting “Fostering Positive Learning Attitudes, Engaging Students in Learning” as their major concern, so as to continue to promote active learning.
They make use of evaluation findings to inform the current cycle’s strategies, and adjust the teaching strategies and amount of homework in accordance with the characteristics of students at different key stages. As a result, students participate actively and positively in learning, and demonstrate good learning habits, indicating that the school has attained good progress in its relevant work for the cycle.
The school proficiently uses evaluation information and data from different sources to identify their students’ development needs, gauge work effectiveness, analyse why certain implementation strategies fail to attain the expected results, and make recommendations to inform future planning. Subject panels and committees are able to formulate work plans that fit the school’s major concerns, and carry them out accordingly. In addition, they draw on a range of findings to evaluate their work effectiveness, including school-based questionnaires, interviews with teachers and students, as well as students’ performance in lessons and learning tasks. Subject panels also make use of students’ internal and external assessment data to analyse their academic performance, and adjust their pedagogic strategies to address students’ learning difficulties.
Effectively using self-evaluation cycle to continuously develop values education Before the end of the development cycle, the school reviews its own context and students’
needs, and formulates a school development plan consistent with current curriculum development trends. In the process of formulating the major concerns, the school widely consults the views of stakeholders, devises concrete and feasible implementation strategies, and executes self-evaluation in a sound and reliable manner. Subject panels and committees also respond actively to the major concerns by drawing up appropriate work plans.
In the previous development cycle, the school’s priority task centred on the refinement of its school-based moral education curriculum. Although students performed well at the levels of cognition and affection as reflected in various evaluation information and data, the school felt the need to expose them more widely to learning experiences that could allow them to practise good behaviour. Therefore, in the current development cycle, the school has introduced positive education to help students identify their character strengths, and organised life-wide learning activities for them to apply positive values and attitudes in their daily life. While subject panels keenly promote a “Campus Culture of Appreciation”, the school also launches a variety of positive education activities and schemes, including refining classroom management strategies and co-setting with students target qualities and traits for their class; providing students with a “Personal Qualities and Academic Learning Passbook” and a self-directed learning booklet to record their good behaviour and deeds;
strengthening parent education, and setting up a parents committee to assist the school in publicising positive education; as well as regularly organising seminars, reading and parent- child activities. There are also quite a few measures specifically designed to create a campus atmosphere of “Love and Appreciation”, such as nominating star students to reward them for their good behaviour and character, and establishing a “Positive Post Office”,
where students, parents and teachers can write postcards to express their gratitude, encouragement and appreciation, all of which contributes to creating a “Campus Culture of Appreciation”.
2.2 Professional Leadership
Management’s efficient use of resources, strategic support for student learning and growth, and enhancement of teachers’ professional capabilities are important factors contributing to a school’s holistic development. As in the past, in line with curriculum development and taking into consideration their own contexts, schools deploy a variety of resources to broaden students’ learning experiences, and continue to refine their support work for students’ learning and growth, fostering their whole-person development. Different forms of professional development activities are organised to enhance teachers’ professional capabilities and help improve their work performance. These include internal experience- sharing; seminars and workshops hosted by external speakers; collaborative lesson planning and peer lesson observations to promote professional exchange among staff;
engagement of professional support services provided by the EDB or tertiary institutions, and participation in sharing programmes with networked schools both locally and from outside of Hong Kong to enable teachers to gain new insights and broaden their horizons;
and also systematic arrangements for teachers to sign up for external special education training programmes to enhance their relevant skills. That said, schools still need to enhance support and training for their middle managers.
Schools with better management place emphasis on transparency and openness. They are good at communicating and discussing with different stakeholders. Besides consulting all teaching staff in putting together development plans and work strategies, they provide students and parents with timely updates and explanations of school policies. They also direct teams of staff to closely review work effectiveness and adjust their strategies and approaches accordingly. Such efforts enable schools to aptly cater their development plans to students’ needs, and implement their policies and measures more smoothly. In some schools, the management is able to formulate well-designed human resources policies to empower and groom future leaders. For example, they arrange for teachers with potential to take charge of work such as administrative management and co-ordinating development projects, so that they can accumulate relevant experience and develop their leadership abilities.
In a number of schools, middle managers are only partially successful in exercising their leadership roles over subject panels and committees. Some of them are short of experience, and the level of support and monitoring from school management is inadequate. In other cases, schools have not delegated authority or responsibilities suitably. For example, the roles of the Key Learning Areas (KLAs) Co-ordinators are unclearly defined, impeding their ability to lead and manage the development of their KLAs. There is definitely room for improvement in terms of whole-school curriculum planning. In particular, secondary schools need to refine their junior secondary curriculum so that students are able to access a broad and balanced set of knowledge and skills, laying a firm foundation for senior secondary education. In terms of cross-curricular development programmes such as STEM education, values education, and life planning education (LPE), schools especially need to strengthen the collaboration and synergy between co-ordinators and subject panels as well as committees for increased work effectiveness. Notwithstanding, a small number of
subject panel and committee heads are able to fully realise their leadership roles: they demonstrate mastery of the latest education developments and curriculum principles, as well as sound knowledge of their school’s development history. They also capably steer the planning, implementation and evaluation of various domains of work such as “Learning and Teaching” and “Student Support and School Ethos”, and closely monitor performance for continuous improvement.
