Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Reviews and Focus Inspections 3
2.1 Effectiveness of School Self-evaluation 3
2.2 Professional Leadership 6
2.3 Fostering Students’ Whole-person Development 10
2.4 Classroom Learning and Teaching 20
2.5 Implementation of Schools’ Major Concerns 24
2.5.1 Values Education 24
2.5.2 Self-directed Learning 28
2.5.3 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education 32
2.5.4 Catering for Learner Diversity 35
Chapter 3 Concluding Remarks 42
Appendix 1 Schools Undergoing External School Review in the 2019/20 School Year 45
Appendix 2 Schools Undergoing Focus Inspection in the 2019/20 School Year 47
Chapter 1 Introduction
Since the implementation 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 enhancing self-improvement and fulfilling the responsibility of providing quality education, in line with the spirit of school-based management. The EDB continues to conduct External School Reviews (ESR) and Focus Inspections (FI) in a “school-specific and focused”
manner and provides schools with feedback and recommendations for improvement, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of school self-evaluation (SSE) and facilitating their sustainable development. In 2018, the EDB commissioned the University of Hong Kong to conduct the “Impact Study on the Implementation of the New Phase of the School Development and Accountability Framework for Enhancing School Development in Hong Kong”. The Study acknowledges schools’ enhanced awareness of self-evaluation and the positive impact brought about by the SDA framework on fostering schools’
In the 2019/20 school year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was suspension of face-to-face classes in all schools in the territory for some period of time and so the number of inspections conducted by the EDB was reduced as compared to that in the previous year.
The EDB conducted ESR in 16 primary schools, 21 secondary schools and 3 special schools (Appendix 1), and FI in 42 primary schools and 69 secondary schools (Appendix 2). This report presents the key findings of the inspections, including SSE, professional leadership, promotion of students’ whole-person development, effectiveness of classroom learning and teaching, and the various measures adopted by schools to support students’ learning and development continuously during the suspension of face-to-face classes. It also discusses the developments and achievements of various educational initiatives that most schools attach importance to, including values education, self-directed learning (SDL), STEM education, and catering for learner diversity. Exemplars are also included in this report for schools’ reference in the planning for the next phase of development in alignment with the seven learning goals.
According to the findings of the post-ESR school survey of the 2019/20 school year, participating schools were satisfied with ESR. Most of them reflected that the ESR teams could review schools’ major concerns in a school-specific manner, accurately evaluate the effectiveness of SSE, clearly identify schools’ strengths and areas for improvement, and help them reflect on their work effectiveness and formulate plans for their future development. The EDB hopes that by reading this report, schools can have a better understanding of the overall performance and progress of the participating schools in various areas of work and development. Schools could also refer to the exemplars and
suggestions for improvement in this report for enhancing their development and fostering students’ whole-person development and lifelong learning continuously.
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Reviews and Focus Inspections
2.1 Effectiveness of School Self-evaluation
Since the implementation of the SDA framework, most schools have gradually incorporated the SSE cycle into their daily operations. The major concerns set by the schools participating in ESR and FI in the 2019/20 school year are generally able to keep pace with the trends in education and meet students’ learning and developmental needs. Similar to those of the last school year, schools’ key focuses for development are mostly about enhancing values education, SDL and STEM education.
The decision-making processes in schools are generally transparent. Quite a number of schools make arrangements for teachers to participate in the analysis of the self-evaluation data and review of the school’s “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats” (SWOT).
During the process, not only is there participation from teachers, but the opinions of other stakeholders such as parents and students are also taken into consideration. Work plans in line with schools’ development focuses are appropriately drawn up by subject panels and committees. The goals of the major concerns are rather clear and in alignment with the directions of schools’ development and students’ needs. However, the performance in overall planning varies among schools. Schools with better planning have set clear priorities for development, with specific and feasible implementation strategies and success criteria that can address the goals of the major concerns. Adhering to the goals of development plans, individual schools can boost their work effectiveness through close collaboration among subject panels and committees. Schools with unsatisfactory planning have too many goals for their major concerns and the scope of work is too broad. Their implementation strategies are only routine work, or there is a lack of consensus among subject panels and committees, with each having its own development focuses, thus undermining the effectiveness in implementing the work plans. Besides, a few schools fail to set goals in phases and there is no obvious progression in the expected outcomes between the two development cycles. They fall short of reviewing their work effectiveness of the previous development cycle successfully for adjusting relevant goals and strategies to facilitate continuous school improvement and development. On the whole, schools still have to set clear and focused goals, prioritise their implementation work, and conduct in-depth evaluation of the work effectiveness for refining the planning of the next phase.
Support and monitoring from the school management and middle managers are crucial to the effective implementation of school development plans. Schools, in general, arrange professional development programmes for teachers, such as the professional learning network organised by school sponsoring bodies (SSBs), support services provided by the
EDB and tertiary institutions as well as in-house workshops. These activities have fostered the sharing of experience among teachers and enhanced their understanding of the major concerns, so that they can assist schools in the implementation of their development plans. Most of the school management and middle managers are able to maintain communication with teachers and understand the work of subject panels and committees by participating in meetings as well as reviewing meeting minutes and the plans formulated by subject panels and committees. However, only a few schools can follow up on the planning and evaluation of the major concerns carried out by subject panels and committees in a timely manner, and guide them to make good use of the evaluation results to inform planning.
Most schools are able to use the SSE tools provided by the EDB, including Stakeholder Survey (SHS) and “Assessment Program for Affective and Social Outcomes” (APASO), to systematically collect data and stakeholders’ opinions. However, when schools evaluate the effectiveness of the major concerns, they focus more on reporting work progress and the completion of tasks, but less on reviewing work effectiveness against the goals with reference to students’ performance or learning and teaching effectiveness, such as students’
assignments or self-reflections. Regarding the use of data, schools seldom review work effectiveness holistically by compiling the assessment information and data available.
