Quality Assurance and School-based Support Division Education Bureau
Inspection Annual Report
Chapter 1 Introduction ……… 1
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Review ……… 3
Section 1 Schools’ Sustainable Development ……… 3
1.1 Towards Continuous Improvement through Self-evaluation ………... 3
1.1.1 Setting Targets for Sustainable Development ……….. 3
1.1.2 A Self-evaluation Mechanism to Feed Forward into Planning .. 5
1.2 Professional Leadership ………... 6
1.2.1 Strengthening Leadership and Monitoring ……….. 6
1.2.2 Promoting Professional Development ………. 7
Section 2 Learning and Teaching ……… 9
2.1 Curriculum and Assessment ……… 9
2.1.1 Enhancement of Language Learning to Promote Biliteracy and Trilingualism ……….. 9
2.1.2 Catering for Learner Diversity among Students ……… 12
2.1.3 Implementation and Review of the New Senior Secondary Curriculum ………. 14
2.1.4 Using Assessment to Promote Learning ……… 15
2.2 Student Learning and Teaching ……… 16
2.2.1 Classroom Interaction ……….. 17
2.2.2 Classroom Assessment ………. 18
2.2.3 Catering for Learner Diversity ………. 19
2.2.4 Self-learning Ability ………. 19
Section 3 Student Support ……… 21
3.1 Creating a Caring School Ethos ………... 21
3.2 Nurturing a Healthy Life ……….. 22
3.3 Promoting Values Education ……… 23
3.4 Enhancing Life-wide Learning ………. 24
Chapter 3 Concluding Remarks ……….. 26
Appendix 1 Schools Undergoing ESR in the 2010/2011 School Year ………. 30 Appendix 2 Findings of Post-ESR School Survey in the 2010/2011 School Year .. 35
Chapter 1 Introduction
The School Development and Accountability (SDA) Framework has been implemented since the 2003/2004 school year, with the emphasis on School Self Evaluation (SSE) as playing a central role in school improvement. Continuous self-improvement in schools is promoted by SSE, complemented by External School Review (ESR), together with the introduction of a Planning-Implementation-Evaluation (P-I-E) cycle. The first ESR cycle was conducted between 2003/2004 and 2007/2008, while the second cycle began in 2008/2009. This annual report is on the third year of the latter. With concerted effort over the past few years, the awareness of the need for self-improvement and accountability in schools has been enhanced. There is better use of data and evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of various areas such as school management, professional leadership, curriculum and assessment, student learning and teaching, and student support. Transparency in school management has increased and classrooms have become more open.
In the 2010/2011 school year, there were 140 schools participating in ESR, including 60 primary, 70 secondary and 10 special schools (Appendix 1). It is conducted in a school-specific and focused mode. In general, the individual school context is taken into account in formulating the School Development Plan (SDP). In the 2010/2011 school year, nearly all the schools’ major concerns are related to two domains, namely ‘Learning and Teaching’, and ‘Student Support and School Ethos’, while around twenty percent of the schools’ major concerns are related to the domain of ‘Management and Organisation’. Much emphasis is placed on raising the effectiveness of classroom learning and teaching. Schools are, mostly, concerned with language learning, catering for learner diversity, implementation of the New Senior Secondary (NSS) Curriculum, refining classroom teaching and assessment for learning. With regard to ‘Student Support and School Ethos’, much effort is put into nurturing students’ whole-person development, particularly in the establishment of a caring atmosphere, promotion of values education, and provision of multi-learning experiences for students. In
‘Management and Organisation’, schools are more concerned about how to strengthen professional leadership, the effectiveness of management, and professional capacity.
ESR findings indicate that the performance of schools is, generally, good,
especially in the domain of ‘Student Support and School Ethos’, at which 90% of the schools are judged to be either excellent or good. In the domain of
‘Management and Organisation’, approximately 70% of the schools’ are described as excellent or good. In the domain of ‘Learning and Teaching’, approximately 70% of the schools achieve excellent or good performance in the area of
‘Curriculum and Assessment’, while the performance of approximately half of the 5000 lessons observed is seen to be excellent or good in classroom learning and teaching. This report gives an account of the overall performance of secondary, primary and special schools in three aspects, viz. continuous development of the school, student learning and teaching, as well as student support. With the identified major concerns as their framework, schools’ areas of strengths and improvement are portrayed for reference, along the following themes; language learning, catering for learner diversity, implementation of the NSS Curriculum, assessment for learning, and how to enhance classroom learning and teaching.
Findings of Post-ESR School Survey in the 2010/2011 school year (Appendix 2) reveal that teachers of the participating schools have, generally, positive views on the ESR process. Most of the teachers agree that the teams conduct ESR in a school-specific and focused mode. The effectiveness of the schools’ SSE mechanism and the promotion of continuous development are evaluated accurately, with recommendations provided which help the setting of objectives and formulation of plans for the future. Self-evaluation and reflections by teachers are encouraged, and professional exchange is enhanced. The Education Bureau (EDB) will continue to collect opinions from various stakeholders and to implement the SDA Framework, to help raise the effectiveness of students’
learning through the P-I-E cycle in schools.
Chapter 2 Key Findings of External School Review
Section 1 Schools’ Sustainable Development
In pursuit of sustainable development and enhancement of learning and teaching effectiveness, schools have put in place the P-I-E cycle and a comprehensive self-evaluation mechanism. The overall performance in school management and professional leadership in the 2010/11 school year is more than satisfactory.
1.1 Towards Continuous Improvement through Self-evaluation
1.1.1 Setting Targets for Sustainable Development
In formulating development priorities, most schools have taken into consideration the follow-up recommendations of the previous ESR, undertaken a review of the previous SDP and an analysis of the school’s strengths and areas for further improvement. In the process, self-evaluation findings and observation data have been appropriately utilised. The formulation of major concerns in the next SDP is able to build on what has been achieved in the previous SDP. Continuous development of the development priorities is emphasised and some aspects, of which effectiveness is obvious, are institutionalised as regular work. On the whole, clear direction of the school’s continuous development is well reflected by the two SDP.
