The Education Bureau announced today (March 25) that secondary schools would be invited to optimise their class structure through a voluntary class reduction scheme. The measure will provide the school sector with a more stable environment, thus facilitating their sustainable development, and the smooth implementation of the New Senior Secondary (NSS) academic structure.
The Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, said: "The new academic structure is of paramount importance to the young generation and to the society as a whole. We have to ensure its smooth implementation at schools."
Over the past few months, Mr Suen had met with principals of various districts, representatives of school sponsoring bodies and parents to listen to their views on how an environment conducive to students' learning as well as to the sustainable and stable development of schools could be provided in the wake of student population decline.
"Having considered the views of different stakeholders, we decided to invite secondary schools to consider optimising their class structure through voluntary class reduction to enhance the quality of education," Mr Suen said.
"The measure will enable schools to have more teaching space and to provide students with more diversified subject choices in the implementation of the NSS curriculum."
Mr Suen said: "Participation is entirely voluntary. In principle, class restructuring will take effect from the 2011/12 school year. Special consideration will be given to schools ready for early implementation in the 2010/11 school year."
"Schools should fully consult their stakeholders and obtain the endorsement of their school management committees/incorporated management committees before submitting their applications to the bureau," he said.
To allow participating schools sufficient time to prepare for staff deployment and to provide teachers with a more stable working environment, Mr Suen said a five-year toleration period will be offered to secondary schools to retain their teachers who are already on the existing staff establishment.
The double-cohort year (2011/12 school year) will not be counted towards this period. According to established practice, the class-based grants payable to schools will be offset during the toleration period, but an additional subsidy of $250,000 per annum will be provided to schools to implement the NSS curriculum.
Schools are required to submit applications to the Education Bureau by the end of the 2010/11 school year, i.e., August 31, 2011 (though class reduction may take effect in a later school year), before they are entitled to retain their teachers and granted an additional subsidy during the five-year toleration period. To tie in with the timetable of the Secondary School Places Allocation exercise, schools which intend to optimise their class structure in the 2010/11 school year should submit the applications on or before April 9 this year.
Ends/Thursday, March 25, 2010
Issued at HKT 13:59