This, in turn, affects the effectiveness of their development planning.
In the face of the sudden COVID-19 pandemic, schools encounter quite a number of difficulties and challenges during the suspension of face-to-face classes. In general, the school management is capable of co-ordinating their work and reviewing its progress continuously by adjusting the arrangements as needed. The management also co-ordinates various tasks in school to support teaching and students’ ongoing learning and development.
For example, schools designate teaching staff members to take up specific tasks, provide them with training and technical assistance in online teaching, and adjust e-learning strategies as well as teaching arrangements. For schools with better planning and implementation of work plans, the management teams are able to formulate contingency plans for different phases according to the school contexts. They also manage to set clear directions according to the priorities of the tasks, promptly execute work plans, collaborate with middle managers to lead all teachers to participate in school work, implement measures with flexibility, and continuously review relevant strategies so that timely improvement can be made. Schools at large are able to consolidate their experience gained during the suspension of face-to-face classes and adjust the directions for future development, such as enhancing e-learning and SDL as well as strengthening students’
resilience and self-management abilities to prepare for the learning and teaching in the new normal under the pandemic.
On the whole, most schools are generally able to systematically collect different data for conducting self-evaluation. However, they need to enhance the effectiveness of employing the SSE to foster self-improvement, evaluate work effectiveness with close connection to the goals, as well as reflect on and assess the progress in each development phase to follow up with concrete measures for improvement. Looking ahead, to enhance the overall planning and effectiveness of the use of evaluation data in conducting self-evaluation, schools should conduct self-evaluation and reflection based on the seven learning goals1, and review their overall planning and work effectiveness according to school contexts.
Capitalising on the use of SSE data for informing planning, schools should adjust work plans and their expected outcomes based on the evaluation findings.
Reviewing learning effectiveness continuously for adjusting e-learning strategies
During the suspension of face-to-face classes resulting from the pandemic, the school manages to use information technology (IT) effectively for arranging ongoing learning activities. As most students have had the experience of using their own mobile computer devices, the school designs online assignments for students at the early stages of class suspension. On the school website, there is a designated section of “Suspending Classes without Suspending Learning”
where a resource bank of self-learning videos has been created for students to learn from home.
The school is able to continuously review students’ performance and effectiveness in learning by summarising and evaluating students’ performance in assignments and in real-time online lessons, the amount of online assignments submitted and parents’ feedback. Timely adjustments are made to e-learning strategies, learning content, teaching progress and amount of homework in the weekly collaborative lesson planning sessions. After review, the school integrates the use of e-learning videos with real-time online teaching, instead of simply uploading videos for students to learn on their own, to provide all-round support to students.
Diversified learning activities are organised for the teaching of each subject. For example, to integrate the information on pandemic prevention into Physical Education and English, videos about exercising and anti-pandemic know-how are shown alongside the promotion of e-reading.
For General Studies, students engage in project learning and build a “wind-powered car” with the use of environmentally-friendly materials. For Visual Arts, students are asked to design models of animals to develop their creativity and sustain their motivation in learning.
1 The seven learning goals of secondary education are national and global identity, breadth of knowledge, language proficiency, generic skills, information literacy, life planning and healthy lifestyle. The seven learning goals of primary education are healthy lifestyle, breadth of knowledge, learning skills, language skills, habit of reading, national identity and responsibility.
Effectively using evaluation findings and appropriately formulating the directions for school development
The school has improved its self-evaluation through consultations and discussions with teachers at various levels and maintained transparency in its decision-making processes. Judging from the major concerns of the two most recent development cycles, the school has aptly identified its development needs and set up a committee to formulate an annual work plan with clear objectives for the major concerns. Taking the major concern of “Strengthening Values Education” in the previous development cycle for example, the committee responsible for student support and school ethos co-ordinates relevant tasks, draws up the key values to be cultivated each year, taps external professional support and develops school-based positive education lessons to enhance students’ physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The school strengthens the overall planning and co-ordination through regular meetings. It also manages to monitor the progress and provide appropriate support to the subject panels and committees in a timely manner, ensuring the work is implemented in a progressive manner. The overall planning is quite thorough and comprehensive.
The school is particularly serious about reviewing the effectiveness of its development work.
Before devising the development plans, it makes reference to different information and data, such as findings from the SWOT analysis, data obtained from the school-based surveys and SHS, and evaluation findings of the effectiveness of various tasks conducted in the previous development cycle, to formulate the directions for the new development cycle. Students’
post-activity reflections, school-based questionnaire findings and the assessment results of APASO are used to analyse and review the effectiveness of the school’s implementation of the school-based positive education in the previous cycle. In response to the progressive development of positive thinking in students at all year levels, the school moves on to review the different developmental needs of the junior and senior secondary students, formulate the major concerns of the current cycle and strengthen the whole-school curriculum planning and arrangements of activities. The school strategically builds the resilience of students at different key stages to help them face challenges with a positive attitude. The overall strategies are fairly successful in addressing students’ developmental needs.
2.2 Professional Leadership
In general, the school management can suitably deploy various types of resources to support students’ learning and development in accordance with the context of the schools and the
needs of students, which is crucial to promoting the sustainable development of schools.