Schools, in general, actively engage in formulating professional development plans to equip teachers for supporting students’ learning and growth in accordance with education development trends and their own major concerns. Most schools have in place collaborative lesson planning and peer lesson observations. The more successful schools are those capable of integrating the two, providing opportunities for teachers to engage in professional dialogue on key learning and teaching strategies for development. Through experimentation, evaluation, and adjustments, teachers regularly update learning resources, alongside learning and teaching strategies. However, some teachers fall short of the skills to observe and evaluate lessons, and therefore their post-class feedback and reflections lack depth. Schools need to set clear mechanisms and enhance teachers’ relevant skills to facilitate meaningful professional exchanges. In addition, although quite a few schools participate in external professional support schemes, the impact achieved in terms of internalisation of experience and sustainable development is uneven. While engaging external professional assistance, schools need to consider how to assimilate the experience into their day-to-day operations so as to maintain organisational growth and long-term viability.
Refining school-based management, and actively promoting teachers’ professional development to enhance overall team capacity
Since the previous ESR, the school management has done considerable work to improve and effectively sustain development. The school has improved its policy discussion process by adopting a bottom-up approach, which allows teachers of different levels of seniority to take part in school development planning. The school has also reviewed its administration framework by clearly delineating the job duties and requirements of teaching staff, and defining the role of subject and committee convenors as co-ordinators and supervisors to boost overall team capacity. To support the running of subject panels and committees, the school strategically builds its succession planning process, which involves re-structuring the curriculum development and academic affairs committees, and appointing two convenors of different levels of experience to share responsibilities, thereby nurturing middle managers’ professional growth in the domains of planning and management.
In recent years, the school has grappled with the issue of staff turnover. Since its new teachers and specialist staff are relatively inexperienced, enhancing the team’s professional capacity has become an important work priority for the school. Committed to forming a learning community amongst staff, the school has, since the last development cycle, devoted ample resources to developing a school-based integrated e-platform, forming a
“learning bank” that incorporates the work experiences of various subject panels and committees. It provides a channel for teachers and specialist staff to share their knowledge, insights and action research outcomes, helps build a culture of professional exchange and
self-learning, and ultimately contributes to increasing the team’s expertise. To further drive the development of the learning community, the school has within the current development cycle actively initiated collaborations between staff of different seniority levels, and fostered their individual professional growth. It continuously promotes “Peer Support among Teachers” to encourage staff to work as partners, and to exchange and learn from each other on a regular basis. In addition, a professional development programme led by the principal is implemented, with the aim of providing potential teachers with systematic training and helping build the third echelon of school management.
Effectively using external resources to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness;
promptly refining administrative work to relieve teachers’ pressure
The school gathers resources from different avenues to sustain development, including support from outside organisations such as the universities and the EDB, to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness. Through its relationship with affiliated schools, it invites Native-speaking English Teachers from other schools to conduct learning activities for its students. It also makes connections with international schools in Hong Kong, arranging for visits to expose its teachers to different modes of teaching. Harnessing community resources, it engages students in a range of art activities to enrich their learning experiences.
Over the years, the principal has been actively promoting school-based curriculum development, and is skilled in applying various resources to enhance students’ English language abilities and widen their exposure in the art domain. The two vice-principals, together with the middle managers, maintain a firm grasp of the work of the subject panels and committees that report to them. They are capable of leading teachers to execute various projects in alignment with the school’s development focuses, for example, self-directed learning and values education, and using evaluation data to analyse and appraise performance, and make recommendations on how to improve implementation strategies for the next academic year. Apart from continuously improving the measures for catering for students’ development needs, the school management also makes good use of the campus, where students are given abundant opportunities to demonstrate their talents. These undertakings not only serve to develop students’ self-confidence, but create a favourable and happy learning environment.
School management does not only closely monitor the school’s development progress, but also the workload it brings to teachers. To alleviate this problem, the school employs extra staff, refines the existing information management system, and regularly organises relaxation activities to help reduce teachers’ work stress.
2.3 Curriculum and Assessment
Schools mostly plan their curricula according to their school missions, educational trends and their students’ needs. Schools’ curricula are generally broad, aiming to promote students’ whole-person development, and foster their knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes. Apart from classroom learning, schools also organise different kinds of life-wide learning activities, including interest classes, field trips and overseas exchanges, to extend students’ learning space, and allow them to learn in real contexts and thereby consolidate their learning. These activities also help students discover their interests and talents, and
broaden their horizons. To promote values education, schools’ implementation strategies mainly consist of school-based moral education classes and experiential learning activities.
However, these are often not sufficiently linked to subject curricula, indicating a gap in their overall planning and implementation. Schools are commonly able to respond to the latest trends in education, such as self-directed learning and STEM education, and plan their work accordingly, so as to strengthen students’ initiative in learning and allow them to integrate and apply their cross-subject knowledge and skills. However, there is still considerable room for improvement in the effective implementation of such programmes.
