Frequently Asked Questions
Time Allocation (Latest)
The new suggested time allocation of OLE is 10% or above (≥10%) effective from S4 in the 2021/22 school year while the time allocation of OLE for S5 and S6 remains as 10-15%. Are there any suggestions for schools to allocate the proportion of curriculum time in respect of the five areas of OLE?
In response to the latest curriculum development of “Measures to Optimise the Four Senior Secondary Core Subjects” in 2021, schools should release lesson time and enhance curriculum flexibility to create space for students to facilitate them participate more actively in Other Learning Experiences, Life-wide Learning activities, and engage in other personal pursuits to cater for their different interests, abilities and aspirations. The new suggested time allocation of OLE is 10% or above effective from S4 in the 2021/22 school year. A maximum or minimum percentage is adopted in place of a rigid number to highlight this flexibility. Schools are encouraged to offer more learning experiences (e.g. cross-curricular activities) and adopt flexible timetabling to better support students with different learning needs.
Regarding the proportion of the time allocation of the five OLE areas, schools can make their school-based arrangement upon their professional judgment with reference to school contexts. When planning for the school-based OLE, schools should make reference to the seven guiding principles and the suggested modes of implementation in Booklet 7 Life-wide Learning and Experiential Learning of the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (2017) (e.g. the principles of student-focused and student opportunities, the provision of structured arts learning session being an important mode of implementation for Aesthetic Development, and time-tabled PE lessons as the major part of Physical Development etc) to provide students with a broad and balanced OLE curriculum through the five areas of OLE. In addition, when planning the overall time allocation of OLE, schools should take account of the time-tabled lesson time and non-time-tabled learning time (e.g. lunch time, after school time, Saturdays, holidays etc.) for a comprehensive and flexible OLE school plan.
Would the new recommendation on the time allocation, i.e. 10% or above (≥10%) effective from S4 in the 2021/22 school year, encourage schools to increase the opportunities for enhancing students' whole-person development?
Yes. Refer to the “Supplementary Notes to the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide”(2017) published in June 2021, schools are informed the major updates that should be noted when devising a holistic curriculum plan for the 2021/22 school year and beyond. It includes the six directional recommendations, such as reinforcing the importance of whole-person development, according higher priority to values education, creating space and catering for learner diversity. With reference to the new suggested time allocation, there is flexibility for schools to create more space and offer more learning experiences to further foster students’ whole-person development.
The objective of OLE is to foster students' whole-person development. According to the principle of "aiming for quality rather than quantity", schools should emphasise the quality of students’ learning. The new recommendation gives schools more flexibility to adjust the time allocation according to the needs of students' development so as to provide students with more space to gain experiences and achievements from competitions/ activities outside schools in order to develop their abilities and unleash their potentials.
When planning the time allocation for the five areas of OLE upon their professional judgment and flexibility, could schools remove some PE lessons?
When schools review and fine-tune their OLE plan, they should take their existing strengths into consideration and continue to further develop the five areas of OLE.
According to the "PE KLA Curriculum Guide (Primary 1-Secondary 6)" (2017), it is clearly stated that schools should have allocated at least 5% of the total lesson time in general PE through OLE. Therefore, schools should provide adequate PE lessons so as to nurture students' physical development. For the details, please refer to the "PE KLA Curriculum Guide (Primary 1-Secondary 6)" (2017).
In view of the fact that "the quality of OLE that matters, rather than the quantity", could schools, according to their school-based development and students’ needs, reduce the lesson time of OLE to less than 10%?
Viewing OLE as an integral part of the curriculum, schools should, when implementing OLE, deploy reasonable resources and lesson time with reference to other parts of the curriculum so as to achieve the curriculum objective of whole-person development.
According to the statistics collected, the average structured time-tabled lesson time of OLE (e.g. PE lessons, music lessons, moral / religion lessons) is 12% of the total lesson time. Therefore, the time allocation of 10% or above for OLE is viable in real school context.
With the implementation mode of allocating 10% or above to OLE and PE lessons have already constituted 5% of the time, how could schools promote the other four areas of OLE effectively within the remaining 5% lesson time?
Every school may have different contexts. Arranging 10% of the lesson time for OLE is only the baseline requirement. Building on their existing strengths and experiences, schools should further enhance the development of the five areas of OLE so as to facilitate whole-person development among students.
Schools should have an overall and flexible planning of OLE lesson time for students throughout the 3 years of senior secondary education. Apart from the time-tabled lesson time, schools should also make good use of the non-time-tabled learning time (e.g. lunch time, after school time, Saturdays, holidays etc.) to provide students with diverse OLE activities. Regarding the implementation of OLE, according to one of the core principles "aiming for quality rather than quantity", schools should, first of all, provide quality learning experiences to students. Therefore, schools have to design and offer structured and meaningful learning experiences for students; guide students to reflect on their own learning experiences; and facilitate them to turn experiences into learning so that they are able to deepen and consolidate what they have learnt. Schools should continue to further enhance the sustainable development of quality OLE.
