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11 School, Family and Community Connections
This is one of the chapters of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide – To Sustain, Deepen, and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1 - 6). Its contents are as follows:
11.1 Background
11.2 Purposes of the Chapter
11.3 Review and Reflection
11.4 Response to the Changing Hong Kong Society
11.5 Roles of Different Members in Schools
11.6 Home-School Cooperation
11.7 Community Participation
11.1 Background
Today, student learning is no longer confined to the classroom or school campus. Over the past decade, with the rapid development of information technology, as well as the promotion and arrangements of multifarious co-curricular activities for students in schools, the concept of life-wide learning advocating "learning anywhere and anytime" is widely accepted. There is no doubt that students should take responsibility for their own learning, yet different stakeholders in society may also help students learn effectively and happily in different ways. Schools, families and communities constitute important social resources to support student learning and promote quality education through partnership and cooperation. From now on, schools, families and communities are encouraged to work more closely together to promote quality education in response to the world trend in education.
11.2 Purposes of the Chapter
* Outline how schools and parents can cater for learner diversity in our changing society
* Elaborate on the respective roles assumed by different stakeholders to facilitate student learning
* List different modes of home-school cooperation and community ties to support student learning
11.3 Review and Reflection
No school is an island. The collaboration of schools, families and communities for achieving the goal of improving the quality of education has become the general direction of education reform all over the world1. Home-school cooperation in the past was mainly in the form of parent-child activities and regular meetings for parents to know more about their children’s school life. In recent years, parents have played a more active role. For example, they joined hands with schools in seeking district resources and assistance, participated in school-related working groups, and collaborated with teachers in different ways to support student learning. Schools also actively link up with the outside world and introduce different community resources to support student learning. The relationship among schools, families and the community is like three overlapping colour circles (see Figure 11.1) which are intertwining yet distinct in their areas of development. On the other hand, the interrelationship among them creates favourable learning conditions for students. Therefore, the close cooperation of school, family and community, and their mutual respect for each other is of the utmost importance.
Figure 11.1 School-family-community Cooperation
Figure 11.1 School-family-community Cooperation
For Reflection and Action For Reflection and Action
* In your opinion, how does cooperation among school, family and community contribute to student learning?
* In terms of forging a partnership with families and the community, what are the strengths and areas for improvement of your school?
11.4 Response to the Changing Hong Kong Society
With the gradual changes in population, economic, political and environmental conditions, learners today have become more diverse. Schools and parents are encouraged to work closely together to cater to their diverse abilities and needs, and provide opportunities for students to showcase their special talents. The following are suggestions on how schools and parents can cater for learner diversity.
Suggestions for schools
* Advocate an inclusive culture that encourages students to learn together with peers of different nationalities, races, colours, religions and cultures with an equal, accepting and appreciative attitude.
* Organise inclusive culture week or activities to provide opportunities for learners to have a better understanding and develop respect for schoolmates of different nationalities, races, colours, religions and cultures.
* Be concerned with students’ being overweight and obesity problems and encourage students to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
* Encourage students to strike a balance between academic and non-academic performances; while in the pursuit of excellence, students may also make good use of their leisure time to cultivate different interests.
* Promote campaigns like recycling of textbooks, books, uniforms to provide support for students from families with financial difficulties.
* Widen learners’ horizons and global outlook through various school-based activities, exchange programmes, sister school schemes, etc.
* Continue to encourage teachers of all subjects to develop students’ generic skills, such as collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking as well as self-management skills, through a variety of learning and teaching activities and assignments.
Suggestions for parents
* Encourage children to respect people of different nationalities, races, colours, religions and cultures.
* Be concerned with children’s health and do physical exercise with them together.
* Leave children room to develop their non-academic interests and potential.
* Donate children’s old textbooks, books, uniforms, etc to needy students, or actively support the school’s recycling programmes.
* Discuss local and world affairs with children and/or watch international news with them so as to expand their horizons.
* Nurture children’s self-management capabilities and encourage children to complete a task, such as project learning, on their own or with classmates to help them learn how to learn and develop generic skills.
* Remind children to respect intellectual property rights, for example, acknowledging the source of the information being quoted.
* Instil in children an attitude of valuing resources and not wasting money, food, water, etc.
Further Reading/References
* Education and Support Services for Newly-arrived Children
* Education Services for Non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) Students
* Special Education Services
* School-based After-school Learning and Support Programmes
* Community Care Fund – School-based Fund for Cross Boundary Learning Activities
* "i Learn at home" Internet Learning Support Programme
11.5 Roles of Different Members in Schools
Different staff members in schools play important roles in building an atmosphere conducive to both educational and community development.
School Heads/DeputyHeads
* Lead the overall school curriculum planning through the following:
  * Set work priorities by fully considering the needs of students, school’s mission and readiness of teachers.
