Direction of Schools’ Curriculum Development – Balanced Development, Continuous Enhancement

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List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1 Direction of Schools’ Curriculum Development - Balanced Development, Continuous Enhancement

Chapter 2 Whole-school Curriculum Planning – Curriculum Planning and Effective Use of Resources

Chapter 3 Four Key Tasks – Achieving Learning to Learn – Overview Chapter 3A Moral and Civic Education

Chapter 3B Reading to Learn Chapter 3C Project Learning

Chapter 3D Information Technology for Interactive Learning Chapter 4 Effective Learning and Teaching

Chapter 5 Assessment

Chapter 6 Life-wide Learning

Chapter 7 Quality Learning and Teaching Resources and School Library Development

Chapter 8 Meaningful Homework

Chapter 9 Interfaces at Various Key Stages Chapter 10 Continuing Professional Development

Chapter 11 School, Family and Community Connections Glossary


AE Arts Education

BCA Basic Competency Assessment CDC Curriculum Development Council

CDI Curriculum Development Institute CEG Capacity Enhancement Grant

CPT Collaborative Planning and Teaching ED Education Department

EC Education Commission

GS General Studies for Primary Schools HKSAR Hong Kong Special Administrative Region IT Information Technology

KG Kindergarten KLA Key Learning Area KS1 Key Stage One P1 Primary One PE Physical Education

PSHE Personal, Social and Humanities Education S1 Secondary One

TE Technology Education

List of Abbreviations


Note:The Curriculum Development Council is an advisory body giving recommendations to the Hong Kong Special Administration Region Government on matters relating to curriculum development for the school system from kindergarten to Secondary 6. Its membership includes school principals, teachers, parents, employers, scholars, professionals of related sectors, representatives of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority and the Education Bureau.


To meet the challenges of the 21st Century, Hong Kong is in need of versatile talents and school education is a deciding factor in the success of nurturing such talents. Hence, in supporting schools in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Education Commission in Learning for Life, Learning through Life – Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong (2000) and in the Curriculum Development Council (CDC)’s note report Learning to Learn – The Way Forward in Curriculum Development (2001), the Basic Education Curriculum Guide – Building on Strengths (Primary 1 - Secondary 3) was published by the CDC in 2002 and the curriculum reform was launched in the same year. The direction of the curriculum reform is to provide comprehensive and balanced learning experiences for students. In addition to acquiring knowledge in class, students are expected to develop learning to learn capabilities as well as positive values and attitudes for achieving the educational aims of whole-person development and life-long learning.

Based on the feedback collected, the recommendations in the Basic Education Curriculum Guide (2002), including the learning goals and the curriculum framework have been highly recognised.

Today, we are delighted to see primary schools responding to the curriculum reform positively and developing their school-based curriculum steadily. Some of them have even formed cross-school communities to enhance their whole-school curriculum development by strengthening their professional capacity and making effective use of resources, and their efforts and achievements deserve recognition. Looking back on our work in curriculum development for over a decade, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude especially to all colleagues in the primary education sector. They have been working tirelessly and demonstrated professionalism and team spirit throughout the reform. They have successfully nurtured students with different potential and laid the foundation for whole-person development.

However, since the curriculum reform started, the world around us has changed rapidly. This is evident in the growing multiplicity of social values, the increasing attention to collaboration and interpersonal skills, the integration of technology into life and study as well as the diversity in students’ backgrounds. Through the school curriculum, we hope our younger generations do not only care about their own well-being, but also adopt a global perspective and become contributing members of society, the nation and the world. We have pledged to review the 10-year curriculum


reform, and in conducting the review, we have conducted different types of evaluation studies and surveys, and published A Mid Term Report on Curriculum Reform to School Heads and Teachers in 2008. To sustain our curriculum review on the basic education, feedback on the “Learning to Learn”

reform has been collected extensively from stakeholders through various channels, and reference has been made to international and local research findings in updating the parts of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide – Building on Strengths (2002) related to primary education to address the latest development in society and needs of students.

Building on the practical experiences and fruitful outcomes of the development of the primary school curriculum, schools are recommended to sustain school-based curriculum development by building on their existing strengths. The updated version of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide - To Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1 - 6) aims at reiterating the overall aims of the school curriculum and the framework developed by the CDC in 2001 and providing recommendations on the sustainable development of whole-school curriculum planning, the four key tasks, learning and teaching strategies, resources and assessment. It also provides more exemplars on effective learning, teaching and assessment strategies for reflection and reference of curriculum leaders and teachers in primary schools, thereby helping schools to focus on learning and teaching effectiveness, deepen the positive impact of the curriculum reform as well as sustain the quality of learning. The Education Bureau will continue to provide schools with professional development programmes, learning and teaching resources and support services, keeping up with the latest development in the primary school curriculum.

The success of the curriculum reform hinges on the support from different sectors of society and the collaboration of colleagues in primary schools. The updated Basic Education Curriculum Guide - To Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1 - 6) has now been uploaded to the EDB website for public access. We encourage schools to adopt the recommendations set out in this guide, where appropriate, with due consideration to school-based needs, situations and strengths.

We also encourage schools to continue to improve the curriculum to achieve the aims of education and the school curriculum to nurture the future leaders of society and the nation. Different from past practice, printed copies of this curriculum guide will not be distributed to schools. As curriculum development is a continuous process of improvement, the web version will facilitate timely updates of the content and exemplars, and allow flexibility in use. In this connection, we look forward to receiving your valuable professional views on how to leverage the strengths of schools and address students’ needs with a view to pooling wisdom for further improvement of the curriculum.