Schools are usually able to use the external and internal resources flexibly to cater for the learning and developmental needs of students. For example, schools participate in research and support programmes run by tertiary institutions or other external organisations, including programmes to improve curriculum design and research on pedagogies and to provide counselling to help students work with their emotions. Schools keep on improving the learning and teaching effectiveness as well as helping students with their physical and mental development. Schools also collaborate with local and non-local businesses to provide students with internship and on-the-job experiential learning opportunities. Parents and alumni are invited to serve as volunteers or host career talks at school. During the suspension of face-to-face classes, quite a number of schools are able to learn from each other to facilitate the formulation of appropriate contingency measures.
They can also actively allocate internal and external resources according to the different needs of teachers and students by giving out anti-pandemic items and providing suitable e-learning tools to students who lack electronic equipment to ensure that students can continue to learn at home.
Schools, in general, manage to arrange relevant training for teachers in alignment with the major concerns and the trends in education. Examples of these training activities include the support services provided by the EDB, tertiary institutions or SSBs. Schools’
participation in these training activities strengthens teachers’ understanding of the concepts of the school curriculum and the work related to the support for students’ development.
Schools also encourage teachers to make use of collaborative lesson planning and peer lesson observation to learn from each other in relation to schools’ major development focuses. During the suspension of face-to-face classes, schools are generally able to provide teachers with appropriate professional support and training in adopting e-learning according to teachers’ readiness and capabilities. To support students to learn at home, schools provide teachers with clear work guidelines, designate a committee to teach them how to use e-learning platforms, and assist them in producing e-learning and teaching materials as well as conducting real-time online teaching. Some schools also arrange the sharing of good experience regarding the use of e-learning among teachers in panel meetings. The relevant professional development activities are mainly to help teachers master the skills of using e-learning tools. However, individual schools fail to provide teachers with appropriate technical support or training, which in turn affects the teaching effectiveness of e-learning during the suspension of face-to-face classes. In all, the school management can strengthen teachers’ ability to use IT by reflecting on the experience gained during the suspension of face-to-face classes, further enrich the e-learning resource depository, as well as consolidate and sustain the fruitful outcomes brought by the learning and teaching practices adopted.
In response to staff turnover, some school management deploy their staff members to designated jobs, make suitable arrangements and provide opportunities for teachers to demonstrate their abilities. For example, to pass on the experience of the school management or middle managers, schools actively groom younger talents for leadership role in the management, identify teachers with potential to serve as deputy panel heads and provide them with training. Teachers are assigned to different positions, allowing the less experienced to accumulate administrative experience soon and gradually develop their leadership skills. Teachers with more administrative experience are arranged to coach and provide work-related and post-specific training to the middle managers with less experience. Some schools adopt a mentoring mode by pairing up the novice with the experienced ones and, through lesson observation, help new teachers grasp the learning and teaching requirements to enhance their professional development.
Schools with higher level of leadership effectiveness have a team of management members who are open-minded towards policy formulation. They maintain two-way communication with stakeholders through different channels, such as facilitating communication with teaching staff of all ranks in panel or committee meetings to build consensus and establish shared visions. With reference to the development needs of the schools, these management teams co-ordinate and facilitate various tasks, build communication platforms across subject panels and committees, guide subject panels and committees to make continuous improvements in line with the directions for schools’
development, and provide students with the opportunities to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills acquired from different subjects. They also appropriately deploy human resources, straighten out the arrangements of administrative work, and make room for teachers to carry out tasks on curriculum development and student support. However, quite a number of management teams still need to improve their leadership skills. They cannot provide timely guidance and support to subject panels or committees, nor can they perform the monitoring function, thereby affecting the implementation and effectiveness of relevant work. Moreover, these management teams are not able to empower the teachers-in-charge at different levels with clearly defined authority and responsibilities, which in turn makes it difficult for teachers to carry out their work effectively, hinders the co-ordination and collaboration among subject panels and committees, and affects the evaluation of work effectiveness.
Curriculum leaders and middle managers are generally able to lead subject panels and committees to formulate appropriate work plans in accordance with the schools’
development focuses and the trends in education. In some schools, however, there is not much communication or collaboration among subject panels and committees, causing inadequate overall planning and co-ordination of the curriculum. In individual cases, the learning and teaching materials for the senior secondary (SS) subjects are not rich in
knowledge and their content is biased. The school management and middle managers have to perform the roles of co-ordination and monitoring. They need to enhance collaboration among subject panels and committees regarding the interface between different key stages as well as the cross-curricular development tasks such as STEM education and values education. They should also effectively monitor the curriculum content to ensure that the learning and teaching materials of different subjects are in line with the learning goals and objectives of the central curriculum, and that the information quoted is accurate while the content is objective and balanced.
Effectively planning teachers’ professional development and continuously enhancing teachers’ professional capacity
In recent years, the school has strengthened the continuous professional sharing on specific topics for teachers and established a sound professional development framework for teachers, covering the individual, subject panel, committee and school levels. The school has drawn up a clear blueprint for the professional development of teachers of different ranks and seniority, including providing school management courses for middle managers to improve their management skills. There are a mentoring system to guide new teachers and help them get accustomed to the team, as well as support from subject panel heads and co-ordinators to facilitate teachers’ gradual mastery of the work relating to subject teaching.
The school actively arranges professional development activities, which align with the implementation of the major concerns. These activities appropriately cover the domains of curriculum development and student support. The school also solicits support from external professionals and consultants, promotes overseas collaboration and professional exchange, liaises with renowned universities or institutions from overseas or the Mainland to provide professional advice and support for the development of its school-based curriculum, and thus enhances teachers’ professional capacities. When the school promotes the use of IT to enhance learning and teaching, it also conducts school-based and subject-based training and sharing. Upon the implementation of life education, the school arranges for teachers to participate in the sharing session of the authors of the teaching materials and encourages teachers to apply the theories they have learnt. In addition to the communication platforms such as “lesson study”, “collaborative lesson planning” and “post-lesson discussions”, there are also meetings on curriculum adaptation and mid-term evaluations to help teachers achieve ongoing self-improvement and enhance their capabilities on lesson study.
