Quality Assurance and School-based Support Division Education Bureau
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 and Professional Development 5
2.3 Curriculum and Assessment 9
2.4 Classroom Learning and Teaching 13
Chapter 3 Progress made in Major Concerns 17
3.1 Reading to Learn 17
3.2 Catering for Learner Diversity 22
3.3 Self-directed Learning 26
3.4 Values Education 30
Chapter 4 Concluding Remarks 35
Appendix 1 Schools Undergoing External School Review in the 2016/17 School Year
Appendix 2 Schools Undergoing Focus Inspection in the 2016/17 School Year 41
Chapter 1 Introduction
Starting from the 2015/16 school year, the Education Bureau (EDB) has implemented the next phase of the School Development and Accountability (SDA) Framework. While the EDB continues to conduct External School Review (ESR) in a school-specific and focused manner, providing schools with focused and specific feedback that facilitate schools’ continuous development, ESR and Focus Inspections (FI) that cover all Key Learning Areas (KLA) and subjects are arranged flexibly and will not be bound by a fixed cycle. To align with the implementation of SDA Framework, schools devise School Development Plan (SDP), based often on a three-year development cycle. They identify major concerns for the development cycle, making reference to schools’ development and students’ learning needs, the trends in education, as well as school self-evaluation (SSE) findings with a view to promoting schools’ continuous improvement and development. For details, please refer to the EDB Circular No. 11/2015.
In the 2016/17 school year, a total of 90 ESR (Appendix 1) and 195 FI (Appendix 2) were conducted by the EDB. This report sets out the key findings of these ESR and FI. In Chapter 2, the overall performance and progress made in SSE, professional leadership and professional development, curriculum and assessment, as well as classroom learning and teaching are laid out. Chapter 3 delineates the progress made and effectiveness of major concerns drawn up by most schools, including reading to learn, catering for learner diversity, self-directed learning and values education. The report ends with Chapter 4, which gives a conclusion of the overall findings from the inspections conducted this school year and recommendations for schools’ further development. Exemplars are provided in each chapter for schools’ reference when conducting self-evaluation and drawing up work plans.
The findings of the Post-ESR School Survey show that the participating schools respond positively to the overall process of ESR and, in general, agree that the ESR teams review schools’ major concerns in a school-specific and focused manner, and are able to accurately identify schools’ strengths and areas for improvement, facilitating their reflection on work effectiveness. The EDB will continue to work in collaboration with stakeholders to promote schools’ continuous development and enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching and support for student development.
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Reviews and Focus Inspections
2.1 Effectiveness of School Self-evaluation
In the current phase of SDA Framework, schools, in general, aim to embed the cycle of “Planning-Implementation-Evaluation” (P-I-E) into daily operation with the objective of effectively promoting schools’ continuous development. Schools are able to sustain their work in the previous development cycle. They devise development plans and identify major concerns with consideration of students’
learning and development needs, the trends in education and the information and data gathered through self-evaluation. Schools with better performance in SSE aptly differentiate priority tasks, draw up specific implementation strategies and make timely evaluation and modification. The school management leads the staff to formulate development plans. The transparent process is conducive to enhancing teachers’ consensus on and sense of ownership of programmes and, hence, the development of the schools. A small number of schools, however, make slow progress in SSE without drawing up SDP against major concerns or detailed implementation strategies.
Schools, in general, implement major priority tasks in accordance with development plans. In schools with better performance, school managements assign duties to members of staff commensurate with their abilities and expertise, aptly deploy resources, value professional development and maintain close communication with stakeholders (including parents and members of the community). Administration committees or school development committees are set up to coordinate and monitor the implementation of priority tasks and promote cross-panel/committee collaboration, effectively facilitating student learning and strengthening student support. Some schools, however, need to strengthen the support for individual groups/committees. School managements should timely provide suggestions for improvement and, at the same time, establish consensus among teachers to ensure a shared understanding of the major concerns.
Schools reviewing work progress and effectiveness through SSE is the key to facilitate schools’ continuous development and improvement. In this school year, a small number of schools demonstrate outstanding performance in SSE. A culture of self-evaluation is observed at subject panel/committee or teacher level. They conduct comprehensive analysis, review and reflection with reference to the assessment data and stakeholders’ opinions collected and teachers’ observation, etc.,
to modify goals and refine follow-up measures. These practices are conducive to promoting schools’ continuous development. Schools that perform less well fail to set success criteria against major concerns or focus only on the data collected from surveys, failing to evaluate the effectiveness of implementation of major concerns in a specific manner, or inform planning with evaluation findings.
On the whole, schools have established an SSE mechanism. They are able to make use of self-evaluation cycle to gather experience and to set goals and adjust strategies. The on-going cyclical process of SSE helps schools continuously improve and develop. When formulating plans, schools still need to strengthen the forging of consensus among teachers to ensure a clear direction for development, devise concrete and specific implementation and evaluation strategies, and strengthen its role in monitoring and steering, timely offering advice and support to facilitate subject panels’/committees’ development so as to capitalise on the advantages of school-based management.
Making good use of self-evaluation cycle to formulate development foci, facilitating school’s continuous development
The school has established a clear SSE mechanism. Adopting a whole-school approach, at the end of each development cycle, all members of the teaching staff review school performance in the eight Performance Indicators areas using evaluation information and data to identify major concerns for the next development cycle. At the end of the previous development cycle, the school makes reference to the self-evaluation findings and incorporates tasks with successful outcomes into school routine. Furthermore, having identified students’ lacking confidence and proactiveness in learning suggested by the analysis of evaluation data, the school has set developing students’ self-learning skills as one of the priority tasks in the current development cycle. In response to the trends in education and with the purpose of enhancing students’ learning motivation and effectiveness, in the current development cycle, the school introduces e-learning in individual subjects as a starting point and strengthen teachers’ relevant professional development progressively. On the whole, the school takes into consideration students’ learning needs and the education trends when formulating major concerns. Before drawing up plans, the school management allows sufficient opportunities for teachers to have thorough discussions and voice their opinions. The arrangement is conducive to establishing consensus, facilitating school’s continuous development through self- evaluation.