Most primary schools offer a balanced curriculum to help their students build a solid foundation for learning. To align with the whole-day primary schooling policy, schools generally allot tutorial sessions and special activity periods in their timetables, but with varying levels of effectiveness. In schools that make good use of tutorial sessions, students are able to complete most of their homework under teachers’ guidance, thereby freeing up time to participate in after-school activities. In some schools, however, tutorial sessions lack sufficient supervision, and teachers use the session as an opportunity for teaching or conducting supplementary lessons. Schools that provide well-organised special activity sessions enable students to develop multiple intelligences and foster personal interests through participating in a variety of activities such as academic, physical and aesthetic, and uniform group activities. Some schools, however, are unable to fulfil the original purpose of such special sessions. In arranging for students to participate in study or growth support groups, they neglect the need for balance in students’ participation of such activities.
Individual schools timely review their timetables, making adjustments such as lengthening students’ breaktime, or organising more life-wide learning activities in the afternoon, in order to fully utilise the advantages offered by whole-day schooling.
In general, there is room for improvement in the junior secondary curriculum of the secondary schools. Many schools focus on early teaching of content from the senior secondary curriculum, and this commonly occurs in subjects such as Chinese Language, Liberal Studies, Economics, and Business, Accounting and Financial Studies. Using Liberal Studies as an example, schools teach the subject modules and examination techniques at the junior secondary level, and a negative washback effect is apparent in such cases, which is a cause for concern. Schools mistakenly believe that teaching content in advance is a good way for bridging junior and secondary curricula, but this is an inappropriate approach, as it neglects the mental and cognitive development of students, as well as their learning interests and abilities. Teaching senior secondary content at junior secondary level also overcrowds the learning time at the junior secondary level, and therefore certain relevant core elements or essential learning content are not covered adequately, such as Strands 5 and 6 in Personal, Social and Humanities Education KLA:
“Resources and Economic Activities”, and “Social Systems and Citizenship”; and the knowledge contexts of “Operations and Manufacturing”, “Systems and Control”, and
“Technology and Living” in Technology Education KLA. This issue negatively impacts students’ ability to build a solid knowledge foundation, and schools need to respond proactively and make corresponding improvements. In addition, although most secondary schools provide a fairly wide range of elective subjects for senior secondary students, many stakeholders hold prejudices against Applied Learning, and as a result, only a small number of schools have arranged for their students to opt for its courses. To reinforce the diverse nature of the senior secondary curriculum, and to help prepare students of varying aptitudes for further study and career development, schools should continue to promote Applied Learning.
The curricula of special schools are designed pragmatically, true to their unique school- based characteristics, according to their students’ learning needs, and following the “one curriculum framework for all” principle. For example, schools focus on developing students’ life skills to help them apply what they have learnt in daily life; schools also reinforce the perceptual motor training of lower primary students in order to enhance their physical co-ordination. However, in some schools, the Other Learning Experiences component of the senior secondary curriculum could be further improved to ensure that the curriculum is balanced, as students are not offered enough opportunities related to physical and aesthetic development.
Schools place great importance on developing students’ reading habits and interests, and the strategies for promoting reading have been largely similar to the past years, including introducing reading periods and reward schemes for reading, or setting up book fairs and book crossing corners in school. Schools mostly use the “Promotion of Reading Grant” to procure different kinds of reading materials, including printed books, e-books, and access to online reading platforms. In schools that are more successful in promoting reading, different kinds of school-based reading activities are organised, such as writers’ lectures and storytelling sessions, which extensively stimulate students’ interest in reading.
Students are generally able to establish a habit of reading, and make good use of their breaktimes and lunchtimes to read. Currently, post-reading activities organised by schools mostly take the form of written reports or verbal sharing. A greater variety of activities, such as practical tasks and drama performances, could be designed to suit the reading materials and learning objectives, and help enrich students’ reading experiences. Many schools are still in their preparatory or trial stages for the promotion of Reading across the Curriculum (RaC). The committees of a small number of schools execute a co-ordinating role, where teacher-librarians and subject panels decide on a reading theme together and compile a list of recommended reading materials. Contextual, true-to-life post-reading activities are also designed so that students can integrate their knowledge of different KLAs/subjects. Schools should capitalise on their experience of promoting reading to further advocate RaC. Building on the efforts made in fostering an environment and atmosphere conducive to reading, and stimulating students’ interest and motivation, schools should also promote purposeful, meaningful reading that allows students to organically connect learning experiences across KLAs/subjects, and help enhance their reading abilities and personal qualities through developing their deep reading.
Schools mostly develop students’ information literacy through subject teaching. For example, they incorporate topics about intellectual property and online behaviour in their school-based Computer Studies classes or the Computer Literacy subject at the junior secondary level, so that students could understand the importance of using information ethically and respecting intellectual property. Furthermore, schools introduce learning activities such as project learning to help students learn how to use information technology appropriately, and to develop their critical thinking abilities. In face of the multifarious nature of information available on the Internet, schools should strengthen their planning, for example, by referring to the EDB’s Information Literacy for Hong Kong Students, in order to set clear learning targets appropriate to students’ needs at different key stages, and systematically develop their information literacy, to help them become informed, responsible citizens in the future.