In some cases, planning for continuous development across the years within an SDP is not clear enough to facilitate the compilation of an Annual School Plan (ASP). In other cases, although planning for continuous development is clearly delineated, the broad coverage of the major concerns and the corresponding tasks do not facilitate the setting of clear and concrete annual focuses, corresponding strategies or success criteria for priority tasks. All these hinder the arrangement of development priorities, the allocation of resources, and the subsequent focused evaluation.
In most schools, commendable attention has been given to the strategic implementation and monitoring of their priority tasks. At the school level, some, in consideration of their school context and available human resources, have the organisation structure revised to better delineate administrative duties of functional groups and teachers. Some set up task groups to coordinate and monitor the
implementation of the priority tasks. At the subject panel/committee level, implementation plans in response to the school’s major concerns are reviewed and formulated.
Internal and external resources are effectively deployed in supporting the implementation of the priority tasks. For instance, the Capacity Enhancement Grant and other sources of funding are used to relieve teachers’ administrative and non-teaching load through recruiting additional teachers and teaching assistants.
Campus facilities, for instance, overhead projectors and computers installed in classrooms, have been gradually improved to support teaching and the running of school activities. The campus environment is well used, in many schools, for displaying students’ work and information of various sorts so as to create a favourable learning environment and to enhance students’ sense of belonging.
External resources are tapped, through participation in support programmes organised by the EDB and tertiary institutions, to help schools improve curriculum development, teaching and learning effectiveness, and student development.
Besides seminars, workshops and sharing activities, classroom observation and post-lesson reflection are organised in many schools to enhance sharing and collaboration among teachers and improve teaching effectiveness. Schools are also keen to promote extra-curricular activities in collaboration with district communities. This helps students improve social skills and enrich their learning experience through social contact outside school.
For schools whose priority tasks are smoothly implemented, implementation plans are, in general, found to be strategic, concrete and detailed. Commendable efforts have been made to mobilise the teaching staff, to build consensus and a common vision among them. These schools clarify queries among teachers as a start, followed by the setting of clear targets in line with their major concerns. Strategic implementation plans are then devised. In due course, either, opportunities for discussion are given to teachers, or their opinions are collected through various channels. Teachers’ involvement and appropriate consultation help to build consensus and understanding between committees and teachers. Professional development programmes and sessions for sharing of ideas are then put in place, and resource and manpower support is given to help subject panels and committees to implement priority tasks. Due attention, throughout, has been given to coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the priority tasks. A transparent decision-making process, the availability of sufficient communication channels, focused planning and implementation strategies, and a sense of
ownership on the part of subject panels/committees are all conducive to an enhanced effectiveness of the priority tasks.
There are several reasons why some schools fail to bring about an effective implementation of their priority tasks. Obstacles appear when the organisation structure, the deployment of staff, and duties allocation, at the school level, are not clear. In schools where too many functional groups or task groups are established under the committees, an overlapping of job nature or duties often occurs.
Problems may also arise when subject panels/committees fail to devise measures corresponding to the school development targets or, sometimes, when routine work is mistakenly seen as implementation strategies. In some cases, the ASP within a development cycle are so similar in content that progression in planning and implementation is not comprehensive enough to allow a focused evaluation or to facilitate a revision of implementation strategies where necessary. Lack of coordination between subject panels/committees, professional development training, support for teachers, and an absence of a collaborative culture in a school also hinder a smooth implementation of the priority tasks. Stronger incentive and detailed planning are needed if measures related to a change of the school culture are to be smoothly implemented.
1.1.2 A Self-evaluation Mechanism to Feed Forward into Planning
In most schools, self-evaluation has been duly promoted and self-evaluation mechanisms have been put in place at different levels. At the school and subject panel/committee levels, the direction of continuous development, the implementation and the effectiveness of various tasks are evaluated through meetings, reports, questionnaires, classroom inspection, scrutiny of assignments and students’ learning performance data. The effectiveness of teachers’ work is also reflected through these means. However, in some schools or subject panels/committees, coordination has been lacking when using questionnaires or surveys. Similar questionnaires or repetitive target questions are used. This adversely affects the effectiveness of the evaluation exercise. Task groups for self-improvement are set up in some schools to collect and scrutinise the data collected. Different channels, such as staff meetings and the school intranet, are used for disseminating such data. On the whole, self-evaluation has been appropriately undertaken in most schools, with reference to the ASP and the annual plans of subject panels/committees. In some schools, some priority tasks are evaluated in detail and follow-up measures have been devised. Evaluation at
the subject panel/committee level also refers to the school’s major concerns.
Students’ performance in assessments and in class, and their learning difficulties, are analysed and support measures formulated. However, some follow-up or support measures could be more concrete so as to guide future planning. In some cases, evaluation has been focused on routine programmes, while an in-depth evaluation of the developmental tasks has been overlooked. Furthermore, sometimes, focus is on the implementation of individual tasks, neglecting the overall effectiveness of the priority tasks or the specified targets of the development priorities. Teachers’ self-evaluation is a concern in many schools.
Questionnaires are used to promote teachers’ self-reflection. Mutual class observation and peer evaluation are also used to help teachers enhance teaching effectiveness. These practices show that many schools value students’ views and an open school culture, which directly help teachers understand more about students’ needs. On the whole, the P-I-E cycle is put in place for continuous development. Planning is well done, in the sense that most schools are able to devise their development tasks for the next development cycle in response to their experience gained in the previous cycle. Implementation of their plan is seen to be successful in schools where effective leadership, a monitoring mechanism, and adequate support measures for teachers are in place, and staff consensus is established. However, evaluation can be, in general, further strengthened such that it is more target-oriented. With concrete and specific suggestions made, experience derived from SSE can then effectively feed forward into future planning.
1.2 Professional Leadership
1.2.1 Strengthening Leadership and Monitoring
In general, school management is devoted to education. With a good grasp of the school’s development, it steers the school towards achieving its stated vision and mission. While having appropriate expectations of the school’s performance, most of the school managers play the advisory, monitoring and supportive roles well. Professional advice is given for the school’s development, while various kinds of support, including the employment of additional staff, are also provided, to relieve teachers’ teaching and non-teaching workload, and improve the teacher-student ratio. The school management is, on the whole, considerate to staff and pivotal to the creation of an open, caring and harmonious atmosphere at school. Staff morale and team spirit are valued. The school personnel are
accorded a high level of trust and appreciation is shown for their efforts and contributions. Efforts are also made by most of the school managers to foster good communication with different stakeholders.
