School-based approach is a major attempt of education reforms to enhance and improve school performance and to meet the high demand of quality education in the society (Caldwell & Spinks, 2013; Cheng, 2015; Griffin, McGaw & Care, 2012). Curriculum reform with a school-based approach offers schools and teachers with high professional autonomy and technical flexibility to develop school-based curriculum and pedagogies to better fit the needs of students in the context (Harris, 2003). Although the initiatives of Hong Kong school-based curriculum development in the last decade have produced some successful outcomes (Cheung & Wong, 2011; Yuen, Cheung & Wong, 2012), there have been some challenges worth for further investigation (Cheng, 2014; Lee, 2014). Through reviewing the Hong Kong experiences and related international evidence, this paper has identified the key challenges and difficulties to the curriculum reform in a school-based approach in three aspects. In the intellectual aspects, since there was lack of professional input in developing a strong knowledge base for curriculum development, most school-based curriculum initiatives or innovations were too piecemeal, fragmented and thin. In the structural aspects, as many teachers wasted a lot of time to “re-invent a wheel” or “scratch from beginning in developing school-based curriculum, they did not have sufficient time and energy to be effective in teaching and helping students. Culturally, the reliance on the school management to steer the school-based reforms would create potential conflicts between the senior management and teachers if leaders were not well prepared to do it and change the culture. A cooperative platform integrating central bureaucracy intelligence and school-based initiatives is thus suggested to enhance a balanced development in the future (Cheng, 2005). International implications will be discussed.
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2016|