Could a community model work for Hong Kong secondary schools?: Evidence and challenges

Yue On James KO, Allan David WALKER, Philip HALLINGER

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Since the introduction of accountability framework was introduced in 2003 and the school-based management policy that included parents as school managers was reinforced, a community model in Hong Kong secondary schools seems emerging. Drawing from a landmark study in Hong Kong secondary schools that looked into the impact of principal leadership on student outcomes using both cognitive and affective data, this paper begins with an examination of the empirical evidence that seems to support a positive prospect for a community model. Specifically, the leadership dimension that characterizes principals’ external communication and connection was most highly correlated with the dependable variable, the school condition Support for Students. However, using hierarchical multiple regression, this leadership dimension was also found contributed to only about 3.38% of the variance. This result contrasts with that quality assurance and accountability policy of schools tended to have a negative impact on support for students. Moreover, for some of the forty-seven principals investigated, their scores in this dimension were the lowest among all the seven leadership dimensions studied. These results suggest a mixed message. On the one hand, they indicate that a good communication and connection with parents and the community seemed to help principals provide better support for students. On the other hand, many principals are yet to prepare for the change in power structure in school management (Walker, 2004). In the interviews with the principals and key staff teachers, some strategies adopted by schools to attempt a community model were found. First, as most schools in Hong Kong also have strong affiliations with or under the governance of religious bodies or charitable organizations, some forms of external communication and connection to the community may have already existed. Second, some secondary schools were eager to build stronger connections with primary schools in the local area. This was partly motivated by the fact that primary schools supplied students to secondary schools. However, some secondary schools were willing to continue the connections with primary schools despite oversubscriptions. Third, the values and visions of a principal seem to play a stronger role in affecting a school’s commitment to the local community. However, in order to make such a model influential, two major obstacles have to be overcome. First, traditionally Chinese parents often show diminishing interests in their children’s activities in schools when they grow up. Instead, secondary schools are expected to take up more responsibilities for the well-being of the students than primary schools. Schools that can demonstrate their resourcefulness are often more popular among parents. Second, we may run into a risk that we can develop a community model only in rich schools in rich communities. In this study, we found that schools that showed continuous school improvement over three years had better resource capacity in schools and stronger resource management in principals’ leadership practices. A recent government audit report also criticised the lack of financial support to economically disadvantaged families in schools with direct subsidies from the government (Audit Commission, 2010).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event25th International Congress for School Effectiveness Improvement (ICSEI 2012) - Malmö University, Sweden
Duration: 05 Jan 201208 Jan 2012


Conference25th International Congress for School Effectiveness Improvement (ICSEI 2012)
Abbreviated titleICSEI 2012


Ko, J. K.-o., Walker, A., & Hallinger, P. (2012, January). Could a community model work for Hong Kong secondary schools?: Evidence and challenges. Paper presented at the 25th International Congress for School Effectiveness Improvement (ICSEI 2012), Malmö University, Malmo, Sweden.


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