Most of the principals advocate enhancing the transparency of the policy- making process. Teachers’ views are collected from various channels, such as staff meetings, and due consideration is given to their needs and concerns. They are also involved in the process of formulation of policies, major concerns and implementation strategies, thereby helping to build staff consensus on the direction of school development, and enhancing ownership, as well as accountability. The vice-principals, in general, render good support and assistance to the principal, in leading school development. They also play a bridging role in the progress towards better communication and perform the coordinating role competently. In a few schools, duties assigned to teachers are commensurate with their abilities and expertise, thus making optimal use of the teaching staff. In addition, the principals are visionary and proactive, devising forward-looking measures and, thus, effectively enhancing the schools’ sustained development. In some schools, the administration framework has been restructured to better meet their development needs. The duties and responsibilities of the staff members are clearly delineated and distributed leadership is advocated.
The middle managers, mostly, have professional knowledge of the work under their purview. They are committed, responsible and enjoy good relationships with staff members. Most of them formulate the work plans in line with the school’s direction of development. However, the leadership and monitoring role of some middle managers needs to be strengthened. In a few schools, where the middle managers are aptly empowered, specific professional development activities in relation to developing teachers’ leadership and managerial skills are devised and opportunities are created for more teachers to familiarise themselves with the supervisory role in different committees.
1.2.2 Promoting Professional Development
The schools place much importance on enhancing teachers’ professional capacity.
Internal staff development activities, including expert talks and training workshops, are strategically planned and coordinated, with themes articulated in accordance with the schools’ major concerns and development needs.
Professional exchange is actively promoted in schools. Collaborative lesson planning (CLP), peer lesson observation (PLO), post-lesson observation sharing and lesson studies are becoming more common. In some special schools, specialists including occupational therapists, speech therapists and physiotherapists are also arranged to participate in CLP to further promote professional sharing among staff members. To broaden teachers’ horizons and further enhance their capacity, some schools actively arrange professional sharing and collaboration with external parties. However, there is limited professional sharing and collaboration among panels and committees within the school, aspects which need to be further promoted to boost professional development. Schools could further strengthen peer observation and collaboration and foster focused discussions on issues such as teaching strategies, students’ learning difficulties and design of assignments. This would help the formulation of focuses of lesson observation and enhance professional sharing.
To widen teachers’ vision and foster their professional development, support services provided by the EDB, external expertise, and resources have been appropriately tapped. In some schools, secondment of teachers to the EDB is arranged and partnership with external parties is forged for the enrichment of teachers’ knowledge and experience. A few principals are well connected with partners in the field of education and actively build a network with other educational bodies, which helps to secure assistance from different sources and further promote academic sharing among teachers and students. A few special schools also function as a resource centre to support the mainstream schools in their area and students with special education needs (SEN) through enhancing the professional capacity of their staff.
Section 2 Learning and Teaching
2.1 Curriculum and Assessment
Schools, generally, pay due attention to planning and improving their school-based curricula, which aim to facilitate the whole-person development of students.
Many common features are found in curriculum development between primary and secondary schools. About one-third of the secondary schools have identified improving the learning and teaching of languages among students as a major concern. At the same time, more than ten per cent of primary schools have chosen developing biliteracy and trilingualism among students as the major concern. About twenty percent of primary schools and a slightly smaller percentage of secondary schools have chosen catering for the learner diversity of students as a major concern in the 2009/2010 to 2011/2012 school development cycle. Other than these, most schools have endeavoured to address the learner diversity of students in different aspects of learning. With the NSS Curriculum in its second year of implementation, about forty percent of secondary schools have identified implementing the NSS Curriculum as the schools’ major concern within this development cycle, and tried hard to sustain the development of the NSS Curriculum in various related areas. Schools are, generally, found to have clear assessment policies, with formative and summative assessment appropriately used to monitor the learning performance of students. However, further development of Assessment for Learning and refinement of related practices are necessary.
2.1.1 Enhancement of Language Learning to Promote Biliteracy and Trilingualism
Both primary and secondary schools attach importance to promoting biliteracy and trilingualism among students and good efforts have been devoted by schools to creating a language-rich environment and promoting reading among students.
Most schools have given serious consideration to creating a language-rich environment. Apart from using Chinese, English and Hanyu Pinyin for posters, most primary and secondary schools have made good use of English speaking days, Putonghua speaking days, morning assemblies and other activities to enhance the interest of students in learning different languages, and providing opportunities to apply them. Many schools have elected students to serve as English and Putonghua ambassadors, who are delegated with the duty to help encourage and promote the use of English and Putonghua among their peers. Some secondary
schools have also made good use of the campus TV facilities and co-curricular activities, both within and outside schools, to allow students to listen to and speak more English. A small number of secondary schools have set up an English Corner or an English Self-learning Centre, and provided appropriate English learning resources, including online resources, to encourage self-learning and render support with reference to the needs of students.
Reading is regarded as a major strategy, useful for promoting the language ability of students. Most primary and secondary schools have reserved time for morning reading sessions or arranged reading lessons in the teaching timetable. Some schools have even specified guidelines on the language and the content of the reading materials to be used by students during the reading sessions. Out of two reading sessions per week, for example, one session would be reserved for reading Chinese books and one for English books. Teachers in some schools can appropriately lead the students, teach relevant reading strategies or invite students to share experiences during the reading sessions in class. To encourage students to read books of a richer variety, most schools have organised reading award programmes as incentives. Apart from assisting subject teachers in procuring library books for use by students, the school librarians, generally, help to promote reading through activities such as arranging book exhibitions, selecting a recommended list of good books for students’ reference and organising reading programmes, such as reading carnivals, for students. To increase students’
interest in reading, individual schools regularly invite renowned speakers to share good books with students. The source of reading materials used by students is no longer restricted to books and journals on the bookshelves. Many schools have subscribed to e-resources about the English and Chinese languages from online resource providers for use by students. Although the volume of books read by students has gradually increased, many have not yet acquired a good reading habit.
There is still much room for improvement in the level of interest and skills in reading. To enhance quality reading, more attention could be given to the scope of reading. While the school librarian can follow the school policy in promoting reading, the role should be further enhanced to deepen students’ experience of reading and to foster cross-curricular collaboration among subjects. The collaboration between the language subject teachers and those of content subjects in promoting reading across the curriculum has to be strengthened, so as to widen the reading perspectives and further promote the effectiveness of reading to learn.