Comments or suggestions are welcome and can be sent to:

Fax: 3104 0542 Email:


Direction of Schools’ Curriculum Development – Balanced Development, Continuous Enhancement

This is one of the chapters of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide - To Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1 - 6). Its contents are as follows:   

1.1 Background 1

1.2 Purposes of the Chapter 1

1.3 Aims of Education and Overall Aims of the School Curriculum 2

1.4 The Changing Society 3

1.5 Summarising the Experience of the Curriculum Reform 5 1.5.1 Achievements and Progress Made in a Decade of Curriculum Reform 5 1.5.2 Areas for Further Enhancement or Improvement 8

1.6 Positioning of the School Curriculum 12

1.7 The Seven Learning Goals 14

1.8 Guiding Principles 15

1.9 The School Curriculum 16

1.9.1 Five Essential Learning Experiences 16

1.9.2 Curriculum Framework 16

1.10 Recommendations for the Development of School Curriculum 19 1.11 Setting Goals and Direction for School Curriculum



1.11.1 Achieving the Seven Learning Goals 24

1.11.2 Further Focusing and Deepening Curriculum Development 25 1.12 Strategies to Support Curriculum Reform in Schools 24

Remarks 27

Appendix 30

Reference Notes 31

References 33



1.1 Background

The Basic Education Curriculum Guide - Building on Strengths (Primary 1 to Secondary 3) prepared by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) was published in 2002. The curriculum reform was fully implemented in primary schools in the same year. Thanks to the concerted efforts of different parties in the education sector, the achievements, strengths and experience gained from the curriculum reform over the past ten years has set the main direction for the sustainable development of the basic education curriculum.

However, since the launch of the curriculum reform, our society has experienced rapid changes.

Based on the strengths and experience that schools have accumulated, the Curriculum Development Council has updated and enriched relevant contents and recommendations in the guidelines regarding the sustainable development of the primary school curriculum. The revised Basic Education Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 - 6) includes more appropriate examples of learning and teaching for schools and teachers as reference to address the social development and students’


1.2 Purposes of the Chapter

Reiterate the aims of education and overall aims of the school curriculum set by the CDC Explore the changes in Hong Kong, review and recognise the achievements and strengths gained since the curriculum reform

Reflect on the direction for future development of schools’ overall curriculum to deepen or improve the primary school curriculum

1 Direction of Schools’ Curriculum

Development - Balanced Development,

Continuous Enhancement


1.3 Aims of Education and Overall Aims of the School Curriculum

Aims of Education for the 21stCentury

“To enable every person to attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics according to his/her own attributes so that he/she is capable of life-long learning, critical and exploratory thinking, innovating and adapting to change; filled with self-confidence and a team spirit; willing to put forward continuing effort for the prosperity, progress, freedom and democracy of their society, and contribute to the future well-being of the nation and the world at large.”

Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong (EC, 2000)

Overall Aims of the School Curriculum

“The school curriculum should provide all students with essential life-long learning experiences for whole-person development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physical development, social skills and aesthetics, according to their individual potential, so that all students can become active, responsible and contributing members of society, the nation and the world.

The school curriculum should help students to learn how to learn through cultivating positive values, attitudes, and a commitment to life-long learning, and through developing generic skills to acquire and construct knowledge. These qualities are essential for whole-person development to cope with challenges of the 21st Century.

A quality curriculum for the 21st Century should therefore set the directions for teaching and learning through a coherent and flexible framework which can be adapted to changes and the different needs of students and schools.”

Learning to Learn - The Way Forward in Curriculum Development (CDC, 2001)


1.4 The Changing Society

The Basic Education Curriculum Guide has been launched for ten years during which Hong Kong has undergone many changes in the social and cultural, economic, political or environmental conservation aspects. The following changes have brought impacts and challenges to the sustained development of school curriculum.

Social and Cultural Aspect Social environment

Increasing convergence with the Mainland while becoming more international Increasingly diverse social values

Public attention to and insistence on upholding the spirit of the law The demand for leaders and political talents


Increasing integration of technology into living and learning

Concerns about changes in students1 in health and lifestyle in society Increasingly common use of Putonghua for daily communication School environment

Backgrounds of students becoming diverse2

Increase in the number of non-Chinese speaking students, cross-boundary students3 and newly-arrived children4 with residential districts more widely distributed than in the past5

Strengthening of English Language teaching in primary schools as a result of the fine-tuning of the Medium of Instruction (MOI) policy for secondary schools in 2009 Students’ learning of Chinese Language being affected by slangs and Internet


The position of the school-based curriculum being affected by parents’ education philosophy, the expectations on their children and their parenting styles, e.g. in contrast to “pleasurable learning”, there seems to be more parents believing that it is important to give their children a head start in life.


Economic Aspect

Economic environment

The economy being continuously affected by fluctuations in the global economy

The rise in wages significantly lagging behind the rise in commodity and property prices, the economic outlook being uncertain

Closer development and integration with the Mainland economy Human resources

The demand for low-skilled workers having declined sharply, while the demand for professionals and senior management personnel having risen greatly 6

Emergence of new types of work bringing about a greater demand for new skills

Increasing emphasis on employees’ communication skills, their ability to co-operate with people and handle interpersonal relationships

The development of cultural and creative industries7 and the West Kowloon Cultural District8 giving rise to the demand for cultural, art and creative talents

Political Aspect

The public becoming more concerned and involved in politics

Citizens’ political orientations becoming diversified with different views on social issues Environmental Conservation Aspect

“Sustainable development” becoming a widely accepted concept

Increase in an awareness of environmental conservation in various sectors of society

For Reflection and Action

With an increasing demand for talents with a creative mind, what educational mode can be adopted to nurture such talents?

What kind of learning experiences do students need to strengthen to cope with the latest changes in society? How will your school curriculum respond to the changes?


