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LCQ 9: Measures to relieve teachers' workload

    Following is a question by Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (May 17):


     The Education and Manpower Bureau ("EMB") issued a circular to schools (Circular No. 4/2006) in March detailing the nine measures announced on February 27 this year to relieve teachers' workload.  Four of such measures aimed at simplifying the administrative procedures, including further improvements to the arrangements for External School Review ("ESR") to be implemented in the 2006-07 school year.  However, in a workshop on ESR held last month, in response to teachers' questions about the detailed arrangements for the measures, an officer from EMB stated that as ESR had commenced in the 2003-04 school year, for the sake of fairness, the ESR arrangements would neither be simplified nor changed.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the concrete implementation arrangements, dates of implementation, resources involved and expected outcomes regarding the four measures to simplify the administrative procedures;

(b) whether the above officer's statement represents the Government's position; if so, whether the statement contradicts the contents of the above circular, and if so, of the reasons for that; if the statement is not the Government's position, how the authorities will deal with the inconsistency between the statement and the Government's position; and

(c) whether it plans to review the implementation and effectiveness of the nine measures in three years, so that teachers may better focus on teaching, thereby enhancing the quality of teaching?


Madam President,

(a) The implementation of the four measures to simplify the administrative procedures is as follows:

School-based Assessment ("SBA")

     In respect of the SBA for Chinese Language, two of the categories (Coursework and Other Language Activities) will be merged; the number of scores to be submitted to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) by schools will be reduced from 10 to four; schools may decide whether students will make oral presentations or provide written reports for the assessments in Reading Activities and Other Language Activities; and the weighting of the SBA will be reduced from 20% to 15%.  As for English Language, the number of texts to be read by students will be reduced from four to three; the number of assessments required will be reduced from four to two; and schools may decide whether students will take part in a group discussion or give an individual presentation for both assessments.  The SBA will roll out in phases over a three-year period with effect from 2007, and for the first two years, schools can choose the best time for implementing SBA. The HKEAA has already spent some $6 million ($3 million each for Chinese Language and English Language) on the professional development of teachers and production of resources related to assessment.  Measures to simplify the SBA have come into effect since their promulgation on 11 April this year.  It is envisaged that simplifying the SBA will create more room for teachers in teaching, enhance operational flexibility, reduce the lesson time needed for the assessments, and alleviate the workload of, and pressure on, teachers.  At the same time, this will help enhance students' interest and confidence in learning, and develop a conscientious, responsible and self-motivated approach towards their studies.  Reduced pressure from examinations will also make learning a more relaxing and pleasurable experience.

Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA)

     According to the design and specific operational requirements of the TSA, we have to establish a baseline of performance standards on the basis of three data points at each key learning stage.  As we are extending the TSA to the Secondary 3 level this year, by 2006, 2007 and 2008 we will have three data points each for Primary 3, Primary 6 and Secondary 3 respectively. Furthermore, we will review the administrative arrangements for the TSA based on the experience of the past three years and put forward improvement measures.  The review of the TSA will not involve additional resources.  Subject to the progress of the review and the arrangements required, it is expected that certain improvement measures will be implemented early in the TSA for 2007.  We hope that the review can come up with improvement recommendations to streamline the administrative arrangements for the TSA so as to alleviate the workload of teachers.

External School Review (ESR)

     A review of the work of ESR in the past three years is under way.  The review includes the "Impact Study on the Effectiveness of External School Review in Hong Kong in Enhancing School Improvement through School Self-evaluation (SSE)"; examination of the evaluation tools used in SSE and ESR, such as the "Performance Indicators for Hong Kong Schools" and the "Key Performance Measures"; analysis of feedback from the schools reviewed and members of the ESR teams; and collection of views on SSE and ESR through various channels in order to consider the duration and mode of the next round of ESR which will commence in 2008/09.  The piloting of the modified evaluation tools will commence in 2007/08.  We will inform schools of the mode of and arrangements for the next round of ESR and provide them with the relevant training in the 2007/08 school year.

Quality Education Fund ("QEF")

     With effect from 1 September 2006, applications for QEF will be accepted throughout the year to relieve the stress of schools/teachers in meeting the application deadline.  Its assessment procedures will also be streamlined to expedite the release of results to schools.

(b) It is stated in paragraph 4 of the Education and Manpower Bureau Circular No. 4/2006 that "further improvement to the arrangements for External School Review will be implemented in the 2006/07 school year. A review on ESR is under way with a view to determining the mode and arrangements of ESR for the second cycle which will commence in the 2008/09 school year."  In a workshop on SSE and ESR held in April this year, teachers asked about the details of the improvement measures.  In response, an officer of the Education and Manpower Bureau remarked that improvements had been made to the content and arrangements of the two-day workshop organised for schools undergoing ESR in 2006/07, such as strengthening the activity and practical sessions and providing more exemplars for the reference of schools.  The officer also pointed out that the Bureau, considering that only a limited number of representatives from each school could participate in the workshop, would introduce a new measure to reach out to teachers on a full scale.  Under the new measure, leaders of the ESR teams would visit all the schools undergoing ESR in the 2006/07 school year.  They would have direct dialogue with all the teachers concerned, briefing them on the rationale and requirements of ESR and clarifying common misconceptions.  The Bureau was currently reviewing the "Performance Indicators for Hong Kong Schools" and the "Key Performance Measures".  As refining these tools took time and given the need for piloting and for briefing the schools on the relevant changes, it was not feasible to implement such changes immediately in the 2006/07 school year.  Pending completion of the review, any new mode and arrangements for the next round of ESR would be implemented in the 2008/09 school year.  The response made by our officer on that day was in line with the content of the above circular.

(c) The Committee on Teachers' Work has been established to review the current work situation of teachers.  The Committee will look into the nature of teaching jobs in public sector schools and the work they entail from an objective perspective, so as to identify improvement measures which will allow teachers to concentrate more on teaching.  The Committee has engaged a consultant to conduct a survey on the work of teachers in Hong Kong for the period from April to July.  The Committee will also visit primary and secondary schools in different districts and meet various education bodies from April to June.  It is expected that the Committee will submit to us its proposed measures to relieve teachers' workload within the current year. We will then study its recommendations and work out feasible measures with a view to helping teachers better focus on teaching and improving the quality of education.

Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Issued at HKT 14:01