Within the 10% or above OLE lesson time, is there any upper or lower limit of the percentage of lesson time for each area in OLE?
To achieve the curriculum objective of whole-person development, schools need to ensure that students are provided with opportunities of exposure to the essential learning experiences in the five areas of OLE under the SS Curriculum framework. There is no upper or lower limit of the percentage of lesson time for each area of OLE.
Taking our school's present situation into consideration, we find it difficult to build OLE into the time-table and work on the total time spent on OLE. Would you suggest some viable strategies to us?
Being constrained by convention, some teachers may worry about the feasibility of different reform programmes under the SS curriculum framework. They therefore find it difficult to squeeze time to satisfy the suggested hours of OLE. However, according to the “Supplementary Notes to the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide”(2017) published in June 2021, given that the 4 core subjects make up not more than 50% (≤50%) of the total lesson time effective from S4 in the 2021/22 school year, more space and flexibility are created for schools. In addition, the Supplementary Notes state more space has already been reserved for OLE (≥10%). It would thus be feasible for schools to build OLE into the time-table. Among various viable strategies to arrange and calculate OLE lesson time, a ‘minimum threshold approach’ is recommended. By adopting this approach, schools only need to reach the minimum threshold of the suggested hours of OLE (i.e. 10% of the total lesson time) and they need not count the exact number of hours of all the OLE (e.g. extra- or co-curricular activities) that students have spent.
Would building OLE into the time-table adversely affect students' learning in the core and elective subjects?
For the sake of students' development, it is worth allocating curriculum time to OLE. Overseas and local researches showed that such kind of learning experiences not only facilitated students’ all-round development, but also had positive impacts on their learning attitudes and academic results. In many ways, OLE could create a unique learning ‘space’ totally different from other subjects for students to, without too much pressure, experiences and enjoy the fun of learning as well as reflect on their learning experiences; which in turn nurtures proactive learning attitudes among students and enhances their academic performance. Despite the fact that many believe academic subjects and OLE are not related to each other, well-designed OLE may be more able to improve students' attitudes towards learning and school, which in turn may facilitate students'’ academic learning and nurture their thinking and generic skills. Hence, with regard to the lesson time allocation, academic subjects and OLE should not be mutually exclusive but complementary to each other.
Are students required to count their own OLE hours?
Schools are responsible for planning and arranging lesson time and learning activities for OLE. Therefore, students are not required to count their own OLE hours or arrange their own OLE. Besides, students are not required to submit their OLE hours either as schools are responsible for offering students adequate learning opportunities (10% or above of the total lesson time).
Most of the OLE learning activities are conducted in time-tabled lessons (e.g. PE lessons, Music lessons, Class teacher periods and assemblies etc) while some schools, apart from offering OLE programmes for the whole school, also offer enrichment programmes such as various extra-curricular activities so that students could make their own choices according to their interests. Areas of OLE
How could we ensure students to have a balanced development in the five areas of OLE according to the new modification (10% or above) of lesson time allocation?
When planning for the school-based OLE, the school leaders and teachers should make reference to the seven guiding principles in Booklet 7 Life-wide Learning and Experiential Learning of the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (2017), in particular the principles of student-focused and student opportunities, and build on their existing strengths as well as cater for the needs of their schools and students. Schools should bear in mind to provide students with a broad and balanced curriculum in order not to neglect any one of the five areas in OLE.
Could KLA's activities be counted as Other Learning Experiences?
Some KLA's extended activities could be counted as OLE depending on the content and purpose of those activities. Another consideration is whether those activities are able to meet the expected outcomes of the five areas of OLE. The expected outcomes of OLE are to build up students’ life-long learning capacities so they are able to:
- become active, informed and responsible citizens; - develop respect for plural values (including art appreciation); - adopt a healthy living lifestyle; and - enhance career aspirations and positive work ethics. However, activities involving School-based Assessment (SBA) should not be counted as OLE. Upon their professional judgment, teachers should organise suitable and meaningful OLE programmes or activities for their students in order to nurture a balanced development in the five essential Chinese virtues “Ethics, Intellect, Physique, Social Skills and Aesthetics”. After all, it is the quality of these experiences that really matters when enhancing whole-person development among students.
Could the study of ApL, elective PE and AE, and Ethics and Religious Studies be regarded as OLE?
Yes. When students take Ethics and Religious Studies, Physical Education, subjects of Arts education as elective subjects and /or ApL, the learning experiences could be counted as the respective areas of OLE provided that the knowledge & skills (cognitive), values & attitudes (the affective) are taken care of.