Responding speedily during the suspension of face-to-face classes and working together to maintain students’ learning routine
The school puts great emphasis on the needs of students. During the suspension of face-to-face classes, the school’s primary task is to help students maintain a regular daily routine and manage their time wisely to achieve the goal of “Suspending Classes without Suspending Learning”. In order to keep on fostering students’ reading habit and their interest in reading, as well as promote values education, the school retains the “Morning Reading on Moral Education” session during the suspension of face-to-face classes. The reading materials are not only closely connected to the seven core values of the school-based moral education curriculum and the positive education promoted in the current development cycle, but are also related to the pandemic and information literacy (IL). For example, news stories are used to teach students how to analyse the authenticity of information, help them grasp accurate anti-pandemic information and develop a positive attitude to face the pandemic. In view of the cancellation of co-curricular activities, the school provides information of online activities, such as drama and movies, and encourages students to participate in joint school concerts or online sports training programmes, so that students can continue to take part in arts and sports activities. Moreover, to cater for the learning needs of cross-boundary students, the school has switched to the use of e-learning platforms and apps which can be accessed in the Mainland, so that it can send learning materials to these students or allow them to submit assignments through these channels. After the resumption of face-to-face classes, these classes are livestreamed and the assessment arrangements are revised to take care of the students who are not yet able to return to school.
2.3 Fostering Students’ Whole-person Development
The school curriculum aims to help students achieve the seven learning goals and foster their whole-person development and lifelong learning. Apart from classroom learning, schools should arrange for students various life-wide learning (LWL) activities that cover the five essential learning experiences, so that students can make meaning of their personal experiences. At present, schools generally provide students with different learning experiences according to their school missions, the trends in education and students’ needs.
For the latest development cycle, most schools set the enhancement of values education, the cultivation of students’ SDL abilities and the promotion of STEM education as their key development focuses. Most schools are able to use appropriate implementation strategies.
Schools that focus on developing students’ self-learning abilities are keen to incorporate self-learning elements in all subjects, develop the habit of pre-lesson preparation among
students and, through the promotion of e-learning, allow students to make use of online platforms after class to consolidate and extend what they have learnt.
Primary schools generally manage to provide a balanced curriculum, helping students develop their learning abilities as well as positive values and attitudes gradually from the lower primary to upper primary levels. With the implementation of whole-day schooling, tutorial sessions or activity periods are incorporated in the school timetable. Schools with better planning are able to arrange for students to acquire subject knowledge in the morning and engage them in LWL activities in the afternoon, with the learning content in the morning and afternoon being organically linked. This expands the room for student learning, enables them to integrate and apply knowledge and skills across disciplines, and fosters the development of generic skills in them. There are schools allowing students to complete as much of their homework as possible during the tutorial sessions scheduled before school finishes to create room for students to develop their potential in different areas. A few schools encourage students to exercise more, such as doing exercise to improve spinal health during recess time and lunch breaks to help students develop a healthy lifestyle. However, there are individual schools arranging supplementary lessons for students during the time for co-curricular activities, overlooking students’ need for balanced learning.
The curriculum provided in secondary schools is generally broad, with the aim of promoting students’ whole-person development. As for the junior secondary (JS) level, the number of schools offering the school-based Liberal Studies curriculum has decreased slightly compared with that of last year. However, there is room for improvement in the overall curriculum planning. For example, for certain Key Learning Areas (KLAs) or subjects, there are schools which bring forward the teaching of some SS curriculum topics to the JS level and drill students’ examination techniques for public examinations, resulting in the learning time of the JS level being squeezed. This does not only fail to cater for students’ learning needs and their mental and cognitive development, but also hinders their building up of a solid knowledge foundation at the JS level. Schools must ensure that the JS curriculum fully covers the core elements or the essential learning content of the eight KLAs. Moreover, the school-based Economics and Business curriculum at the JS level overlaps with the learning content of Life and Society recommended by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC). Schools should appropriately name subjects according to the CDC’s recommendations to avoid any misunderstanding that stakeholders may have about the learning content being the same as that of the SS curriculum. As for the SS level, schools are passably able to take care of students’ preferences, interests and abilities regarding their choice of subjects, and provide students with sufficient subject choices, including offering Applied Learning courses or adjusting the combination of elective
subjects at the SS level to cater for learner diversity. Currently, quite a number of schools design their own school-based learning and teaching materials, but their quality varies.
The learning and teaching materials for individual subjects at the SS level cover insufficient knowledge, or with information that is outdated or biased, unbalanced and guiding students’
thinking to a certain extent. All these materials are not conducive to students’ full understanding of an issue, grasp of relevant facts and analysis of the core of the problem for an in-depth and meaningful exploration of the issue. Schools still need to improve the selection and use of the learning and teaching materials to ensure that the content aligns with the goals and targets of the curriculum, so that students can learn with objectivity and impartiality, and acquire complete and correct learning content.
Special schools are able to continuously improve the school-based curriculum according to students’ learning needs, including the integration of therapeutic elements into the subjects to help students overcome physical challenges and the difficulties encountered in learning;
offering of self-care lessons and sensory motor training to enhance students’
self-management skills and life skills as well as allocation of resources for diversified LWL activities to foster students’ moral and affective development, effectively broaden their horizons and enrich their learning experiences. A complement of the curriculum and life planning education (LPE) connects students with daily life experience and helps them develop independent living and social skills.