Most primary schools can formulate school-based language strategies according to
the development trend of education and students’ ability. Some schools have systematically designed and made good use of their own school-based reading and writing materials, which are found to more closely match the learning ability of the students. To enhance the writing skills of the students, some schools have also developed their own school-based writing programmes. There are schools that have made use of library books, study modules, Chinese classics and drama, to enrich the learning experiences of the students. Of those schools that have enrolled non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students, most can provide appropriate support, including after-school tutorials on the Chinese language, pronunciation classes and tailor-made programmes, to reinforce the foundation of students in using the Chinese language. Some schools have used co-curricular and Chinese and English language learning activities to increase the motivation and interest of students in learning languages. With due emphasis on the writing skills of the students, primary schools that have made use of the “reading cum writing”
methodology to enhance the writing skills of students have become a fairly common practice. Furthermore, about half of the primary schools have provided diverse learning activities and an appropriate context to promote students’ interest in learning English and enhance their competence in using English. To reinforce the English foundation of the students and increase their interest in the subject, some schools have promoted teaching of the English language through the use of library books, stories, theme-based learning and oral practice.
Many secondary schools have set up a task group to oversee and formulate the school-based language policy, and, in due course, to coordinate and promote different types of language learning activities. Under the fine-tuned language policy for the medium of instruction (MOI), a good variety of strategies has been devised by schools in teaching junior-form students. To offer students more opportunities to use English, the language has been chosen as the MOI in individual subjects, and extended learning activities have also been arranged in approximately one-half of the content subjects. To help students acquire the basic communication skills and quickly adapt to the change in the MOI, many secondary schools have offered English bridging programmes for pre-S1 students during the summer before the new school term begins. Induction programmes are organised by some schools to enhance the English foundation of the new cohort of students. To provide better support for students and to improve teacher-student interaction, many schools have adopted the split-class or split-group teaching mode for language lessons. Some schools have, further, chosen a co-teaching approach with a local English teacher deployed to collaborate
with a native English-speaking teacher (NET) so as to enhance the effectiveness of language teaching.
2.1.2 Catering for Learner Diversity among Students
With due attention paid to catering for the learning differences among students, many schools have, in recent years, identified catering for learner diversity as one of their major concerns or as the major development focus of learning and teaching.
Schools, generally, tackle the learner diversity issue through administrative measures, curriculum design, learning and teaching strategies and assessment practice. At the administrative level, most schools have adopted split-class or split-group teaching for students of different abilities. This practice is more frequently applied to Chinese Language, English Language and Mathematics, so that enhanced support can be offered to students of similar abilities. In so doing, teachers can more effectively address the needs of students when they adapt the lesson content or adjust their teaching strategies. Schools are also, frequently, found to arrange remedial/enrichment classes to cater for the less-able or groom the more-able students. Apart from arranging remedial lessons before/after school and homework tutorials to help the less-able students, some primary schools have also adopted the pull-out mode in enhanced remedial teaching to support students that have encountered learning problems or have lagged behind significantly in academic performance. Apart from offering remedial support to students, primary and secondary schools have also arranged a good variety of learning activities, arts and sports training and competitions, to develop the multi-intelligences of students and enhance their self-confidence in learning.
About half of the primary schools have arranged special lessons for gifted students, so as to further enhance their generic skills and promote their higher-order thinking.
To facilitate class teaching, during curriculum planning, about half of the primary and secondary schools can suitably conduct curriculum adaptation according to differences in students’ ability among classes. Core and extended curricula are available in individual subjects in secondary schools so that teachers can flexibly adjust the coverage to suit the ability of the students. To address the needs of the more-able, many primary and secondary schools have arranged gifted education programmes or extra-curricular activities to nurture those students with significant potential. In this connection, training in arts and sports, leadership, Mathematics Olympiads, and creative workshops, are popular among schools. To further
exploit their potential, some schools have nominated students to participate in various inter-school or public competitions, including, for example, science project design and Physics Olympics. A wide variety of elective subjects is provided by the NSS Curriculum for students. In addition to the four core subjects, schools, generally, provide a good range of elective subjects from different Key Learning Areas (KLA) for students to choose, according to their own ability and interest.
More than one-half of the secondary schools have offered one or more Applied Learning subjects. These practical subjects cater for the different needs and aptitudes of students. Learning experience is much emphasised in the NSS Curriculum. The Other Learning Experiences (OLE) arranged by schools can, in most cases, effectively cover different domains. Showing a good variation in nature, relevant activities organised by schools can help broaden the students’
perspectives, develop their potential and provide more career-related information and experiences to students. Typical examples include allocation of time for various activities and sharing sessions run by departments and committees, promoting Moral and Civil Education through morning assemblies, class-teacher periods, Religious Studies and ethics, and Life Education lessons, etc., providing Physical Education, Music and Visual Arts lessons for all students, and arranging visits, field trips, services plus religious and different kinds of co-curricular activities.
Some schools regulate the level of difficulty of the assignments to suit the students’ ability. Individual schools provide a good variety of assignments and differentiated worksheets to cater for the diverse abilities and learning attitudes among students, and to help them master the knowledge and increase their learning effectiveness. A fairly good variety of strategies is adopted by schools in assessment. Most can adapt the content of test and examination papers to suit the students’ ability. Some have incorporated more demanding questions in test/examination papers, with bonus marks awarded as incentive, to challenge the more-able. Apart from test and examination results, performance of students in the classroom, in project learning and in presentations is also taken into account in assessment.
In general, schools have appropriate measures in place to support students with different learning needs. Typical examples include planning suitable Chinese language programmes or English pronunciation classes for NCS students and arranging classes on teaching traditional Chinese characters for cross-border students, all with the good underlying aim of helping these students to adapt
quickly to the local school curriculum. Schools can, generally, provide SEN students with appropriate support in learning, development of social skills and therapy services. Other examples include designing school-based reading and writing programmes for dyslexic students and arranging Individualised Education Programmes for those with autism. Schools can, generally, provide the necessary tools or extend the test/examination time to facilitate the SEN students’
participation in tests and examinations. Schools usually arrange for sufficient teachers to attend professional development programmes on integrated education, which can strengthen their skills in supporting SEN.
