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.
Values constitute the foundation of the attitudes and beliefs that influence one’s behaviour and way of life. They help to form the principles underlying human conduct and critical judgement, and are qualities that learners should develop. Some examples of values are rights and responsibilities, commitment, honesty and national identity. Closely associated with values are attitudes. The latter supports motivation and cognitive functioning, and affects one’s way of reacting to events or situations. Since both values and attitudes significantly affect the way a student learns, they form an important part of the school 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.
Unlike direct instruction and construction approaches to learning and teaching, the co-construction approach emphasises the class as a community of learners who contribute collectively to the creation of knowledge and the building of criteria for judging such knowledge.
This refers to the process of learning in which learners not only acquire new knowledge, but also actively relate it to their prior knowledge and experience so as to create and form their own knowledge.
Booklet 8 Interface at S3/S4 and Articulation to Post-secondary Learning Pathways – Opportunities for All to Succeed
This is one of a series of 12 booklets in the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide.  Its contents are as follows:
8.1 Purpose of the Booklet
8.2 Multiple Progression Pathways
8.3 Considerations for Interfacing at S3 and S4
8.4 Strategies for Preparing Students for Senior Secondary
8.5 Considerations for Articulating to Post-secondary Education
8.6 Exiting before S6
8.1 Purpose of the Booklet
To discuss issues involved in the interfaces leading into and beyond the senior secondary (SS) level
To provide guidance on decision-making at each interface
To suggest a range of strategies to bring about effective transition into and beyond SS
8.2 Multiple Progression Pathways
At the SS level, schools should aim to provide a diversified curriculum to cater for the different needs, interests and abilities of their students.  Since not all students will be admitted to universities, one of the essential purposes of SS is to provide students with a range of different pathways (please refer to Figure 8.1) leading towards higher academic, vocational and professional qualifications.  For students’ reference, schools need to gather relevant information from tertiary institutions (including Associate Degree course providers), vocational training providers (such as the Vocational Training Council) and other professional bodies.
Figure 8.1: Multiple Pathways
8.3 Considerations for Interfacing at S3 and S4
To prepare students for studying at SS level, the following issues/ strategies should be noted to ensure a smooth interface with S1-3:
The curriculum reform measures introduced at the basic education level since 2000 have already paved the way for the reform of the SS curriculum.  This reform includes:
  promoting students’ Learning to Learn capabilities;
  introducing a broad and balanced curriculum in the eight Key Learning Areas (KLAs) and providing opportunities for cross-curricular learning; and
  emphasising positive values and attitudes such as national identity, commitment, responsibility, perseverance and respect for others in moral and civic education.
The ways in which the four key tasks1 are to be implemented in basic education should help to develop students’ capabilities to learn how to learn and to connect knowledge from different KLAs.
A balanced junior secondary curriculum is essential in preparing students to proceed to the SS level.  Schools need to ensure that students acquire adequate fundamental knowledge and skills at the junior secondary level in order to study related elective subjects at the SS level.
Some schools offer “Liberal Studies” in junior secondary level classes at the expense of subjects such as Geography and History. This is to help their students to prepare for Liberal Studies in SS classes. Schools should, however, be very cautious and ensure that the foundation knowledge to be acquired through various disciplines in junior secondary classes is sufficiently broad and adequate for studying SS subjects. To prepare students in their junior secondary classes for Liberal Studies at the SS level, schools could introduce project learning and discussions on contemporary issues to accustom students to the process of knowledge construction. Existing project learning opportunities at the junior secondary level could be strengthened by:
  creating more time and space for the nurturing of information literacy skills (e.g. critical thinking, communication);
  integrating existing project assignments in individual subjects into a well-structured, cross-disciplinary project involving several KLAs;
  developing innovative pedagogical approaches such as co-construction of knowledge and social enquiry by teachers and students;
  reinforcing collaboration between subject teachers and others (e.g. teacher-librarians) in school and outside school; and
  focusing on the four key tasks to build a sustainable culture of independent learning in schools.
All SS science electives are developed from the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes and learning experiences acquired by students in the Science curriculum at the junior secondary level. Schools should ensure that students have acquired the necessary foundation for their SS studies. It is not advisable for schools to introduce premature specialisation or early implementation of SS science (i.e. Physics, Chemistry and Biology) curricula at S3.