LWL places emphasis on student learning in real contexts and authentic settings as well as the cultivation of students’ whole-person development and positive values through the process of experiential learning. This is a strategy adopted by many schools for the implementation of their major concerns. Schools usually assign administrative teams or a committee designated for LWL to co-ordinate the relevant tasks. Tying in with the curriculum of each KLA or subject, LWL activities or other learning experiences are arranged to extend students’ learning. For example, to complement the school Arts Education curriculum, platforms such as large-scale talent performances or lunchtime theatres are provided to create an artistic ambience on campus and allow students to demonstrate their creativity; through the participation in academic societies and interest clubs, sports and arts training, school teams, etc., students’ interests are fostered and their potential developed; uniformed group activities and volunteer services are organised to cultivate students’ spirit to serve and leadership skills as well as enable them to apply what they have learnt to help others. Before the pandemic, many schools extended learning to outside Hong Kong, for example, by organising exchange tours and field trips of different themes in the Mainland, so that students could gain first-hand experience of the latest developments in our country, thereby deepening their understanding of our country and enriching what they had learnt in class. Due to the pandemic, a number of schools have
cancelled or postponed the LWL activities originally scheduled for this school year.
Facing the ongoing pandemic, individual schools have tried to arrange learning activities for students to carry out at home, such as writing songs, creating short films or designing masks, to sustain students’ interest in learning.
Schools attach great importance to the interface between different key stages and take measures to strengthen it, including curriculum design and adaptation as well as the provision of bridging activities and learning support, with the most commonly adopted being acclimatising Primary 1 and Secondary 1 students to campus life. Most primary schools conduct induction programmes at the beginning of the school year. In addition to the teaching of classroom routines and self-care skills, some schools adjust the frequency and mode of assessment, for example, by adjusting the amount of homework, frequency of dictations and requirements for writing. A small number of schools even cancel the examinations in the first term or the first year and replace them with different means of formative assessments, such as assignments and quizzes, to help students reduce examination stress and adapt to the primary school life. As for secondary schools, most of them conduct summer bridging courses or induction programmes, in which Secondary 1 students not only get to know different subjects or subject-specific vocabulary in English, but are also taught self-learning strategies, allowing them to adapt to the learning mode in secondary schools soon.
Assessment is to collect evidence of students’ learning process and outcomes for reference to review the effectiveness of curriculum implementation, enhance learning and teaching quality and understand students’ learning progress. At present, school assessment policies are generally clear. Schools manage to design appropriate assessments according to the learning objectives and continuously review students’ learning progress through lesson observations or assignment inspection. Homework design is generally diversified. Some schools allow students to choose the topic and presentation mode for their assignments, thereby catering for their different learning styles; or assign self-learning tasks instead of the traditional pen-and-paper assignments to students during long holidays. Schools usually notify parents of the relevant policies through circulars or student handbooks at the beginning of the school year, which is a relatively common practice in primary schools.
Some schools consult or collect opinions from parents and students in a timely manner and adapt the mode and content of assessments as needed. During the suspension of face-to-face classes, schools adapt the assessment modes to cater for students’ learning needs, for example, by switching to online electronic platforms for assigning homework, providing students with hints on assignments supplemented by narrated presentation slides, and recording real-time online lesson clips to enable students to revise the learning content when needed.
Making good use of assessment data to adjust learning and teaching strategies is a key indicator of teachers’ assessment literacy. Schools often analyse student performance in internal and external assessments through, for example, collaborative lesson planning or year-level meetings. Schools that aptly use assessment data are able to adjust curriculum planning and classroom learning and teaching strategies upon analysis of student performance, and thus effectively promote student learning. As for schools with less effective use of assessment data, the follow-up measures devised after evaluation, such as re-teaching the relevant topics and providing students with additional worksheets to drill them on techniques in answering questions, are usually not specific enough. These schools overlook the importance of analysing assessment data, or are not able to formulate improvement strategies with a clear focus in response to students’ learning difficulties.
During the suspension of face-to-face classes, schools employ different methods, such as paper-based or electronic assignments, online assessments, and observation of students’
performance in real-time online lessons, to understand their learning progress and effectiveness at home. However, in some schools, students’ homework is not marked in a timely manner and students are required to check answers on their own, or assignments are left to be marked after class resumption, which renders the tracking of students’ learning progress difficult.
To promote reading, schools not only guide students to learn to read and nurture in them a love of reading, but also help students master the skills of “Reading to Learn” to enhance their overall learning capability and achieve the aims of lifelong learning and whole-person development. Schools have paid due attention to the promotion of reading. In most schools, co-ordination of the tasks on promoting reading is taken up by librarians, designated committees or language subject panels. They create a vibrant reading atmosphere on campus through activities such as reading award schemes, book sharing and the setting up of book collection boxes for bookcrossing on campus. They also schedule time slots designated for reading to cultivate students’ reading habit and organise theme-based reading weeks or book fairs with specific topics to broaden students’ scope of reading. Most schools can make good use of the “Promotion of Reading Grant” to purchase books and organise school-based reading activities, such as inviting writers to give talks, to build up a reading atmosphere on campus. For schools that promote reading more effectively, teachers are able to build consensus, formulate objectives and development strategies, and implement reading plans with a collaborative effort. There are schools inviting organisations that specialise in promoting reading to conduct training workshops on parent-child reading for parents and help create time and space for reading on campus, with a view to creating a good reading environment for students. During the suspension of face-to-face classes, individual secondary schools provide students with various e-reading resources and organise inter-class online reading competitions to encourage students to read
e-books. There are also schools that arrange different forms of sharing on reading, in which students make short video clips to share their reading experience with peers, to help students expand their reading horizons.