Extending self-evaluation from school level to subject/committee and teacher level
The school further refine its SSE mechanism, making reference to the recommendations of the previous ESR. In addition to collecting quantitative assessment data, qualitative information is also collected through observations and interviews to facilitate a more comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the priority tasks of the school. To sustain school’s development, middle managers from the School Administration, Student Development and Academic Committees hold meetings regularly to monitor work progress. Putting in place an interim evaluation not only enables middle managers to have a good grasp of work progress but also facilitates their timely communication with as well as coordination and monitoring of the panels/committees. The practice also helps infuse the concept of self- evaluation into daily routine, allowing all teachers to be involved with a view to building up a team that embraces accountability. Before introducing significant policies, the school consults all teachers. It allows participation of teachers and forges consensus, facilitating the implementation of the school policies. Meetings with students on specific issues are also arranged. Opinions and expectations collected from students are used as reference to refine school policies. The school takes the recommendations of the ESR and makes improvement accordingly in an open and proactive manner. To provide a favourable condition for school’s continuous development, the school has further refined SSE and enhanced the awareness of self-evaluation at subject panel/committee and teacher level.
Setting clear goals with development priorities
The school has established an SSE mechanism, making use of the P-I-E cycle to promote school’s continuous development. The school organises many brainstorming sessions, seminars and visits to other schools to lead different stakeholders to build a common vision for the school, based on which work plans are reviewed and refined for setting more focused goals and practical strategies.
Together with all the teaching staff, the school leaders review the effectiveness of major concerns in the brainstorming sessions, and conduct Strengths-Weaknesses- Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis to identify school’s development and students’ needs. They also make reference to the effectiveness of work implemented to discuss and formulate major concerns for the next development cycle. A culture of self-evaluation is hence effectively promoted. The detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of the annual plan enables teachers to identify specifically the strengths and areas for improvement and inform future planning with relevant
information. Learning from the experience of the previous cycle, major concerns for the current cycle are more specific and are prioritised, creating a favourable condition for teachers to grasp and implement work plans. Subject panels’/committees’ capability to self-evaluate is progressively enhanced. Work plans are formulated in accordance with the school’s major concerns. Most panels/committees devise appropriate strategies, success criteria and assessment methods according to their needs. Some make use of both quantitative and qualitative information for evaluation and consolidation of review findings to inform future planning.
2.2 Professional Leadership and Professional Development
School management, in general, is able to lead teachers to establish shared goals and devise suitable development plans in light of schools’ vision and major concerns to promote school’s continuous development. School managements who can effectively play their role in professional leadership are able to flexibly deploy resources according to teachers’ development needs and enhance teachers’
professional capabilities with strategic planning for professional development. They also empower middle managers to share the roles in planning, coordination and monitoring, and nurture talents for the schools’ long-term development.
Middle managers are, on the whole, familiar with the operation of subject panels and committees and are able to lead their members to implement work plans in alignment with schools’ major concerns. Some middle managers, particularly in primary schools, demonstrate good leadership skills. In response to the trends in education and curriculum as well as school’s major concerns, they lead the members of panels and committees to identify priorities in curriculum practices, devise strategic implementation plans and formulate homework and assessment policies.
They also timely monitor the progress and provide support. The coordination role of middles managers in some secondary schools, however, needs to be strengthened.
For example, coordinators of some KLA, such as Science Education, Technology Education and Personal, Social and Humanities Education (PSHE), fail to facilitate cross-subject communication or professional sharing within the KLA, lead teachers to build a consensus over work objectives or implementation strategies, or coordinate cross-subject communication to enhance work effectiveness. Cross-KLA collaboration also needs to be further promoted.
Schools attach importance to teachers’ professional development and most have it identified as one of the major concerns or priority tasks, with a view to enhancing learning and teaching effectiveness. Schools are, in general, able to strategically
devise plans for teachers’ professional development. For example, when launching priority tasks, schools organise relevant training for teachers to familiarise them with related theories and pedagogical strategies. Schools also encourage teachers to adopt a “small-step” approach to try out strategies in class and share successful experience. These practices not only enhance teachers’ confidence in implementing the new tasks, but also facilitate professional exchange among teachers. Internal resources are aptly deployed while external recourses are strategically tapped to organise diverse activities with a view to supporting the refinement of school-based curriculum and pedagogical strategies. For example, schools join the support services or partnership projects offered by the EDB or tertiary institutes, and invite experts or scholars to deliver talks and workshops to enrich teachers’ professional knowledge. They also capitalise on school networks to organise inter-school professional sharing, exchange tours and training courses in the Mainland and overseas so as to widen teachers’ horizons. To promote the culture of professional development and exchange in school, collaborative lesson preparation and peer lesson observation are generally put in place. Some teachers utilise collaborative lesson preparation to discuss learning content and teaching strategies with reference to students’ learning difficulties as identified, make use of peer lesson observation to learn from each other, evaluate the effectiveness of teaching plans, modify strategies and adjust teaching pace to enhance the quality of learning and teaching. Schools that perform better in professional development encourage teachers not only to conduct open classes and action research, but also to establish learning circles, or even learning communities, to discuss in detail and reflect on the development foci of school-based curriculum or learning and teaching, and share the outcomes. All the above measures are conducive to enhancing teachers’ professional capacities. In some schools, however, the holistic planning for collaborative lesson preparation and peer lesson observation needs to be improved to help teachers evaluate the implementation of learning and teaching strategies in a focused manner.
On the whole, school managements are able to perform their functions in professional leadership, leading the teaching staff to formulate suitable development plans and implementation strategies that facilitate schools’ continuous development.
