Other Learning Experiences is one of the three major components of the Senior Secondary curriculum that complements the core and elective subjects (including Applied Learning courses and other languages) for the whole-person development of students. These experiences include Moral and Civic education, Community Service, Career-related Experiences, Aesthetic Development and Physical Development.
It is a way of organising the school curriculum around fundamental concepts of major knowledge domains. It aims at providing a broad, balanced and coherent curriculum for all students through engaging them in a variety of essential learning experiences. The Hong Kong curriculum has eight KLAs, namely, Chinese Language Education, English Language Education, Mathematics Education, Personal, Social and Humanities Education, Science Education, Technology Education, Arts Education and Physical Education.
ApL is an integral part of the three-year senior secondary curriculum. It takes broad professional and vocational fields as the learning platform to develop students’ foundation skills, thinking skills, people skills, positive values and attitudes and career-related competencies, in order to prepare them for further study/ work as well as life-long learning. ApL courses complement the senior secondary subjects, adding variety to the senior secondary curriculum.
A total of 20 senior secondary subjects, a wide range of Applied Learning courses and 6 other languages in the new system from which students may choose to develop their interests and abilities, and they open up a number of pathways into further studies and careers.
HKDSE is the qualification to be awarded to students after completing the three-year senior secondary curriculum (to be implemented in 2009) and subsequently taking the public assessment.
Its purpose is to provide supplementary information on the secondary school leavers’ participation and specialties during senior secondary years, in addition to their academic performance as reported in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, including the assessment results for Applied Learning courses, thus giving a fuller picture of students’ whole-person development.
Individuals who are different from each other in terms of maturity, motivation, ability, learning styles, aspirations, interests, aptitudes and socio-economic background.
This refers to the assessment activities that are conducted regularly in school to assess students’ performance in learning. Internal assessment is an inseparable part of the learning and teaching process, and it aims to make learning more effective. With the information that internal assessment provides, teachers will be able to understand students’ progress in learning, provide them with appropriate feedback and make any adjustments to the learning objectives and teaching strategies deemed necessary.
Candidates’ performance in public assessment is reported in terms of levels of performance matched against a set of standards.
Assessments administered in schools as part of the learning and teaching process, with students being assessed by their subject teachers. Marks awarded will count towards students’ public assessment results in local examinations conducted by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.
Students with SEN include those with intellectual disability, visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, speech and language impairment and Specific Learning Difficulties.
Gifted students excel, or possess the potential to excel, in one or more areas such as general intelligence, specific academic studies, visual and performing arts, leadership (and inter- and intra-personal skills) and creative thinking, as well as psychomotor movement such as physical ability in sports. Their giftedness is usually characterised by an advanced pace of learning, quality of thinking, or capability for remarkably and consistently high standards of performance as compared to their age peers.
Booklet 7 Catering for Learner Diversity - Excellence for All in Senior Secondary Education
This is one of a series of 12 booklets in the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide.  Its contents are as follows:
7.1 Purpose of the Booklet
7.2 Key Challenges in Senior Secondary Schooling and Opportunities for All to Succeed
7.3 Catering for Learner Diversity
  7.3.1 Curriculum planning level
  7.3.2 Classroom learning and teaching level
  7.3.3 Student support level
  7.3.4 Supporting conditions at systemic and school organisation level
7.4 Gifted Education in Senior Secondary Schooling
  7.4.1 Gifted education in senior secondary schooling in general
  7.4.2 Strategies for implementation
  7.4.3 Resources and support
  7.4.4 Group and team work
  7.4.5 Assignments
7.5 Education of Students with Special Educational Needs
  7.5.1 Whole-school approach
  7.5.2 Strategies for implementation
  7.5.3 Resources and support
  7.5.4 Some special concerns
7.1 Purpose of the Booklet
To discuss learner diversity in senior secondary (SS) schooling
To provide guidance on catering for learner diversity in general
To provide guidance on catering for the needs of the gifted
To provide guidance on the education of students with special educational needs (SEN) in SS schooling
7.2 Key Challenges in Senior Secondary Schooling and Opportunities for All to Succeed
Under the New Academic Structure, all students have the opportunity to complete three years of SS schooling. Greater learner diversity in SS is therefore anticipated. There will be learner diversity in terms of interests, motivations, aspirations, abilities, learning styles and achievements across the various aspects of intelligence. This will pose greater challenges to schools and teachers at this level in their provision of a broad and balanced curriculum.