As for schools having implemented Reading across the Curriculum (RaC), the initiative is mostly at its initial stage. Through the language subjects, or the collaboration between the library team and panels of non-language subjects, schools generally promote RaC by setting common reading themes. Schools that promote RaC more effectively manage to plan holistically, with panels of language and non-language subjects jointly setting learning themes, arranging relevant reading materials and allowing students to participate in classroom learning activities designed by different subjects, effectively strengthening students’ understanding of the learning themes. RaC is also practised through project learning. Students are allowed to set research topics that interest them, enhance their understanding of related content through reading, and integrate knowledge across different KLAs. Schools promoting RaC at a slower pace lack overall planning as well as specific implementation strategies. To effectively promote reading and enhance the effectiveness of RaC, it is still necessary to strengthen the collaboration among subjects. Schools could identify the connections among the learning focuses of different subjects and enable students to flexibly apply knowledge across different KLAs through reading.
To achieve the curriculum objectives of fostering students’ whole-person development, the cultivation of positive values is an important part in the overall curriculum planning.
Schools actively promote values education, mainly through subject learning, school-based moral and civic education lessons, cross-curricular learning and LWL activities, etc., which provide students with various learning experiences and cultivate in them positive values and attitudes. They also leverage resources for the implementation of relevant tasks, for example, by tapping the support from religious groups or community organisations to help students develop positive attitudes towards respecting and treasuring lives through diversified life education activities. Schools also help students develop and bolster positive values through practice and reflection by engaging them in services organised by the EDB or external organisations. Schools with satisfactory performance have clear goals with sound planning; are able to respond to the developmental needs of students at different key stages; and, through close collaboration between subject panels and committees, manage to systematically promote values education with multiple strategies adopted inside and outside the classroom. Students can easily feel perplexed when faced with controversial incidents and social issues. Schools should act in line with the curriculum goals and objectives to help students develop rational thinking and the ability to distinguish right from wrong, enable them to reflect on the impact of their behaviour on themselves and others, and thus help them develop positive values. Schools should also provide timely
support to students and handle inappropriate behaviour; help relieve students’ emotions;
guide students to make analyses from different perspectives, express opinions in a lawful, peaceful, rational, and respectful manner, as well as make sensible and reasonable judgments and decisions, nurturing them to become responsible citizens.
The majority of schools actively promote life education, nurturing in students respect for life and positive attitudes. Schools mainly promote life education and positive thinking through school-based moral education curriculum. The learning content is able to meet the developmental needs of students and improve their mental well-being to strengthen their resilience in the face of adversity. Schools with more thorough planning can set appropriate learning objectives and focuses according to the developmental needs of students at different key stages. Examples include integrating reading and experiential activities, making good use of the natural environment of the campus, providing students with first-hand experience and encouraging them to get close to nature to help them understand the meaning of life and the relationship between human beings and the environment.
For fostering the sense of national identity, schools implement national education and Basic Law education mainly through General Studies, Personal, Social and Humanities Education (PSHE) KLA and LWL activities such as exhibitions, academic weeks, quizzes, flag-raising ceremonies and events promoting the understanding of our country’s history and culture.
Schools also participate in the students’ Mainland exchange programmes that the EDB organises for students or conduct exchanges with sister schools in the Mainland to deepen students’ understanding of our country’s history, culture, society and economy. However, not many schools are able to holistically review and plan Basic Law education at the school level. Omissions in the learning content occur in schools that fail to include the learning elements of Basic Law education in relevant subjects appropriately. Some teachers are unable to connect their teaching naturally to the Basic Law and students fail to understand the relationship between the Basic Law and their everyday life, resulting in the overall effectiveness of its implementation being impaired. Schools need to ensure an adequate coverage of Basic Law education, enhance students’ understanding of the relationship between the country and Hong Kong, and strengthen students’ sense of national identity.
Schools employ different strategies to help students develop a healthy lifestyle. Examples include conducting health talks, or assigning the calculation of nutritional intake as learning tasks to raise students’ awareness of healthy diets; and incorporating exercise programmes in multiple intelligence classes or co-curricular activities to encourage students to exercise more. Some primary schools make good use of recesses or lunch breaks to encourage students to participate in various physical activities, such as morning jogs or exercises to improve spinal health. Some secondary schools arrange for students stress-relieving
exercises or experiential activities to relieve stress through art, thereby improving students’
physical and mental well-being; or organise volunteer services and thematic talks to help students understand mental health and emotion management. To further motivate students to develop a healthy lifestyle while fully taking into account their physical, mental and spiritual well-being, interpersonal relationships, positive thinking, etc., schools should connect the curriculum content to students’ daily life and arrange diversified LWL activities for students to help them maintain physical, mental and spiritual well-being, so that they can grow healthily and happily.
LPE should promote students’ self-understanding, help students reflect on factors that affect their choices of further studies or future career, and assist them in setting personal goals to equip them to meet the related challenges. Most schools can respond to students’ learning and developmental needs at different key stages, and help them understand themselves and learn about a variety of multiple pathways through class-teacher periods, assemblies and individual or group counselling on life planning. In general, schools can also aptly tap different resources to promote LPE through collaborating with tertiary institutions to organise diversified activities, including taster programmes, campus tours and seminars on further studies, to let students know about the choices for further studies. Learning opportunities such as visits to companies, mock interviews and job shadowing are provided for students to understand the workplace. Parents, alumni, etc. are invited to provide information about different sectors and industries and provide students with advice on further studies or employment. In some of these schools, LPE is integrated into the curriculum by, for example, connecting it to the learning content of Life and Society, enabling students to understand themselves and make choices for their future paths. There is also group or individual counselling on future studies and careers, helping students set their personal goals for different stages and define the direction of their personal development.