Some schools, however, should build consensus with teachers on the development goals and plans, and strengthen the organising and coordination role of middle managers to support the launching and implementation of priority tasks. Schools are able to flexibly employ both internal and external resources to organise diverse activities to promote teachers’ professional development. Platforms for professional interflow, such as collaborative lesson preparation and peer lesson observation are, in general, in place. Schools with outstanding performance build up learning communities progressively through peer deliberation and collaborative
implementation. Some schools, however, should devise holistic plan for collaborative lesson preparation and peer lesson observation so as to more effectively evaluate and provide feedback to learning and teaching.
School management effectively performing the role of professional leadership, devising strategic plans for teachers’ professional development
The school management leads the school to set a clear direction for development.
They also empower the middle managers to share the roles in planning, coordination and monitoring. Through regular meetings, peer lesson observation, collaborative lesson preparation and action research, the management gathers information on the effectiveness of curriculum implementation and provide apt support to improve teaching effectiveness. School Ethos and Student Development Committee identifies students’ needs through data analysis and teacher observation, etc., and organises activities accordingly, evaluates in detail the effectiveness and provides suggestions for improvement with a view to facilitating the continuous development in the area of student support, actualising the self-evaluation concept of the P-I-E cycle.
The school takes active steps in grooming capable teachers as successors, adopting measures such as the dual or trio subject panel head system and mentorship programme. More experienced leaders pass on their knowledge and experience through collaboration with potential leaders, with the purpose of developing their leadership and administrative management skills. The school also aptly renders support to newly-joined teachers through induction schemes, collaborative teaching and the dual class-teacher system, etc. Under the guidance of experienced teachers, newly-joined teachers familiarise themselves with the teaching duties and class duties so that they can adapt to the environment as soon as possible.
The school has been attaching importance to enhancing teachers’ professionalism in recent years. Recourses are strategically deployed to create space for professional exchange among teachers. The school also encourages teachers to join study tours.
Not only can the tours widen teachers’ horizons, but also provide opportunities for teachers to get to know each other, promoting cohesion among teachers.
Furthermore, the school promotes professional exchange among subject panels and encourages teachers to discuss learning and teaching strategies during collaborative lesson preparation. Teachers’ reflection on teaching effectiveness is strengthened with the implementation of peer observation. Action research facilitates thematic
professional exchange among teachers and the results of action research is shared in subject panel meetings. These practices create opportunities for teachers to share and learn from each other. A culture of professional exchange is successfully established.
Capable subject leader steering continuous development of the subject The school places emphasis on Arts Education. Having empowered by the Principal, the Visual Arts panel head arranges collaborative lesson preparation, encourages
“open classroom” and gives exemplary demonstration to strengthen the discussion on classroom learning and teaching, facilitating professional exchange. The panel head plays the role in leadership and monitoring well. Lesson observation and students’ assignment inspection, etc. are conducted as a means to review the implementation of work. The panel head evaluates the effectiveness of work with reference to students’ performance and formulates appropriate follow-up measures accordingly, steering subject’s continuous development. In curriculum development, the panel head leads the teachers in Visual Arts to improve the curriculum plan, with a view to strengthening students’ visual language and knowledge and developing students’ abilities in appreciation of visual arts. Teaching materials are clear and peer assessments with appraising foci are observed in lessons. The curriculum not only integrates the domains of knowledge, creativity and critical responses, but also ensures the horizontal coherence and vertical progression of the three domains.
Responding actively to the trends in curriculum development, like promoting reading, the panel recommends books about artists and puts in place an award scheme so as to encourage students to do extended reading and increases the number of topics related to Chinese Art so as to enhance students’ understanding of Chinese culture and art; in developing students’ self-learning skills, the panel designs self-study worksheets for visits to encourage students to collect relevant information before lessons, and rearranges online resources for students’ use. On the whole, the panel head effectively performs the leadership and coordination role, providing renewal in the different areas of curriculum planning, designing learning activities, timely monitoring and taking follow-up actions. The changes in Visual Arts not only strengthen students’ subject knowledge, foster creativity and ability in art appreciation, but also develop their generic skills.
Promoting collaboration among KLA/subjects,
enabling students’ integrative application of knowledge and skills
Being the coordinator of Technology Education KLA, the Vice-principal successfully facilitates the development of the subjects within the KLA and promotes cross-KLA collaborations. Combining the core and extension learning elements of the KLA, including Structures and Mechanism, Business Environments, Operations and Organisations and Computer Networks, the school develops school- based subject, Integrated Technology, enabling students to apply knowledge and skills in an integrated manner, for example, drawing up a personal budget with the spreadsheet software and making leather products with a laser cutter. In regard to the promotion of STEM education, students are provided with opportunities to connect knowledge across different disciplines in cross-subject/KLA learning activities. For example, a cross-subject project is collaboratively designed by Integrated Technology, Mathematics and Science for Secondary Three students on the theme “Holography”. The project enables students to deepen their understanding of three dimensions and its calculation, and provides opportunities for them to apply drawing skills, applying knowledge and skills learnt across these disciplines.
Teachers make good use of the collaborative lesson preparation of Integrated Technology to report teaching progress and students’ performance of each class, and discuss in detail teaching plans. Information gathered is used to feed back to curriculum planning. Teachers are eager to share experience and resources, exhibiting a pleasant atmosphere for professional exchange.
2 . 3 Curriculum and Assessment
The EDB launched the “Learning to Learn” curriculum reform in 2001 in response to the local, regional and global changes. Building on the existing strengths, the EDB has started the renewal of the Hong Kong school curriculum, updating, in succession, the Basic Education Curriculum Guide – to Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1-6) (2014), the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (2017) and various KLA Curriculum Guides, with continued emphasis on enhancing students’ learning to learn capabilities for life-long learning and whole- person development.
Schools, in general, are able to review school-based curriculum plans and their implementation in alignment with the curriculum development. To cater for students’ needs, schools adapt the curriculum, design enrichment programmes or gifted development programmes, etc. Secondary schools also provide elective subjects and Applied Learning courses in accordance with students’ varied interests and abilities.
