For discussion
on 27 November 1998


Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent
New item "Study on strategies to cope with individual differences in academic abilities of primary school pupils"

    Members are invited to approve the creation of a new commitment of $22,360,000 for conducting a study on strategies to cope with individual differences in academic abilities of primary school pupils.


The lack of effective strategies to cope with individual differences in academic abilities among primary school pupils of the same educational level has affected the effectiveness of teaching and learning in primary schools.


2. The Director of Education, with the support of the Secretary for Education and Manpower, proposes to carry out a study on different strategies to cope with primary school pupils' individual differences in academic abilities, with a view to identifying the most effective strategies for schools of different needs.


3. One of the concerns expressed in the Report on Review of 9-year Compulsory Education published in October 1997 by the Board of Education Sub-committee on Review of School Education is the great variations in the abilities and educational attainments of primary school pupils at the same educational level, which has undermined the effectiveness of teaching and learning. The report recommended that Education Department (ED) should conduct a study involving ten primary schools to try out different strategies over a three-year period. As part of the study, a longitudinal research to follow through the progress of pupils should be carried out to assess the effectiveness of the strategies. The research should involve data collection and analysis during the three-year period.

4. To implement the recommendation, we propose to engage consultants to devise strategies to cope with the pupils' individual differences, assist in the trial of these strategies in ten primary schools, evaluate their effectiveness, and advise on the conditions for successful implementation. Each participating school will try out a strategy or strategies chosen on the advice of the consultants and with regard to the school's own circumstances. The consultants will support participating schools by analysing their individual situations and conditions, suggesting possible adaptation to the strategies in the light of actual implementation, and offering solutions and advice to these schools on problems encountered. We will provide additional resources to these schools to help them carry out their respective strategies which may include tailoring the central curriculum to suit the specific needs of their students, preparing relevant teaching and learning materials and carrying out student assessment. Schools will have maximum flexibility as to how the additional resources should best be deployed to carry out the strategy.

5. Subject to the approval of funds by this Committee, we plan to award a consultancy in early 1999 and select ten primary schools in mid 1999 for implementing the strategies in the three school years starting from 1999/2000. We expect to conclude the study by the beginning of 2003 when the final report with recommendations will be produced. A steering committee comprising academics from the tertiary sector, front-line education practitioners and government officials will oversee the study.


6. We estimate that the study will cost $22,360,000, made up as follows -

(a) Consultancy service for developing strategies to cope with individual differences and conducting a longitudinal research

850 1,700 1,700 1,700 850 6,800
(b) Additional resources to participating primary schools 0 2,820 4,830 4,830 2,010 14,490

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ ______

850 4,520 6,530 6,530 2,860 21,290
(c) Contingency (5%) 40 230 330 330 140 1,070

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ ______
Total 890 4,750 6,860 6,860 3,000 22,360

Note - Figures rounded to the nearest ten thousand.

7. As regards paragraph 6(a), the expenditure is for engaging the service of consultants for developing strategies to cope with individual differences among pupils, providing expert support to the participating schools on the implementation of the strategies, and evaluating the effectiveness of the strategies. We intend to invite tenders from local tertiary institutions as they will have the necessary expertise to carry out the study. A detailed breakdown of the estimated costs for the consultancy service is at the Enclosure.

8. As regards paragraph 6(b), the expenditure is for providing additional resources in the form of a non-recurrent grant to each of the ten participating schools for implementing the chosen strategies. On average, each school will receive a total of about $1.5 million over the three-year period, which is equivalent to the cost of employing an additional temporary Assistant Primary School Master for three years and an additional temporary Assistant Clerical Officer for 18 months. This level of subsidy is considered appropriate having regard to the additional activities and undertakings by schools in connection with the study. The exact amount to be provided to each school will depend on the particular circumstances of the school and the strategy it adopts. The schools will have maximum flexibility in using the resources to carry out the strategies.

9. The proposal will have no impact on the fees and charges for services provided by ED.


10. Following a review of the nine-year compulsory education in Hong Kong, the Board of Education Sub-committee on Review of School Education published a final review report in October 1997. The proposed study is one of the recommendations included in the Report.


Education and Manpower Bureau
November 1998

Enclosure to FCR(98-99)49

Breakdown of the estimated cost for consultancy services

ItemEstimated cost
(I) Staff cost
    Professional advice and development

    Support and research staff for 118 person-months
2,508 (Note 1)

2,382 (Note 2)
Sub-total 4,890

(II) General expenses
    General expenses (e.g. printing cost, travelling cost and computer input cost)

(III) Office accommodation

880 (Note 3)
Total 6,744
Say 6,800

Notes -

Note 1: This is based on a daily honorarium of $5,000 for 46 days at senior lecturer level and the average remuneration of $49,516 per month for a teaching consultant or equivalent in a tertiary institution for 46 months.

Note 2: This is based on the assumption of engaging the service of a staff at senior research assistant level with an average remuneration of $27,790 per month for 46 months, a staff at research assistant level with an average remuneration of $17,145 per month for 36 months, and a staff at clerical level with an average remuneration of $13,515 per month for 36 months.

Note 3: This is in view of the practice for tertiary institutions to charge for office accommodation at around 15% of the total estimated staff and general expenses.