1.5 Summarising the Experience of the Curriculum Reform

1.5.1 Achievements and Progress Made in a Decade of Curriculum Reform Hong Kong society has always attached great importance to education. Since the implementation of the curriculum reform in 2002,

the society has high expectations on the quality of education and is very concerned about educational issues;

School Heads and teachers are committed to promoting the curriculum reform measures and have made substantial contributions to improve the curriculum and learning and teaching strategies;

parents attach great importance to school education, considering it the means to improve their children’s socioeconomic status; and

the government has invested considerable resources in education.

Based on the above favourable conditions, considerable achievements and good practices have been derived from the ten-year curriculum reform.

1. Achievements

Over the ten-year curriculum reform, Hong Kong students have achieved outstanding results in a number of international studies. There are also reports pointing out the significant improvements in the education system of Hong Kong (see Table 1.1).


Table 1.1 Findings of International Studies on Hong Kong Students’ Performance and Hong Kong Education System

Study reports Achievements Progress in International

Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)

Hong Kong primary four students’ reading literacy scores have continued to rise over the past decade. The ranking also rose sharply from fourteenth in 2001 to second place in 2006, and first in 2011.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

Regarding Maths and Science, the scores of Hong Kong primary four students fell in 2011 when compared to 2007, but still ranked third and ninth respectively. For secondary two students, the scores in these two subjects in 2011 were higher than those in 2007, and ranked fourth and eighth respectively.

International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS)

The ranking of secondary two/three Hong Kong students in civic education and literacy knowledge in 2009 was among the top five.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

The ranking of Hong Kong 15-year-old students in the three areas in 2012 was higher than that in the previous assessment in 2009. Hong Kong students ranked third in Mathematics and their ranking in Reading in their native language and Science rose by two places and one place respectively, with both subjects ranking second in the world. The report pointed out that Hong Kong students’ performance was less affected by their socioeconomic background, and difference in performance among schools is narrowed9, reflecting that basic education of Hong Kong was moving towards optimisation and equalisation.

McKinsey & Company’s international research report - How the world’s most

improved school systems keep getting better

The 2010 report pointed out that the school system in Hong Kong has continued to improve, and Hong Kong was among the world’s twenty most improved regions and also one of the four regions which has upgraded from “good” to “great”1 0.

2. Good Progress

In addition to students’ impressive performance in international studies, another achievement of the curriculum reform is the recognition of the direction of curriculum development by school leaders and teachers, as well as the change in teaching philosophy. Schools have accumulated considerable practical experience conducive to further promoting curriculum development. The main


development in curriculum reform in the last decade and the positive impacts based on the data and evidence collected are shown in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2 Schools’ Major Progress in the Ten-year Curriculum Reform

Main progress Positive influences

Change in

perception towards curriculum

The school curriculum places emphasis on the balanced development of students’ knowledge, skills, values and attitudes, and is centred on students’ learning.

Through the implementation of the four key tasks1 1 and the prioritised development of the three generic skills1 2, students’ learning to learn capabilities have been enhanced.

Schools are actively promoting learning across the curriculum and due attention is given to the interface between different key stages of learning.

Fulfilling the aims of school


Schools generally agree with the aims of the school curriculum, and actively help students to develop life-long learning ability through providing diverse learning experiences for them to achieve whole-person development.

Many schools have developed their own innovative school-based curriculum, learning and teaching strategies as well as measures to support student learning. They have also established a healthy school environment to cater for the needs of students’ growth.

Paradigm Shift in learning and teaching

Learning is no longer confined to the classroom. Students have more opportunities to conduct studies and visits and take part in service outside the classroom.

Teachers place more emphasis on providing opportunities for students to participate in learning, reflecting the paradigm shift from teacher-driven to student-centred in learning and teaching. For example, more inquiry and peer learning activities are arranged during lessons.

Change in

assessment culture

In addition to summative assessments such as examinations and tests, teachers often make use of formative assessments to inform learning and teaching.

Establishment of curriculum leadership and teaching team culture

The leadership of School Heads/Deputy Heads, whole-school planning by Primary School Curriculum Leaders, coordination of KLA/subject heads and teachers’ participation are all conducive to the implementation of the curriculum reform.

Teachers are not fighting alone anymore. The collaborative culture of teachers has been strengthened through regular collaborative lesson planning, peer lesson observation as well as collaboration and professional exchange activities across schools.


1.5.2 Areas for Further Enhancement or Improvement

Although schools have accumulated considerable achievements and experience in implementing the curriculum reform, they can build on their existing strengths to further improve and enhance the following to “sustain, deepen and focus on” the development of the whole-school curriculum.

1 Balancing students’ physical and mental development

Developing a healthy lifestyle in order to enhance students’ growth - Schools in general are supportive of the “healthy campus” policy. They can further strengthen the related learning experiences to help students develop a healthy and balanced lifestyle, including adopting a regular working and resting habit, exercising regularly, having a balanced diet, learning self-care, maintaining personal hygiene and good mental health etc.

Providing space to help develop students’ potential - Participating in different courses and activities in spare time can develop students’ potential. However, an excess of such courses and activities will reduce students’ time for rest and play, and hinder them from developing their personal interests and potential. In addition, if students grow accustomed to passively following someone else’s arrangement, their personality and development may also be hampered. Therefore, schools should ensure that students have sufficient time to play, rest and develop their interests.

2 Learning, teaching and assessments that meet the learning needs of students

Knowledge, skills, values and attitudes should be of equal importance - In addition to pursuing knowledge and developing learning skills, cultivating positive values and attitudes among students is also very important. Schools should avoid developing a curriculum that is biased towards knowledge learning, and increased efforts should be made to develop students’ generic skills, values and attitudes to help students achieve a balanced development.