Adopting a variety of measures, schools help students adapt to the learning modes at different learning stages. Examples are organising Adaptation Day for Primary One or Secondary One students, setting up peer support schemes, adapting curriculum and teaching strategies, etc. To smoothen the interface between the junior and senior secondary level, schools, in general, make arrangements in the curriculum. Some schools, however, bring forward the senior secondary curriculum to the junior secondary; for example, some schools teach the 12 prescribed classical Chinese texts tested in HKDSE in the junior secondary Chinese Language curriculum; some run school-based commerce, economics or account and economics courses at the junior secondary levels; some teach senior secondary learning content of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, etc., in Secondary Three without adaptation. These arrangements overload the junior secondary curriculum, resulting in insufficient space for all the learning content. The above practices fail to provide students with a broad and balanced curriculum to meet the learning needs of students at different stages.
Some secondary schools allocate insufficient lesson time to some KLA, such as Physical Education, Science Education and Technology Education. The junior secondary curricular of some KLA (including Science Education, Technology Education and PSHE) do not cover all essential learning elements, failing to enable students to acquire a broad and solid knowledge base and necessary skills for development.
Learning, teaching and assessment are interrelated and should be viewed as a cycle.
Schools should effectively review and analyse data collected from assessment, findings of which should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum with a view to enhancing the quality of learning and teaching, as well as understanding students’ learning performance. In recent years, stakeholders have expressed their concerns over students’ stress caused by homework and assessments.
As observed in ESR and FI, schools, in general, are able to make reference to the
“Guidelines on Homework and Tests in Schools” issued by the EDB in October, 2015, to formulate appropriate school-based homework and assessment policies, adopting diversified homework and assessment modes to understand students’
learning progress. In some schools, a designated task group/person is assigned to coordinate, implement the policies and monitor the progress. A small number of schools that perform less well, however, have yet to timely review the quality and quantity of assignments of each subject. Instead of designing diverse and interesting homework, some subjects design assignment with undue emphasis on repeated copying or drilling. Some arrange unnecessary supplementary lessons for the whole level which cannot address students’ learning needs and interests.
Some schools make good use of varied assessment data. They help students improve learning through analysing students’ strengths and weaknesses in learning to feed back to curriculum planning or classroom learning and teaching strategies. In regard to the use of assessment data, some schools, especially secondary schools, nevertheless, collect only data of students’ grades and passing rates without analysing students’ specific learning difficulties. Follow-up measures focus mainly on increasing the amount of supplementary exercises or lessons. Devising learning and teaching strategies or adjusting teaching plans in accordance with students’
learning difficulties is rare.
On the whole, schools should make reference to the curriculum guides prepared by the Curriculum Development Council to review and adapt the current school-based curriculum, aptly utilise lesson time, strengthen the interface between different learning stages and refine holistic curriculum planning so as to provide students with a broad and balanced learning experience that meets their abilities and learning needs. Schools should also establish a mechanism to timely review the implementation of school-based homework and assessment policies to ensure that the homework assigned meets the needs and interests of students and is able to consolidate and extend students’ learning. Schools need to enhance teachers’
assessment literacy, helping them make good use of varied assessment data and, through the collaborative use of learning, teaching and assessment cycle, bring about the effect of assessment for learning.
In line with school’s development foci,
strategically promoting professional development activities
In close relation to the school’s development foci, the Mathematics subject panel strategically devise plans for teachers’ professional development to enhance teachers’ professional capacities. In recent years, the school has promoted e-learning and STEM education in response to students’ learning needs. In view of this, the panel actively encourage Mathematics teachers to take training courses so as to familiarise themselves with relevant theories and teaching strategies. In collaborative lesson preparation, teachers select topics as starting points for e- learning and put relevant theories and skills into practice in lessons. For example, when teaching Primary Four students the parameter, through manipulating the tablet computer, students translate certain sides of a specified polygon around to turn it into a rectangle. This lets them understand the relationship between the parameter of
a specified polygon and that of a rectangle, and enables them to find out the parameter of a specified polygon quickly, consolidating their learning. The school aptly deploys resources, encouraging Mathematics, General Studies and school- based computer subject to work in collaboration in promoting STEM education. To effectively foster students’ creativity, collaboration and problem-solving skills, students are required to write programmes using tablet computers, apply relevant Mathematics knowledge to operate robot cars, and conclude and display their learning outcome in the form of competitions.
Placing high importance to stakeholders’ opinions on homework and assessment policies
The school attaches importance to the communication with parents and students and collect their opinions on the homework and assessment policies. Details of the policies are made available on the school’s website and Parents Handbook.
Furthermore, there are three “School Assessment Day” each year for parents to discuss with teachers the performance of students and express their opinions on homework and assessment policies. The school also collects opinions from students via varied channels. For example, class representatives of Secondary One to Five are invited to attend focus groups meetings to voice their opinions on various measures implemented in school. The Principal regularly meets with students from Secondary Three to Six in groups and inform relevant teachers of the opinions gathered from students for the purpose of helping teachers review the work implemented and provide feedback for future planning.
School-based homework policy - no drilling;
communicating adequately with parents
In response to the “Guidelines on Homework and Tests in Schools” issued by the EDB, the school has designed assignments of different modes, such as project learning, performance tasks and creative writing, which are conducive to developing students’ thinking skills and creativity; while mechanical drilling, repeated copying and rote learning are avoided in order not to lose students’ learning interest and motivation. The school is also concerned about students’ balanced physical and mental development. To avoid overloading students with excessive amount of homework, “Classroom Journal” is used to monitor the amount of homework given by each subject so that timely adjustment to the amount can be made. Tutorial periods are purposefully arranged within lesson time so that students can complete some of their homework under teachers’ guidance, have spare time to participate in extra-curricular activities, and gain sufficient rest.
The school’s policies are quite transparent. Details and principles of homework policies are made available on the school’s website and “Parents Handbook”.
