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LCQ10: Support for the first cohort of NSS students

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Sing-chi and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (February 4):


     Given that some students and parents have relayed to me that they have concerns and worries about the New Senior Secondary (¡§NSS¡¨) Academic Structure, which will be implemented from the 2009-2010 school year onwards, will the Government inform this Council of the measures in place to assist:

(a) the first cohort of Secondary Three students to be promoted to Secondary Four under the NSS academic structure in handling the various problems they may face, (including changes in the format and requirements of examination, as well as the pressure of school work arising from the new academic structure, having to make the choice between education and career as well as emotional disturbances, etc.), so as to prevent them from developing suicidal thoughts because they cannot adapt to the new academic structure;

(b) Secondary Five students who will be sitting for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (¡§HKCEE¡¨) in 2010 to face the pressure that they could only repeat in the last HKCEE in 2011, and to offer assistance to them in facing education and career problems; and

(c) parents of the first cohort of students affected by the NSS academic structure in facing the changes in various respects arising from the new academic structure?



     Apart from releasing key messages to the public regularly, the Education Bureau (EDB) has also adopted a comprehensive communication strategy to ensure close contact with different stakeholders including schools, teachers, and parents so that they can receive timely and accurate information. Supporting measures are also provided to address their concerns and needs to facilitate the smooth implementation of the NSS curriculum.

1. EDB has provided the following support for the first cohort of NSS students¡G

* EDB, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters, has developed a learning tool, namely ¡§Finding Your Colours of Life: NSS Subject Choices & the Development of Career Aspirations¡¨ for junior secondary students.  This tool helps students make informed choices on their NSS elective subjects at the senior secondary level.  Related professional development programmes are also provided to familiarise teachers with the tool in helping students choose their preferred elective subjects.
* The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) has developed the assessment frameworks of the 24 NSS subjects (completed in 2007) and the sample papers, level descriptors and exemplars (drafts have already been uploaded on the HKEAA website) to help teachers and students fully understand the key features of assessment and to alleviate their anxiety in this regard.
* A phase-in strategy for the implementation of School-based Assessment (SBA) has been adopted.  The 12 subjects implementing SBA in 2012 already have similar SBA arrangements in the current HKCEE and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination.  To further reduce pressure on teachers and students, HKEAA will also coordinate the SBA scores submission time across subjects at Secondary Five and Secondary Six.

* Professional development programmes are continuously organised to enhance teachers¡¦ understanding of the curriculum.  Through sharing of authentic exemplars, teachers are helped to master effective learning and teaching strategies and diversified assessment methods, and incorporate assessments into the learning activities so as to minimise the pressure from tests and examinations.
* EDB has developed a wide range of learning and teaching resources.  Parents, students and the public can access the ¡§334¡¨ Web Bulletin for updated information on the curriculum.
* EDB is actively discussing with the Institute of Vocational Education on the provision of other possible pathways to further studies for Secondary Four and Secondary Five students.  
* With regard to career development, the NSS curriculum provides students with the opportunities (e.g. ¡§Other Learning Experiences¡¨ activities, including talks on further studies and work, visits to the workplace) to understand the latest information and development of the job market and make appropriate choices in their future studies and career.  EDB has also organised a series of seminars on ¡§the NSS Changing Career World¡¨ for parents and teachers so that they understand how the NSS curriculum prepare their children / students to face the fast-changing workplace and cope with the future working environment, and provide them with the appropriate guidance.

2. EDB has made the following arrangements for the last cohort of Secondary Five students who will sit for the HKCEE in 2010:

* If students get unsatisfactory results in the HKCEE in 2010, they may re-sit the HKCEE in 2011 or opt to study the NSS curriculum at Secondary Five and Secondary Six level.  Since most of the NSS curriculum also covers the relevant contents of HKCEE subjects, there should be little problem for students to pick up the NSS courses.

* In addition, students may also consider other pathways such as studying courses offered by the Vocational Training Council, taking part in Project Yi Jin, studying abroad or working.  EDB is working closely with post-secondary institutions on the provision of places to meet the various needs during the transitional period.

3. To help parents understand the NSS curriculum and face the changes brought by the new academic structure, EDB has adopted the following measures:

* Starting from 2007, parent seminars have been organised in various districts (about 20,000 participants have attended so far).  These seminars provide parents with the latest information about the development of the NSS academic structure, including an overview of the NSS curriculum and the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.  Parents¡¦ enquiries are directly addressed in the seminars.
* A booklet entitled ¡§Frequently Asked Questions on the New Senior Secondary (NSS) Academic Structure and Curriculum¡¨ and the pamphlet entitled ¡§New Academic Structure ¡V Useful Tips for Parents¡¨ have been distributed to parents (5 volumes have been issued up to now) to update them on the latest development of NSS.  Concrete suggestions were provided to parents on how to help their children face the challenge of the new academic structure, such as making subject choices and handling Independent Enquiry Study of Liberal Studies.
* An NSS Information Kit was provided to all secondary schools to help schools organise school-based seminars for parents and/or students to introduce the NSS academic structure and arrangements for the school-based NSS curriculum.
* The ¡§334¡¨ Web Bulletin allows parents easy access to the latest information such as university entrance requirements and the NSS subjects to be offered by schools.
* Furthermore, EDB is planning to organise thematic seminars for parents in the coming months to enhance their understanding of some important issues such as those related to Liberal Studies so that they can help their children adapt to the NSS curriculum.

Ends/Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:30


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