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.
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.
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.
Booklet 11 Managing Change - A Concerted Effort
This is one of a series of 12 booklets in the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide. Its contents are as follows:
11.1 Purpose of the Booklet
11.2 Necessary Actions, Potential Difficulties/ Uncertainties
11.3 How to Cope with Difficulties/ Uncertainties
11.4 The Need for a Communication Strategy to Sustain and Secure Continuous Advancement
11.5 The Need for a Concerted Effort
11.1 Purpose of the Booklet
To outline some of the potential areas of difficulties/ uncertainties associated with the implementation of the New Academic Structure
To provide guidance to schools on how to cope with difficulties/ uncertainties through effective planning for change and engaging the support and concerted effort of all stakeholders
11.2 Necessary Actions, Potential Difficulties/ Uncertainties
The senior secondary (SS) curriculum framework has set out clear goals and directions and indicated the actions to be taken at different stages of the developmental process. However, there will always be areas of difficulties/ uncertainties as a result of ongoing policy formulation and the existence of unknowns in system change. Inevitably, the diverse views, competing needs and aspirations among different stakeholder groups with respect to staff deployment, resources allocation and professional development in school will add to the difficulties and tensions.
The following are some of the potential areas of difficulties/ uncertainties faced by schools particularly during the transitional period and the early implementation stage:
Finalising the class structure
Planning for SS subjects to be offered and flexible groupings
Time-tabling arrangements taking into account the curriculum as well as the space and resources available
Teacher deployment and succession plans
Coping with learner diversity
The arrangement of School-based Assessment (SBA)
Development of Other Learning Experiences (OLE) and Student Learning Profiles (SLP)
Helping students to make informed choices on Applied Learning (ApL)1 courses
Allocating resources among different subjects/ KLAs.
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.
Some of these potential difficulties/ uncertainties can be resolved as more detailed policy lines are laid down, e.g. class structure, the implementation of SBA.  Some difficulties, however, will have to be overcome by school leaders through careful planning and effective co-ordination, e.g. deployment of teachers, communication with parents, offering of elective subjects and time-tabling arrangements.  Schools therefore need to develop appropriate action plans/ on-going strategies/ piloting exercises to cope with the difficulties in these areas.
Schools are advised to pay special attention to the following areas in preparing for the SS curriculum:
To work towards changes in various domains, including the school culture, mindsets of stakeholders, pedagogy and assessment and school organisational structure, in order to provide a broad and balanced SS curriculum to meet the diverse needs of students
To plan for staff re-deployment and professional development to cope with the implementation of the SS curriculum, e.g. to deploy teachers to take up the teaching of Liberal Studies
To make effective use of the support provided by the Education Bureau (EDB) and other relevant bodies in professional development programmes, learning and teaching resources, grants, etc.
To enhance communication with different stakeholders and ensure their understanding and support for the SS curriculum.
11.3 How to Cope with Difficulties/ Uncertainties
The implementation of the New Academic Structure is a substantial change to the education system of Hong Kong. In order to implement change effectively, school leaders should be able to:
shape the school environment flexibly, for example, by restructuring the administrative organisation to better meet the requirements of the SS curriculum;
harness human, social and cultural resources to support the implementation of the New Academic Structure in school;
reprioritise the school tasks; and
develop an action plan over time in a flexible manner, so that adjustments can be made in response to the latest policies, events and findings.
To cope with difficulties and uncertainties arising during the transitional period and the early implementation stage of the SS curriculum, school leaders should plan for effective change through:
establishing consensus over the SS curriculum and direction for school development through gaining maximum understanding and support from all key stakeholders, including school leaders, teaching and non-teaching staff, parents and students;
building capacity and developing effective leadership at different levels in the school; and
promoting teamwork and responsibility-sharing at different levels in the school.
Effective leadership should not be limited to a small number of senior teachers.  Distributed leadership should be engaged in meeting the challenges of the reform
Distributed leadership sees varieties of expertise being widely distributed across many people.  Drawing many people into the potential leadership group makes it possible for initiatives to be developed from all over the organisation, and then adopted, adapted and improved by others in a culture of support and trust ( Bennett, N., et al., 2003).
School leaders should work with middle managers, including panel chairpersons and special functional post holders, to formulate action plans for the smooth implementation of the SS curriculum. Concerted effort and expertise should be pooled particularly in the following areas:
Determining strategies and initiatives to address various aspects of the SS curriculum (e.g. Is adaptation needed? How?), pedagogy (e.g. What type of teaching methodology should be adopted for a class of students with diverse abilities?) and assessment (e.g. How to arrange SBA activities for various subjects in S5 and S6?)
Prioritising and sequencing initiatives within and between areas, e.g. collaboration among different Key Learning Areas (KLAs)
Considering the initiatives in relation to resources and support available internally or externally.
A task force could be set up in school to co-ordinate all issues related to the New Academic Structure which include staff re-deployment, professional development, use of resources, SS curriculum planning, arrangement of a flexible time-table and the SBA. The Chairperson of the task force could be the vice-principal or the SS co-ordinator, and all KLA co-ordinators and/ or subject panel heads would be members.
A number of sub-groups could be formed under the task force, each of which oversees a particular issue related to the New Academic Structure and is chaired by the vice-principal, a KLA co-ordinator, or a special functional post holder. For example, a sub-group chaired by the English panel head could be formed to look after the planning of professional development for teachers. ;Another sub-group chaired by the vice-principal could be formed to look after the co-ordination of use of resources among different KLAs.