Parents’ opinions are valued. Their opinions on the amount and level of difficulty of homework are gathered through tea receptions and surveys. Analysis of parents’
opinions is made to propose follow-up measures and suggestions for improvement;
for example, acknowledging parents’ concerns over the excessive amount of homework, the school cancels certain assignments and adjusts the amount of homework before examinations at a particular level in junior primary so as to reduce students’ stress caused by homework.
Utilising assessment data to inform learning and teaching
Each subject thoroughly analyses students’ performance after each assessment and discuss students’ learning difficulties and devise follow-up measures in the collaborative lesson preparation or panel meetings. Some subjects design follow-up worksheets for lessons and remedial classes to improve and consolidate students’
learning. Subject-based cross-level meetings are held for subject panel heads and teachers to collaboratively review the implementation of curriculum and teaching strategies in accordance with students’ learning performance and difficulties, and devise plans for adaptation and follow-up actions to enhance students’ learning effectiveness.
2.4 Classroom Learning and Teaching
Most schools take active steps in enhancing classroom learning and teaching effectiveness. Making good use of varied professional activities, such as collaborative lesson preparation, peer observation, collaboration with tertiary institutes for school-based support, schools strive for a paradigm shift from teacher- centred classroom practices to learner-centred learning with a view to providing students with more opportunities for interaction and engagement in learning with varied teaching strategies. There is continuous enhancement in the overall quality of classroom learning and teaching.
Teachers place emphasis on lesson organisation. Learning objectives are clearly set and the learning activities are closely tied to the objectives. They use varied ways to summarise the main points of the lessons to consolidate student learning. Teachers’
delivery is clear and fluent. They are able to illustrate concepts in a systematic manner with the help of various teaching resources, such as PowerPoint slides, short video clips and realia, to facilitate students’ understanding of the learning content. In schools that are determined to promote e-learning, teachers actively make use of e-
resources. For example, Mathematics teachers concretise abstract concepts through letting students use mobile applications to compare the areas of different two- dimensional shapes by cutting and pasting and overlapping; Liberal Studies teachers ask students to search for information during lessons with tablet computers to enrich group discussions. However, in a small number of lessons, the use of e-resources barely enhances the lesson effectiveness. Teachers are unable to make instant assessment of students’ performance or provide feedback concerning learning difficulties.
Questioning is one of the common teaching strategies employed by teachers to check students’ prior knowledge, evaluate their understanding of the learning content and consolidate learning. Teachers with good questioning techniques are able to raise questions and provide feedback that help students understand their own strengths and weaknesses, facilitating continuous improvement. Some raise questions of different levels according to students’ abilities and learning progress and guide students to reflect on and grasp learning content with effective probing questions. Some teachers, however, ask predominantly closed questions or expect only pre-set “model answers” from students. For example, some language teachers ask questions focusing only on the pronunciation and explanation of phrases, failing to guide students to grasp, analyse and evaluate the text, or develop students’ higher- order thinking skills. Teachers seldom guide students to explore or raise questions so as to develop their self-learning skills.
Teachers design group activities for different topics and provide opportunities for students to share their learning outcomes, enhancing the interaction between students and students’ engagement in the activities. Some group activities, however, are not well designed. Teachers provide students with insufficient guidance for the activities. The effectiveness of group activities is yet to be enhanced. Take lessons in PSHE KLA and Liberal Studies as examples, group discussions are often arranged for students to explore problems from different perspectives so that students can develop arguments for or against the specified issue; however, the room for discussion on certain issues is limited, failing to facilitate meaningful inquiry learning. Furthermore, some students are accustomed to adopting a piecemeal approach to interpret certain issues without understanding the issues comprehensively; or place undue focus on expressing personal opinions and feelings, which are not based on the analysis of information provided by the teacher.
Teachers should provide timely instructions and feedback to address students’
learning problems. In subjects under Science Education KLA, some teachers give lopsided emphasis on following the procedures of the experiments, failing to guide students to analyse and summarise the data collected from the experiments to deduce
and construct science knowledge. Besides, teachers seldom provide students with opportunities to conduct peer-evaluation or self-evaluation after activities. Even if there is such provision, the assessment criteria are not specific enough to facilitate students’ reflection. This needs to be paid attention to by schools.
As for catering for learner diversity, teachers, in general, monitor students’ learning progress and render individual support. Some teachers design learning tasks commensurate with students’ abilities or provide less able students with study aids, such as cue cards or pictures, to cater for students’ varied learning needs. For example, Science teachers encourage students with difficulties in writing to take pictures of visible changes in experiments with tablet computers and display their learning outcomes in the form of pictures supplemented with symbols. Teachers incline to cover all pre-set teaching content, and seldom make adjustment to teaching pace in response to students’ learning progress or break down teaching steps or content according to students’ learning difficulties to assist students to grasp relevant concepts. For example, Business teachers require students to learn by rote the steps of recording business transactions without explaining the principles behind and how they affect the company’s financial condition. Furthermore, in some subjects, particularly in Arts Education KLA, some students are not able to use the subject-related vocabulary accurately. For example, students are unable to use vocabulary in Visual Arts or Music to conduct verbal appreciation and criticism.
Teachers should provide more demonstration and guidance to students in order to help them identify arts elements in art pieces and the relevant subject-specific vocabulary, so as to develop their ability in art appreciation. On the whole, the effectiveness of catering for learner diversity in class needs to be enhanced.
As evident in lesson observation, teachers perform more satisfactorily in the use of resources, classroom management, communication and presentation skills while there is still room for improvement in areas such as catering for learner diversity, questioning and providing feedback. Students, in general, have good learning attitudes, engaging themselves in classroom learning activities in a serious fashion.
A small number of students are rather passive and seldom adopt different strategies and skills in learning.