Since the fine-tuning of the Medium of Instruction (MOI) policy for secondary schools in 2010/11, schools have generally adopted sundry support measures according to the abilities
and needs of their students. For example, co-curricular activities such as summer bridging courses for new S1 students and English Days are organised to help students adapt to learning certain subjects in English, and to purposefully create a language environment that offers more opportunities for using English. Yet the effectiveness of such approaches has been limited, as some schools focus too much on helping students acquire subject-specific vocabulary and not enough on developing their ability to express subject concepts using English sentences. In some schools, a handful of non-language subject teachers do not comply with the school-based language policy, and use mixed code in their classroom teaching, or even mainly adopt Cantonese as the medium of instruction, which impacts adversely on students’ learning and their opportunities for using English. Schools should strengthen their monitoring of the implementation of their school-based language policy, and review it in time to adjust their support strategies. In a small number of schools, committees perform their roles of co-ordination and facilitation successfully, fostering the collaboration between English teachers and other non-language subject teachers in developing school-based learning materials, which is conducive to catering for their students’ needs of learning in English and building their confidence in using the language.
Schools have drawn up clear homework and assessment policies, and many primary schools inform parents of such policies and arrangements at the start of the school year, and upload them onto their school websites accordingly. They also regularly collect opinions from stakeholders and make timely adjustments and refinements to their policies according to student needs. Apart from summative assessment, schools make use of formative assessment of different modes, such as assignments, lesson observations, and students’ self- assessments and peer assessments. Some teachers are also able to offer timely and specific feedback to help students improve their learning performance. The tasks that students engage in are mostly capable of consolidating and extending their learning, but the design of some tasks needs improving. For example, in some cases, the content of the selected materials is biased and unable to offer different perspectives or objective facts, or the linkage between the materials and the questions is tenuous, therefore making it difficult to gauge students’ ability to use the information as evidence for their arguments. A small number of schools are committed to promoting “Assessment as Learning”, guiding students to establish learning goals and offering them opportunities to self-reflect and evaluate, and develop self-directed learning capabilities. However, since many students lack self- discipline, teachers should step in and offer more guidance in order to help them reflect and thereby adjust their learning strategies and goals, in the bid to continually improve the efficacy of their learning.
Schools have varying levels of success in the usage of assessment data to facilitate learning and teaching. The more successful schools are able to identify students’ learning difficulties, and make fitting changes to their learning and teaching strategies or enhance their curriculum planning, thereby improving learning effectiveness. In particular, a special school uses the “Learning Progression Framework” adeptly in the senior secondary core subjects. This allows the school to accurately grasp the performance of students of different abilities, and subsequently help them adjust their learning targets and plans to facilitate their learning. As for schools with weaker performance, they often focus too much on data like passing rates and average scores, or factors such as students’ learning motivation and attitude, without analysing their performance in a detailed, in-depth manner or identifying their learning difficulties. Their follow-up measures tend towards encouraging students to study harder and do more exercises, and training students’ question-answering techniques, rather than utilising key findings to inform curriculum planning, or learning and teaching
strategies. Schools should continue to enhance teachers’ assessment literacy, so that the Learning, Teaching and Assessment cycle could be better implemented, and to fully capitalise on the potential of assessment to bring forth better learning efficacy.
The majority of schools have set up committees led by vice principals or curriculum leaders, who are mainly responsible for co-ordinating the school’s curriculum development work.
In general, the committees are able to take into account education trends when planning, adapting and reviewing the curriculum, but there is still room for improvement in their overall effectiveness in curriculum leadership. In many schools, curriculum leaders are unable to guide different subject panels into fully discussing and agreeing on a common set of key work targets, which results in a lack of cross-subject collaboration. In other cases, curriculum leaders have not fully grasped the rationale behind curriculum planning, which negatively impinges on students’ development of basic knowledge and skills. Likewise, the absence of close analysis on students’ learning performance makes it impossible for any insights to feedback into curriculum planning.
Effectively promoting RaC, adding depth to students’ reading
The school has always placed great emphasis on reading. Under the management’s strong support, a good range of reading activities such as large-scale book exhibitions, students’
book recommendations, and reading reward schemes is organised on a regular basis.
Further, subject panels collaborate closely with each other to plan RaC activities to broaden students’ scope of reading and create a vibrant reading atmosphere on campus. The library also works in firm partnership with KLAs such as Chinese Language Education, Arts Education and Technology Education to hold an S2 cross-curricular reading event based on the theme of Water Margin. Students are provided with a selection of reading materials on the Song dynasty. They are then offered the opportunity to demonstrate their responses and observations through a wide variety of assignments, including producing shadow plays and short videos, and reinventing food from the Song dynasty cooked in modern style. Not only are the tasks highly engaging and instrumental in arousing students’ reading interest, they also enable students to integrate and apply knowledge and skills across different subjects, and enhance the depth of their reading.