2.1.3 Implementation and Review of the New Senior Secondary Curriculum
It is the second year in the 2010/2011 school year that secondary schools are engaged in implementation of the NSS Curriculum. Relevant tasks are already on track in most schools. Based on the experiences acquired in the first year of implementation, many schools have started to review and adjust the curriculum, as well as the pedagogy. Examples include addition or deletion of certain elective subjects, modification of available combinations of elective subjects, fine-tuning the arrangement of OLE, adjustment of assessment requirement and content, as well as adaptation of the junior-form curriculum for better articulation with the NSS Curriculum. With due attention to the implementation of the NSS Curriculum, most schools consistently monitor and capture relevant data and adjust the curriculum whenever desirable. The majority of schools plan to scrutinise the students’ performance and initiate comprehensive review of the NSS Curriculum by the time the first cohort of students completes the NSS Curriculum in 2012.
Catering for learner diversity, providing diverse and rich choices as well as promoting whole-person development are the major features of the NSS Curriculum. Apart from having the curriculum development team in place, a special task group has been set up in many schools to lead and monitor the implementation of the NSS Curriculum. When deciding on the NSS subjects and subject combinations for students to choose from, most schools have, in a timely fashion, considered the learning abilities, the needs and the interests of the students as well as the aspirations of parents. With regard to resource and manpower development and the necessary teachers’ training, relevant work usually proceeds on schedule.
Apart from providing a wide range of subjects that cover the eight KLA, most schools arrange a good variety of learning activities, such as project-learning and various co-curricular activities, so as to offer sufficient basic knowledge for junior secondary students and equip them with necessary generic skills, so that they can face the challenges ahead when they study the NSS Curriculum. More than fifty percent of secondary schools have provided at least one Applied Learning subject for students to study at S5 and S6. The subjects available, being diverse in content, cover a wide range of interests, including creative learning, media and communications, business, management and law, services, applied science, engineering and productions. Most schools have adopted the mode of sending their students to participate in programmes offered by relevant training organisations. Only a few schools that possess the necessary facilities and qualified teachers have organised the programmes by themselves or worked with training organisations as partners.
In planning OLE for students, schools have duly considered the mode of operation and the venue arrangement. Attention has also been paid to the duration of time allocated for different domains of OLE. A variety of strategies has been adopted by schools in organising OLE. To have a time slot block-booked and reserved in the timetable for different subjects and groups to organise talks and learning activities in turn is a common practice among schools. Being effective, in general, in broadening the perspectives of students, the events organised can cover different areas, including moral and civic education, arts, sports, social services and job-related experiences. Most schools properly utilise community resources in planning and implementing OLE and, if necessary, invite pertinent organisations to provide external professional support. Most schools have also assisted their students in setting up the Student Learning Profiles (SLP) successfully, and started to lead students to record their academic and non-academic performances, which can help to reflect the progress of whole-person development and the students’
achievements. Proper instructions have been given to students in most schools to select items of significance to be recorded in the SLP. For better results, however, more effort is still necessary whereby teachers guide students to make good use of the SLP for in-depth self-reflection on their learning.
2.1.4 Using Assessment to Promote Learning
Schools are, generally, familiar with the conduct of assessment of learning as a result of year-by-year practice. Formative and summative assessments are put in
place to monitor the performance of students in tests and examinations, and to understand their learning progress from multiple perspectives. A good variety of formative assessment practice is adopted by schools. Many have tried to assess the learning progress of students, inclusive of knowledge, skills and attitudes through project-learning, book reports and the responses of students in the classroom. Individual schools have incorporated challenging questions in the homework assignments, with the objective of allowing the more-able students to exploit their potential and extend their learning. Furthermore, some schools have included self-evaluation and peer-evaluation in the assignments. This can help students reflect on their learning performance and improve accordingly. Some schools have arranged specific learning activities, for instance, after-school remedial/reinforcement classes, for students that are found, after examinations, to have fallen behind in academic results and to help them achieve the basic requirements.
Most schools have attached sufficient importance to the assessment outcomes and regularly reviewed the assessment data gathered within or outside school. The strengths and weaknesses of students are appropriately analysed and follow-up action taken. Schools that perform better make good use of the assessment data from internal or external sources to conduct detailed analysis, identify the learning difficulties encountered by students, and adapt the curriculum, lesson content and teaching strategy, wherever appropriate, to improve the learning and teaching effectiveness.
2.2 Student Learning and Teaching
In response to recent trends in education development and curriculum reform, many schools set their major concerns in terms of enhancing classroom teaching.
Through CLP, PLO and various kinds of professional development activities, much emphasis has been placed on improving teaching strategies, including questioning and providing feedback, promoting group learning activities and catering for learner diversity to enhance learning effectiveness. Across the 140 schools participating in ESR, over 5000 lessons have been observed.
Approximately half of these demonstrate excellent or good performance in learning and teaching effectiveness. Most lessons are well-prepared, with clear teaching objectives, good organisation and smooth transition between activities.
Lecturing and questioning are commonly used. In about forty and thirty percent of lessons observed in primary and secondary schools, respectively, teachers
arrange a variety of activities, including group discussion, student presentation and role play, to make room for learning through peer interaction. Most students are attentive, interested in learning and willing to participate in learning activities.
They apply their knowledge to answer questions and accomplish learning tasks.
In general, students display a good learning attitude and steady learning performance.
2.2.1 Classroom Interaction
Learning activities in most lessons are well-sequenced, with clear learning objectives. Students’ learning motivation and classroom interaction are, generally, enhanced by teachers’ questioning and feedback. Positive feedback, including praise, recognition and reward systems, is provided to acknowledge students’
performance and gradually develop their learning confidence. In a few lessons, teachers manifest their open-mindedness and pose appropriate expectation by inviting some less active students to answer questions and giving them encouragement. This is conducive to cultivating a learning atmosphere which encourages students to fully engage. Under the influence of a positive and encouraging classroom atmosphere, good rapport between teachers and students is built and students are willing to answer teachers’ questions.
