[Archive] Education Commission Report No.7 Quality School Education - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
There is a need to help schools improve their performance and to ensure that the resources devoted to school education are deployed in a most effective, efficient and accountable manner. The Education Commission (EC) has therefore formulated recommendations in its Report No. 7 on Quality School Education. The recommendations mainly focus on ways to improve school management and performance towards the provision of quality school education to better meet the needs of students.
Why Report No. 7?
EC finds that there is a need to enhance the quality of the present school system. Some schools do not have clear development plans to ensure that the fundamental aims of education are achieved; some do not have clear targets for both academic and non-academic achievement of students; others do not have a proper appraisal system to assess the performance of principals and teachers.
In addition, the support provided to schools does not adequately promote a quality culture. Professional education for principals and teachers needs to be strengthened to equip them with the knowledge and skills to cope with change. Similarly, the operations of the education-related bodies, including the Education Department (ED) need to be streamlined to support quality development in schools more effectively.
Members of the school community have also expressed concern that the present system does not provide sufficient incentives for schools to take the initiative or to accept responsibility for the achievement of quality education. Schools feel that the present funding arrangements do not allow sufficient flexibility for school management and do not relate the level of funding to school performance. There is also little recognition of the value-added efforts made by schools to develop the potential of their students.
Objectives of Report No. 7
- The objectives of the Report are :
- to enhance community appreciation of the need for quality school education;
- to inculcate a quality culture in the school system to contribute to the personal growth of students, and the pursuit of excellence;
- to provide a practical framework for key players in the school system to achieve the aims of education in an efficient, cost-effective and accountable manner;
- to recommend an integrated strategy for quality assurance and development;
- to provide incentives for quality performance;
- to assist and remedy under-performing schools to encourage initiatives and continuous improvement; and
- to recommend a framework for raising the professional standards of principals and teachers and enhancing their professional education and development.
Building a Quality Culture
EC considers it important that the community and all players in the school system should be committed to building a quality culture as a pre-requisite for quality school education. To this end, a number of measures must be taken. They include :
- setting clear and commonly accepted goals for school education and having these goals clearly understood by all players in the school system;
- translating the goals into achievable, observable and measurable quality indicators for self-evaluation and external assessment;
- allowing school management greater autonomy in general administration, finance and personnel matters but at the same time requiring a higher degree of accountability for school performance;
- having an efficient, equitable and cost-effective funding system which meets basic needs of schools and which is related to performance;
- providing incentives to recognise and encourage initiative and the pursuit of excellence;
- assisting and where necessary taking remedial measures regarding under-performing schools;
- raising the professional standards of principals and teachers and enhancing their professional education and development; and
- introducing corresponding changes in the education-related executive and advisory structure, the curriculum, examinations and the academic system.
The successful building of quality school culture hinges on the provision of external enabling elements, and efforts made by the schools themselves. The pace of school-based development may differ. Nevertheless, with increased transparency of school operations, broadened participation from parents and the community in school management, increased accountability of schools to the public, and the sharing of experience among schools with similar background or within the same quality circle, schools should be expected and thus motivated to improve and continue to strive for excellence.
(a) Setting goals and developing indicators
EC suggests that the aims of education should reflect the changing needs of schools and the community. To assess the performance of schools, it is necessary to translate such aims into quality indicators, and introduce the concept of value-added achievement, which can provide the incentive for schools to make continuous improvement, and an equitable basis for self-evaluation and comparison among schools.
(b) Putting in place a quality assurance mechanism
To enhance the quality of school education, EC recommends internal quality assurance to be achieved through school-based management, co-operation among key players in the school system and self-evaluation by schools. All schools should have put in place school-based management by the year 2000 in the spirit of School Management Initiative* to better meet the needs of their students.
On the development of external quality assurance, EC recommends the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) to commission a study to examine the way forward for quality assurance mechanism, as part of an overall review of the education-related executive and advisory structure. Meanwhile, EC welcomes ED's plans to conduct quality assurance inspections using the whole-school approach.
(c) Providing funding flexibility
EC recognises that the school funding system should facilitate school quality reform. All schools which practise school-based management should be given flexibility in the use of resources under a clear management and accountability system. In the long run, the option of providing an aggregate Block Grant to schools which are more advanced in school management or school performance should be pursued, so that schools can enjoy more flexibility in the use of all items of resources. Government schools should also be given similar financial and management flexibility as aided schools. In parallel, the Government should review the present financial assistance to the Direct Subsidy Scheme schools, and to examine the feasibility of extending the scheme to primary schools, so that the scheme can be more attractive to aided schools aspiring for even greater management and funding flexibility.
(d) Providing incentives to encourage quality school education
In order to build a quality culture, it is necessary to provide incentives to recognise and encourage quality initiatives and the pursuit of excellence. EC recommends that a Quality Education Development Fund (QEDF) should be set up to encourage bottom-up initiatives. The Government should examine the interface between QEDF and other education-related funds. A support unit should be set up under EMB to serve and manage the QEDF. The interface of the support unit with the future quality assurance mechanism should be considered in the context of the overall review of the education-related executive and advisory structure.
(e) Raising professional standards of principals and teachers
To facilitate the building of a quality culture in the school system, EC recommends that the Government should promulgate a coherent pre-service and in-service training strategy for teachers. All schools should put in place a fair and open performance appraisal system for principals and teachers. To enhance the standard of teaching and professional development of teachers, a General Teaching Council should be set up.
(f) Implementing related reforms
For major recommendations in the Report to have full impact, it is necessary to carry out certain related reforms. EC recommends the Government to devolve as much administrative and financial authority as possible to all schools and encourage school-based reforms. The development of school-based curriculum should be encouraged to best meet the needs of schools and students. The examination system should be reviewed to take into account school-based assessment of students. The next major task for EC should be to review the academic system, including length of study, curricula and interface of different education sectors, and the optimal structure for the whole education system. The role of private schools and their interface with the aided sector should also be reviewed to encourage school-based development.
A summary of the major recommendations is set out in paragraph 8.7 of this Report.