Subject panels collaborating closely together, providing appropriate support for students to learn in English
To carry out its language policy of using English as the MOI, the school employs an extensive range of measures to enhance its students’ ability to learn in English. In regard to creating an English-rich learning environment, students’ exposure to and use of English are increased through various avenues, notably morning assemblies and activities conducted in English, as well as displays of posters and student work on the school premises. To increase the collaboration between subjects, the school has set up a committee on Language across the Curriculum (LaC). Under the leadership of experienced and committed English teachers, the English panel and other non-language subject teachers work closely to implement a number of appropriate measures, including co-developing a
school-based LaC learning resource package and teaching materials, and organising cross- curricular language learning activities on English Day and STEM Day to provide increased opportunities for students to use English. In addition, to build up teachers’ ability of using English to teach, the school arranges for peer lesson observations to take place across subjects, which helps enhance professional exchange between teachers of English and other non-language subjects, and facilitate focused discussions on classroom learning and teaching strategies and the use of English to teach content subjects. The school also encourages relevant panel heads to take part in external professional development programmes, review what they have learnt, and work out suitable pedagogy to cater for students’ English language learning needs. Such measures have been effective, as seen in the level of confidence and proficiency displayed by students when using English to express their ideas and communicate with peers in class.
Effectively using community resources in the design of learning activities, suitably connecting learning with students’ real-life experiences
The school uses “Interest – Participation – Meaning” as its education philosophy. It puts emphasis on using community resources to facilitate development of learning tasks and activities in order to consolidate students’ learning and enrich their learning experiences.
For example, students are asked to write on the topic of independent shops in Sai Kung for Chinese Language; in Mathematics, they apply their mathematical knowledge to measure the heights of iconic buildings in the neighbourhood; and in Chemistry, they engage in shell etching. All these practices make use of subject matter students are familiar with as learning materials, thereby arousing their interest, enhancing their participation in the learning process, and enabling them to apply what they have learnt in real-life contexts.
A diversified range of assessment modes to ably cater for students’ learning needs All subject panels follow the principle of using diversified modes of assessment, such as project learning, creative photography and model-making to help assess students’ abilities in different areas. To promote “Assessment as Learning”, self-assessment and peer assessment are incorporated into most learning tasks so that students are given opportunities to understand and reflect on their own performance from different angles, and develop their self-evaluation capabilities.
To create more learning space for students, the school has reduced the number of tests and examinations. As a result, students have scope to set their own learning targets according to their interests, and under the teacher’s guidance, implement their own learning plans.
The school also takes into account students’ abilities. For example, recognising that P1 students need time to get adjusted to primary school life, the school fine-tunes the assessment arrangements for the first term, using formative assessment instead of giving summative assessment grades. Through the use of learning tasks and activities, and daily observations, students’ learning performance and progress are reviewed, and appropriate feedback is provided to facilitate their learning. Individual subjects also take into consideration P1 students’ writing abilities. In the beginning of the term, question types are modified so that students are only required to answer by using letters instead of words.
Aptly using assessment data to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness
The school critically analyses and compares students’ internal and external assessment data, and conducts tracking of students’ performance at different key stages to understand their abilities, and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, teachers have access to a comprehensive picture of student performance, which is conducive to curriculum planning and development of learning and teaching strategies. Teachers make good use of meetings and collaborative lesson planning sessions to deliberate on students’ performance, including their progress and learning difficulties, and propose specific, constructive suggestions for improvement. For example, in view of students’ lack of a solid language foundation, teachers make adjustments to the curriculum in terms of its vertical continuity by introducing phrasal verbs at a later stage in order to cater for their language development needs.
Teachers conduct appropriate formative assessment activities in the classroom. Using group tasks, they gain insights into students’ learning progress. During the process, they circulate and observe how students are collaborating in their groups, and offer guidance to address any difficulties they encounter in a timely manner. Individual teachers even provide groups that need support with tips to help them develop ideas and to inspire their thinking, which helps them achieve the intended learning targets and enhances learning and teaching effectiveness.
2.4 Classroom Learning and Teaching
Students are generally attentive in class. They respond to their teachers’ questions and engage in tasks and activities, displaying a positive learning attitude. Most teachers start their lesson by sharing the learning objectives or reviewing what has been learnt previously, and are able to establish a connection between these and the learning content and activities.
To echo the key emphases of curriculum development and promote self-directed learning, teachers often engage students in pre-lesson preparation, such as information search and online exercises, and use them as a starting point for their lesson. Students are generally able to complete their pre-lesson preparation, and progressively grasp the learning content through in-class activities. However, students who are able to independently take notes on key learning points, raise questions or advance their own opinions are in the minority.
There is therefore the need for teachers to set higher expectations and offer greater guidance to enhance students’ initiative in learning. Prior to the end of the lesson, in order to refresh students about the major points covered, many teachers undertake to summarise the learning content, or ask students questions to consolidate what they have learnt. However, in a few cases, there is room for improvement in the way the lesson is structured. For example, the teacher finishes the lesson rather abruptly, or there is insufficient time for closure, or the teaching content is inadequate, which reduces learning effectiveness.
