Sabbatical Leave Scheme for Professional Development of Teachers and Principals


As announced in the Chief Executive's 2017 Policy Address, the Government would provide a non-recurrent funding of $500 million, with an annual disbursement of around $50 million, to support suitable projects under the T-excel@hk strategic work plan of Committee on Professional Development of Teachers and Principals (COTAP) to enhance the professional development of teachers and principals. "Sabbatical Leave Scheme for Professional Development of Teachers and Principals" commenced in the 2018/19 school year, aiming at creating space for serving teachers and principals to participate in continuing professional development (CPD) programmes/activities that support their professional learning and meet development needs of their students and schools.

Objectives and Details

The Scheme aims to –

  • create space for serving teachers and principals to plan and undertake individualised CPD programmes/activities of different modes and types to meet their professional development needs, apply their learning in the education and school contexts and to enrich their professional exposure;
  • support schools to nurture professional growth of teachers and principals, and promote a culture of educational research and self-improvement contributing to positive changes and impact on learning and teaching; and
  • establish a vibrant professional learning community and professional teams of teachers and principals to lead the teaching profession in striving for excellence.

The Scheme features a "sabbatical leave" period between one and five month(s) as appropriate for serving teachers and principals to take part in professional development programmes/activities. The Scheme aims to promote self-directed planning of local/non-local structured and/or individualised professional learning activities by participating teachers and principals, leading to enhanced teachers' professional growth, students' whole-person development and school development. Participating teachers and principals are required to apply their professional learning in completing planned educational research or school development projects during, and/or within three months upon completion of, the sabbatical leave period.

Important Dates

From 18 March 2020
to 18 May 2020
By the end of
June 2020
From 1 September 2020
to 31 August 2021
From 1 September 2020
to 30 October 2020
By the end of
December 2020
From 1 February 2021
to 31 August 2021

e-sharing Session

To provide you with more details of the Scheme, resources including documents and video clips on how to write a scheme proposal and participants' experience sharing, etc. are appended below for your reference.

Reference Materials (Chinese versions only)


For more details, please refer to the Education Bureau Circular Memorandum (EDBCM) No. 27/2020, which can be downloaded below and on the Education Bureau website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are eligible for the Scheme?


Applicants must be:

  1. permanent residents of Hong Kong;
  2. registered teachers;
  3. full-time regular teachers1 or principals in government, aided (including special schools), caput or DSS primary and secondary schools, or teachers or principals in KGs joining the KG education scheme2, at the time of application; and
  4. have no less than five years of full-time teaching experience in local kindergartens, primary and secondary schools3, at the time of application.

Note 1:

"Regular teachers" refers to 1) teachers on the staff establishment of government, aided and caput schools at the primary and the secondary levels, or 2) regular members of the teaching staff of DSS primary and secondary schools. Teachers employed under the Native-speaking English Teachers Scheme are not included.

Note 2:

While there is no approved staff establishment in KGs, all full-time teachers with remuneration fully paid by subsidy or school fees will be eligible.

Note 3:

Only experience in KGs will be counted for KG teachers, and only relevant experience in primary and secondary schools will be counted for primary or secondary school teachers.

Are there any preferences given to applicants?


Preferences will be given to applicants who:

  1. possess relevant experience in
    1. whole-school/KLA-level/subject-level curriculum planning; or
    2. coordinating and/or organising professional development activities at schools; or
    3. conducting educational research on learning and teaching/ professional development of teachers; or
    4. offering community services in the education field
  2. submit Scheme proposals with study plan and educational research/ school development project(s) that are relevant to the following areas:
    1. enhancing teachers' professional development at the school level; or
    2. mentorship/ leadership development for teachers/ middle leaders; or
    3. cross-curricular learning/collaboration/initiatives or integrated approach in learning and teaching at the KG level; or
    4. student support programmes.

How long can the applicants propose for the sabbatical leave period?


Participating teachers and principals will be granted "sabbatical leave" from one month to five months as appropriate between 1 September 2020 and 31 August 2021 (for 1st batch of participants) OR between 1 February 2021 and 31 August 2021 (for 2nd batch of participants) to pursue their planned CPD programmes/activities relevant to achieving their learning objectives.

What professional development programmes/activities can applicants propose for the sabbatical leave period?


The professional development programmes/activities can be:

  1. local/non-local structured study programmes;
  2. other modes of professional learning activities such as
    1. serving as visiting scholars/researchers/tutors at the universities;
    2. participating in attachment programmes/visits in schools/institutions/organisations, organising inter-school/community activities, sharing sessions, conducting literature reviews, etc.

What are participants' responsibilities during the sabbatical leave period?


During the sabbatical leave periods, participating teachers and principals shall:

  1. report regularly to their school principals/supervisors on the progress of their planned CPD programmes/activities and submit learning progress reports in prescribed format to their school principals/supervisors and the Education Bureau;
  2. attend meetings with educational experts for professional dialogues on planning and conducting educational research/ school development project(s);
  3. plan and/or implement educational research/ school development project(s) in their schools;
  4. establish and a lead professional learning community among participants and within schools through regular meet-up and sharing sessions; and
  5. share their experiences regarding the sabbatical leaves, learning outcomes and outcomes of educational research/ school development project(s) in briefings and sharing sessions to benefit the teaching profession and schools.

Do participants need to submit reports upon completion of the Scheme?


Participating teachers and principals shall submit final reports and planned deliverables of the Scheme to their school principals (for teacher applicants) or supervisors (for principal applicants) and the Education Bureau within three months upon completion of their sabbatical leave period.

Are there any teaching obligation upon completion of the Scheme?


Participating teachers and principals shall undertake to teach full-time (for teachers) or serve full-time (for principals) for two years immediately upon completion of the sabbatical leave periods to sustain the positive impact on school development. KG teachers and principals shall serve in KGs joining the KG Education Scheme, and primary and secondary school teachers shall serve in public sector schools or DSS schools in Hong Kong.

Participating teachers and principals are required to sign an undertaking, which delineates the terms and conditions that they should comply with, upon their acceptance of a place in the Scheme. These include satisfactory completion of, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. planned CPD programmes/activities and professional support sessions from education experts;
  2. educational research/ school development project(s);
  3. learning progress reports and final reports of the Scheme;
  4. briefings and sharing sessions of the Scheme experience; and
  5. fulfilment of two-year teaching and service obligation upon completion of the sabbatical leave periods.

At any point of time, if a breach of the undertaking occurs, the participating teachers and principals of the Scheme shall repay to the Government the expenditure, on an interest-free basis, incurred by the Government because of his/her participation in the Scheme. For special circumstances that the undertaking cannot be completely fulfilled is due to reasons not within the participants' control such as accidents, ill health, etc., they will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What criteria will be adopted for selection of participants?


A vetting committee will be formed to assess the application based on various criteria including eligibility of applicants, their relevant academic qualifications and work experience, action plans on CPD programmes/activities and educational research/ school development project(s) during sabbatical leave period, relevance and benefits of their action plans to the education sector and their schools, and recommendations by the school principals/supervisors, etc. Interviews may be arranged where appropriate.


For enquiries, please contact Ms Ruby Li (Tel: 3509 7585) or Ms Clara Wong (Tel: 3509 7581) of the School Leadership and Professional Development Section of the Education Bureau.