In some lessons where effective questioning is demonstrated, teachers are able to bring out a wide range of questions with due consideration of students’ ability, aptitude and life-experience. This enables students to understand the lessons thoroughly and develops their generic skills. For example, teachers ask students to analyse and make judgment on some social issues, topics on real-life situations, values education and to compare, associate or evaluate some selected art works.
These questions are, generally, open-ended and some are challenging. In the process of thinking and discussing, students of a range of abilities grasp the opportunities to apply their learning, displaying remarkably their generic skills, such as critical thinking ability, problem-solving skills and creativity. However, in most of the lessons observed, teachers’ questions focus primarily on rudiments.
It is less evident that teachers use a range of questions to provoke deeper learning.
Some teachers have not made full use of students’ responses by using probing or prompting questions to further the construction of knowledge or the investigation of problems.
Quite a number of schools set enhancing classroom teaching as one of the major
concerns. Many teachers, particularly those in primary schools, arrange group activities as a means to enhance classroom teaching effectiveness. Students show interest and participate actively in the group learning activities. They are willing to share ideas and work together with peers. In some lessons, where effective group activities are conducted, teachers engage students closely, with good peer collaboration, by means of orderly activity arrangement, clear teaching instructions and proper allocation of roles within the group. In terms of activity design, close articulation with the lesson objectives, timely hints from teachers and some challenging and collaborative elements, which bring about effective peer discussion and enhance learning effectiveness, are evidenced. In general, however, teachers could further enhance their skills of conducting group learning activities. For example, discussion problems and activity design could be enriched with more challenging and collaborative elements to enable students to work together and to complement each other.
To further enhance the learning effectiveness of group activities, teachers monitor student performance, render timely individual support and arrange student presentations. In some lessons, student performance in group activities or presentation is dealt with more thoroughly through teachers’ succinct conclusion and self- or peer-evaluation. With teachers’ proper guidance, learning effectiveness is much improved and students’ ability in self-reflection, evaluation and appreciation is raised. In oral presentation, students’ performance varies.
The more-able are confident and present their ideas and arguments systematically, displaying good ability in higher-order thinking, whereas the less-able tend to be soft-spoken, with insufficient eye contact with the audience and lacking the skills necessary for elaboration. Their confidence and ability in organising and presenting ideas need improvement.
2.2.2 Classroom Assessment
Teachers, mostly, employ various means, such as questioning, learning activities and worksheets, to check students’ understanding of lesson content. In a few lessons, teachers encourage students to comment on each other’s ideas, or guide them to use evaluative tools in self- or peer-assessment, so as to promote their participation and understanding of their own performance. However, in the teaching process, some teachers place too much emphasis on coverage, and rarely give students specific feedback or guidance when they are answering teachers’
questions, performing in learning activities or making a presentation. It is less
frequent that teachers employ probing and prompting to help students deliberate on a problem, motivate them to further analyse and elaborate their ideas from multiple perspectives, or guide them to conclude what they have learnt in classroom activities. It is also less frequent that teachers encourage students to comment on each other’s response. In some lesson where classroom assessment is demonstrated, teachers are able to help students grasp learning content, clarify misconceptions and understand how to improve through asking a wide range of questions, arranging suitable learning activities and providing appropriate guidance and specific feedback.
2.2.3 Catering for Learner Diversity
Teachers are conscientious in addressing students’ learning needs. When students are carrying out learning tasks, teachers monitor their progress and render individual support. In some lessons, teachers employ ability grouping to cater for students’ varied abilities. To consolidate student learning, some teachers break down complicated learning content into simple ideas, design graded tasks and recapitulate learning points in a timely manner. In lessons where catering for learner diversity is effective, teachers are aware of students’ ability and characteristics and handle questioning and group activities appropriately. They consider students’ responses and provide them with suitable guidance accordingly.
During learning activities, teachers provide the less-able with individual support and aptly address their learning difficulties. They are also aware of students’
common problems and discuss them with the whole class in a timely fashion. A number of teachers, however, are not flexible enough in their teaching method.
They are less inclined to adjust teaching content and strategies according to students’ responses and performance. Some are inadequately aware of the learning needs of the less-able or neglect the importance of incorporating challenge in activities and questioning that helps to realise the potential of the more-able. In addition to an appropriate use of teaching strategies, to cater for learner diversity more effectively, there could be better use of classroom assessment in order to understand students’ learning needs. This would allow specific feedback and guidance to be given to help students improve their learning.
2.2.4 Self-learning Ability
Some schools set enhancing students’ self-learning ability as one of their major concerns. Teachers, in responding to this main concern, guide students to apply a
range of learning strategies, which include collecting information, completing pre-lesson tasks and jotting down the main learning points. To enhance learning through peer interaction, in some lessons, ample opportunities are provided for students to share or discuss their pre-lesson outcomes. In these lessons, most students are eager to make good preparation. When undertaking the pre-lesson tasks, students have to think independently to construct an initial concept of what they will learn. Together with teachers’ further explanation and their efforts, students grasp learning more solidly. This, generally, promotes overall learning effectiveness. If this is not achievable within the confines of the chosen teaching approach, there are insufficient opportunities for students to apply different learning strategies in lessons. Students, even at the fourth key stage of learning, are not eager enough to raise questions or jot down notes in class. In this regard, teachers need to arrange the lessons in such a way that students’ self-directed learning is nurtured and their ability in using various learning strategies is developed. For instance, some lesson time could be regularly reserved to allow students to reflect on their own learning, organise their notes and ask questions, so that they can manage their learning and clarify misunderstanding. This gradually fosters students’ self-directed learning and develops their ability to enquire and reflect.
Section 3 Student Support
Over ninety percent of the schools undergoing ESR have good or excellent performance in the area of student support, within which the overall performance of the primary schools is slightly better than that of the secondary schools. In recent years, schools are profusely intent on creating a caring culture in schools.
They also attach great importance to nurturing students’ whole-person development and give much attention to students’ physical, psychological and moral development. In the 2010/2011 academic year, the major concerns in respect of student support of about sixty percent of the primary schools are related to the themes of creating a caring culture in school, developing a healthy life and nurturing students’ moral disposition, while approximately sixty percent of the secondary schools set the following foci as one of their major concerns: the promotion of healthy life, moral education and students’ whole-person development. The promotion of home-school cooperation is comparatively important in some special schools and has been set as one of their major concerns.
