[Archive] Education Commission Report No.7 Quality School Education - RAISING PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS OF PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS
RAISING PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS OF PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS
6.1 To provide quality school education, we need quality principals and teachers with a strong sense of mission, appropriate personal attributes, adequate academic and professional qualifications. They should be prepared to initiate and participate in the development of quality education. In return, they should be provided with suitable support and development opportunities. In this connection, we welcome the major initiatives announced by the Chief Executive to upgrade teaching quality, most notably the need for a General Teaching Council and the requirement for new primary and secondary teachers to be graduates and pre-trained.
Continuous professional education of principals and teachers
6.2 During public consultation, it was overwhelmingly agreed by all concerned that proper and continuous education of principals and teachers was conducive to professional growth and improvement in the quality of school education. In this aspect, we support the recommendation by the BoE in its review of 9-year compulsory education that serving teachers should undergo in-service teacher education at regular intervals.
6.3 At present, pre-service and in-service training programmes are provided by the teacher education institutions, ED, Civil Service Training and Development Institute and consultants. There is a strong demand from the teaching profession for a well-planned, systematic, co-ordinated and comprehensive training and development strategy to help instil a quality culture and optimise training resources.
6.4 In response to public views, we recommend that the Government should devise a coherent pre-service and in-service training strategy for teachers in different educational sectors to cope with the changing needs of the school system and the teachers. In this aspect, we note that the Government has invited the UGC to conduct a review of teacher professional education, with a view to achieving the objective of requiring all new teachers in primary and secondary schools to have a university degree and teacher's training in the foreseeable future. We understand that the UGC will examine the timetable for achieving this objective, the financial implications, the implications on the development of higher education in Hong Kong, the future direction of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, and the role of tertiary institutions in achieving the objective.
6.5 We also note that the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications (ACTEQ) has made some positive suggestions and contributions. It has obtained the Government's support in principle for requiring all new graduate teachers in secondary schools to be professionally trained by the year 2004. Meanwhile, ACTEQ is developing language benchmarks to enhance the language standards of teachers, with a view to improving the quality of teaching, including language teaching. The finalised benchmarks will specify the language standards that all teachers are required to meet, and will facilitate assessment of teachers' performance against such standards. This will have a direct impact on both pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes.
6.6 We recommend the Government to examine how to optimise the expertise and resources of ED, teacher education institutions and tertiary institutions for more effective teacher education programmes. Schools should be encouraged to develop school-based training and be held accountable for the effective deployment of resources for this purpose. On this, we recommend the following steps to be taken :
- Optimise in-service teacher education resources
- ED should re-examine the teacher education programmes provided by its different divisions to ensure better co-ordination and deployment of training resources;
- schools within the same district, with similar background or within the same quality circle should be encouraged to explore among themselves on how training resources can best be pooled to provide in-service teacher education. For example, they may jointly organise seminars and courses for their teachers. In the process, ED, in particular the District Education Officers may help co-ordinate and organise experience-sharing sessions or workshops. The district school head associations and conferences convened by ED District Education Offices may be mobilised to organise district-based training activities; and
- private sector sponsorship for school-based training may be sought by schools according to their needs. Participants of such training programmes may be asked to bear part of the training cost;
- Meet clients' needs
- liaison among schools, ED and teacher education institutions should be strengthened to meet the training needs of key players in the school system, with a view to equipping serving school managers, supervisors, principals and teachers with the skills and knowledge to cope with changes in the school system brought about by quality school education initiatives. In particular, principals and senior teachers should receive training in human resource, financial management and curriculum development;
- every school should examine its own needs for teacher development, ranging from "first-aid" induction-type support for new teachers to longer-term needs such as improving the competence of language teachers, and planning for succession to senior teacher and principal posts; and
- schools should include in the school development plan a training schedule for principals and teachers to minimise the disruption to normal school classes and school activities through proper time-tabling;
- Evaluate and optimise effectiveness of training programmes
- ED should review, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of training programmes by, inter alia, conducting comprehensive and reliable end-of-course evaluation;
- schools and course participants should give frank and objective feedback on the effectiveness of the training programmes. How the programmes have benefited the teaching staff should be evaluated during and at the end of the programmes by the SMC, principals and teachers. This will facilitate more effective deployment of resources; and
- "peer coaching" and "training the trainers" should be promoted to optimise the benefits from the training programmes.