Teachers making good use of diverse strategies to cater for learner diversity Teachers make good use of varied strategies, such as questioning, giving feedback and grouping, to cater for learner diversity in class. Teachers have good questioning techniques, asking questions of different levels of difficulty to provoke students’
thinking and clarify concepts. For example, teachers provide Primary One students with tools with different measurement units and require students to measure the length of two pens. Following teachers’ instructions, students discover the advantage of using the same measurement unit when measuring length, showing that they have clear Mathematic concepts. Besides, making good use of small white boards, teachers give timely and specific feedback on students’ calculation process to enhance their learning. Teachers, in general, adopt various measures, such as rendering individual support, providing prompts and grouping, to cater for the varied needs of students. They often put more able students in groups for advanced or inquiry activities. For example, in the unit “Understanding fractions” at Primary Three, teachers raise the level of difficulty of learning after students have grasped the concept of fractions, showing examples and non-examples and ask questions of a higher level of difficulty. They require students to make judgements and explain their answers, helping to deepen students’ understanding of the concept.
Teachers effectively leading group discussion, enhancing learning and teaching effectiveness
Teachers utilise mixed-ability grouping and assign learning tasks of varied levels of difficulty to cater for learner diversity. Students make good use of pre-lesson preparation, subject knowledge and skills of historical study to discuss historical issues from different perspectives, conducting inquiry-based learning. Students display eagerness in discussion and good peer interaction. After discussions, teachers allow students to display learning outcomes, providing them with opportunities to give constructive peer comments and inquire into themes across groups. Students are able to present their arguments clearly. They aptly support their personal opinions or counter-arguments with historical fact, demonstrating good critical thinking skills. Teachers ask effective probing questions to lead students to deepen their elaborations or refocusing questions to guide students to reflect on their mistakes and self-correct. Together with timely and specific feedback, teachers play an effective role in guiding and facilitating students’ learning, enhancing learning and teaching effectiveness.
Chapter 3 Progress made in Major Concerns
In the 2016/17 school year, schools mostly adopt reading to learn, catering for learner diversity, self-directed learning and values educations as major concerns. This chapter set out the varied strategies used by schools to implement the major concerns mentioned above. For the details on major concerns in relation to classroom learning and teaching, please refer to Chapter 2.4, “Classroom Learning and Teaching”.
3.1 Reading to Learn
Schools have been attaching importance to “Reading to Learn”. Since the curriculum reform, developing students’ interests and abilities in reading has been set as the development goal of schools, leading students to progress from “Learning to Read” to “Reading to Learn”. Schools hope to raise students’ interests in reading, encourage them to increase the amount of reading and broaden their horizons of reading, with a view to developing students’ reading habits and fostering a culture of reading in schools. Some schools give more attention to developing students’
reading abilities, strengthening the teaching of reading strategies in language subjects so as to enhance students’ language abilities. Some develop students’
capacity for and habits of self-directed learning through creating an atmosphere for reading.
Schools, in general, adopt a whole-school approach to foster a reading culture in schools. The foundation for collaboration is quite well laid. While the library or the designated task group devise plans for, coordinate and implement whole-school reading policy, creating an environment conducive to developing students’ interests in and habits of reading, KLA/subject panels enhance student’s subject knowledge, reading abilities and subject-based study skills through subject-based reading.
To create a reading environment and atmosphere conducive to developing students’
reading interests and habits, schools adopt diverse measures, including arranging morning/afternoon reading sessions; encouraging students to read a range of texts of different genres from books, articles and newspapers; setting up reading corners, bookcrossing corners; and installing bookshelves in classrooms, etc., to provide students with space to read around the campus outside lesson time. Schools organise reading award schemes, reading day and theme-based book fairs to sustain students’
interests in reading, and “Reading Circle” to encourage students to analyse texts from various perspectives and discuss the inferred meaning of texts. Schools invite authors to deliver talks and parent volunteers to do story-telling. Some schools appoint “Reading Ambassadors” to present their reading outcomes through oral
presentations, competitions and drama, etc. This facilitates peer interaction and arouses students’ motivation to read. Schools provide students with diverse and appropriate reading materials. Some take a further step to design their own school- based books, which students find more relatable. E-reading has become a trend in recent years. Schools try promoting e-reading using multi-media resources, for example, letting students read different e-books from online platforms or with tablet computers.
Measures adopted by schools are effective in creating a reading atmosphere. The amount of reading has increased and students have developed reading habits. There is, nevertheless, still room for improvement in enhancing students’ reading interests and motivation. At the same time, schools should refine the strategies for promoting reading, for example, adjusting or making more effective use of reading sessions, encouraging teachers to read together with students, enriching the types of resources in the libraries, and extending the opening hours of the libraries. Schools could also strengthen parents’ education, such as providing parents with the methods and strategies for engaging in parent-child reading at home and encouraging parents to develop reading interests with their children, with a view to bringing about positive impact on students’ reading attitudes and habits.
KLA/subject panels give weight to promoting reading, increasing students’
knowledge and learning abilities. For example, Chinese Language panels introduce classical texts in reading schemes, teach with picture books and encourage students to apply subject knowledge in an integrated manner in reading so as to enhance students’ subject-based study skills; Mathematics Education, Arts Education and Physical Education KLA promote reading via varied channels, such as Multiple Intelligence lessons and book exhibitions, to enable students to acquire subject knowledge through reading. Some subject panels aim to enhance students’ study skills through reading; for example, General Studies guides students to analyse social issues, explore opinions of different groups in society from various perspectives and express their personal opinions. Some subjects attempt to develop students’ capacity for self-directed learning through reading; for example, Mathematics teachers design project tasks that require reading to develop students’
self-learning skills; PSHE KLA and Science Education KLA provide students with reading materials that facilitate pre-lesson preparation and self-study. Schools, nevertheless, pay less attention to the provision of subject-based reading strategies or have yet to develop learning materials that reflect the characteristics of the subjects. For example, in Liberal Studies, teachers should keep the learning content abreast with current issues to arouse students’ interests in issues that concern the public. Schools should, therefore, strengthen students’ extensive reading and
enhance their reading abilities and skills. Subject panels need to continue to encourage students to read texts of different genres to acquire knowledge, and guide students to connect knowledge acquired from reading to daily life experience so as to enhance the level of thinking.