  * Create room for students’ whole-person development and life-long learning.
  * Build up a good learning environment in school.
* Enable teachers to become curriculum leaders in Key Learning Areas (KLAs)/subjects and life-wide learning, while creating time and space for their collaboration. For example, schools can arrange fixed time slots and support measures for experience sharing and collaborative lesson planning, and encourage teachers to participate in a variety of appropriate professional development programmes.
* Set goals and improvement plans for different stages in response to the new development needs of the school.
* Support the development of measures which facilitate student learning, for example, allocating resources (time, staffing, funding) to projects that yield better results, reducing teachers’ non-professional work, and respecting the professional autonomy of different KLAs and subject departments in adapting the school-based curriculum.
* Communicate with the staff, students and parents on issues which may be contrary to the principle of “learning to learn”, and prepare plans for improvement.
* Exchange knowledge and experience with other schools and related organisations.
* Encourage connections with the outside world, for example, getting more external resources and support for the school through close contact with alumni or the Parent-Teacher Association.
Primary School Curriculum Leaders/Panel Chairpersons
* Formulate development plans for respective KLAs/subjects, decide on the scope of curriculum, collaborate with other subject departments if necessary, as well as lead the development of school-based curriculum and changes in learning and teaching according to the plans.
* Assist the School Head to implement curriculum plans, as well as manage and deploy resources in support of curriculum development.
* Support teachers’ professional autonomy and judgement in improving the school-based curriculum and learning.
* Formulate plans and promote the professional development of teachers by various means, e.g. workshops, peer lesson observation, action research, collaborative lesson planning.
* Facilitate exchange of and discussion on knowledge and experiences within KLAs or subject panels and with other subject panels to ensure close contact and cooperation.
* Give appropriate feedback to teachers and praise them for their good practices to recognise their efforts as well as promote self-improvement through a systematic evaluation mechanism.
* Strengthen the development of students’ generic skills, in particular, collaboration, self-management, critical thinking, creativity and communication skills through learning and teaching in different KLAs/subjects.
* Use appropriate learning, teaching and assessment strategies to arouse students’ learning motivation.
* Take into consideration the views of students and use appropriate learning and teaching resources to provide support and improve learning in response to the changes in curriculum.
* Nurture the concept of "sustainable development"2 and teach students to cherish the resources on Earth.
* Set plans for own professional development and life-long learning which are in line with the latest developments and changes to keep up with the times.
* Carry out collaborative lesson planning with colleagues or external support teams, and try out strategies that have positive impacts on learning.
* Collaborate with the staff in the community to provide life-wide learning for students.
* Reflect more on the daily teaching work, discuss with other teachers, and exchange knowledge and experience with them.
* Communicate with parents to explain to them the school-based curriculum and learning-related policies, e.g. homework policy, and seek their support and assistance to facilitate student learning.
* Help parents understand the purpose of assessment and the strengths and weaknesses of their children, and help them realise that scores and class ranking do not necessarily reflect their children’s learning and progress completely.
* Help students make good use of library resources to facilitate learning to learn, for example:
  * Facilitate easy access to information through providing various means and information technology facilities.
  * Provide students with a wide range of resource-based programmes to enhance their self-learning ability.
  * Devise development plans to foster students’ interests in reading all types of books and help them develop a good reading habit.
* Collaborate with other teachers to develop learning and teaching plans and enrich library resources in accordance with the school’s areas of concerns.
* Publicise the use of different sources for learning and teaching.
* Improve school library services, for example, coordinating assistance from others where appropriate to extend the opening hours of the library.
* Enhance the staff’s awareness of information technology and follow closely the latest development of information technology and curriculum.
* Ensure an adequate supply of library resources and teaching aids, as well as their proper maintenance.
* Increase e-learning resources.
See also “Chapter 7 Quality Learning and Teaching Resources and School Library Development.”
* Engage actively in school life, study hard, take the initiative to raise questions and participate in classroom discussions.
* Take responsibility for learning by, for example, setting learning goals, planning learning progress, organising study groups, reading different types of books.
* Reflect on one’s learning progress, for example, keeping a “learning journal”, etc to record and reflect on learning outcomes.
* Achieve the goal of whole-person development, for example, through participating in various co-curricular activities, “Big Brother and Big Sister Programme”.
* Maintain good communication with teachers, and share with them the ways to help oneself learn better.
For Reflection and Action For Reflection and Action
* How do you take up your role and fulfil your tasks?
* Which tasks do you think are more difficult to accomplish? How would you overcome the challenge?
* What else do you think you can contribute?