For example, if a student takes Ethics and Religious Studies as an elective subject, the student has already satisfied as one of the required areas, the Values Education, of OLE. The student may wish to spend more time on other areas of OLE.
Are service opportunities at school recognised as Community Service?
The purposes of Community Service are to enable students to acquire some experiences of serving others and to nurture their sense of responsibility. The school itself is a community. To achieve the same objectives, schools may provide students with in-school service opportunities or offer them the chances to serve primary schools and kindergartens in their own district. However, ideal Community Service in senior secondary levels should not be confined to school environment. It can be expanded beyond school contexts, if appropriate, for building up sustainable life-long capacities among students to serve in their community after schooling and nurturing their positive values and attitudes. For the expected outcomes of Community Service in SS, please refer to the Booklet 7 Life-wide Learning and Experiential Learning of the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (2017).
If a student participates in an activity that is not organised by school (e.g. private piano tuition), could it be recognised as OLE?
No, strictly speaking, OLE refers to the programmes organised and/ or recognised by schools under the SS framework, in which OLE occupies 10% or above lesson time, with an aim to ensure students’ whole-person development. However, schools may allow their students to record their participation or achievements gained outside school in their own SLPs (preferably under a separate column) to recognise those learning experiences.
Are students' self-arranged activities or their participation in other programmes outside schools counted as OLE?
NO. OLE refers to the programmes organised and/or recognised by schools under the NSS framework. Students' self-arranged activities or their participation in other programmes outside schools are not counted as OLE. However, students could record their participation in their own SLPs.
It is not necessary for schools to validate students' self-arranged activities or their participation in other programmes outside schools. Students are responsible for providing evidence to relevant people upon request. If it is deemed necessary, with reference to the principle of ‘aiming for quality rather than quantity’, parents may arrange other learning activities for their children to enrich their learning experiences. However, parents should note that an expensive programme does not imply better learning outcomes. School Implementation
What are the possible modes of implementation of OLE?
When planning for OLE, schools should aim to strike a balance among different areas of OLE and adopt diverse modes of providing OLE opportunities. For example, time-tabled Physical Development/ Aesthetic Development/ Values Education lessons could be supplemented by time-tabled after-school/Saturday learning time, activities beyond classroom, life education/ environment/ aesthetic/ creativity education projects, integrated learning days and after-school activities etc. Some schools may also arrange an integrated programme to allow their students to gain OLE through several areas at the same time instead of confining certain activities for a particular area of experience.
Building on existing practices / strengths, how could we implement Aesthetic Development?
There are different modes for implementing Aesthetic Development. To extend the arts learning experiences at the junior secondary level and to further develop students' creativity, aesthetic sensitivity and critical responses to the arts, schools should, building on their existing practices and strengths, flexibly adopt various modes of implementation to provide students with quality arts learning experiences.
It is worth noting that the "suggested minimum time allocation" is to provide schools with guidance in planning and implementing OLE. Schools could implement Aesthetic Development (AD) in accordance with their own school contexts. The best way to deliver AD is to provide students with structured learning complemented with authentic arts activities beyond classroom. Structured learning includes music and/ or visual art lessons, regular and structured programmes for arts learning (e.g. drama, dance, media arts) etc. On top of structured learning, schools should also organise authentic arts activities in the form of extra-curricular activities and interest groups. However, the ratio between structured learning and the related activities need not be rigid. What is more important is that schools should provide adequate arts learning opportunities for their students.
Should schools track individuals' detailed participation in OLE (including time-tabled and non-time-tabled learning time) to show the compliance of 10% or above allocation?
Schools need to offer students OLE opportunities to participate in meaningful learning activities both time-tabled and non-time-tabled learning time. However, schools need not track and monitor individual participation in ‘hour-by-hour’ manner, particularly for those activities in non-time-tabled learning time. Practical strategies such as setting a school policy like ‘two activities and one service per student' as the measures to encouraging students to self-manage their participation are often effective.
Will there be any Socio-economic Status (SES) discrimination among those learning opportunities provided by different schools?
Programmes or activities organised by schools for OLE should cater for students with different SES while in schools, financial subsidies should be sought for students from low SES to ensure equal access among all students. No students should, therefore, be deprived from participating in an activity for financial reason. And schools should not think that more expensive programmes are necessarily more effective than those that cost less. Furthermore, schools are encouraged to use the existing ‘Life-wide Learning Grant’, ‘Student Activities Support Grant’ and ‘School-based After-school Learning and Support Programmes’ to subsidise financially-needy students to participate in related activities.
Would OLE incur any additional resource implication?
No, schools are encouraged to build OLE on their existing strengths and practices and to make good use of existing resources (e.g. Life-wide Learning Grant) flexibly for further development of OLE. Most OLE do not require extra resources (e.g. Values Education, PE, music lessons, visual arts lessons) whereas teachers would take up responsibility to run OLE.