As observed in inspections, the library and language subject panels have closer collaboration. For example, the teacher librarians teach students reading strategies while English and Chinese language subject teachers provide reading materials for students to apply the reading strategies such as questioning, predicting and skimming; the library work collaboratively with Chinese Language Panel to set reading strategies as learning objectives, create contexts and organise varied reading activities for application so as to progressively enhance students’ reading abilities.
Collaboration between the library and other subject panels is also observed in some schools. Theme-based reading materials are provided throughout the year with the aim of extending students’ reading horizons. Some schools, however, still need to strengthen the communication and collaboration between the library and KLA/subject panels to support the promotion of reading.
Building on the well-established reading atmosphere, reading habits of students and cross-subject collaboration, some schools, in response to the ongoing renewal of the curriculum, aptly facilitate collaboration among different KLA and subjects to progress to Reading Across the Curriculum (RaC), enabling students to connect knowledge across different disciplines. Varied implementation strategies are observed. Some schools connect subjects through project learning. Inquiry plans are formulated based on the themes set. Student are then required to apply reading strategies, such as reviewing, comparing and connecting reading materials from different subjects, and select and use information and data collected to turn them into learning outcomes. The library takes the lead in coordinating theme-based RaC.
Besides reading materials relevant to the themes set, site visits are organised to help students establish connections between reading experience and daily life, and develop an in-depth understanding of the themes. The curriculum coordinators in some schools perform the role of coordinating RaC. They invite language teachers to teach students reading strategies and skills while teachers of other subjects design tasks for students to apply strategies learnt. Schools should continue to sustain the development towards the related direction, allowing students to connect knowledge across varied disciplines, so as to enhance learning effectiveness and help students develop self-learning habits and abilities.
On the whole, schools promote “Reading to Learn” through establishing a favourable reading atmosphere. Besides, schools are able to understand students’
reading habits through reviewing students’ performance in varied reading schemes and the library loan records. Hong Kong students’ performance in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 20161 is encouraging. Building on the strengths in promoting reading atmosphere on campus, schools should continue to develop students’ reading interests and habits, and promote RaC, which provides students with opportunities to connect prior knowledge and life experience and read purposefully and meaningfully so as to acquire and construct new knowledge, broaden their horizons and develop diverse interests and abilities. This will also enable students to read critically from different perspectives and extend language learning in other disciplines so as to enhance their reading abilities and humanistic qualities. Besides, teacher librarians need to take the lead to facilitate collaboration and communication with other subject panels to strengthen the holistic planning for reading both in and outside class and design diverse reading activities. Language teachers should assess students’ mastery of reading strategies and communicate with other subject teachers to create contexts for students to apply the reading strategies learnt while subject teachers should collaborate and continue to promote subject- based reading and progress towards RaC.
Enriching students’ reading experience through RaC, enabling them to connect knowledge across different disciplines
The school has started RaC in the current development cycle. Led by the Curriculum Leader, different subject panels collaborate to decide on the target reading strategies and skills to be taught, such as locating keywords and sentences and using Six Universal Questions, at each level based on students’ abilities and needs. A clear plan is devised. Target reading strategies and skills are taught in Chinese Language lessons. Other subjects, according to their own teaching schedule, provide students with opportunities to apply subject-based reading strategies and skills. For example, students read news and data about Hong Kong tourism in General Studies, applying “multi-perspective” thinking and pointing out opinions of stakeholders on the increase in tourists visiting Hong Kong; in Music lessons, students read about the biography of musicians, process and organise information by writing remarks while reading; in Computer lessons, students read cases mentioned in the “Cyber Ethics” and, by asking the Six Universal Questions,
1 According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016, Hong Kong students came third amongst the 50 participating countries/regions. 93% of Hong Kong Primary Four students reached International Intermediate Benchmark or above while the international average was 82%. 18%
reached International Advanced Benchmark while the international average read 10%.
induce the code of behaviour for acceptable use of information technology (IT).
These practices provide students with opportunities to apply reading strategies and skills in different learning areas to acquire knowledge, effectively enhance students’
reading abilities and extend their reading horizons.
Providing ample opportunities for students to share their reading experiences and achievements, effectively arousing the motivation to read
RaC is actively promoted, emphasising enhancing students’ reading skills, extending their reading horizons and helping them connect reading to their learning and daily life experience. The school arranges reading lessons in Secondary One, teaching reading skills and encouraging students to make good use of the library to facilitate learning. The library works closely in collaboration with subject panels, organising meaningful reading activities, such as theme-based book exhibitions and site visits according to subjects’ teaching schedule. The library also works closely with designated committees and display books of different themes in accordance with the themes of career talks. The school provides ample opportunities for students to share their reading achievements. Among all activities, Reading Forum is worth mentioning. Through debates, group discussions and individual sharing, students from other schools or districts or cultural backgrounds share their opinions on specified books. Students need to draft speeches and prepare questions for the forum, through which students’ reading and self-learning abilities are enhanced.
Providing plentiful reading materials, creating a favourable reading environment
The school strives for fostering a reading culture. In order to develop a more favourable environment and atmosphere for reading, the school incorporates e- reading elements. The library improves the facilities to meet the needs of students in wheelchair, provides tablet computers for students with restricted mobility so that e- books are more accessible for them, and puts up QR codes on display boards so that students with weaker motor skills can easily obtain information by scanning the codes. These practices effectively enhance students’ motivation in learning and facilitate self-learning. The library also provides students with diverse reading materials that meet students’ varied cognitive levels, language abilities and interests.
Reading materials include e-books and multi-media resources, such as Virtual Reality reading materials. In general, as evident in the steadily increasing number of books borrowed, a pleasing reading atmosphere is present.
3.2 Catering for Learner Diversity
Since the implementation of the 12-year free education under the New Academic Structure, schools have placed much importance to catering for learner diversity.