Developing students’ capability to learn independently - While teachers’ guidance is important during the learning process, opportunities and space should be provided for students to explore and co-construct knowledge with peers to encourage them to actively participate in developing independent and self-directed learning skills.

Learning and teaching strategies should meet the learning objectives - Teachers are used to adopting a wide range of learning and teaching strategies. However, they should also set clear and distinct learning objectives and adopt the learning and teaching strategies which enable their students to achieve the learning objectives, so that the “learning, teaching and assessment”

process is more focused.


Using diversified assessment strategies to provide timely and appropriate feedback - Schools are basically very familiar with using tests and examinations to gauge students’ learning outcomes at certain stages of learning. However, it should be noted that excessive or over-challenging tests and examinations will increase students’ stress resulting in a loss of interest in learning. Apart from summative and formative assessments, schools should strengthen the development of other assessment strategies and use assessment data appropriately to provide timely and appropriate feedback for students and teachers in the learning process.

3 Catering for learner diversity

Each student is an independent and unique individual. Students have their own personalities, interests, learning motivation, abilities, learning styles, and socioeconomic background. Though this has brought many challenges to curriculum planning and learning and teaching, it has also created favourable conditions for promoting collaboration. Teachers can take advantage of the diversity of students and encourage them to collaborate with, interact with and learn from each other. The diversity in students can serve as learning resources to enrich their learning experiences.

For Reflection and Action

Do you agree with the viewpoint below?

No Child Left Behind

Some teachers are tireless in teaching students who are tagged as unmotivated learners. To them, no student should be abandoned. They believe it is unfair to label young students as successes or failures and giving up on them is tantamount to destroying their future.

They believe that every student has their potential and enabling students to develop appropriately is the teacher’s responsibility. They always have hope for these students and are waiting patiently for them to wake up and grow, although only few can live up to their expectations and succeed in learning.

These teachers are often the most appreciated and memorable in a student’s life. They may not be able to change the fate of these students but they make them feel that there is care for them in school and even in the world they live in. They adhere to the belief of “never giving up on any student”. This is worth pondering by every teacher.


4 Facilitating the interface between various stages of learning

Most schools attach great importance to the interface between various stages of learning and are committed to the implementation of school-based adaptation measures. To facilitate the interface between various key stages of learning, schools need to further review and adapt bridging strategies in different aspects such as curriculum content, learning environment, learning mode, rules and regulations as well as the development of self-management skills according to students’ learning and developmental needs.

5 Strengthening teachers’ professional capabilities and building learning communities

Facing rapid changes in society, teachers can continue to strengthen their professional knowledge and skills through peer collaboration, practices and reflection. They can participate in learning communities within and across schools to enhance their professional standards.

Teachers can use Table 1.3 to review their beliefs and their school’s current practices focusing on areas which can be further enhanced or improved.


Table 1.3 Areas for Further Enhancement or Improvement in School Areas for further enhancement or


My Beliefs Current Practices

1. Balancing students’ physical and mental development

Help students develop a healthy lifestyle to enhance students’ growth Provide space to help develop students’ potential

Example: I agree that moral, intellectual, physique, social and aesthetic aspects are equally important.

Example: My school has responded to the appeal of the Department of Health and added more time for sports and activities in the timetable.

2. Learning, teaching and assessment that meet the learning needs of students

Knowledge, skills, values and attitudes should be of equal importance

Developing students’ capability to learn independently

Learning and teaching strategies should meet the learning objectives Using diversified assessment strategies to provide timely and appropriate feedback

3. Catering for learner diversity

4. Facilitating the interface between various key stages of learning

5. Strengthening teachers’ professional capacity and building learning communities


1.6 Positioning of the School Curriculum

1. Education principles

Sustaining the same education beliefs, such as:

All students have the ability to learn

All students have the right to obtain a wide range of learning experience that matches their personal interests and abilities to achieve whole-person development

Life-long learning to promote sustainable development of individuals

Carefully considering the four education views which influence curriculum development - When developing the school curriculum, a school is usually influenced by the following four education views1 5:

Social and economic efficiency1 6 Child-centredness1 7

Academic rationalism1 8 Social reconstructionism1 9

These four views have their own hypothesis, orientations, views and values. Schools should carefully consider their positions in curriculum development and areas that are worth adopting and avoid being confined to a particular education view.

For Reflection and Action

What achievements have you and your school made in the last decade? What challenges have you faced?

How should your school further improve in response to these challenges?


2. Building on Hong Kong’s characteristics and advantages Hong Kong’s unique situation

While Hong Kong is deeply influenced by traditional Chinese culture and values, it also benefits from historical development as a place where Chinese and western cultures meet.

In addition, Hong Kong is an international city while at the same time it has close ties with the Mainland.

The school curriculum should be based on this unique situation to benefit from the strengths of Chinese and western cultures. While it is essential to have a traditional Chinese spirit of education which is people-oriented, with moral education as a priority and emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge, it is also important to accept western values and attitudes such as open-mindedness, the courage for pioneering and seeking to acquire a broad vision of the world, so that students can be proficient in both Chinese and western ways and bring the power of cultural integration into full play.

Social pluralism and diversity of students

Hong Kong is populated by people from all over the world. They live, work and study here, bringing different cultural characteristics, views and an international perspective to Hong Kong. Compared with some other Asian countries, Hong Kong is more free and open and there is gender equality. Such differences result in diversity in our society. Diversity is a favourable condition for enhancing creativity2 0. Teachers can make the best of this condition to nurture students’ creativity and positive attitudes, such as seeking to possess a broad perspective, the ability to accommodate divergent views and find common ground, open-mindedness and inclusiveness, tolerance, appreciation, respect and acceptance of other people.