11.6 Home-School Cooperation
Parents are the school’s important partners. Through appropriate channels of communication, parents are able to have a better understanding of the school’s mission and can work in line with the school’s educational directions effectively to enhance home-school cooperation and students’ learning effectiveness. Home-school cooperation is an interactive and developmental process. Through two-way communication and cooperation, parents and the school personnel jointly formulate different modes of parental participation3, including:
* Parenting education
* Helping children learn at home
* Communicating with the school
* Voluntary work at school
* Participating in parents’ association and/or joining the School Management Committee to be involved in the formulation of school policies
The following are suggestions on how schools and parents can strengthen ties and cooperation in order to support student learning.
Suggestions for schools
* Draw up policies to facilitate home-school cooperation, treat parents as important partners and enhance two-way communication.
* Invite parent representatives to assist in school administration, for example, selection of lunch suppliers.
* Take parents’ enquiries or complaints positively and make good use of their opinions and feedback to review and improve schools’ policies and work.
* Encourage and accept parent volunteers with different cultural backgrounds, education levels and contributions.
* Arrange lesson observations, particularly in Primary One classes, so that parents may know how their children adapt to the transition from kindergarten to primary school, and increase their trust and support for the school.
* Provide parenting education for parents to hone their skills in supporting student learning at home.
* Add parent-child elements to the major school events.
* Collect parents’ opinions and recommendations for the school through questionnaires, etc.
* Consult parents or parent representatives prior to introducing any major policy changes or launching new policies.
* Devise an appropriate homework policy, and collect parents’ opinions in a timely manner.
* Keep parents informed of various school affairs through school publications, websites, etc.
* Include teachers’ email addresses in the school’s website; increase the channels of communication between parents and subject teachers/middle management of the school.
Suggestions for parents
* Take the parenting responsibility and care about children’s school life.
* Adopt an open, understanding and supportive attitude towards school policies, and express views to the school if necessary.
* Trust teachers’ professional views and arrangements, and cooperate with them in guiding children’s learning.
* Encourage or accompany children to borrow books from public libraries to help them develop reading habits and promote parent-child reading.
* Make use of holidays to participate in different kinds of cultural activities with children to encourage life-wide learning.
* Keenly support and try to attend the activities for parents arranged by schools.
* Do volunteer work for the school.
* Actively participate in activities organised by the Parent-Teacher Association.
* Establish rules with children on the use of mobile phones, computers, and the Internet and set the duration of web surfing.
* Install filtering software on home computer.
* Pay frequent attention to children’s daily behaviours and emotional changes; discuss with school teachers or school social workers if necessary.
* Encourage children to sleep and get up early, and have a balanced diet.
* Participate in healthy recreational activities with children, and have an energetic and healthy lifestyle.
For Reflection and Action For Reflection and Action
* How can parents facilitate student learning?
* Regarding home-school cooperation, are there any good practices that your school can share with other schools?
Further Reading/References
* Committee on Home-School Co-operation
* Home-School Co-operation – Use Homework to Motivate Learning (In Chinese)
* Home-School Co-operation Grants
* Booklets and Pamphlet on Parent-child Reading is Fun – for Parents of the 0-9-year-olds
* Parent Pamphlet – “Collaboration of Parents and Schools in Promoting the Curriculum Reform” (In Chinese)
* EatSmart@school.hk Campaign
* Hong Kong Education City – Resources for Students and Parents (In Chinese)
* Parent Pamphlet – Be net wise (Provide parents with the key points about internet safety and protection) (In Chinese)
* Be Net Wise – Internet Education Resource Kit: Primary School (In Chinese)
11.7 Community Participation
Keeping contact with the community and external organisations, and enlisting resources from parties such as alumni, the Education Bureau (EDB), tertiary institutions, enterprises, community organisations based on the school needs and development priorities would enable schools to provide students with additional learning support and diversified learning experiences.
Alumni’s connection
The alumni of a school definitely have a sense of belonging to their school. Working or studying alumni can support their school juniors through different means and help build a unique cultural tradition for the school. Different modes of alumni connection include:
* Joining the Incorporated Management Committee (IMC)/School Management Committee (SMC) of the school to participate in the formulation of school policies
* Serving as after-school tutors or activity coaches
* Sharing experiences on secondary or tertiary education
* Sharing career-related experiences
* Giving advice on further studies to school juniors
School-based support from the Education Bureau
To provide educational support, the EDB makes use of the School-based Support Services (SBSS) to bring in tertiary institutions as school partners. The prime aim of the SBSS is to help teachers cope with the changing work culture at ease through connecting activities of teachers’ continuing professional development, school-based curriculum development and the school’s development plan. The SBSS include:
* School-based Professional Support
* Language Learning Support
* School-based Curriculum Development in Primary Schools
“School-based Professional Support”:
“Language Learning Support”:
“School-based Curriculum Development in the Primary Schools”:
ExemplarExemplar: University-School Support Programme
Under the programme, the EDB entrusted some tertiary institutions with relevant experience to design support programmes which fit the special needs of a school. Support programmes related to the primary schools include:
* Enhancing the pedagogical practices in Hong Kong Special Schools (2010–2012)
* University-School Support Programme: Professional Development Network for Knowledge Building in Schools (2008–2011)
* University-School Support Programme: Quality School Improvement (QSI) Project (2008-2011)
* Quality School Improvement (QSI) Project: Support for Learning Diversity (2010–2013)
Business-School Partnership
A lot of business organisations which put “corporate social responsibility” into practice are more than willing to offer support to schools in various ways. They help students expand their horizons and give them opportunities to gain work-related experience in preparation for their future career. Possible modes of Business-School Partnership include:
* Inviting members of society to join the IMC/SMC of the school and participate in the formulation of school policies
* Providing various kinds of resources and cooperating with schools in offering activities such as talks and workplace visits by enterprises
* Participating in the territory-wide activities arranged for primary students under the EDB’s Business-School Partnership Programme
“EDB: Business-School Partnership Programme (BSPP)”
For Reflection and Action For Reflection and Action
* How does your school maintain contact with different organisations? Which kinds of contact have a positive impact on student learning?