The changing and broadening spectrum of student intake brings in students with more diverse learning needs, including needs of non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) students learning Chinese Language, gifted students, cross-boundary students (CBS), newly-arrived children (NAC) and students with special educational needs (SEN). To acknowledge the fact that every student is a unique individual, schools need to provide a curriculum that can cater for the learner diversity in learning motivation, ability, aspiration and interest.
The planning for catering for learner diversity at school and whole-school curriculum planning levels are quite thorough. Students are streamed into different classes according to their abilities. To minimise the diversity in students’ abilities and create more space for teachers to cater for the diverse needs of students, group teaching and small class teaching are adopted. Schools also deploy additional resources to offer enrichment and enhancement courses before and after school, not only to help the less able students consolidate their foundation skills, but also the more able students develop their potentials. At the senior secondary level, schools allow more autonomy for students to make choices for their future pathways.
Schools, in general, are able to offer a sufficient range of electives or Applied Learning courses in accordance with students’ abilities and interests so as to provide students with multiple pathways for further study or future career. To further enhance teachers’ capacity for catering for learner diversity, schools provide teachers with platforms for professional exchange, such as peer lesson observation, peer lesson evaluation and collaborative lesson preparation, on which teachers share their teaching experiences and achievements or effective classroom implementation strategies. Some schools seek school-based support services offered by the EDB or tertiary institutes to adapt the curriculum, design assignment tasks and explore learning strategies based on students’ needs with a view to catering for learner diversity more effectively and enhancing teachers’ professional capacity.
At learning and teaching level, schools, in general, are able to design learning contents appropriate to students’ abilities, including core learning content for students in general and an enrichment part with more challenging questions for the more able students to develop their higher-order thinking skills. To cater for the needs of the less able students, graded assignments with questions of different levels of difficulty are put in place to assess students, and “tips” and prompts given to
facilitate students’ learning. For example, in Mathematics, diagrams are provided, long questions structured and data simplified to assist students to comprehend the questions. Some schools, however, fail to devise teaching strategies that can appropriately cater for students’ needs. For example, graded assignments are not designed to address students’ learning difficulties; learning activities or materials are not designed against teaching points or appropriate to students’ abilities. Besides, some schools place excessive emphasis on catering for the needs of the less able students but do not give due consideration to developing the potentials of the more able students in the same class. Teachers do not make flexible use of supplementary learning materials. For example, in language subjects, while a structured framework helps the less able students brainstorm content for writing, it restricts the development of the creativity, and hence the potentials, of the more able students in the same class.
Schools make adjustments to assessment according to students’ abilities. Diversified modes of assessments are in place. For example, in Liberal Studies, there are
“Current Issue Journal” and cross-unit self-study worksheets. In Chinese Language, varied modes of book reports, such as expressing ideas and feelings in words or pictures, and having dialogues with the characters in the books, allow students to share their reading experiences in the way that suits their learning styles. Schools also take into consideration students’ learning needs in tests and examinations. For example, in Chinese Language, graded questions covering various reading skills, such as understanding, applying, analysing and evaluating, are set for reading comprehension to cater for the varied abilities of students. Quite a number of schools, however, confine the questions types in summative assessment to those of public examinations, placing undue emphasis on the drilling of examination skills.
Some schools include questions that are beyond students’ abilities in tests and examinations. The loose connection between learning and assessment places adverse effect on building up students’ confidence in learning.
Schools aptly adopt various measures to support student learning and cater for the needs of students with SEN, NAC, CBS and NCS students. To support students with SEN, schools adapt the curriculum, assignments and assessment in accordance with students’ abilities. They stress teachers’ professional development and seek support from external organisations to provide students with diverse activities, group trainings and pull-out programmes. They also obtain additional resources by participating in the “Special Educational Needs Coordinator Pilot Project” and create space for teachers to cater for the needs of individual students. Designated groups are formed to provide students with counselling on and treatment for emotional and behavioural problems, as well as training in acquiring skills for social
interaction. These practices are quite comprehensive in helping students cope with difficulties encountered in learning. Schools with more NAC and CBS are able to take into consideration students’ needs and provide bridging programmes and learning activities to support them in English Language learning and adapting to the school and local environment. Schools with more NCS students adopt diverse strategies to enhance their Chinese Language abilities. They make use of the Internal Chinese Language Assessment Tool developed by the EDB to evaluate students’
language abilities, and design school-based Chinese Language curriculum and learning materials with reference to the Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework. Local students and NCS students are purposefully put in the same class so as to create a rich language environment. Schools implement pull-out small class teaching in Chinese Language lessons to help students of similar language levels learn in small steps and grasp learning contents progressively, seek external professional support and nominate teachers to take training courses in order to better master the strategies to support the Chinese Language learning of NCS students. Some schools, nevertheless, have different expectations of NCS students’ attainment in Chinese Language. Some incline to have lower expectations, targeting at International diploma examinations and designing an easier Chinese Language curriculum. They fail to design learning goals and content in accordance with students’ learning pace to facilitate students’
transition to the mainstream Chinese Language curriculum or enhance their language abilities.
With reference to the EDB’s three-tiered operation mode for gifted education, schools formulate school-based gifted education policies. They set up “talent pool”
and nominate students for external competitions and enrichment programmes. At Level One and Two, schools provide subject-based enrichment programmes. For example, Physics panels organise astronomical telescope building activity and Physics Olympiad preparation programmes to provide students with more challenging learning opportunities. At whole-class support level, teachers provide additional practices or challenging tasks to develop students’ potentials. Some graded tasks, however, are not challenging enough to stretch students’ potentials.
To more effectively cater for learner diversity, schools should make use of evaluation meetings and evaluation data to review the effectiveness of the work implemented to cater for learner diversity, inform the planning of learning and teaching in light of students’ learning difficulties, and draw up relevant follow-up measures. Teachers should also adjust the breadth and depth of assignments and learning tasks to better cater for the varied learning needs of students. As for formulating policies for school-based gifted education, schools should refine their