Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article Government Homepage
LCQ14 : Small class teaching scheme for schools with a high concentration of disadvantaged students

    Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (March 8):


     To assist disadvantaged students and complement the Government's pledge to alleviate inter-generational poverty, starting from this school year, any primary school with 40% or more of their Primary One to Primary Three students receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance or full grant assistance under the Student Financial Assistance Scheme are eligible to apply to join the small-class teaching scheme.  Selected schools will each be given a cash grant of $290,000 per annum for each additional class, so as to enable them to adopt the small class teaching mode with 20 to 25 students in a class for Chinese, English and Mathematics subjects.  It is learnt that a total of 75 primary schools are eligible, but only 29 of them have joined the scheme.  The Secretary for Education and Manpower has attributed this to the schools' concern about being adversely labelled after joining this scheme.  In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) of the measures taken to minimise the effect of adverse labelling; whether this scheme will be revised to ensure that participating schools will not be adversely labelled;

(b) of the total number of disadvantaged students in the 46 eligible schools which have not implemented small class teaching; how the authorities will honour their pledge to alleviate inter-generational poverty of these students and how they will help them; and

(c) whether they will consider extending this scheme to subjects other than Chinese, English and Mathematics?


Madam President,

(a) Eligible schools may opt to join the small class teaching scheme (the Scheme) for schools with a high concentration of disadvantaged students, having regard to the needs of their students and the schoolˇ¦s circumstances. They are not required to explain why they choose not to join.  According to available information, the majority of these schools are already operating Primary 1 classes with a class size of 25 students or less; or a single Primary 1 class with insufficient intake for splitting into small classes of 20-25 students each.  For the remaining schools, some are already participating in the Study on Small Class Teaching (the Study), while the others have chosen not to join the Scheme because they have other priorities in school development.

     Regarding the possible labelling effect mentioned by the Member, we have already taken effective measures to mitigate it.  The measures include directly inviting the schools to participate in the Scheme, and not disclosing the list of participating schools to the public.

(b) As explained above, we should not assume that schools not participating in the Scheme would not be able to operate small classes or have not put in place measures to cater for the needs of the disadvantaged students.  Small class is not the only way to enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching.  Nor should it be considered a panacea for alleviating poverty.

     As far as education is concerned, we have put in place various measures to provide adequate support to the disadvantaged students so as to ensure that their education opportunities will not be adversely affected by their family background.  In recent years, primary schools have been provided with additional manpower and financial support such as additional teaching posts for curriculum development, English panel chairs and specialised teaching, native-speaking English teachers as well as the Capacity Enhancement Grant which enables schools to improve their staffing situation. We have also decided that, starting from the coming school year, student guidance service would be upgraded by improving the student guidance teacher-to-class ratio from 1:24 to 1:18.   We also plan to adopt the class-to-teacher ratio of 1:1.5 for whole-day primary schools. In effect, schools which have not joined the Scheme can flexibly deploy school-based resources to implement group teaching or provide other forms of support, such as individualised guidance, after-school support, to cater for the needs of their students and the school curriculum.  Schools can also apply for other allowances, such as those provided under the School-based After-School Learning and Support Programmes launched in the 2005/06 school year, to help the needy students.  

(c) At present, schools participating in the Study and the Scheme would adopt the small class teaching mode for the three core subjects of Chinese, English and Mathematics. Some schools prefer implementing small class teaching for all subjects, and have therefore deployed school-based resources to top up the grant for small class teaching provided by the Education and Manpower Bureau.  We will explore the way forward for small class teaching on the basis of the results of the Scheme and the Study.

Ends/Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Issued at HKT 14:32