Professional Competencies and Leadership
1. What good looks like?
Career team1, is equipped with core competences in distributed leadership2, management, coordination and networking to lead trained staff to implement the full spectrum of career education and life development programmes in school.
- Under support and involvement of specific senior management (e.g. Principal, Vice-Principal), career team is equipped with leadership, management, networking, and coordination competencies to oversee the design and delivery of the career and life development (CLD) programme as strategic part of the whole school development plan.
The career master/ team should be capable of leading and overseeing the systematic design and delivery of the career development plan and programmes, reflecting the school’s visions, with appropriate allocation of resources.
- The career master/ mistress3 should be capable of managing, monitoring and supporting the implementation and evaluation of career development plan and programmes, with clear division of labour, planning of budget, and schedule of meetings and activities.
The career team should be capable of networking with different colleagues and stakeholders by leading the development of existing and new networks with different types of stakeholders.
- The career master/ team should be capable of coordinating the completion of plan and programmes through facilitating communication and buy-in from internal and external stakeholders4.
- All staff members should participate in continuing professional development relating to their roles in CLD as an ongoing whole school strategy.
- Career master and career team members should participate in continuing professional development activities at least once a year and at least half of the career team members received initial training on career guidance and counselling.
- School should provide time, space and tangible support (e.g., endorsement, time-off, CPD) for empowering staff members’ distributed leadership to co-work for career and life development education in light of enabling whole school approach.
- The career team should provide orientation and induction resources to new team members to cultivate shared values and exchange strategies. The career team should pro-actively deliver professional sharing on CLD practices with all staff, at least once each year.
- The school should offer time and space to enable the staff to conduct external sharing.
2. Why this matters?
- For effective delivery of the CLD policy in school, it is significant that senior management (e.g. Vice Principal) can offer visible support to career master. According to Education Bureau (2014), the school should provide capacity for the career master to offer direct quality service to the students. Career master should be in the senior position who possesses core competences in leadership, management, coordination and networking to develop a clear, holistic overview of careers provision in the school.
- The career master takes important roles to implement the CLD policy, and is responsible for commissioning, line managing and persuading diverse stakeholders to get involved in the delivery of the school’s CLD policy. The career team needs to effectively lead their colleagues, make decisions, enact reforms, respond to emerging changes, and ensure that the school is consistently providing good practices to meet with the benchmarks.
- For quality assurance, the career team equipped with core competences can be responsible to ensure that the school CLD policy can continuously improve and deliver the impacts to suit the needs of students and other stakeholders.
- Distributed leadership tasks require considerable level of expertise in areas such as career guidance, learning and teaching, and management. To ensure that career team and other staff members have sufficient expertise and is competent in this position, it is important to give them access to initial training, continuous professional development and the opportunity to meet and interact with other career masters for knowledge transfer and development of resourceful network outside.
3. Top tips for schools*
- Generate a clear organizational structure with indication of the roles of SLT and other functional team/ committee heads/ representatives in CLD to address whole-school approach in distributed leadership and to highlight the connections among different members from the KLA subjects/ functional committees with their operational duties in the CLD.
- Review and update the upcoming academic year’s school CLD plan and relevant documentation at the end of each academic year to reflect upon the planning and proposed content of programmes. Ensure the programmes are systematically arranged and delivered, with the use and development of networks and buy-ins from different stakeholders.
- Under the support from SLT, review and augment career team composition regularly to enable whole school approach and to ensure good connection with functional groups, panels and related school initiatives. If necessary, incorporate members such as PTA coordinator, OLE coordinator/ representatives.
- Communicate with the specific senior management (e.g. Principal, Vice-Principal) for backing of the proposed action plan and the required manpower and resources. Career leadership is most effective where the Career master/mistress is on the senior leadership team (SLT) or has a clear reporting line to the SLT.
- Review the list of school network and strategic method (i.e. operational strategies) for communicating with different stakeholders. Build up communication channels for sustainable connection and relationship with external partners, such as employers, service providers and career guidance services, and ensure that the elements of the school’s CLD provisions are coordinated and managed through a stable and embedded CLD policy.
- Review and update the orientation and induction resources kits for new team members to reflect upon the latest strategies and interventions of the career team timely.• Plan and arrange annual sharing meeting for all staff to help them understand the latest development on school’s CLD policy and their roles involved in CLD.
- Liaise with the SLT to provide tangible support (e.g. time-release) for the teacher involved to join relevant continuous professional development opportunities to enhance their CLD-related knowledge and competencies relating to their distributed leadership roles whichever appropriate.
- Set up a continuous professional development plan for the staff involved in CLD, with feasible timeline on the specific training sessions arranged in the school action plan or career team’s annual plan. Encourage career team members and other teachers involved to advance their professional competence in CLD by joining relevant professional development programmes offered by the school and/ or external organizations regularly.
- Deliver a orientation meeting and provide induction resource kits or deliver peer-to-peer mentorship for new team members in order to cultivate shared values and exchange strategies.