These sub-groups will report progress to the task force.  Regular meetings should be held by the task force and the sub-groups to discuss the problems encountered and work out possible solutions.  Depending on their seriousness/ magnitude, the issues brought up in the task force/ sub-group meetings could be further discussed in staff meetings to ensure that every teacher in the school understands the rationale behind the change and the latest development of issues at school/ KLA level.
The School Management Committee (SMC)/ Incorporated Management Committee (IMC) should be informed of the strategies adopted by the school in preparation for the New Academic Structure.  In case the SMC/ IMC queries whether a school decision is in the interest of students (e.g. a school has decided not to offer ApL courses to students), the issue should be brought back to the task force for further consideration.
11.4 The Need for a Communication Strategy to Sustain and Secure Continuous Advancement
To ensure success of the reform measures, we need to engage not only key stakeholders such as principals, vice-principals and teachers in the school reform process but also other stakeholder groups including members of the SMC/ IMC, parents, students, school support staff, alumni, the local community and other schools in the neighbourhood.  Schools need to strengthen communication with different stakeholder groups to foster a sense of participation and involvement for the successful implementation of the SS curriculum in schools.
The impending implementation of the New Academic Structure has raised different concerns among various stakeholder groups in the school community:
SMC/ IMC members are concerned about the direction of school development and the needs of teachers and students.
Parents are concerned about the choice of subjects under the SS curriculum, the recognition of the new qualification (i.e. the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) and the future study/ career pathways for their children.
Students are concerned about the choice of subjects they should make and the changes in learning and assessment
Support staff (e.g. clerical and janitor staff, Laboratory Technicians) are concerned about their increasing workload, job security and changes in the nature of their work.
The community (including employers) is concerned as to whether students will have mastered what they need to learn and know after undergoing SS education.
Schools themselves are concerned about competition for students and resources.
To address the different concerns of stakeholders, schools need to devise effective communication strategies to ensure that different stakeholder groups understand and support the reform measures.  The following communication strategies are suggested:
Communication strategies
Updating and sharing information through regular meetings
More communication with school administrators, teachers, parents and students
More involvement in planning for the New Academic Structure.
Updating parents about the changes through various modes of communication, e.g. seminars, school websites, bulletins, school events, Parent-Teacher Association activities.
Communicating with students through assemblies, seminars, talks, pamphlets, newsletters, websites and surveys
Sharing information with students in areas such as the SS curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and career guidance
Forming a student association to allow students to express their views.
Support staff
Keeping support staff informed of the changes in the school under the New Academic Structure
Redefining the job specifications of support staff, e.g. Laboratory Technician
Providing training to support staff.
Improving communication with the community through various means, e.g. school website, school bulletin/ newsletter/ Open Day
Building up networks with non-government organisations (NGOs) and business/ industrial sectors to provide students with more opportunities for community services and career-related experiences
Inviting alumni to contribute their strengths/ experience/ expertise to the development of the school.
Other schools
Forming networks with other schools in the same district or under the same School Sponsoring Body (SSB) to offer less popular SS electives, share good practices in curriculum development and use of resources, as well as co-organise activities to enrich students’ OLE.
11.5 The Need for a Concerted Effort
Besides the contribution of various key stakeholder groups in schools, the successful implementation of the New Academic Structure will also rely on the concerted effort of different sectors of the community.  In this connection,
EDB will:
  promote and co-ordinate the contributions of relevant government departments and NGOs to provide professional development opportunities for teachers and OLE for students;
  maintain communication with different stakeholders, particularly parents, regarding the progress of the New Academic Structure by means of the “334” Web Bulletin, district-based parent seminars, pamphlets, focused group interviews, thematic seminars, etc;
  ensure timely dissemination of key information about the progress of the New Academic Structure to the community;
  work closely with the universities and post-secondary institutions for the smooth interface of the SS and higher education; and
  explain to employers and the Civil Service Bureau the new qualification of the HKDSE to facilitate their review of relevant job entry requirements.
Schools should provide a broad and balanced curriculum with sufficient choices for students, and form a network with other schools (in the same region or under the same SSB), if necessary, to achieve the purpose.
Parents should provide proper guidance and support for their children, instil positive values and attitudes in them and enhance communication with schools.
Post-secondary and higher education institutions should ensure that the interface between SS and post-secondary and higher education is coherent and well-planned and that there is timely dissemination of key information (such as admission requirements) to the stakeholders
Professional bodies should contribute their professional views on the proposed curriculum changes and provide feedback for curriculum evaluation.
Employers should contribute to life-wide learning opportunities by providing enriching opportunities for community service and career-related experiences for students.
  Reflective Questions
  Does your school have an overall staff development plan/ personal development plan for each teacher?  
  Does your school have any plans for the deployment/ recruitment of teachers to teach SS subjects that suit the needs of your students?  
  Does your school have a staff succession plan to pave way for the implementation of the changes in SS education?  
  Does your school have any plans on how to make the best use of the related grants provided by EDB as well as the teaching space and facilities in the school?  
  Are the middle managers in your school involved in the formulation of the SS Action Plan?  
  Does your school have a school communication plan to encourage different stakeholder groups to support the implementation of the SS curriculum?  
  Does your school have any networks with NGOs/ business or industrial sectors/ other schools to facilitate the provision of a more diversified curriculum and OLE for students?  
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