In this connection, the SS curriculum and assessment framework (see Booklet 1) is designed to provide opportunities for every student, including the gifted and those with SEN, to excel in SS studies, through incorporation of the following characteristics:
Emphases on learning goals, including those related to Other Learning Experiences (OLE)
Emphases on the processes as well as the outcomes of learning
A variety of elective subjects, plus elective modules in the subjects, and Applied Learning (ApL)1 courses as alternative choices to meet the abilities, interests and aptitudes of particular students
Allocation of 15-35% of curriculum time to OLE for whole-person development
Introduction of School-based Assessment to allow a comprehensive review of student abilities
Introduction of Standards-referenced Reporting to capture and recognise a fuller range of students’ achievement
Introduction of the Student Learning Profile (SLP) to provide a comprehensive picture of the full range of achievements and abilities of students
1ApL was formerly named “Career-oriented Studies”.  Readers may refer to the report “Action for the Future – Career-oriented Studies and the New Senior Secondary Academic Structure for Special Schools” (EMB, 2006) for details.
7.3 Catering for Learner Diversity
Every class is composed of individuals who are different from each other in terms of maturity, motivations, abilities, learning styles, aspirations, interests, aptitudes and socio-economic backgrounds. Catering for learner diversity is a significant and challenging consideration in determining learning and teaching objectives, contents, levels and methods.; Schools and teachers should be aware of the characteristics of the SS curriculum and assessment framework and make full use of them to address student needs. In general, learner diversity can be catered for at the curriculum planning level, classroom learning and teaching level and student support level. These are to be facilitated by supporting conditions at the systemic level (e.g. funding flexibilities) and school organisation level (e.g. human resources deployment, communication with parents). Figure 7.1 illustrates the interrelationship at different levels.
Figure 7.1  Catering for Learner Diversity

(click to enlarge view)
7.3.1 Curriculum planning level
The curriculum can be appropriately adapted to suit the different needs and abilities of students.  For example, foundation and non-foundation topics in mathematics can help to cater for students with a wide range of abilities.  Those who are more interested in mathematics can study one of the two modules in the Extended Part in addition to the Compulsory Part of the curriculum.
It is worth noting that under the new SS curriculum structure, the provision of a wide choice of elective subjects, ApL courses and other languages, as detailed in Booklet 1 (see Section 1.5), aims to cater for individuals with a wide range of interests, aptitudes, aspirations, learning styles and abilities. Schools are encouraged to plan their curricula with reference to the diverse needs and interests of their students.
A range of strategies can be adopted to maximise the development of the more able students and to help the less able ones to learn more effectively. For example, teachers may design enhancement and enrichment activities for the more able students and adopt different roupings to help the less able students.
In complementing the learning experiences from subjects (or ApL courses), schools are encouraged to offer a wide range of OLE to cater for different needs, interests and aspirations among their students.  For example, instead of organising a large-scale community service activity for all S4 students, a school can design variety of community service activities, including taster programmes, for students according to their different interests, prior experiences, orientations and capabilities.
7.3.2 Classroom learning and teaching level
Teachers should plan their lessons flexibly to suit the needs of their students in class teaching. The following strategies might be considered:
Gathering background information on students, including their interests, strengths and weaknesses
Varying the level of difficulty and the content covered
Varying questioning techniques and the amount and level of support provided, for example, providing additional support such as using mind-maps and diagrams to aid comprehension for less able students, asking open-ended questions with fewer hints for more able students, using concrete examples to illustrate concepts for less able students and symbolic language for the more able ones
Varying the teaching approach, such as using less challenging modes and content in assessment to provide the less able students with an opportunity to succeed
Promoting independent learning and group learning to release teachers from the need to work with all students at the same time
Being responsive to student performances and needs that may not be expected in the classroom and giving constructive feedback that helps learning
Formulating a teaching plan for the whole class using core and extension resources for different student groups.
7.3.3 Student support level
The level of support provided may be adjusted to cater for students of different abilities.  For example, enrichment/ remedial classes, pull-out programmes/ activities and peer groupings might be employed.  Educational software packages may also be used to provide different levels of challenge to students.  Schools may consider extending school hours to provide other extension or enrichment programmes.
7.3.4 Supporting conditions at systemic and school organisation level
The human resources and funding provision of schools, physical space, school-based resources and external support are all supporting conditions to enable schools to provide effective learning and teaching for students.  School leaders, middle managers and teachers could collaborate in identifying resources, prioritising their use and targeting at supporting students with different needs (e.g. enlisting the aid of teaching assistants/ other helpers, varying the size and types of student grouping, procuring external support services).  Apart from the above, schools may find the following measures useful in creating supportive conditions at organisational level to cater for learner diversity:
Building positive school ethos in order to value diversity and individual differences as well as uniformity
Devising a whole-school policy to recognise all-round achievement of students and indicating that every student can achieve
Widening subject choices (including ApL courses)
Sharing effective pedagogy and assessment strategies
Formulating a flexible time-table
Strengthening communication with parents (e.g. discussing student progress)
Fostering community partnerships to motivate student to participate in a wide range of learning activities.
  Reflective Question
  What measures have been adopted in your school to cater for learner diversity at student, class/ group and curriculum levels?  
7.4 Gifted Education in Senior Secondary Schooling
Who are the gifted?
Gifted students excel, or possess the potential to excel, in one or more areas such as general intelligence, specific academic studies, visual and performing arts, leadership (with inter- and intra-personal skills), creative thinking, as well as psychomotor movement such as physical ability in sports.  Their giftedness is usually characterised by an advanced pace of learning, a high quality of thinking or capability for remarkably and consistently high standards of performance as compared to their age peers.
Although many gifted students are capable of demonstrating outstanding achievement, the learning environment, be it within the classroom or outside, is pivotal in order to enable them to demonstrate and develop their capabilities.  Some gifted students are also at risk of underachieving, or even disengaged from learning if they are not identified and catered for appropriately, or even worse, are labelled negatively because of the poor behaviour some might demonstrate, or the lack of understanding of their needs by their teachers and parents.
Reference should be made to Booklet 4 of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide with regard to catering for the gifted, including the three-tier approach that has been adopted as a strategy for gifted education in Hong Kong since 2000.
Identification of the gifted
All schools need to develop a mechanism for identifying gifted students that suit their own school context and school-wide approach. Although many tools are available to assist their identification, a combination of techniques is essential. Various ways and modes should be adopted to gain information instead of relying upon a single IQ test or only academic results.; Teachers’ informed observations and professional judgements, plus information from other sources such as parents, peers, school social workers, counsellors and community workers are essential to providing a holistic picture. A range of information about the student’s behaviour, achievement and disposition in intellectual, social and creative endeavours is usually required to gain a reliable, full picture of a child’s giftedness.
For more information on identification methods and approaches, please refer to the following websites:
EDB: ( http://www.edb.gov.hk/cd/ge )
The Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education: ( http://www.hkage.org.hk/ )
In summary, the identification process should:
be school-wide;
be systematic;
be dynamic and on-going;
include more than one nomination source and multiple indicators;
be justifiable;
facilitate early identification;
ensure that equal opportunity should be provided for students regardless of their sex, race and religion;
ensure that students from disadvantaged and ethnic minorities are not overlooked;
ensure that different areas of giftedness are taken into account; and
ensure links with support measures conducive to nurturing the giftedness of students.
7.4.1 Gifted education in senior secondary schooling in general
Gifted students have been given various opportunities to challenge themselves and the implementation of the SS curriculum is built upon those opportunities that have proved successful.  Collaboration between schools and external providers is central to providing learning experiences for gifted students.
Figure 7.2  Three-tier Approach
Besides the Level 1 (whole-class, school-based) teaching strategies such as differentiation that addresses directly the needs of gifted students, schools might also make good use of acceleration/ enrichment programmes, which are offered as:
Level 2: pull-out, school-based programmes; and
Level 3: off-site through the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE), sometimes in collaboration with tertiary institutions and non-government organisations.
Greater breadth and depth in their studies will help gifted students to stretch themselves to the full.  Their achievements can be fully reflected in the SLP.
Through the notional allocation of 15-35% of curriculum time to OLE, the SS curriculum allows more time for students to meet non-academic goals, to undertake independent research studies and to widen their interests and stretch their potential.
More emphasis on inter-disciplinary practices, advanced project learning and developing self-directed learning skills in the areas of planning, problem identification, organisation, resource utilisation, time management, co-operation with others, decision-making and self-evaluation should help students to think critically and creatively.
Schools can make use of the Diversity Learning Grant to enhance educational provisions that cater for the needs of gifted students, e.g. to subsidise these students to attend fee-charging credit bearing courses offered by tertiary institutions.
7.4.2 Strategies for implementation
Teachers should use appropriate learning and teaching strategies to encourage high achievement, originality, problem-solving, higher-order thinking and creativity.  Gifted students should be challenged to continue their development through curricular activities that require depth of study, complexity of thinking, a fast pace of learning, high-level skills development and/ or creative and critical thinking through independent investigations, tiered assignments, diverse real-world applications, mentorship, etc.
In fact, these pedagogies apply to all students, not just the gifted, and so raise the general learning and teaching quality territory-wide - ‘a rising tide lifts all ships’.
The major strategies for effective learning and teaching of the gifted are as follows:
Formulating a school-based gifted education policy
There is a need to develop and implement a school-based gifted education policy that allows schools to take stock of the available resources and to plan for long term, coherent and holistic provision for the gifted.
It is also essential that each school should nominate a member of staff to be the ’driver’ of the policy in the school, to ensure that all queries are answered, and to support all staff through in-house training.
Devising an appropriate curriculum
A whole-school approach to managing and organising learning and teaching of the gifted with clear policies and guidelines developed for identifying and addressing the following issues is needed:
  Early entry to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (e.g. completing S4-6 in 2 years) if schools can prove that the students have completed the entire curriculum
  Grade skipping or single subject skipping at any year of schooling, if deemed appropriate
  More freedom of choice for students
Developing differentiated activities for students with different needs:
  Students with high potential can be exposed to more demanding tasks
  Modifying the regular curriculum with respect to pace, depth and breadth and in line with the different learning styles of gifted students.  This means having flexibly-paced developmental learning and teaching programmes, composed of a range of enrichment activities, with more challenging learning objectives, contents, contexts and learning strategies.  They can be whole-class activities, pull-out programmes that are implemented within schools but after regular school hours, on weekends, during holidays (e.g. summer school), or perhaps courses offered at other institutes, such as ApL or credit-bearing courses at universities, or individualised educational programmes (IEPs)
  Developing a ‘compacted curriculum’ by streamlining the regular curriculum to ensure that the contents are not repeated, reducing drilling and allowing more time for enrichment, accelerated content, extended work and independent study (e.g. by an extended study on a specific theme), or OLE
Tomlinson (1999) encourages designing activities that will enable students to move towards greater independence and juggle multiple variables.  She developed a continuum-style approach and identified nine instructional elements that can be modified to challenge students at different levels of readiness.  These nine continua of instructional elements, ranging from foundational to transformational, from concrete to abstract, from simple to complex, from fewer to more facets, from smaller to greater leaps, from more structured to more open, from clearly defined to fussy, from less independent to more independent and from slower to quicker, are presented through a graphic model called “the equalizer” similar to the sliding buttons seen on audio components.  The equalizer can serve as a visual tool for understanding the concept of differentiation and for learning how to create a differentiated activity.  The equalizer can be used to evaluate students’ assignments as well as the students themselves.  It gives us a great starting point for differentiated lesson design.  The levels on the continuum suggest a journey from basic understanding of a topic to more sophisticated reasoning.  The following examples help to illustrate some of the continua of instructional elements.
Examples of gradation using the equalizer:
Scientific investigation: Integrated Science
All students investigate the properties of detergent as a wetting agent and an emulsifying agent.  Highly able students are required to compare several detergents and decide which detergent is the best (in the process, they would need to set their own judging criteria).
Implications and insights: Language Arts (S4 or above)
Differentiated writing activity: After reading The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn, all students are asked to write either a book review or an article about religious intolerance, in which they will provide their personal views. Students are required to identify and comment on the writer’s purposes and viewpoints as well as the overall effect of the text on the reader. They are also required to interpret the way the writer uses mood, manner, morality and motivation to present the characters and events.
More able students are required to relate the text to its social, cultural and historical contexts and literary traditions, and consider its relevance to their own context. For instance, they can consider how The Merrybegot presents life in seventeenth-century New England and how people were affected by the beliefs of the time and what these mean to the people in the modern world.
Smaller Leaps
Greater Leaps
Compare-and-contrast and real-life problem solving: English Language
Compare-and-contrast activity: The students are shown a film clip that explores a dystopian society. All of them are asked to list the poor living conditions they have identified in the film. The teacher then asks the students to read a scenario of a perfect society. ;Students compare the living conditions of the utopia society and the dystopian society.  Under the teacher’s guidance, the whole class works out the definitions of utopia and dystopia. Average students will select either utopia or dystopia as a topic to work on. Then, they conduct an Internet search for real-life examples and write a journal entry to show their understanding of either one type of society.
High ability students compare the real life examples they have found against the definitions of utopia and dystopia. ;They analyse why it is important for human beings to desire a utopian society, and write a letter to the editor to evaluate the quality of life in a place based on the real-life examples they have gathered and make suggestions.
Clearly Defined
Scientific reporting and forecasting: Integrated Science
All students are required to write a summary report on the development of pesticides to protect crops and on the pros and cons of using pesticides. Highly able students are required to project the fate of pesticides in the year 2050. They need to justify their viewpoints with concrete data and scientific evidence.
Creating an appropriate learning environment
Providing an open, flexible, accepting, supportive and nurturing environment through:
using interactive teaching strategies (both teacher-student and student-student interaction);
allowing mistakes in attempting new tasks;
celebrating achievements and providing opportunities for students to present or display their work in the hall, galleries, at fun-days, parents' evenings, etc.;
providing a positive learning ethos of praise to raise students’ self esteem;
encouraging positive teacher-student relationships;
having a safe and receptive learning atmosphere that encourages active participation and reflection as well as risk-taking among students;
providing learning activities that allow in-depth exploration of topics of interest and foster enquiry and independent learning; and
helping students to have higher expectations of themselves.
Designing an appropriate learning and teaching process
Using diversified learning and teaching strategies:
providing greater depth and breadth (lifting the ceiling) to cater for high flyers;
infusing higher-order thinking skills and creative thinking skills through the use of more open-ended tasks and challenging activities;
establishing co-operative learning and flexible groupings;
helping students to set challenging yet realistic targets;
giving access to additional opportunities for cross-curricular projects;
nurturing problem-based learning by providing students with unstructured problems or situations from which they must discover the answers, solutions, concepts, or draw conclusions or generalisations;
offering open-ended assignments by providing students with tasks and work that do not have single right answers or outcomes;
presenting real-life/ real-world learning experiences through provision of tasks or projects that relate to current issues and problems in society or the student’s own world;
working with others with similar abilities (ability groupings) on more challenging tasks;
benefiting from multi-sensory teaching2 and co-teaching to stimulate learning motivation and encouraging interaction at different levels;
encouraging students to undertake independent studies/ projects for the pursuit of an intense personal interest and higher learning goals;
working on individualised educational plans or contracts based on an assessment of their strengths and learning needs;
offering one-to-one tutoring/ mentoring by placing a gifted student with a personal tutor/ expert who will offer curriculum or advice at an appropriate level; and
providing opportunities for mentoring others.
2Teaching that makes use of stimuli through many sensory channels (e.g. through hearing, seeing as well as touching).  The co-ordination of input from all the senses helps students to organise and retain their learning.
Varying assessment modes
Gifted and high ability students should be given the opportunity to take different learning paths, and be assessed by diversified modes and through content appropriate to their abilities:
Using a portfolio system/ SLP to collect evidence that indicates excellence in student performance.
Using assessment methods that might be different from others in order to challenge them (e.g. open presentation of project, interview, debate).
  Reflective Questions
  Should gifted students be given more attention, or should they be given less so that they can learn to learn independently?  
  What are the pros and cons of grouping gifted students together for a learning activity?  
  Who should be employed/ trained to support the gifted in your school?  
  How are teachers who have received training on gifted education enabled to contribute their knowledge within school?  
7.4.3 Resources and support
The Government and other tertiary institutions/ educational organisations have been jointly organising and will continue to offer a number of enrichment and acceleration programmes for gifted students. These include:
credit-bearing courses;
summer schools;
weekend courses;
study skill seminars;
taster courses at university;
Olympiad training;
leadership training;
open competitions;
web-based learning platforms; and
mentoring schemes.
Schools can acquire additional information about these programmes through the web pages of the tertiary institutions/ non-government organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong and the Gifted Education Section of EDB at http://gifted.hkedcity.net or http://www.edb.gov.hk/cd/ge.  The HKAGE ( http://www.hkage.org.hk ), established in 2007, will provide more structured educational services for exceptionally gifted students and will support teachers, parents and academics in these endeavours.
7.4.4 Group and team work
Group or team work is essential to the development of the gifted.  The flexible use of student groups is crucial for differentiated instruction and the grouping of students should be done according to the nature and objectives of different learning activities.  Schools may refer to the types of grouping including flexible groups, ability/ aptitude groups and co-operative groups as suggested by Heacox (2002) and consider the following strategies, making full use of available resources both within school and in the community:
A talent development or gifted education co-ordinator might be assigned from amongst the staff, or a task force could be formed to oversee and plan school-based gifted development programmes.
Teachers of different Key Learning Areas (KLAs) might work together to pool wisdom and resources to develop more enrichment and extension activities.
Schools might encourage supporting staff such as the school social worker, guidance teachers, career teachers, educational psychologists, laboratory technicians, etc. to contribute to addressing the specific learning and emotional/ social needs of gifted students.
Encourage people affiliated with the school (such as members of the sponsoring body, parents, alumni) and draw upon community resources (the business sector, academics, professional and educational organisations, NGOs, etc.) to contribute as mentors, guest speakers, facilitators in exploratory activities and job-shadowing, etc..
7.4.5 Assignments
Assignments are important tools to challenge the gifted.  Tiered assignments can be used to cater for students of different abilities.  Students can engage in those assignments that are at the level most appropriate to them.  Assignments can be tiered by:
level of task (analysis, synthesis and evaluation are higher level tasks);
complexity of content (abstraction, depth and complexity of content are more challenging);
resources to be used (based on students’ prior knowledge, abilities, reading level);
outcome expected (the same content/ context, resources and pedagogy can have different learning outcomes);
process (might involve a more advanced research process); and
product (might involve more than one form of result).
  Reflective Questions
  Should there be a higher-level achievement objective or skill objective added?  
  Are the extended/ enrichment programmes suitable for gifted students and are multiple intelligences catered for?  
  Does the programme allow for deep thinking, e.g. exploration of concepts, themes, issues, cross-curricular ideas?  
  Are there negotiable/ choice elements, or is everyone in the class expected to do the same?  
  Does the programme allow for creativity?  
  Does the programme allow individuals to move at their own pace?  
  Does the programme allow for an appropriate level of independent learning?  
  Is self-assessment (formative and summative) incorporated?  
  Will the programme be motivating to the gifted?  

7.5 Education of Students with Special Educational Needs

Students with SEN should have the same range of learning experiences as others at school.  They should be provided with the same broad range of subject choices and opportunities to participate in OLE so that they can stretch their potential.  Opportunities provided should allow students with SEN to achieve as much independence as possible so that they can lead fulfilling lives and contribute to the community.
7.5.1 Whole-school approach
A whole-school approach is essential in catering for student diversity particularly in schools with students with SEN.  Schools should build an accommodating culture, establish a whole-school policy and enhance team spirit among teachers.  Schools should also encourage different school personnel to share responsibilities in looking after students’ individual differences and special needs.  With the acceptance and support from schools, peers, and parents, students with SEN will have a stronger sense of belonging and a better environment for effective learning.
The following approaches could be considered:
Set up a student support team, which is chaired by the school head with relevant KLA/ panel heads as members, to formulate a policy for SEN.  Regular meetings should be held to agree on the school policy in terms of the level of accommodating SEN.  Principles and procedures for curriculum planning, internal assessment policy and support measures for learning and teaching should be discussed in the course of setting up the school policy.
Assign a senior teacher to co-ordinate curriculum adaptation and assessment accommodation as well as support for students with SEN.
Arrange school-based staff development programmes and invite professionals/ community resources to equip teachers with knowledge and skills in supporting the teaching of students with SEN.
Involve parents of students with SEN in the planning of their children’s learning and seek advice from parents of other students in the school (say through the Incorporated Management Committee/ School Management Committee); file records of decision and recommendations properly.
  Reflective Question
  Are there students with SEN in your school?  What strategies does your school employ to stretch the potential of students with SEN and engage them in learning?  
7.5.2 Strategies for implementation
Major strategies for effective learning and teaching of students with SEN are set out as follows:
Appropriate adaptation of curriculum
For students with SEN (such as those with mild intellectual disability (ID), visual impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI), physical disability (PD), Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), speech and language impairment (SLI) and Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)), who are capable of pursuing studies at the SS level in an integrated setting, an adaptation of the regular curriculum should be made to respond to the students’ needs such as pace and styles of learning.
Schools should adopt a whole-school approach to help all teachers at all levels to make appropriate curriculum adaptations so that students with SEN have full access to the broad range of learning opportunities.
Schools need to help students with SEN to develop individualised learning goals, learning outcomes and expected performance levels; identify core learning and key skills for enhanced learning; and provide support required to achieve their agreed learning goals.  IEPs should be drawn up, monitored and regularly reviewed by teachers, parents and the students themselves.
For easy reference, a separate set of Supplementary Guides to the Curriculum and Assessment Guides for the SS core subjects (i.e. Chinese Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies/ Independent Living) and relevant SS elective subjects (e.g. Physical Education and Visual Arts) to help special school teachers to differentiate and adapt the curriculum to cater for the needs of students with ID will be available by mid 2009.  Examples of curriculum adaptation to promote learning for students with SEN is available at http://www.edb.gov.hk/cd/sen.
Creating an appropriate learning environment
In an integrated setting, it is important to provide a safe, accepting, supportive and nurturing environment for students with SEN.  The following tasks are necessary:
Devising school plans and policies to support the learning of students with SEN; proposing specific policies and measures in respect of monitoring and evaluation when setting school objectives and development plans
Providing support services in an integrated manner, through mobilisation of the school management, teachers, students and parents
Promoting an inclusive school culture and an ethos of acceptance and care for students with SEN
Creating opportunities for able and disabled students to work together on learning activities and to share life experiences in order to promote the inclusive culture of students, teachers and parents, and to correct their misconceptions about disabilities through real encounters
Setting realistic expectations with regard to the academic, social and affective development of students with SEN.
Formulating strategies for learning and teaching
As with their peers, learning diversity exists among students with SEN in terms of interest, ability, style and experience. Teachers must understand their learning styles and adopt various teaching and remedial strategies to reinforce their participation in learning and enhance learning effectiveness.
Appropriate learning and teaching strategies might include:
providing helpful devices and appropriate learning tools such as hearing aids for HI; magnifiers and low-vision aids, etc. for VI; large grids for students with SpLD and PD; picture cue-cards for those with ID, autism and speech impairment;
grouping in co-operative learning and project work to facilitate interaction with peers;
arranging for peer support if group work is needed for completion of assignments, such as project learning;
designing different learning activities to tap and develop students’ multiple intelligence and allow various ways of expression;
adjusting the level of difficulty of learning activities and assignments to fit students’ learning stages, learning objectives, abilities, needs and life experiences;
giving simple, specific, concrete and comprehensive instructions and examples in learning activities and assignments;
co-teaching to provide additional support to groups and individual learners;
providing more time and opportunities for hands-on practice to consolidate learning;
adopting multi-sensory teaching, small-step teaching and providing concrete examples to help understanding;
using diverse modes of assignment and a variety of activities to stimulate learning and sustain interest;
depending on students’ abilities and special needs, alleviating students’ burden and anxiety of completing assignments by adjusting the amount required (such as allowing SpLD students to highlight, circle or underline instead of writing out the text) and the time for completion, arranging extra support as appropriate; and
advising on the format of written assignments for students with autism and SpLD.
Further information on learning/ teaching resources and support services is available at
Varying assessment accommodations
For students pursuing the ordinary curriculum, learning progress should be assessed in the same way as other students but with special arrangements, such as extension of examination time and special seating to accommodate their disabilities. Different ways of answering questions that tap thinking rather than writing skills and using practical work to replace written/ oral descriptions of steps and procedures could be considered.
For students with SpLD, sufficient time should be allowed for tests and examinations.  Most dyslexic students are able to finish their papers with an additional time allowance of up to 25%.
For students with SpLD who demonstrate extreme writing difficulties, the school may consider reading the questions to students, allowing them to use computers as a tool for writing (although, spell checks, thesaurus or similar electronic devices should not be permitted) and arranging for another person to write down their answers.
The performance of students with autism is often affected by their obstinate behaviour, such as refusal to answer questions when they do not know how to answer, or cannot finish their examination papers within the specified time because of repeated corrections for neat writing.  The teachers responsible for invigilation should be aware of their behaviours and offer guidance to them patiently when necessary.
Assessment instructions for students with autism must be simple, direct and clear with concrete examples.  If necessary, diagrams and signs which are familiar to students can be included in examination papers to help students to identify the various parts, understand the questions and the procedures of testing.
Various assessment modes should be employed to capture a comprehensive picture of performance and capability.
  Use school-based assessment and IEP to assess performance against learning objectives and specific learning/ behavioural goals (see Figure 7.3)
  Use SLP to reflect student performance and capability in different areas
Figure 7.3 Example of an Individualised Education Programme
A teacher of English Language understands that while there are students who can master the mechanics of reading, there are others who read very slowly, decoding word for word and frequently losing meaning in the process.  For these students, reading skills should be taught explicitly.  She does not presume that students know what skills to adopt when they are given a task.  She supports students by explaining and demonstrating what types of reading skills should apply in understanding a given passage and gives them exercises to practise each skill before assigning tasks.  For example, a student with a problem in scanning relevant information from a reading passage is given extra time.  The teacher goes through each sentence with the student or a group of students first and prompts student(s) to find the useful data.  She uses simple prompting questions, such as: “In the last paragraph, John said that his mother is troublesome.  Do you think that John is angry with his mother?”  Sometimes, pictures are used for illustration and a brief discussion with the students, using prompting questions, is done before genuinely going to the text.  To promote effective reading, graded worksheets with larger font size and sometimes diagrams are used.  On these worksheets, leading questions are also designed to help students to use their learned skills and comprehend the passage.  For those students who have difficulty in producing written work, such as the case of students with SpLD in decoding/ encoding words, she allows them to present their passages in alternative forms, such as using word processors and voice-to-text mechanisms.
Her curriculum plan consists of adapting the curriculum to cater for the diverse abilities of students with the learning contents and tasks abridged or simplified.  Some simple instructions are given alongside the assignments as she believes that clear instructions and sometimes visual demonstrations would mean much to students with SEN.
7.5.3 Resources and support
Besides the topics on different KLAs, courses on the following topics are for special school teachers teaching students with ID:
School leadership
Curriculum development and adaptation
Interfacing senior secondary and basic education
Developing learning outcomes
Assessment for learning
Teaching strategies and experience sharing
Collaboration with other disciplines in special schools
Web-based learning for teaching students with ID
7.5.4 Some special concerns
An inclusive culture is needed to support a whole-school approach to caterig for students' individual differences, including students with SEN.
Home-school co-operation is always a vital element for success in integrated education.  It is crucial that parents should be involved in students’ learning progress.
  Reflective Question
  What has your school done to develop an inclusive culture, and does it cater for individual differences/ SEN of students?  
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Centre for Advancement in Special Education
( http://www.hku.hk/case/)
EQUALS (Entitlement and Quality Education for Pupils with Learning Difficulties)
Qualification and Curriculum Authority-Special Educational Needs
Special Education Resource Centre (特殊教育資源中心)
Special Needs Opportunity Windows (SNOW)
Stage 6 Special Program of Study – Citizenship and Society Life Skills
Stage 6 Special Program of Study – Personal Development, Health and Physical Education Life Skills
Stage 6 Special Program of Study – Work and the Community Life Skills Courses
TeacherNet-Special educational needs and disability
The Centre for Special Needs and Studies in Inclusive Education(特殊學習需要與融合教育中心)
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