In addressing major concerns, teachers share a common goal and are able to plan for appropriate support measures. Schools usually adopt a whole-school approach in the implementation of various programmes in response to the major concerns and often make good use of school assemblies, class-teacher periods and time after school to the sharing of ideas, discussion and talks related to the issues identified. As a result, the schools, generally, attain good outcomes in this aspect.
3.1 Creating a Caring School Ethos
To create a caring school culture, many schools are eager to implement a dual class-teacher system in the junior forms of primary and secondary schools.
Individual schools even extend the practice to the senior forms in the secondary school to enhance their caring for students. Schools put much effort into promoting a caring ethos. Many well-organised activities, such as celebrating students’ birthdays, setting agreed class rules and displaying students’ work, are introduced, successfully promoting close teacher-student relationships and fostering a sense of belonging among students. Individual schools have conducted many effective programmes. For example, a teacher-student matching scheme is introduced to give guidance, through structured interviews, to those students who, particularly, need extra support. Peer support schemes, such as the
“Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program”, are the common effective means adopted by schools, through which the students from the senior forms render good support
to the low academic achievers and those with SEN. Peer support programmes are widely implemented in many schools and can effectively help P1 and S1 students adapt to their new school life. These peer support programmes do have a very positive impact in creating a caring ethos in school and enhance the bonding among students and between teachers and students. Platforms, such as the school website and appreciation through songs, are also introduced in some schools to celebrate students’ good performance. In order to build up close relationships with parents, regular tea gatherings have been arranged in some schools to strengthen home-school cooperation. Parents have been recruited to actively serve as volunteers in schools. To address learner diversity, schools arrange tutorial classes for those students who need extra help in this respect. Appropriate support services are available to various groups of students. For instance, tutorial classes have been arranged for newly-arrived students to improve their learning in English and the use of Chinese traditional characters and group counseling has been conducted for students with SEN. Some schools actively promote the message of inclusion through talks, exhibitions and services to the disabled, in order to help students understand their needs and those of students with SEN.
The arrangement of various types of voluntary service by schools is another way in which students show care for the community.
3.2 Nurturing a Healthy Life
Schools pay much attention to promoting in students' a healthy life-style and are concerned about their developmental needs, both physically and psychologically.
In primary schools, a balanced diet is often introduced to help students establish healthy eating habits through the provision of relevant information and activities focused on healthy living. Some schools introduce morning exercise to help students build good habits for an active life. To cater for the needs of students at different developmental stages, most schools plan for and provide a wide range of remedial, preventive and developmental programmes, such as the “Understanding Adolescent Project” to enhance the resilience of students, talks on healthy lifestyle, sex education and group counseling for students with SEN. In addition, some individual schools attach great importance to the psychological health of students and teachers, and set it as a major concern. Positive values and attributes such as students' confidence, caring and respect for others are well-cultivated through comprehensive programmes. In some schools, appropriate foci for school development and well-designed programmes are arranged to develop skills and foster positive values in respect of their developmental stages. Examples include
self-management for junior form students and resilience for senior form students in primary schools, problem-solving skills for junior secondary students and stress management for the senior secondary students. Such foci, accompanied by tailor-made programmes, can effectively address the needs of students’ at different developmental stages. In addition, schools provide a wide range of activities to develop student potential, such as leadership, and positive attributes, such as accepting responsibilities and serving others, helping to nurture whole-person development.
3.3 Promoting Values Education
Apart from the instillation through core subjects and the introduction of formal curriculum in respect of values education, such as Moral and Civil Education and Personal Growth Education, values education has been well-delivered in most schools through various platforms, such as morning assemblies and class-teacher periods. With the introduction of well-organised activities, such as talks, sharing of ideas, and exhibitions, and through discussions of current issues, expositions, monthly themes and classroom activities, positive values and attributes are well-promoted in these schools. Schools show great commitment to the promotion of positive values, such as a sense of responsibility, self-discipline, punctuality and respect for others. They instill positive values through positive reinforcement programmes, such as award schemes and competitions. Among these, there are well-designed programmes which help students to create their own goals and reflect on their efforts to meet them. Some programmes even incorporate students’ self-assessment of their own progress and include parent involvement. To meet the needs of the students at different developmental stages, sex education is often provided, as are, for example, talks on avoiding substance-abuse. Some schools have long-term planning for the promotion of values education, covering different themes in different years. Apart from flag-raising ceremonies, sharing ideas in assemblies and exhibitions, schools often arrange or join study tours to the mainland to enhance students’ understanding of the motherland and their sense of national identity. However, in some schools, the instillation of positive values in students could be further enhanced in the following areas: better planning for values education, the setting of more specific targets for students to achieve at various developmental stages and placing more emphasis on students’ reflection.
3.4 Enhancing Life-wide Learning
In most schools, a wide range of co-curricular activities and life-wide learning activities is organised, providing students with ample opportunities to broaden their learning experiences, as well as to develop their potential. Various types of learning activities for students, within lesson periods or after-school, are properly arranged. They include interest groups, training in music or art, and voluntary service. Some schools encourage all students to participate in extra-curricular activities through programmes such as “One Student, One Activity”, “One Student, One Sport Item”, which successfully help them to develop their confidence and potential.
The schools place emphasis on fostering students’ spirit of serving others and provide ample opportunities for them. In many schools, various service posts have been created and students are encouraged to take them up in order to enrich their learning experiences beyond the classroom. In most primary schools, peer supporting programmes, such as Caring Ambassadors, are widely and successfully implemented to help P1 students and others with learning difficulties. Over ten percent of primary schools have implemented programmes such as “One Student, One Post” to encourage all students to participate in the service activities. Some schools arrange various community services for students, which has brought about a very positive impact on the enhancement of their learning experiences and personal growth.
Most secondary schools have put great effort into planning for service learning.
In order to foster students’ spirit of serving others, some schools require all the junior form students to participate in service work. They also set up various service posts, such as club officials and programme assistants, and arrange various community services for students to enhance their sense of social responsibility and concern. Self-reflection is often conducted after the service to consolidate students’ learning. Through the participation in social service, students are not only able to participate but, in some cases, they have to be involved in the planning and organisation, thus developing their leadership potential. However, in some schools there is room for improvement in the areas of overall planning and provision of self-reflection training for students.