On the whole, schools are able to define the focuses of curriculum development and formulate corresponding strategies and implementation measures in alignment with the trends in education and their major concerns. However, the curriculum leaders of some schools have yet to fully grasp the principles of curriculum planning as they do not possess a strong concept of holistic planning. Curriculum leaders in secondary schools need to pay particular attention to the holistic planning of the JS curriculum, ensuring that the curriculum content is broad and balanced and meets students’ abilities and needs to help students build a strong knowledge foundation. To connect the learning of and across various KLAs more effectively for achieving the seven learning goals, schools should strengthen curriculum planning and co-ordination, as well as enhance the collaboration among subject panels and committees at the curriculum level. Schools ought to enable
students to make good use of the learning time inside and outside the classroom, applying the knowledge and skills acquired from various disciplines, and foster positive values in students. Furthermore, there are still differences in the use of assessment data to promote learning and teaching among schools. Schools need to strengthen the effectiveness of assessment for learning by making good use of assessment and other relevant data, evaluate the effectiveness of their work with reference to students’ performance and analyse students’
learning needs and difficulties to inform curriculum planning.
Making appropriate adjustments to homework and assessment arrangements to create room for students to develop interests and potential
In recent years, the school has set creating room for students to develop their interests and potential as its key development focus to foster the whole-person development of students.
Therefore, the school adjusts the homework and assessment arrangements, collects opinions from stakeholders regularly, as well as reviews and optimises the homework policies such as the arrangements and amount of homework for each subject in a timely manner. There is reduction in the amount of homework through streamlining worksheets with repetitive key learning points under the monitoring of designated committees. The school schedules tutorial sessions in the timetable so that students can complete most of the homework at school under teachers’ guidance. This not only supports the learning of the less able students, but also creates room for most students to develop their potential according to their own interests. The school strives to help Primary 1 students adapt to the transition between kindergarten and Primary 1 as well as the learning in the primary school. The school does not set any examinations for Primary 1 and it continuously reviews and adjusts the relevant arrangements.
For example, diversified assessment strategies are adopted in Key Stage 1, covering students’
daily performance in reading aloud, practical activities, group presentation, etc. Combining teacher observation with parent and peer assessment, the related information is compiled into a learning portfolio, which facilitates parents’ understanding of student’s learning progress and performance while taking into account students’ needs in adaptation and learning.
Striving to develop a distinctive school-based curriculum to enhance students’ language abilities; deepening students’ understanding of the Chinese culture through cross-curricular collaboration
The school has developed a distinctive school-based curriculum to deepen students’
understanding of the Chinese culture. The school starts with the teaching of reading in the Chinese Language, allowing students to experience the thoughts and feelings expressed in classical poetry and simple classical texts, and to understand the moral and affective essence as well as the cultural connotation in them, thereby gaining a more in-depth understanding of the literary works. The elements of drama or debate are incorporated in the selected learning modules of Chinese Language at each upper primary level to foster students’ creativity and higher-order thinking skills, and boost their interest in language learning.
In addition, through cross-curricular collaboration, the school enhances students’ language and learning abilities, and encourages them to read widely. For example, effort is made to connect the learning of Chinese Language and Life Education through the use of picture books, not only teaching reading strategies, but also emphasising values education and allowing students to reflect on the meaning of the story in connection with their life experience. Through the collaboration of the Chinese Language and the English Language panels, autobiographies and biographies are chosen as the theme and reading materials to promote RaC in Primary 5, enabling students to learn the writing style and special features of the genre. The school has launched the “Cross-curricular Activity Days” since the last school year, with the themes of these two years being “Journey to the West” and “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”
respectively. Through cross-curricular collaboration, students can deepen their understanding of the Chinese culture. For example, they are guided to employ reading strategies in Chinese Language, explained the concept of symmetry through the traditional art of paper-cutting in Mathematics, and taught to make sky lanterns and understand their symbolic meaning in Visual Arts. This enhances students’ interest in learning the Chinese history and culture.
Effectively catering for students’ learning needs through aligning assessment arrangements and design with the school’s key development focuses
In recent years, the school has paid particular attention to catering for learner diversity, and each subject panel acts proactively to arrange appropriate assessments for students in response to their different abilities and learning styles. Taking the internal assessment of Liberal Studies for example, the examination papers for the more able students require higher-order thinking skills. Students are to extract and analyse useful information from relatively complicated reading materials. The examination papers for the less able students employ more direct questioning, provide guidance to facilitate students’ thinking, and contain less complex reading materials, helping students master how to answer questions and thus builds their confidence in learning. Each examination question is set with assessment focuses, including the application of concepts and knowledge acquired from the learning modules, the use of supporting evidence and relevant elaboration, etc. When marking the answers, teachers note down students’
performance according to the preset focuses, and produce individual performance records for students to have a good grasp of their learning performance. The school also carefully analyses the test and examination performances of students from different ability groups and adjusts the teaching strategies in response to their learning difficulties. The school makes an effort in motivating students to conduct independent project learning using a non-textual mode.
Students are guided to combine the knowledge and skills acquired in STEM education, record the inquiry process and use videos to report the results. This effectively enhances students’
interest in learning and cultivates their inquiry mind.
2.4 Classroom Learning and Teaching
Student learning includes the learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom.
In general, students are attentive and interested in classroom learning. They conform to rules and participate in learning activities according to teachers’ instructions with a good rapport in the classroom. Teachers are generally able to present the learning objectives clearly in class and structure the learning content according to the learning objectives.