Most schools in Hong Kong have diverse student populations, with students coming from different social classes and backgrounds. Their different personalities, interests, abilities, learning styles, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds etc., have brought diverse knowledge, perspectives and experience for learning. These are not only valuable learning and teaching resources, but also fertile ground for the development of students’ creativity.

If schools can make good use of the social pluralism and diversity of students, learning will be enriched. It is also beneficial to students who will be living in a more diverse and mobile society in the future.

3. Looking ahead fifty years

A school curriculum should meet the various needs of students. It should also help students lay a good foundation for their future learning, work and life. However, as society is changing rapidly, there is no knowing what the future society will be like and it is almost impossible to predict the demands of the future society on our students. Therefore, it is important that the school curriculum is able to cultivate students’ learning to learn capabilities so that they can fit in well in a rapidly changing society.


1.7 The Seven Learning Goals

Taking into consideration the changes in the society as well as the experience gained in the curriculum reform at the school and KLA levels in the past ten years, the learning goals of primary schools should focus on further promoting the whole-person development of students, which includes enhancing students’ proficiency in English and Chinese (including Putonghua), strengthening their self- directed learning skills, developing their potential, as well as helping them to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The following are the revised learning goals which students are expected to achieve upon completion of primary education:

1. Know how to distinguish right from wrong, fulfil their duties as members in the family, society and the nation, and show acceptance and tolerance towards pluralistic values;

2. Understand their national identity and be concerned about society, the nation and the world, and to fulfil their role as a responsible citizen;

3. Develop an interest in reading extensively and cultivate a habit of reading;

4. Actively communicate with others in English and Chinese (including Putonghua);

5. Develop independent learning skills, especially self-management skills and collaboration skills;

6. Master the basics of the eight Key Learning Areas to prepare for studying in secondary schools;


7. Lead a healthy lifestyle and develop an interest in aesthetic and physical activities and an ability to appreciate these activities.

Figure 1.1 The Seven Learning Goals


1.8 Guiding Principles

The adaptation of the central curriculum and the school-based curriculum should be based on the following eight guiding principles:

Guiding principles Reflection on my school’s implementation condition

1. The overarching principle of curriculum development is to support students to learn how to learn.

2. All students have the ability to learn and should be provided with the essential learning experiences in order to achieve whole-person development.

Example: I agree that “Everyone has a talent.” I put emphasis on students’ intellectual development and moral and civic education, but place little emphasis on sports and arts, aesthetic and physical development.

3. A learner-focused approach should be used in curriculum development in order to make decisions on students’ growth and learning in their best interests. Diversified learning, teaching and assessment strategies should be used to suit the different personalities, needs and interests of students.

4. Development strategies should be built on the strengths of students, teachers, schools and the wider community of Hong Kong.

5. A school-based curriculum should take into

consideration the balance of different views and concerns, and be accompanied by appropriate learning, teaching and assessment strategies.

6. Schools can design their school-based curriculum flexibly to cater for the needs of their students, as long as it satisfies the requirements of the central curriculum.

7. Curriculum development is a process of continuous improvement to help students to learn better.

8. Positive thinking, perseverance, celebration of small successes and embracing differences are essential factors to ensure the sustainable development and improvement of the curriculum.


1.9 The School Curriculum

1.9.1 Five Essential Learning Experiences

The term “Curriculum” is defined as the total learning experiences students gain from school. All students should be entitled to the following five essential learning experiences for whole-person development:

Moral and Civic Education Intellectual Development Community Service

Physical and Aesthetic Development Career-related Experiences2 1

1.9.2 Curriculum Framework

The Curriculum Framework comprises three interconnected components:

(1) Key Learning Areas, (2) Generic Skills (3) Values and Attitudes. This open curriculum framework allows schools to organise and offer learning experiences at different paces, adjust the breadth and depth of learning content, and adopt flexibly a range of learning strategies and modes to maximise learning and teaching effectiveness.

Figure 1.2 The Three Main Components of the Curriculum Framework


1. The Eight Key Learning Areas (KLAs):

Chinese Language Education English Language Education Mathematics Education

Personal, Social and Humanities Education Science Education

Technology Education Arts Education

Physical Education

2. The Nine Generic Skills

Generic skills are fundamental to learning. They are developed through learning and teaching in the context of different KLAs or subjects and are transferable from one learning situation to another.

The nine generic skills are:

Collaboration Skills Communication Skills Creativity

Critical Thinking Skills

Information Technology Skills Numeracy Skills

Problem-solving Skills Self-management Skills Study Skills

General Studies for Primary Schools


3. Values and Attitudes

Values are explicit or implicit belief systems developed by students that guide their conduct and decision making, while attitudes are personal dispositions required for doing particular tasks well. Please refer to Appendix I for “A Proposed Set of Values and Attitudes for Incorporation into the School Curriculum”.

Figure 1.3 Overview of the Hong Kong School Curriculum

In making use of the above-mentioned Curriculum Framework to plan and organise the school curriculum, schools should ensure that Chinese history and culture is included as an essential element of learning and Chinese is used as the medium of instruction in the learning and teaching of Chinese history and culture.


1.10 Recommendations for the Development of School Curriculum

Over the past decade, schools have set their own focuses and pace in accordance with their own contexts in the development of the curriculum and their progress of development varies. Before mapping out the next phase of curriculum development, schools should review comprehensively the effectiveness of curriculum implementation so as to set the direction for school-based development and formulate related strategies. Efforts should be sustained for areas that have achieved results and focus should be placed on improving those areas which have not shown ideal progress. When setting the future direction of development, schools may refer to the following recommendations:

1. Create room for students to achieve a balanced physical and mental development

Primary school is an important period for the development of children’s potential. While improving students’ intellectual performance, due attention should also be given to their development in the domains of ethics, physique, social skills and aesthetics, for a balanced physical and mental development.

Strengthen values education through the school curriculum to help students to improve their power of judgement, so that when they encounter value conflicts on an individual or society level, they will be able to uphold positive values and attitudes and make appropriate judgements and distinguish right from wrong.

Considering the changes in contemporary lifestyle, physical fitness is important for the healthy growth of students. Therefore, starting from primary school, students need to have space to develop a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

2. Develop students’ capabilities to learn independently

Independent learning capabilities include the nine generic skills and other skills such as the ability to reflect on one’s learning. Since the launch of the curriculum reform, schools have given priority to the development of three generic skills, namely, communication skills, creativity and critical thinking skills, and the impact is becoming apparent.

In order to prepare students for studying in secondary school, primary schools should focus on developing students’ self-management skills and collaboration skills while continuing to promote the development of their communication skills, creativity and critical thinking skills.


Self-management skills and collaboration skills

Self-management skills and collaboration skills are important elements of self-directed learning.

Strengthening students’ self-discipline and self-management skills can enhance their self-esteem, confidence and independent thinking skills and hence, enabling them to accept challenges and pursue excellence, bringing positive impact on their developmental growth and learning. Schools should therefore, make deliberate efforts to cultivate in students self-discipline and self-management habits, e.g. planning their own learning activities and setting priorities, managing their time, concentrating on completing important tasks, and adjusting their schedule or time allocation according to actual situations. Students should also learn to conduct self-review and reflection, and be responsible for their own learning, words and deeds.

Some scholars point out that collaboration with others is the key to enhance creativity, leadership and entrepreneurship2 2. The school curriculum should therefore, provide more opportunities for students to interact and collaborate with their peers so that they can learn how to participate in activities, communicate, share and contribute. In the learning process, students may be prompted to adopt an open attitude and accept diverse views, learn to respect, appreciate, support and care for others.

3. Further strengthen whole-school curriculum planning to cater for students’ various learning needs

While schools are able to make holistic considerations and are performing well in areas such as setting curriculum objectives, designing the school-based curriculum, developing implementation strategies and carrying out curriculum evaluation, they can enhance whole- school curriculum planning in the following aspects to cater for learner diversity:

Ensuring that the curriculum content includes the balanced development of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes

Strengthening the curriculum monitoring and assessment strategies to provide feedback on curriculum planning and implementation. This also facilitates the smooth interface between different key stages of learning

Providing appropriate curriculum content and adopting suitable learning, teaching and assessment strategies to cater for students with different backgrounds, abilities and needs in the face of new learning needs brought about by the changes in society


4. Enhance assessment literacy to improve learning and teaching effectiveness

Assessment is an important part of learning and is indispensable in the improvement of learning and teaching. Schools have expended efforts in the development of different modes of assessment.

The following are areas in which schools can strengthen the development of assessment:

Schools should make effective use of “assessment of learning” and “assessment for learning”

to understand student learning. They should also obtain timely and appropriate feedback on learning and teaching through analysing assessment data.

Schools can further develop “assessment as learning” to help students develop a responsible attitude for their own learning, enable them to monitor their learning progress and reflect on their learning performance.

Schools should avoid using students’ scores as the sole indicator of students’ and teachers’

efforts as this encourages putting undue emphasis on scores.

5. Further enhance the professional development of teachers to develop curriculum leadership among middle managers and establish learning communities

Teachers have acquired professional knowledge and skills related to curriculum, learning and teaching. Schools can further enhance teachers’ professional knowledge and skills through the following:


With technology becoming closely linked with students’ life, making use of information technology for interactive learning (such as using electronic textbooks) in schools can enhance interaction, connectivity, flexibility, collaboration, and extensibility in learning. However, while information technology for interactive learning can help students learn, it cannot replace the roles of teachers and peers in student learning.

If schools have decided to implement information technology for interactive learning, planning for the following is necessary – the pedagogy to accompany the implementation of information technology for interactive learning, sustained professional development of teachers, development of e-learning resources, hardware and technical support etc.


Encouraging teachers to become reflective practitioners;

Strengthening teachers’ awareness for professional development;

Enhancing the collaborative culture among teachers;

Promoting the development of curriculum leadership among middle managers;

Establishing learning communities in schools; and

Arranging more extensive exchange programmes with other schools for sharing learning and teaching experience.

6. Strengthen the connection between the four key tasks to enhance the effectiveness of cross-subject learning and teaching

Over the past decade, schools have used the four key tasks as the entry point to promote student learning in the curriculum reform, the common practice being connecting individual key tasks with particular subjects or projects.

Schools can further enhance the connection between the four key tasks to enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching.

Please refer to Table 1.4 to map out the future direction of your school by planning tasks for

“Focusing on development”, “Deepening development” and “Sustaining development” addressing the six recommendations mentioned above.


Table 1.4 Table for Mapping out the Future Direction of Your School

Based on the above recommendations, I will map out the future direction of my school in the following ways:

(School-based projects can be added) Focusing on


Deepening development

Sustaining development

For Reflection and Action

To what extent do you agree with the direction for the development of the school curriculum presented above?

How will the above direction be progressively implemented in your school’s curriculum development?


1.11 Setting Goals and Direction for School Curriculum Development

1.11.1 Achieving the Seven Learning Goals

1. Select tasks listed in 1.10 and select items in accordance with your school context for

“focusing”, “deepening”, and “sustaining” development (Table 1.4). For example, continue using the four key tasks as the entry point or strategy to achieve the learning aims and learning targets of the eight Key Learning Areas.

