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LCQ13: Life planning education
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     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Chiang Lai-wan and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):

Question:

     Some secondary teachers have pointed out that effective life planning education can help secondary students make wise decisions in choosing subjects for further studies or their career paths upon graduation. They have also pointed out that well-qualified teachers are the foundation of effective life planning education. Besides, starting from the 2014-2015 school year, the Education Bureau has been providing public sector schools and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools operating classes at senior secondary levels with an annual recurrent grant of about $500,000 to support the schools in implementing life planning education and providing counselling services on further studies and employment. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the teachers presently responsible for co-ordinating and implementing life planning education in secondary schools need to attain any special qualifications or academic achievements; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will consider requiring that such teachers must attain specified qualifications or have received relevant training;

(2) whether it has put in place measures to enhance the quality of teacher training on life planning education, with a view to making the training professional; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether it has devised quantitative indicators, such as objectives, criteria and time limits, for assessing the effectiveness of life planning education, so as to prevent the relevant grant from being used for irrelevant purposes; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     From the 2014/15 school year, the Education Bureau (EDB) has provided each public sector school and Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) school operating classes at senior secondary levels with an annual recurrent cash grant of about $500,000 (provision will be revised annually in line with the adjustment to the mid-point salary of Graduate Master) to enhance the capacity of the responsible teaching team with a view to strengthening the co-ordination and promotion of life planning at schools. Schools are required to devise a work plan having regard to the objectives of the Career and Life Planning Grant (CLP Grant), school-based context and students' needs and upload it onto the school's homepage upon endorsement by respective Incorporated Management Committee (IMC)/School Management Committee (SMC). Our reply to the questions raised by Dr the Hon Chiang Lai-wan is set out below:

(1) Building on the career guidance service provided by schools, life planning education (LPE) takes a step forward by increasing the breadth and depth of such service. Promoting LPE and enhancing career guidance service are not the responsibility of just one or two teachers. Instead, a team is needed for the planning, together with extensive participation and support from other teachers. The main purpose for the provision of additional cash grant to schools is to empower and enhance the ability and capacity of the teaching teams responsible for career guidance and LPE. Schools should strengthen the element of LPE in a more co-ordinated and systematic manner and adopt a whole-school approach in implementing such service.
     
     At present, almost all teaching teams responsible for LPE in schools have members who are well experienced in providing career guidance or have completed relevant structured training. According to our records, about 80 per cent of all public sector and DSS schools (including special schools) operating classes at senior secondary levels already have at least two teachers trained.

     The EDB attaches great importance to the professional knowledge and capabilities of the teachers concerned, and has made continuous efforts to strengthen the structured training courses for LPE teachers to enhance the professional standard of the dedicated teaching teams, thereby enabling them to plan and implement LPE in a more co-ordinated and systematic manner. Starting from the 2014/15 school year, we have substantially increased the number of structured training places by threefold from 80 to 240 per year. Our target is to equip the career guidance team of each school with at least two trained teachers by the 2016/17 school year.

(2) The EDB has all along invited tertiary institutions and professional bodies to provide training courses to career guidance teachers. Apart from liaising closely with the related organisations to provide updated information on LPE, we also keep the training courses under constant review to ensure that the quality and content of such courses meet the needs for LPE implementation and the changes of society.

     In addition to the provision of structured training courses through tertiary institutions, the EDB is committed to strengthening professional support for schools and teachers concerned, which includes issuance of the "Guide on Life Planning Education and Career Guidance for Secondary Schools" for schools in their delivery of LPE. To encourage schools to adopt a whole-school approach to LPE, we organise the "Go forward together íV Life Planning Education Sharing Series" regularly to enhance teachers' professional capability through experience sharing, run teacher networks to facilitate professional sharing, conduct advisory visits to provide professional advice to schools, and develop a dedicated webpage to disseminate updated information on further studies, employment and other related teaching and learning resources.

     To cater for the needs of teachers in different positions to implement LPE, the EDB also organises thematic seminars, talks and workshops. Examples include thematic seminars on career guidance service for teachers who have to take care of "academically low achievers", "students with special educational needs", "students with specific learning difficulties" and "non-Chinese speaking students", and seminars on "Roles of Class Teachers in Supporting Students for Life Planning". Since September 2014, a number of district-based networking activities have been organised for schools in different districts to promote professional exchange. Since the 2014/15 school year, over 1 600 teachers have participated in the above professional exchange activities.

     We will continue to review the professional support and training programmes provided for schools to ensure that the programme contents are in tandem with the needs of schools and social development.

(3) The EDB has issued a circular on the use of the CLP Grant, clearly setting out the intended objectives of the grant. In planning for career guidance service, schools are required to formulate strategies and establish monitoring/evaluation mechanism for continuous development. Under the spirit of school-based management, the IMC/SMC of a school is accountable for the proper use of the cash grant for its intended objectives. The EDB strongly recommends that the IMC/SMC consider including LPE as one of the major concerns in the School Development Plan, as well as monitoring and evaluating its implementation through the school annual plan and school report. To enhance transparency, the work plan and details on the use of the CLP Grant should be approved by the IMC/SMC and uploaded onto the school's homepage by December each year.

     To understand the implementation of LPE at schools, the EDB has visited about 380 schools (accounting for about 75 per cent of all secondary schools in the territory) since the 2014/15 school year and up to end-March 2016. We are pleased to learn that the majority of schools have included LPE as a major concern of their schools, with clearly defined objectives, implementation strategies and monitoring/evaluation mechanism. Besides, it is understood that the majority of the schools have put the CLP Grant to proper use, deploying the grant appropriately in such areas as employing additional teachers to take up the teaching duties of career teachers so as to enhance their capacity in LPE, procuring LPE-related teaching materials or assessment services for students and financing students to participate in career exploration activities. About 80 per cent of the schools spent most of the CLP Grant on employment of additional staff (such as teachers and teaching assistants). We are glad to note the good implementation progress of LPE at schools. Taking into account students' needs and school-specific circumstances, most schools have implemented LPE in a more co-ordinated and systematic manner through a holistic approach, and have put in place an effective evaluation mechanism, thus laying a solid foundation for LPE. During the school visits, EDB inspectors would engage in professional dialogue with the school guidance teams and render advice on improvement to the work plans and deployment of resources. The EDB will complete visits to all eligible secondary schools by the end of the 2016/17 school year. Information collected will serve as useful feedback to inform the future planning of LPE. Since the introduction of LPE in the 2014/15 school year, we have been keeping in view the implementation situation in schools. We would assess the overall effectiveness of LPE after more experience has been generated by schools, with a view to further enhancing the quality of LPE.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:27

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