Lessons are conducted largely through lecturing and questioning, and supported by group activities, practical tasks and student presentations, which effectively strengthen students’
participation. In general, teachers are able to deliver lessons clearly and fluently, arouse students’ learning interest with the use of audio-visual materials and presentations, and use realia and daily-life examples to help students understand the learning content. They also guide students to apply or connect relevant knowledge and skills, for instance, by
prompting students to examine historical events they have learnt from multiple perspectives when exploring the topic of change and continuity in history. In terms of questioning and feedback, some teachers are capable of provoking students’ thinking and deepening their understanding of the topic, or using prompting and probing to elicit further elaborations of their answers. Nonetheless, there are some teachers who are too keen to answer their own questions; they fail to give students sufficient time to think and formulate their own response, thus depriving them of the chance of active involvement. Feedback from teachers often comes in the form of encouragement and compliments to boost students’ confidence in learning. However, concrete feedback aimed at helping students realise their errors and make improvements seems wanting. Very few teachers, during the inquiry learning process in particular, can help students clarify concepts they have learnt or engage them in in-depth discussions. Such a lack hinders students’ application of concepts and development of higher-order thinking skills.
Likewise, the effectiveness of group activities varies. In the more effective ones, teachers provide plenty of pre-task scaffolding and students are assigned clear roles so that they can participate and interact actively with their peers. Through conducting presentations and peer assessment, students are able to reflect on their work and learn from each other. The less effective group activities are mostly too simple in design, or they can be completed individually with little room for discussion. Some teachers do not provide clear instructions, and students are thus unable to grasp the focus of the discussion and achieve the desired interactive outcomes.
In classrooms where e-learning is tapped to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness, teachers make use of electronic applications to help students understand abstract concepts.
Using relevant software, they undertake to assess their students to get an immediate understanding of their learning progress, follow up on any learning difficulties, and rectify their misconceptions. Further, to enrich classroom discussions, teachers ask their students to do pre-lesson preparation. They then upload the outcomes of the discussion to learning platforms to facilitate students’ reflection on their learning experiences.
Regarding catering for learner diversity, questioning and observation are the most common means which teachers adopt to understand students’ learning progress, alongside group activities to allow students of different abilities to participate in lessons. A small number of teachers are able to design learning tasks tailored to students’ varied abilities, deliberately providing scaffolding in the learning and teaching process or breaking down their teaching into small steps, which enable the less able students to progressively master the key learning points. The majority of special school teachers can provide support in various modes to cater to their students’ diverse needs. For example, they use teaching aids with flashing lights to help students with visual impairment experience different visual stimuli, and adopt visual strategies to help calm autistic students. Nonetheless, there are still a small number of classrooms that depend predominantly on teachers’ direct instruction, with limited opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learnt. Teachers thus lack a firm grasp of their learning progress, and are unable to adequately cater for learner diversity. Overall, teachers need to use various learning, teaching and assessment strategies in order to understand students’ learning progress in class, flexibly adjust their teaching strategies and pace, and better cater for learner diversity.
Highly organised lessons that effectively promote students’ grasp of subject knowledge and skills
Lessons are extremely well-structured with clear learning objectives. They tie in closely with the subject-specific development focuses, and foster students’ problem solving and inquiry skills. For example, the “four-step approach to problem solving” – “understand the problem, devise a plan, execute the plan, and reflect” – is used to solve mathematical questions. Likewise, the inquiry model of “predict, observe, and explain” is put to good use in scientific experiments.
Teachers are articulate in their explanations and possess proficient content knowledge, making good use of subject-specific language to explain mathematical concepts, scientific principles, and coding techniques. They use a range of questions to stimulate students’
thinking, for example, by asking students to explain why a certain problem under discussion does not involve the concept of the circumference, or suggest improvements on products designed by their peers. Students take an active part in answering the questions, using subject-specific terms such as speed, magnetic force and algorithm, which show their sound grasp of subject knowledge.
Following teachers’ explanations and demonstrations, students engage in hands-on activities, such as designing a computer game using coding, performing simple scientific experiments, organising data obtained from tests, and applying error control on test data.
This enables students to consolidate subject knowledge and skills, enhance their creativity, and develop their collaboration and problem solving skills. Teachers circulate groups to observe, listen in, and provide individual support as needed. They also re-adjust their teaching strategies in accordance with students’ learning progress, or invite, where appropriate, the more able students to propose different ways of solving problems.
In the post-activity phase, students report and share their learning outcomes. They are skilled in presenting, and capable of expressing themselves clearly. Teachers are able to offer timely, constructive and concrete feedback to help students improve. Some also suitably engage students in peer evaluation. Students can give their peers specific feedback and demonstrate their critical thinking skills.
Effectively using a diverse range of learning and teaching strategies to cater for learner diversity
In teaching reading, teachers make proficient use of pedagogical resources such as videos on historical monuments to deepen students’ understanding of the text, so that they can discern the writer’s psychological change and examine closely the text’s main ideas.
Another example is that they use videos on the origin of Chinese radicals and the evolution of Chinese characters to strengthen lower primary students’ understanding of the characters’ structural patterns, strokes and stroke order. In assisting students to comprehend the text, teachers also make use of its context and suitably integrate elements of values education into the reading process, thereby helping students develop positive values and attitudes.