- Coordinate and communicate with career team members and non-career teachers (e.g. class teachers) on the implementation and ensure all parties have been briefed and are clear about the purpose of the CLD programmes and their distributed roles and responsibilities.
- Arrange professional sharing on CLD practices with all staff, at least once each year and promote professional sharing of CLD practices through participating in at least one external sharing session per year outside your school (e.g., seminars, good practice sharing sessions, conferences organized by Education Bureau and other organizations).
- Take lead to establish and expand networks with different stakeholders and coordinate to compile a contact list of various stakeholders who have been or have potential to be partners in the CLD programme delivery.
- Examine how the current action plan and
resources (such as manpower, budget, existing and new networks, and different stakeholders) are effectively planned, implemented, and developed.
- Collect feedback from both internal and external stakeholders through different channels on the aspects of leading, managing, networking and coordinating the design and delivery of the CLD plan and programmes as well as the impacts on the target participants.
- Based on the collected feedback, reflect the policy or the strategic plan with the SLT for discussion on the actual and potential barriers, challenges, or limitations of designing and delivering the programmes, with exploration of solutions or methods on the plan to handle these barriers, challenges or limitations.
- Conduct evaluation and collect comments and suggestions for professional development programmes or sharing sessions on CLD practices to understand the impact and to equip with the CLD-related knowledge and competencies relating to their role.
4. Working with partners
Senior Leadership Team (SLT): Advise the senior leadership team on policy, strategy and resources for career guidance and show how they meet the Hong Kong Benchmarks.
Subject Leaders: Communicate and liaise with subject leaders to highlight the relevance of subject contents/ topics to CLD and workplace learning elements in the subject learning opportunities where appropriate.
PTA Coordinator: Connect with the PTA coordinator to form a parent stakeholder pool for building resources network on CLD activities and to facilitate mutual communication amongst parents to provide them with the up-to-date CLD policies and information of the school as well as to collect their voices and opinions on their expectations and thoughts towards the school CLD policies.
OLE/ ECA Team Head/ Coordinator: Communicate and liaise with the respective team head/ coordinator to introduce how to infuse CLD and workplace learning elements in the OLE/ ECA activities and explore the collaboration opportunities.
Apprenticeship/ Mentorship Providers: Ensure apprenticeship/ mentorship providers have access to the school to share opportunities with all students.
Business Partners: Establish and develop links with employers. Coordinate encounters with employers and work experiences.
Alumni: Build a network of alumni who can help with the career guidance programme.
School Social Workers: Communicate and co-work with school social workers in the planning and execution of BM4 (Addressing Individual Needs) and BM6 (Personal Guidance) especially for those students with diverse needs (e.g. SEN students, disengaged ones). Leverage their network to connect potential community resources for the CLD provisions.
NGOs: Connect and liaise with existing/ potential NGO partners to build collective efforts on providing tailor-made CLD services in line with HKBM standards for students with diverse needs to re-engage them and re-discover their meaning of school life and future development.
5. Insights gained from the pilot schools
High involvement of representative from the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), i.e. the Vice-Principal, in the implementation could drive and motivate staff’s involvement in CLD.
Start by engaging representatives from different functional teams to formulate the career team, with continuous review of the diversity and representation, of the team composition.
To boost synergy in CLD, the career team of a pilot school has chosen to start collaboration with one or two KLA champion leaders with the aim of improving both students’ academic performance and their career and life development by incorporating CLD-related experiential learning in subject learning. With such positive evidence, the SLT allocates more resources in CLD provisions.
Education Bureau (2014). Guide on Life Planning Education and Career Guidance for Secondary Schools. Retrieved from https://lifeplanning.edb.gov.hk/uploads/page/attachments/CLP-Guide_E_r3.pdf
MacBeath, J. (2005). Leadership as distributed: A matter of practice. School Leadership & Management: International Leadership Research Network, 25(4), 349-366.
Spillane, JP (2006) Distributed leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
1 Career team: As stated on p. 11 of the Guide on Life Planning Education and Career Guidance for Secondary Schools (2014), the team
members may consist of:
i. Principal, Vice-Principal or a senior teacher (Career master/ mistress) as the coordinator;
ii. Career teachers;
iii. Class teachers and subject teachers;
iv. Curriculum development leaders, guidance teachers, school social workers, I.T. coordinators, administrative support staff; and
v. Teacher(s) assigned by Principal
2 Distributed leadership: Distributed leadership in CLD contexts broadly refers to a family of effective whole school leadership approaches
that characterizes CLD task distribution when the leadership density lessened from the ‘power centre’, core career team or the “Principal
office” (MacBeath, 2005; Spillane, 2006) and spread towards the school’s professional communities. This approach type is particularly
useful in breaking Silo among CLD-related initiatives, through effective management, leadership, networking and coordinating of the
core career team.
3 Career master (or mistress): Refers to designated manpower or assigned careers leader, preferably at a senior graduate master/ mistress
(SGM) grade or above, who is responsible for leading the entire CLD programme in school.
4 Internal stakeholders: Refer to students, parents, teachers;
External stakeholders: Refer to employers, community partners, university/progression partners.