Teachers also use various learning and teaching materials, such as multimedia resources, to enhance student participation, sustain their motivation and help them grasp the concepts and learning content. For promoting SDL, teachers often assign pre-lesson preparation tasks to students, for example, providing them with reading materials and video clips through e-learning platforms, and start the lessons with students’ pre-lesson preparation work.
Teachers also upload pre-lesson preparation work to e-learning platforms for students to share and discuss, thereby facilitating peer interaction. Most students are able to complete their pre-lesson preparation tasks and apply the knowledge and skills learnt to accomplish the learning tasks in class. However, they seldom take the initiative in raising questions or taking notes on key learning points. Teachers need to set higher expectations for students, offer guidance in accordance with their abilities, and enhance their self-learning abilities and initiative in learning. There is room for improvement for the learning activities in some lessons. Examples include an abrupt end of the lesson, inadequate teaching content, low expectations towards students or an inappropriate level of learning content. This cannot guide students to explore the learning content deeply, and thus affects their learning effectiveness.
In addition to lecturing, most teachers employ questioning and group activities to enhance students’ participation in class. Teachers’ questions are mainly to check students’ prior knowledge, with quite a number of them being too straightforward and giving little scope for students to explore the issues in depth. The effectiveness in using questioning to cultivate students’ higher-order thinking skills varies. Students are willing to answer
teachers’ questions and participate in class activities, displaying a positive learning attitude.
Group activities are conducted in most lessons to promote peer interaction. Most students are engaged in the group activities and are willing to express opinions, discuss with peers and listen patiently to the views of others. In some of the lessons, sharing on the discussion is arranged after the activities to enhance students’ confidence as well as their presentation skills. However, the design of group activities in some lessons is unsatisfactory and fails to enhance learning effectiveness. For example, there is not much collaboration in tasks, little room for discussion on certain issues and activities are dominated by the more able students. In general, teachers can provide opportunities for students to share their learning outcomes and give timely and positive feedback. Some teachers capitalise on e-learning, using mobile computer devices and apps to give students instant feedback, thereby enhancing students’ participation in lessons and boosting their motivation and interest in learning.
To cater for learner diversity, teachers often make use of questioning to increase students’
participation in learning and arrange group activities to engage students with different abilities in lessons. Teachers monitor students’ learning progress through observations and provide individual guidance to students in need. Some teachers adopt different learning and teaching strategies, such as tiered assignments, mixed ability grouping or giving hints for answering questions, to support students with different abilities. However, assigning challenging learning tasks to the more able students to extend their learning or develop their potential is not commonly seen. On the whole, to enhance the effectiveness of catering for learner diversity in class, teachers still need to flexibly adjust the pace of teaching as well as learning and teaching strategies according to students’ abilities, styles and performance.
An effective connection between the learning inside and outside the classroom can bring about a mutually reinforcing effect and help students internalise and apply what they have learnt in the classroom. In general, schools are able to conduct diversified learning activities and create contexts for students to apply what they have learnt outside the classroom. For example, visits to museums and local historical sites and Mainland exchange programmes are organised to extend students’ learning of our country’s history and the Chinese culture. In addition, some schools arrange various activities to develop students’ English language abilities. These activities include “English Café”, English drama and English booth games, enabling students to use English vocabulary and demonstrate their communication skills, as well as helping boost their confidence in using English. In individual secondary schools, the English panel co-ordinates the work of Language across the Curriculum (LaC) and collaborates closely with the teacher-librarian and non-language teachers. They jointly formulate cross-curricular learning themes, providing students with the learning experience of integrating the knowledge of different subjects learnt inside and outside the classroom. Currently, there are not many schools
promoting LaC, and cross-curricular collaboration is generally insufficient. The overall planning needs to be improved. It is desirable for school curriculum leaders to take a co-ordinating role in overall planning. They should review the connection of the key learning points between different subjects and strengthen the communication and collaboration among subject panels. Schools need to make good use of learning time, to integrate learning activities inside and outside the classroom effectively, helping students apply what they have learnt and facilitating classroom learning.
At the beginning of the suspension of face-to-face classes, schools mainly upload learning materials to the e-learning platform for students to study at home. At the middle and late stages, schools usually produce school-based teaching videos alongside online learning materials, or conduct real-time online teaching. Most schools make use of e-learning platforms, instant messaging apps and social media platforms to provide students with learning support, such as discussing learning content or learning outcomes with teachers and peers. Some schools adopt the flipped classroom approach to conduct activities such as reading, hands-on tasks and project learning to achieve “Suspending Classes without Suspending Learning”. Teachers understand students’ learning progress and effectiveness mainly through reviewing their assignments and observing their performance in online lessons. Teachers also make use of e-learning platforms to give feedback to students and enhance students’ IL, including the ability and attitude to use IT. However, the effects of online learning and teaching and face-to-face classes are different after all. For example, it is relatively difficult for teachers to accurately evaluate the learning effectiveness of students in online learning, and parents’ support for students to conduct e-learning varies.
Moreover, there are differences among the capabilities of teachers and students in using IT for learning and teaching, resulting in a number of difficulties and challenges in conducting online lessons. In response to the development of e-learning, schools need to continuously improve the IL of different stakeholders, including students and teachers, and help them enhance the capability of using IT, for example, extracting, organising and screening information, as well as enjoy the benefits brought by it. This would allow teachers and students to adapt to the learning and teaching modes under the new normal as soon as possible, thereby improving learning and teaching effectiveness.
Closely aligning with the school’s major concerns to effectively cultivate students’ inquiring mind through learning and experiential activities
The lesson design closely follows the school’s major concern of “Inquiry and Experience: