Enhancing the Capacity for School-based Curriculum and
Embracing Learner Differences
Mr Tony Tang
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education (Quality Assurance)
The School Development and Accountability (SDA) framework places school self-evaluation (SSE) centre stage as the key to improving the quality of school work, with external school review (ESR) as a complement to SSE to promote the cyclical process of Planning-Implementation-Evaluation to foster continuous improvement. Since the 2003/04 school year, we have been engaging our front-line partners as external reviewers or seconded school personnel in ESR and other types of school inspection work. This not only helps enhance the transparency of school inspection, but it also fosters a better mutual understanding and a stronger partnership between the Education Bureau (EDB) and our front-line educators.
Starting from the 2008/09 school year, the embedding of SSE in schools’ daily work has become a key goal for the implementation of the SDA framework. Another important goal is to implement a “school-specific and focused” ESR that places a sharp focus on schools’ unique context and their development priorities. Guided by these two goals, we hope that the implementation of SSE and ESR can serve as a powerful catalyst to integrate self-evaluation into campus and classroom life and into teachers’ thinking and daily practice.
The Quality Assurance Inspection Annual Report 2008/09 has been uploaded onto the EDBwebsite to inform the public and educational practitioners of the overall performance of the 78 primary schools reviewed in the school year. The review findings are organised around three main themes: self-evaluation for school development, school-based curriculum development, and catering for students’ different learning and growth needs. Through this thematic approach, the different but inter-related aspects of school work are analysed to give a holistic picture of how learning and teaching is improved and students’ whole-person development fostered in the schools reviewed and to highlight the crucial factors that help sustain school development.
In the 2008/09 school year, the performance of the schools reviewed is generally good. A majority of the schools have devised specific strategies for developing their school-based curriculum, improving pedagogy and enhancing student support services. To make the strategies viable, they have also provided appropriate support in administration, resource allocation and teachers’ professional development. Given the differences in school context and teachers’ experience and readiness, the strategies adopted by schools for developing and implementing their school-based curriculum vary. In some schools an incremental approach is used, while in some others a whole-school approach is adopted. Irrespective of the modes adopted, schools accord great importance to creating conditions conducive to school-based curriculum development. While the progress and achievements that schools have made vary in accordance with the stage of their school-based curriculum development, they have, in general, made marked progress in providing students with a variety of learning experiences and in enhancing their learning interest. At the same time, professional exchange among teachers and collaboration with school partners, such as the EDB and tertiary institutions, have been considerably strengthened.
Apart from improving students’ learning capacity through a school-based curriculum, most of the schools allocate a lot of resources to the organisation of remedial support and enhancement programmes and to the provision of life-wide learning opportunities and student support services to enhance students’ intrinsic motivation and confidence in learning and to nurture their multiple intelligences. Planning, in this regard, has become more systematic. To achieve greater effectiveness, nevertheless, there is a need for teachers to further explore learner diversity and to use different strategies, such as the provision of diversified learning opportunities, curriculum adaptation and use of appropriate pedagogy, including the use of classroom assessment and provision of specific feedback, to create a learning environment where students’ uniqueness is valued and their potential realised.
Schools’ sustainable development hinges on their commitment to review and reflect on their effectiveness, to strive for continuous improvement and to systematically review the progress of their priority tasks, thereby sustaining the momentum for continuous improvement and promoting innovation. With achieving quality education as our vision, we will continue to join forces with our front-line educators and commit ourselves to the nurturing of a self-reflective culture and the embedding of SSE in our schools.
10 October 2010