To cater for students’ needs in careers education, a good variety of diversified career guidance programmes, including talks, workshops and exhibitions, are often
arranged in secondary schools. Job shadowing and career visits to workplaces are also organised properly and can effectively widen students’ exposure. In line with the implementation of the New Academic Structure, schools become more aware of and carefully plan their careers education for students. In some schools, careers guidance and programmes including talks and aptitude tests are provided for junior form students.
Chapter 3 Concluding Remarks
The SDA framework introduced in the 2003/2004 school year assigns SSE a central role in the improvement of school education. SSE, complemented by ESR, helps promote continuous development in schools. In the 2010/2011 school year, ESR, in its second cycle of development, has reached the second year for secondary schools, and the third for primary schools. Schools continue to adopt the P-I-E cycle for self-improvement. Schools’ performance in this year, as demonstrated through the outcomes of ESR, is, on the whole, more than satisfactory.
Schools try to promote continuous development through putting the P-I-E cycle in place, aiming at self-improvement in areas such as school management, professional leadership, school curriculum development, teaching and learning, and student support. On the whole, schools are clear about the concept of self-evaluation and the setting up of a comprehensive self-evaluation mechanism.
To devise their development priorities and major concerns, schools, usually, when drafting major areas of concern in the next cycle, conduct a review of their strengths and weaknesses, taking into account their experience derived from the previous development cycle. In setting their priority tasks in the 2010/2011 school year, schools have made reference to their review of the progress and effectiveness of those in the previous year. To implement development priorities, most schools pay attention to the deployment of internal and external resources and strategic planning. Subject panels/committees are able to devise their annual plan and related implementation strategies in response to the school’s major concerns. Schools where priority tasks are effectively implemented have usually put effort into strategic planning, emphasising concrete and detailed strategies, involvement and collaboration of the teaching staff, and appropriate support for subject panels/committees and teachers. On the whole, schools, in addition to setting clear targets and concrete success criteria, should further strengthen evaluation so that it is more target-oriented. With concrete and specific suggestions made, experience derived from SSE can then effectively feed forward into future planning.
The performance of most schools in the area of professional leadership is satisfactory. The school management, in general, plays an effective role in planning, co-ordination and monitoring. Much emphasis is also placed on leading the teaching staff in building a common vision for school development.
Team spirit is valued and the views of different stakeholders are taken into consideration. Resources and external expertise are appropriately tapped for the school’s sustained development. Most of the school managers attach importance to sustaining a caring and harmonious atmosphere. In order to enhance teachers’
collaboration and professional capacity, staff development activities, including in-house training and sharing sessions, with themes drawn in line with the schools’
major concerns and development needs, are suitably arranged.
The school-based curricula designed by schools can generally align with the aims and trend of the development of education in Hong Kong, as well as the vision and mission of the schools. In recent years, primary and secondary schools have devoted much attention to promoting biliteracy and trilingualism among students, catering for learner diversity and using assessment to promote learning. In the NSS Curriculum, already in the second year of implementation, secondary schools continue to endeavour to promote and refine its development. With due emphasis on language learning, most primary and secondary schools have tried hard to create a language-rich environment and to promote reading among students.
However, to enhance quality reading, more attention could be given to the scope of reading. Both primary and secondary schools are seriously concerned about the issue of learner diversity. Schools have tried to address the needs of students in different domains, including administration, curriculum, class teaching and assessment. Popular strategies at the curriculum design level include split-class or split-group teaching, curriculum adaptation according to students’ ability, provision of remedial/enrichment lessons for the less-able and the more-able students, respectively, gifted education programmes and various modes of assessments. There is still room for improvement among schools in the development of assessment for learning. Schools can, generally, analyse the internal and external assessment data related to student performance and take follow-up action. The analysis, however, could be more critical and comprehensive, so as to provide more effective feedback to inform curriculum planning and class teaching. Schools can, generally, cater for the differences in ability, needs and interests of their students and consider the aspirations of parents when setting up their NSS elective subjects. More than fifty percent of secondary schools have provided opportunities for students to study the Applied Learning Programme. Most schools have paid due attention to the basic knowledge and generic skills required by students when designing the NSS Curriculum, with adaptation of the junior curriculum for proper articulation. Due consideration has also been given to the mode of, and time allocation to, different domains when
planning OLE for students. Most schools have set up SLP for students in senior forms and have given appropriate instructions for recording their academic and non-academic performances. For smoother operation and to better address the needs of students, about half of the schools have started to review the NSS Curriculum, and to revise or fine-tune arrangements such as the elective subject combination, the lesson timetable, OLE and assessment. Schools continue to capture and collate assessment data that reflect students’ performance. Most schools have planned to conduct a radical review of the curriculum by the time the first cohort of students completes the NSS Curriculum.
Reinforced by the curriculum reform of recent years, the teaching paradigm and the mode of classroom teaching have gradually changed. More and more teachers are ready and willing to employ a variety of teaching strategies to cater for learner diversity and to promote students’ participation. These strategies include classroom questioning and arranging different kinds of learning activities.
Teachers’ effective feedback is valuable in helping students improve their learning, clarify misunderstanding and think more deeply into the problems. As such, in order to improve students’ learning and cater for learner diversity, it is crucial for teachers to make good use of classroom assessment to gauge students’
performance and adjust teaching pace and strategies accordingly. Furthermore, to strengthen the students’ sense of responsibility for learning, it is essential to foster their use of learning strategies. For example, teachers could arrange pre-lesson tasks for students, which will be followed up in lessons. Teachers could also nurture students’ habit of asking questions, managing information, note-taking and preparing lessons such that students improve their learning strategies and recognise their responsibility for learning. To further enhance classroom learning and teaching effectiveness, the schools should devise a forward-looking professional development plan so as to pave the way for teachers to exchange ideas and work collaboratively on these teaching strategies.
Most schools make commendable efforts to cultivate a caring school ethos.
Effective measures are introduced to promote close teacher-student relationships, to foster a spirit of peer support, and create a positive learning environment, which effectively helps the creation of a caring school ethos. Schools are concerned about the developmental needs of students and most of them have put good effort into cultivating a healthy school spirit. They are not only committed to developing students' healthy eating habits through a variety of activities, but also properly address students’ physical and psychological needs through a wide range