Group activities are often used to encourage student interaction and cater for learner diversity. They are marked by a strong emphasis on collaborative learning and discussions,
where, for example, students are asked to integrate and apply the information group members have collected to analyse characters’ personalities, comment and reach a consensus on the issues that the text seeks to explore. To support the less able students, mixed ability groups are specially set up, and guided worksheets are provided to help them focus on the discussion topic. During group discussions, students maintain a high level of interaction and collaboration, enthusiastically exchanging views and ideas, and learning from each other. They also respond very well to their peers’ opinions, and are capable of expressing their own viewpoints systematically with concrete details and examples. The more able students even assume the leadership role of steering the discussion and facilitating interaction, effectively helping their less able counterparts along.
2.5 Support for Student Development
Schools are largely able to make use of their own self-evaluation data, teachers’
observations, and parents’ views to gain clear insight into students’ development needs.
Through the collaboration and support of professionals and different working groups, i.e.
the Student Support Team, Guidance and Discipline Team and Activity Team, schools undertake a range of measures and initiatives to support students’ development. To reinforce their key development focuses, some schools call on teachers to organise regular meetings and implement appropriate strategies and actions to nurture students’ growth.
Student development in schools focuses on engaging students in life-wide learning, strengthening guidance and discipline work, and promoting LPE. Schools place a high premium on values education, designating it as one of their major concerns. School-based moral education features prominently in the curriculum, alongside a diverse range of life- wide learning activities to cultivate in students the seven priority values and attitudes, with particular emphasis on life education and national identity. To this end, schools deploy a variety of means to enhance support, including enlisting the help of alumni, tapping community resources, and collaborating with external organisations. On the whole, schools take the work of student development seriously, and have made certain achievement in fostering students’ growth and their sense of belonging to the school.
Many schools offer diversified life-wide learning activities for students to enrich their learning experiences and broaden their horizons through learning in authentic contexts.
These include engaging students in co-curricular activities and performances to help increase their confidence; providing opportunities for students with potential to participate in inter-school competitions; and arranging for students to take part in visits and exchange programmes inside and outside of Hong Kong to experience and develop respect for different cultures. Schools also dedicate a lot of effort in promoting service learning. A great variety of platforms are made available to nurture students’ spirit of serving and caring for others, and heighten their sense of responsibility. Schools with better planning assign their students different service roles in accordance with their abilities, and provide training beforehand to help students equip themselves. They also make good use of community resources to allow students to continually participate in service learning. Capitalising on the EDB’s “Life-wide Learning Grant” made accessible to them starting in the 2019/20 school year, schools can take a step forward to liaise more actively with various KLA/subjects and functional committees to organise more out-of-classroom experiential learning activities, with the aim of benefitting as many students as possible, and to foster
whole-person development by enabling them to integrate theory and practice through learning from experience.
Quite a number of schools are keen to foster a caring culture and team spirit amongst students through classroom management, boosting their sense of belonging to their class and school. Some schools adopt the dual class-teacher system to cater better to their varied needs. Schools with effective classroom management have in common clear objectives and specific guidelines for teachers. Regular level meetings are held among teachers so that they are fully informed of students’ behaviour and learning progress, which enables them to promptly identify issues and help class teachers develop appropriate preventative and support measures. Further, individual schools skilfully utilise classroom management to empower students’ self-management abilities. Under their guidance, students set performance goals for various aspects, including self-discipline, tidiness, and learning.
They are also able to regularly review their progress and constantly seek ways to improve, thereby developing their self-directed learning abilities.
Schools place great emphasis on LPE. Taking into account students’ developmental and learning needs at different key stages, and through classroom learning as well as a diverse range of activities, students are assisted to get to know themselves, set personal goals, recognise multiple pathways and make informed decisions about further studies or employment. Quite a number of secondary schools invite the alumni to share their work experience or act as students’ mentors, provide study and job-related advice, and help students with goal-setting. Schools with a higher intake of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students also invite their NCS alumni to conduct further study sharing sessions, so as to assist senior secondary students with future planning. There is also considerable collaboration between schools and tertiary institutions and/or non-governmental organisations in the form of seminars, workshops as well as visits to local and cross-border universities to keep students abreast of the latest information on further studies and career opportunities. Some schools even offer work experience opportunities to enhance students’
understanding of workplace environment and job duties. However, only a few schools purposefully reinforce the collaboration between the LPE Committee and other subject panels and committees. Improvement in this area is necessary so as to provide students with relevant support.
Special schools lay equal emphasis on supporting student development. Their teachers and specialist staff set goals for students’ academic performance, growth and employment in accordance with their individual needs. Various measures, including in-class support, one- on-one and group therapy, as well as individual education plans, are employed to enhance students’ communication, social and learning competence. Individual special schools organise a diverse range of activities, such as bicycle team, drum team and scouting, to encourage students to extend themselves beyond their natural limitations, challenge themselves, and develop their self-discipline, self-confidence and spirit of serving others.
