The characteristics of the culture of catholic secondary schools in Hong Kong: Attitudes of students towards their school

Kam Yuen WU

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Research indicates that the Catholic school culture is exceptionally conducive to high quality education and student achievement. Over the years, Catholic secondary schools in Hong Kong have provided quality education with excellent rates of student achievement. However, these schools have faced challenges, resulting in a downgrading of the quality of education. The Catholic education reform proposed in 2000 by the Diocesan Synod, with the intention of restoring high quality Catholic secondary schooling in Hong Kong, emphasized the cultivation of a positive school culture. During the reform period, principals and teachers conducted interim reviews to gain knowledge of those characteristics specific to a positive Catholic secondary school culture, an insight which is invaluable for ensuring effective education and the formulation of improvement plans that will shape a positive educational environment. This study was designed to examine the characteristics of the culture of Catholic secondary schools in Hong Kong through an investigation of students’ attitudes towards their school. Flynn’s circular interaction model (Flynn, 1993) was used as a framework, and with empirical and theoretical support for their possible significance to school culture, the variables were selected. A survey adopted from an instrument by Flynn and Mok (2002) was employed in this research. The instrument, “Attitudes of students towards their school”, examined five aspects: (1) student’s relationship with teachers; (2) student morale; (3) student’s perception of the principal; (4) student attitude to discipline; and (5) student attitude to religious education. The items selected from Flynn and Mok’s (2002) instrument were translated into Chinese for this study. The factor structure and reliability of the instrument were inspected, and the results suggested that it was an adequate indicator for assessing the students’ attitudes towards their school. The students’ attitudes towards their school were developed by analysing 3,478 useable survey responses from students currently enrolled in Secondary One to Secondary Three at 18 aided Catholic secondary schools in Hong Kong. An interpretation of students’ attitudes towards their school, including the effects of gender, school type and religious background on them, as well as the impact of the interaction between these predictors, unveiled the characteristics of the culture of Catholic secondary schools in Hong Kong. The analysis indicated that teachers’ professionalism and caring attitudes towards students contributed to the students’ satisfactory sense of community. Principals preferred the provision of good education and students’ academic achievements, but not religious education. Meanwhile, schools emphasized conformity and cultivation of an orderly school atmosphere. In addition, the influences of school culture were more positive among students in all—girls’ schools and students with the same religious affiliation as the school. Seemingly, improvement measures should be taken before a positive culture and high quality Catholic secondary school education in Hong Kong can be restored. Improvement work should involve the development of the concept of discipline as discipleship in schools. Catholic secondary schools should also pay particular attention to curricula and religious education. Moreover, school leadership should make full use of the opportunity to reveal the school’s commitment to apostolic cultivation. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • MOK, Magdalena Mo Ching, Supervisor
  • WALKER, Allan David 汪雅量, Supervisor
Award date13 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Catholic schools -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2015


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