Schools should provide opportunities for students to take part in extra-curricular activities at S1-3 to nurture their interests and develop attitudes of active and sustainable participation so that they might acquire more in-depth experiences at SS.  For example, schools might organise activities such as visiting Homes for the Aged or participating in a Beach Clean-Up Campaign to arouse students’ interest in helping others in the community or their awareness of the need to care for the environment.
Schools should introduce a range of assessment practices (e.g. projects, assessment tasks and learning portfolios) and promote assessment for learning at the junior secondary level.  This would help to track students’ achievement and provide continuous/ timely feedback and supporting measures to ensure a smooth progression towards SS.
Some schools using Chinese as the medium of instruction may wish to change their medium of instruction to English at the SS level.  They should ensure that their students have acquired the necessary language proficiency for learning through English.
1The four key tasks are moral and civic education, reading to learn, project learning and using information technology for interactive learning.
  Reflective Question
  How is a solid foundation in both knowledge and skills guaranteed in your school before students progress to the SS?  
8.4 Strategies for Preparing Students for Senior Secondary
To cater for the diverse aptitudes, interests and aspirations of students, schools should offer a reasonable number of elective subjects (including Applied Learning (ApL)2 courses) from which students may choose.
To understand the abilities and interests of students, schools are advised to conduct a survey among S3 students at the end of term to find out which subjects they would like to choose at S4.
To ensure that students are able to access the subjects they wish to choose, schools need a flexible time-tabling arrangement (e.g. block time-tabling).  For more details, please see Booklet 2.  Examples of how time-tabling could help to maximise the subject choices for students are available in the “334” Web Bulletin ( http://www.edb.gov.hk/334 ).
Schools should provide guidance and advice to help students to understand their strengths and weaknesses and choose appropriate elective subjects that match their interests and aspirations.  The following may be considered:
  Providing comprehensive information about SS subjects on the school website and in school bulletins, leaflets/ booklets, etc.
  Organising briefings, discussion sessions, meetings and seminars to familiarise students and parents with the SS curriculum (including the nature, content and requirements of different core and elective subjects as well as ApL courses), various progression pathways and opportunities for post-secondary studies and/ or careers. It is advisable to involve students and parents in the same meetings so that they can discuss the information provided and achieve mutual understanding.
  Giving individual guidance, through the collaboration of class teachers, career and guidance teachers, school social workers and community organisations, to S3 students and their parents on the selection of subjects in S4.  Schools can also work with outside organisations, if appropriate, to analyse personality traits, interests, talents, aspirations, ambitions, etc. of individual students.
  Inviting senior form students, recent alumni or guest speakers to share their experiences and views relating to the study of the different SS subjects, and the range of post-secondary studies at different institutions.
  Arranging visits to tertiary institutions, ApL course providers and other academic, public or commercial organisations for students and parents.
2ApL was formerly named “Career-oriented Studies”.  Readers may refer to the report “Action for the Future – Applied Learning and the New Senior Secondary Academic Structure for Special Schools” (EMB, 2006) for details.
  Reflective Questions
  Which of the strategies stated above are relevant to your own situation?  
  In order to help your students to prepare for the SS curriculum, can you think of any other relevant strategies and tactics?  
8.5 Considerations for Articulating to Post-secondary Education
To facilitate a smooth transition from SS to post-secondary education as illustrated in Figure 8.2, the following strategies are suggested:
Providing a broad and balanced curriculum in SS, with sufficient choices to lay a good foundation for students to pursue their studies after SS education, taking into account students’ diverse abilities, interests and aspirations.  Schools might also collaborate, if necessary, to offer subject(s) that have a very small number of students.
Developing students’ generic skills, e.g. critical thinking, communication, creativity and problem-solving, and fostering their Learning to Learn capability.
Offering ample opportunities for Other Learning Experiences (OLE), e.g. community service, student exchange programmes to widen students’ horizons (see Booklet 5A for further information).
Devising ApL courses to enable students to explore and determine their career pathways in different fields such as design, creative industries, performing arts, catering industry and service industry.  Such diverse learning programmes and initial experiences in vocational environments provide useful contexts for students to acquire more generic learning and prepare them to proceed to post-secondary pathways.  Schools need to keep up-to-date with progress in quality assurance, accreditation and recognition of ApL courses.  More details can be found in http://www.edb.gov.hk/apl .
Keeping abreast of the latest information on the SS and conveying this information to students.  For example, through visits, open days, seminars and relevant websites, schools may keep up-to-date with post-secondary opportunities and the latest developments in university entrance requirements. 
  In 2006, Heads of Universities Committee announced the general entrance requirements and specific programme requirements under the New Academic Structure.  In addition to the four core subjects (Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies), most universities will include one elective subject in their entrance requirements and in some cases, a second elective subject from a wider range of subjects.  Universities have also supported the study of Combined Science alongside single-disciplined science subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Biology in their entrance requirements.  This allows more room for students to choose a second or third elective subject from other KLAs according to their interests and preferences.  With a variety of subjects, students are able to explore their interests, achieve whole-person development and equip themselves with adequate knowledge to cope with university programmes and the ever-changing challenges of the community.  To further manifest support for the breadth of the SS Curriculum, Heads of Universities Committee announced in October 2008 that their institutes shall continue to give broad support to the implementation of OLE and are ready to recognise Student Learning Profiles (SLPs) as documents of good reference value.
  The announcement of entrance requirements sets out only the minimum requirements for application for university admission.  Individual universities will have their own selection criteria.  For more details, please visit the “334” Web Bulletin ( http://www.edb.gov.hk/334 ).
Designing SLP which will provide more information about different aspects of student development to supplement examination results and will better inform students about universities’ admission processes.
Keeping students informed of the latest information on multiple pathways including:
  the criteria for admission to other post-secondary institutions, e.g. the basic admission requirements of associate degree or higher diploma courses;
  articulation to overseas universities and progress relating to the recognition of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) ; and
   progress of the following under the New Academic Structure:
    the position of Project Yi Jin
    learning opportunities for students not taking HKDSE
    the curriculum framework of the Higher Diploma programmes
    the development of the Qualifications Framework.
Figure 8.2   Multiple Pathways for Students under the Existing and New Academic Structures

click to enlarge view

  Reflective Questions
  How does your school inform students and parents of the available post-secondary pathways?  Is there any room for improvement?  
  How might you help your students to recognise the importance of whole-person development, and to plan their learning pathways?  
  What external sources of support have you used to help your students to go through the transition period?  
  What support for students will your school offer to achieve a smooth transition from SS to post-secondary sub-degree and undergraduate programmes?  
8.6 Exiting before S6
The SS curriculum is designed to equip students with life-long learning capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century.   It is a coherent but diverse curriculum, providing a wide range of choices to enhance student motivation for study.  Nevertheless, some students may choose to leave school before the completion of S6.  These students might join the workforce or pursue their studies through other pathways such as vocational/ diploma courses offered by the Youth College of the Vocational Training Council.
At the SS level, every student should develop and maintain his/ her SLP which maintains a record of his or her learning experiences and achievements. The SLP will enable students who leave school before the completion of S6 to provide information about their studies and achievements and help them to seek a job or return to study in the future. Schools therefore need to help their students to build up their SLPs (see Booklet 5B for SLP).
Curriculum Development Council. (2001). Learning to Learn: The Way Forward in Curriculum Development. Hong Kong: Curriculum Development Council.
Curriculum Development Council. (2002). Basic Education Curriculum Guide – Building on Strengths (Primary 1 – Secondary 3). Hong Kong: Education Department.
Education and Manpower Bureau. (2006). Action for the Future – Career-oriented Studies and the New Senior Secondary Academic Structure for Special Schools. Hong Kong: Education and Manpower Bureau.
Education Commission. (2000). Learning for Life, Learning through Life: Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Education Commission.
The Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters. (2008). Finding Your Colours of Life: NSS Subject Choices and the Development of Career Aspirations. Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters.
The New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education and Higher Education – “334” Web Bulletin. Hong Kong:Education Bureau.
( http://www.edb.gov.hk/334 )
Page top