Participation in school work
6.7 We share the views of many respondents that the role of teachers should be more than just to teach in the classroom. We recommend that teachers should broaden their participation in various school activities in a professional way, and contribute to the educational, school management and decision-making process, for example, by joining the SMC and/or the SEC. We also recommend that teachers should engage more actively in conducting school-related research, for example, improvement of the teaching and learning environment. Such research will have practical application and will benefit school education directly. In this connection, adequate support services, training and research time-off should be provided to the teaching staff.
Provision of suitable support
6.8 Much concern was expressed over the adverse impact of heavy workload of teachers on the quality of school education, as a result of the lack of adequate clerical and administrative support. We note that the Government has provided additional clerical staff to aided primary schools with 28 to 35 classes starting from September 1997. We recommend continual improvement of clerical and administrative support to teachers, including the computerisation of school records and student data, to relieve teachers of non-teaching duties.
6.9 We also note the suggestion to increase support to school principals, e.g. to create an administrative assistant grade if necessary, to handle the non-teaching duties including resource management and administration matters. We recommend ED to consider with the profession the implications of such proposals.
Appraisal and promotion
6.10 To enhance the professional status and the morale of the teaching profession, we recommend that in accordance with the spirit of school-based management, all schools should be required to put in place a fair and open performance appraisal system for principals and teachers. This requirement should be enforced through the Code of Aid for aided primary and secondary schools. A proper appraisal system will enable the school management to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its staff members, and provide timely counselling to help them develop their full potential.
6.11 We note that ACTEQ has commissioned a consultancy study on the establishment of an assessment and reporting mechanism for the purpose of enhancing the professional relevance of teachers' performance, and that the consultants will develop indicators on teachers' performance and identify key factors affecting teachers' performance. We hope that in the long run, teachers will be better equipped to cope with the changes in the school system more effectively and efficiently.
6.12 We agree that appropriate recognition should be given to principals and teachers who perform well. Consideration should be given to awarding teachers with the honour of "master teacher". Principals who perform and lead well should also be commended. We believe that this should be considered in the context of awards under the QEDF outlined in Chapter 5. During consultation, there were suggestions that teachers should be considered for promotion to higher ranks on the basis of their contribution to teaching alone, and that functional and administrative duties should not be taken into account. Other respondents were however concerned that a complete demarcation between teaching and administrative duties was not easy to make. We understand this is a complicated issue and recommend that ED should review the existing arrangements whereby administrative duties are tied to the promotion ranks of teachers, in consultation with the teaching profession.
6.13 The principal is the paid chief executive responsible for the overall management of the school, and plays a decisive role in the success of quality reform. Some respondents suggested that due to the strategic importance of the role of principals, consideration should be given to requiring potential principals to pass certain qualifying tests before they are promoted. Others suggested that annual appraisal of principals should be conducted, and the salary and tenure of office be reviewed every year.
6.14 We agree that leadership of principals is essential in promoting quality school culture. We recommend that the school sponsors, SMC and ED should monitor closely the performance of principals and put in place an appraisal system as recommended in paragraph 6.10 above. SMC should also be held accountable for the weaknesses identified by the quality assurance inspections. Principals should exercise their power to handle under-performing teachers. At the same time, teachers should be given avenues for appeal against unreasonable management practices and decisions.
Establishment of General Teaching Council
6.15 We consider it essential for school practitioners to be totally committed to providing quality education for students. In this connection, the EC set up a Working Group in mid-1995 to study the formation of the General Teaching Council (GTC).
6.16 We accepted in May 1997 the Working Group's proposal to set up a GTC to enhance the standard of teaching and professional development of teachers, to maintain the integrity of the profession and to raise the professional esteem of teachers. The key function of the GTC is to promote the development of school education in general by way of improving the quality and professionalism of teachers. We recommend that the GTC should have :
- a key role in the policy formulation about teacher registration, such as criteria for registration and issues relating to teacher qualifications;
- substantial influence in ensuring the quality and professional relevance of teacher education programmes;
- a duty to encourage teachers to undertake continuous professional education and to promote their professional development; and
- power of internal discipline and power to consider complaints, settle disputes, make investigations and conduct disciplinary hearings where necessary.
6.17 As the quality of our teachers is a key element in the entire education system, we recommend that the GTC should have a substantial representation of other "stake holders" at the decision-making level, such as school managers, government officials, parents and lay members.
6.18 Based on the recommendations of the Working Group, a Preparatory Committee has been set up under EC to work out the detailed arrangements for the establishment of a GTC. These include, inter alia, drawing up the implementation details regarding the setting up of the GTC; preparing a consultation document and conducting public consultation on various aspects of the GTC; and assisting in the legislative procedures for the establishment of the Council.