Schools have put considerable effort in supporting students, implementing an array of plans and activities to help them foster positive values and achieve whole-person development. Nonetheless, improvement is needed in the area of evaluation. Currently, review efforts focus on the execution of activities, for example, number of participants and teachers’ perceptions about their work, or the effectiveness of individual tasks, while there lacks a holistic evaluation of the overall effectiveness in relation to its objectives, thereby affecting the appropriateness of their attempts to improve or strengthen their work.
Meticulously nurturing student leaders, providing them with opportunities to demonstrate their leadership skills
The school places a strong focus on leadership training. Apart from regularly organising leadership training programmes comprising seminars, day camps and workshops to develop students’ leadership and activity planning skills, they also provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their leadership through applying what they have learnt. For example, student leaders are put in charge of activities such as lunch-time ball games.
Moreover, through meetings with the principal, student representatives make suggestions for school improvement. Under management’s guidance, they deliberate on possible campus issues and propose solutions, a process which helps sharpen their problem-solving skills. The school also attaches much importance to student-leadership succession planning. Through “shadowing”, junior secondary students with potential observe how their senior counterparts handle issues and organise activities, so as to learn the skills and qualities essential for being a leader. The school also makes use of student leadership development as a platform to strengthen communication and interactions between secondary and primary students. For example, through its “Through-train Student Leadership Training Programme”, students with leadership potential from different key stages undergo sustained training. The school also puts in place a learning support network, where secondary student leaders develop their sense of responsibility and care for others by helping their primary school counterparts with homework.
Putting in place a comprehensive life education plan to enhance students’
understanding of multiple pathways
The school’s planning for LPE is comprehensive. Drawing on the opportunities for experiential learning in the work context, students gain an increased understanding of multiple pathways and a fresh view about vocational education. Through joint meetings, the LPE Committee intensifies its links and collaboration with other subjects. This results in the integration of LPE into the subject curriculum and learning activities, which helps students build relevant knowledge, skills, and positive values. Students also gain insight into the relationship between study, work and their own self. For example, in a language class writing activity which has incorporated elements of LPE, students reflect on their own learning performances and strengthen their self-evaluation abilities. Also, during class teacher periods, students examine the pros and cons of e-sports as a profession, enhancing their understanding and assessment of the relationship between career and one’s personal aspirations.
Effectively utilising work experiences to help students transition to the workplace The school places strong emphasis on LPE. It strives to provide greater opportunities for authentic experience both inside and outside of school to prepare students for work and integration into society. In response to students’ needs, training on independent living skills is offered. For example, through cross-curricular activities such as running a tuck shop, selling lunch boxes and cleaning the campus, students with moderate intellectual disability are able to comprehend the basic job requirements and gradually acquire the relevant work
skills. Further, these experiences enable them to overcome their limitations, develop good service attitudes, and increase their self-confidence and sense of achievement. The school has also set up a “School Leavers Concern Group”, which seeks to cater to graduates’ needs by devising transition plans for them and their parents, and providing community resources, referral service, and emotional and psychological support to facilitate their smooth entry into a new phase of life.
2.6 Implementation of Schools’ Major Concerns 2.6.1 Values Education
Schools place high importance on values education, commonly highlighting it as a major concern in their development plan and promoting it through classroom teaching and life- wide learning activities. Generally speaking, the seven priority values and attitudes are covered, and schools are able to strengthen the work in individual domains, such as Basic Law education and life education, according to the ongoing renewal of the curriculum and student needs. Yet there is still room for improvement in schools’ overall planning and implementation of values education.
Schools mostly promote values education through student personal growth support committees and groups. Through relevant learning elements in certain subjects, the school- based moral education curriculum, as well as sharing sessions on moral issues in morning and weekly assemblies, schools aim to cultivate positive values and attitudes in their students. These efforts are also coupled with a wide variety of learning activities, such as individual- and class-based award schemes, volunteering services and adventure training, offering students opportunities for practical experience. Some schools make good use of external resources, participating in EDB-organised “learning circles” or support programmes hosted by tertiary institutions, thereby enhancing the development of their school-based values education curriculum and the ongoing renewal of their learning and teaching resources. However, quite a few committees have yet to fully perform their roles in co-ordination, failing to make cohesive links between various school subjects, moral education curriculum and students’ learning experiences. They have been unable to make concerted efforts to promote values education, or ensure that different values and attitudes are fully covered in the curriculum, thus causing imbalance in students’ learning. In addition, some teachers have not fully grasped the appropriate techniques in teaching values, often delivering the moral education curriculum in a one-sided manner, or not offering students sufficient opportunities for reflection after activities. In such cases, the efficacy of the values education programme has therefore been compromised. In the minority of schools where values education has been promoted successfully, development focuses and learning targets are set in an organised manner for each year level; links between the values education curriculum and other school subjects are fully explored; and post-activity discussions and reflections are encouraged. Thus, cognition, affection and action are effectively integrated and developed, helping to nurture students’ sense of empathy and positive life attitudes.
Schools mainly seek to foster students’ sense of national identity through their school-based moral education curriculum, General Studies, or Personal, Social and Humanities Education KLA subjects, reinforcing students’ learning in Chinese history and culture, as well as Basic Law education. A good number of schools organise regular extra-curricular