2. Develop students’ generic skills and cultivate their values and attitudes

Integrate the prioritised generic skills into the learning and teaching of key learning areas/subjects to enhance students’ independent learning capabilities for acquiring and constructing knowledge. In addition, in order to meet the developmental needs of primary school students, schools may first focus on developing students’ self-management skills and collaboration skills.

Building on their strengths and experiences, schools can continue to make “perseverance”,

“respecting others”, “responsibility”, “national identity” and “commitment” as the priority values to be nurtured. In addition, they can also include the values of “integrity” and “love” to meet the developmental needs of students and social changes, and to further enrich the content of this domain. Through the implementation of moral and civic education (one of the four key tasks), cross-subject or project-based learning activities and appropriate learning and teaching strategies, students will be able to identify the values embedded in different life events and issues, uphold those values and make appropriate judgements. Please refer to Appendix I for suggestions on “A Proposed Set of Values and Attitudes for Incorporation into the School Curriculum”.

3. Help students to develop a healthy lifestyle to ensure a balanced development in growth and learning.

4. In accordance with the above three recommendations, schools can develop their overall curriculum plan (e.g. a three-year school plan) by making reference to this Guide, the Curriculum Guides for different KLAs as well as the General Studies for Primary Schools Curriculum Guide.


1.11.2 Further Focusing and Deepening Curriculum Development

1. Continue to review the effectiveness of the development of the school curriculum with the use of data and feedback obtained from different channels (e.g. reports of students’ performance and curriculum evaluation) and devise enhancement or improvement plans on specific areas.

2. Continue to adopt an open curriculum framework following the recommendations of the curriculum guides and develop a school-based curriculum that is in line with the schools’

mission and culture, and meets students’ developmental and learning needs.

3. Continue to enhance learning and teaching and further strengthen students’ independent learning capabilities to facilitate life-long learning.

1.12 Strategies to Support Curriculum Reform in Schools

The Education Bureau will continue to provide support to schools in the development of their school curriculum through measures listed below. It will also seek to join forces with the community to achieve the goals of “focusing, deepening and sustaining” development.

Providing curriculum frameworks and support to schools, including curriculum guides, teacher and principal training programmes, school-based support and other support measures

Providing professional feedback to schools through school inspections and visits to help schools to continue to improve curriculum planning, implementation and evaluation

Trying out different learning and teaching resources and strategies with schools through collaborative projects, reviewing their effectiveness and promoting successful examples and experience

Encouraging schools to organise and participate in professional exchange networks to share practical experience in implementing the curriculum reform, and promoting good curriculum measures or teaching strategies


For Reflection & Action

Criticism on a New Teacher

A new General Studies teacher was very enthusiastic about teaching. . As he taught General Studies to all classes in Primary 3, he was responsible for preparing and setting examination papers. In class, students were engaged in learning and they read a lot of books related to the subject. However, the teacher was criticised for the students’ performance in the examination.

Students’ scores and passing rates in General Studies in the recent examination were lower than those of the same subject in past examinations and other subjects in this examination. The teacher was considered incompetent by the School Head and other teachers. The teacher faced a lot of pressure and was puzzled about what had gone wrong.

Which of the following reasons do you think is the main cause of the above problem?

1. Although the teacher was enthusiastic about teaching, he was not a capable teacher.

2. Other teachers had a misconception about the relationship between test scores and learning.

Their assessment literacy needs to be enhanced.

3. The teacher was incompetent in setting questions and marking papers. He needs improvement in this area.

4. The students were not truly interested in General Studies and did not prepare well for the examination.

Choose one option only. Your answer is ...

Hint: What assumptions were made in comparing the scores for General Studies and the scores for other subjects in the recent examination and in comparing the scores for General Studies in the recent examination and the scores for the subject in past examinations?

What are the implications of the scores?



1 According to a study conducted in the 2010/11 school year, 4.1% students (with a roughly equal distribution of boys and girls) have hypertension symptoms. The Department of Health also pointed out that from the 2001/02 to 2010/11 school years, the percentage of overweight students increased from 17.6% (male: 20.9%; female: 14.1%) to 21.4% (male: 26%; female: 16.4%). The prevalence of obesity among primary students greatly increases their risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic diseases. The situation cannot be ignored.

2 Students’ background is becoming diverse. In the past, students were mainly born and raised in Hong Kong. There are now gradually more non-Chinese speaking students (including South Asian children, children of returnees from overseas, etc.), cross-boundary students (students living in the Mainland), as well as students with one or both parents who are not Hong Kong residents (they may not live with their parents).

3 Statistics show that the number of cross-boundary students in primary schools has been on the rise over the past five years. In the 2012/13 school year, there were 6,749 cross-boundary primary school children, an increase of approximately 27.9% compared to 5,276 cross-boundary primary school children in the 2011/12 school year. Most cross-boundary students attend schools in the New Territories.

4 According to statistics, 35,700 babies were born in Hong Kong in 2011 to parents both of whom are not Hong Kong permanent residents. It is a 57-fold increase when compared to the 620 babies born in 2001.

5 Statistics show that from October 2010 to September 2011, among the newly-arrived children from the Mainland who enrolled in ordinary local primary schools for the first time, nearly half of them lived in the New Territories, over 30% of them lived in Kowloon, and around 10% lived on Hong Kong Island. The vast majority of the newly-arrived primary school students study in schools near their homes.

6 Saavedra, A. R. & Opfer, V. D. (2012). Teaching and Learning 21st Century Skills: Lessons from the Learning Sciences. Retrieved from

7 Cultural and creative industries generally refer to an industry group which taps on individual creativity, skills, talents and intellectual capital and applies them in the modern world where images, sounds, texts and symbols have a prominent role to play by combining them with art, culture, creativity, technology and business. The cultural and creative industry sector consists of


advertising, entertainment services, architecture, works of art, antiques and crafts, cultural education and libraries, archives and museums services, design, movies, videos and music, performing arts, publishing, software, computer games and interactive media, television and radio.