* How can different members of the school team up with the external support enlisted by the school to enhance effectiveness?
1 HO, S. C. E. (2002). Home school community collaboration: From theory, research to practice (In Chinese). Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.
2 According to the United Nations “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future” (1987), sustainable development is the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. (Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development) Retrieved from
3 HO, S. C. E. (2002). Home School Community Collaboration: From Theory, Research to Practice (In Chinese). Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.
The following references are by no means exhaustive and listed below for reference only.
HO, S. C. E. (2002). Home School Community Collaboration: From Theory, Research to Practice (In Chinese). Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.
Centre for Social Policy Studies, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2005). Parental Working Hours and Parent-child Relationship Consultant's Report (Executive Summary) (In Chinese). Hong Kong: Education and Manpower Bureau, Committee on Home-School Co-operation. Retrieved from
Central Health Education Unit, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health (2005). Tackling Obesity - Its Causes, the Plight and Preventive Actions. Hong Kong: Author. Retrieved from
Boethel, M. (Ed.). (2003). Diversity: School, Family & Community Connections. Austin, TX: National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools & Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Retrieved from
Bæck, U. K. (2010). Parental Involvement Practices in Formalized Home–School Cooperation. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 54(6), 549-563.
Committee on Home-School Co-operation. (2007). Exercising habits of senior primary and junior secondary students and parents (Executive summary). Hong Kong: Author. Retrieved from
Committee on Home-School Co-operation. (2009). Survey on Home-School Co-operation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Author.
Epstein, J. L., & Associates. (2009). School, Family, and Community Partnership: Your Handbook for Action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Ferlazzo, L. (2011). Involvement or Engagement? Educational Leadership, 68(8), 10-14.
Gorinski, R., & Fraser, C. (2006). Literature Review on the Effective Engagement of Pasifika Parents and Communities in Education. New Zealand: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from
Jordan, C., Orozco, E., & Averett, A. (2002). Emerging Issues in School, Family & Community Connections (Annual Synthesis 2001). Austin, TX: National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools & Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). Retrieved from
Mayer, J. E. (2007). Creating a Safe and Welcoming School. Geneva: International Academy of Education & UNESCO: International Bureau of Education. Retrieved from
Tam, V. C. W., & Chan, R. M. C. (2005). Research on "Parental Involvement in Homework of Primary School Students" (Executive Summary). Hong Kong: Committee on Home-School Co-operation. Retrieved from
Wade, R. (2011). Service for Learning. Educational Leadership, 68(8), 28-31.
EDB: Education and Support Services for Newly-arrived Children
EDB: Education Services for non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students
EDB: Special Education Services
EDB: School-based After-School Learning and Support Programmes
EDB: Community Care Fund – School-based Fund for Cross Boundary Learning Activities
"i Learn at home" Internet Learning Support Programme
Committee on Home-School Co-operation
EDB: Booklets and Pamphlet on Parent-child Reading is Fun – for Parents of the 0-9-year-olds
Parent Pamphlet – “Collaboration of Parents and Schools in Promoting the Curriculum Reform” (In Chinese)
EDB: EatSmart@school.hk Campaign
HKedCity: Resources for Students and Parents
Parent Pamphlet – Be Net Wise(Provide parents with the key points about internet safety and protection)(In Chinese)
Be Net Wise – Internet Education Resource Kit:Primary school (In Chinese)
EDB: School-based Professional Support
EDB: Language Learning Support
EDB: School-based Curriculum Development in the Primary Schools
Enhancing the pedagogical practices in Hong Kong Special Schools (2010–2012)
Professional Development Network for Knowledge Building in Schools (2008–2011)
EDB: Business-School Partnership Programme (BSPP)