8 West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is a major government infrastructure project proposed in the 2007 Policy Address. It includes 15 performing venues, a square of at least three hectares, an

“M+” Museum which focuses on 20th to 21st century visual culture, as well as an exhibition centre which is established to promote cultural arts and creative industries. WKCD will bring many employment opportunities related to arts and culture, design and publishing, advertising and marketing, as well as creative industries. The Government estimates that about 9,980 jobs will be created after the facilities of the first phase of the project become operational, and more than 21,500 jobs will be created in the 30th year. The facilities of WKCD will be completed in phases by 2015.

9 PISA 2012 report pointed out that there was a significant reduction in the difference among schools when compared to the last report. The number had decreased from the original 4806 to 3924 (a difference of 882), implying that the acceptance level of schools had risen.

10 The remaining three regions were Ontario in Canada, Singapore and South Korea (McKinsey &

Company, 2010).

11 The four key tasks are Moral and Civic Education, Reading to Learn, Project Learning and Information Technology for Interactive Learning.

12 The three prioritised generic skills to be developed are communication skills, critical thinking skills and creativity.

13 The PISA 2009 report regarded the students who attained the two highest levels of achievement (i.e. the fifth and sixth levels) as the most outstanding students and could be construed as “top students”.

14 In the PISA 2009 reading literacy study, the percentages of “top students” in the four top-ranking regions were Shanghai 19.4%, Finland 14.5%, South Korea 12.9% and Hong Kong 12.4%. (Source: ~ hkpisa/events/2009/outputs2009_c.htm)

15 Morris, Paul. (1996). The Hong Kong school curriculum: development, issues and policies.

Catherine Chan and Wan Pui Kwok, trans. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

16 From the view of social and economic efficiency, schools should empower students to work and live in the society. Based on this, the curriculum should serve the needs of society.

17 A child-centred approach focuses on children’s individual needs and development.

Based on this, the primary concern of the curriculum is to attend to children’s personal needs.


18 Academic rationalism emphasises the importance of inspiring students with academic knowledge, or enhancing students’ thinking and problem-solving skills through academic subjects. Based on this, the curriculum should focus on developing students’ intellectual and rational abilities as well as facilitating knowledge transfer between generations.

19 Social re-constructionism expects schools to improve future society, and students are responsible for re-creating and renewing the society. Based on this, the curriculum should focus on the acquisition of knowledge in certain aspects, skills and attitudes that can facilitate the construction of a new world where everybody cares about one another, the environment and distribution of wealth.

20 Barber, M., Donnelly, K. & Rizvi, S. (2012). Oceans of Innovation: The Atlantic, the Pacific, Global Leadership and the Future of Education. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

Retrieved from


21 Please refer to Chapter 6 of this Guide for more information on career-related experiences.

22 Barber, M., Donnelly, K. & Rizvi, S. (2012). Oceans of Innovation: The Atlantic, the Pacific, Global Leadership and the Future of Education. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

Retrieved from




A Proposed Set of Values and Attitudes for Incorporation into the School Curriculum

Core Values:

Personal Sustaining Values:


Core Values:

Social Sustaining Values:



sanctity of life




human dignity











principled morality















common good






betterment of human kind

national identity


due process of law


freedom and liberty

common will



equal opportunities

culture and civilisation heritage

human rights and responsibilities


sense of belonging








caring and concerned





adaptable to changes


with a respect for self

others life quality and

excellence evidence fair play rule of law different ways of

life, beliefs and opinions the environment

with a desire to learn


committed to core and sustaining values

Core values refer to those universal values which are emphasised across societies. They represent the common concerns of human societies, the basic qualities for human existence, the common elements in human civilisation and the common characteristics of human nature.

Sustaining values refer to other values which are also important at an instrumental level, and are regarded as important or helpful for sustaining the core values.


Reference Notes

PISA 2009 report pointed out that Hong Kong students rely too much on memorisation and neglect other learning strategies such as regulatory and metacognitive strategies. This finding is worth reflecting by School Heads and teachers.

Reference Notes

PISA 2009 report pointed out that there was still a wide gap in students’ performance in Hong Kong schools, indicating that teachers need to provide more support and resources to cater for learner diversity. The PISA study on reading literacy in 2009 also found that the percentage of Hong Kong’s “top students”13 was lower than that of Shanghai, Finland and South Korea14 which, together with Hong Kong, were the four top-ranking regions. Although PISA 2012 report showed that the number of “top students” in Maths in Hong Kong had increased [students with Maths skills at Level 5 or above had increased from 30.7% (2003) to 33.7% (2012)] and other international surveys and studies such as PIRLS 2011 and TIMSS 2011 also had the same findings, there is still room for further improvement. The findings reflected that besides catering for the needs of the less able students, schools must strive to stretch the more able students in order to maintain the competitive edge of Hong Kong students.

Reference Notes

Over the past decade, teachers have made impressive efforts and contributions in enhancing the effectiveness of learning and teaching. Apart from achieving a paradigm shift in teaching, they have also catered for students' developmental and learning needs through implementing the curriculum. The experience gained from their reflective practice can enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching as well as strengthen their professional knowledge and skills.


Reference Notes

The five domains to be accorded equal importance

Schools should help students to attain all-round and balanced development in the five domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetic aspects.

When developing students in the five domains, schools should vary their teaching according to students’ different potentials. They should avoid placing undue emphasis on particular aspects of their potentials while neglecting others.

Schools should have realistic expectations on their students and provide a caring and supportive environment so that students can enjoy learning and growing up.




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