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EDB introduces two new development options to subsidise senior secondary classes

     The Education Bureau announced today (October 22) that in view of the decrease in the number of operating classes in secondary schools resulting from declining student population, two new development options would be introduced for schools to continue to operate subsidized senior secondary classes. These options will only be open for application by schools which have enrolled insufficient Secondary 1 students starting from this school year.

     A spokesman of the bureau said under these two new development options, schools might opt to join the Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) under conditional terms; or co-organise courses with post-secondary institutions / professional / vocational organizations.

     At present, six development options are available for application by schools which are not able to enroll at least 67 students and therefore could not meet the minimum requirement of student enrollment. The options are:
* injection of additional resources by school sponsors;
* merging / collaboration with other schools;
* undergoing Special Review;
* joining the Direct Subsidy Scheme;
* turning to private schools; and
* operating junior secondary classes on "per capita" subvention mode.

     The spokesman said,"The new development options are introduced on the basis of two fundamental principles. First, the schools must provide a broad and balanced curriculum with sufficient diversification in senior secondary levels to ensure reasonable opportunities for students' choices of different combinations of elective subjects. This is to ensure the best interests of students."

     "These schools must also ensure that there are sufficient resources, including sufficient teachers with relevant experience and professional training, to implement the broad, balanced and diversified new senior secondary curriculum."

     The first development option allows the schools to join the SSPA again in the next school year with maximum enrollment of 3 classes. The school sponsoring bodies have to provide the Government with guarantee that when the current classes of secondary one student of that school year progress to senior secondary level, additional resources will be injected by them in order to have resources for 3 classes, until this batch of students finishes the senior secondary curriculum.

     Schools successfully applied for this development option will join the SSPA with three classes in the coming year. If the schools will enroll enough students to operate three secondary one (S1) classes next school year, they can continue operating under the 'per class subvention mode' and join the SSPA with three classes in the year after.

     The second new development option allows schools which cannot enroll three S1 classes to collaborate with post-secondary institutions/professional/vocational organisations in providing special and practical courses. These courses should be accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications, and pathways to further study or employment must be provided.

     If schools opt for the development option of providing collaborative courses, a broad and balanced curriculum under the new senior secondary academic structure  and reasonable combinations of choices of elective subjects must be provided for students. These subjects could include the collaborative courses.

     In assessing the applications, the Education Bureau will consider the relevant experience of the school, whether the junior secondary curriculum could be aligned, the sustainability of collaborative courses, the possible options for timetable, the deployment of teachers and the initial consent and recognition of collaborative courses offered by post-secondary  institutions/professional/vocational organizations. In addition, schools must also state clearly the contingency measures to be taken if there is any change to the collaboration plan.

     The spokesman said: "Having a critical mass of students is the basis of effective learning. The average class sizes of classes operate under 'per class subvention mode' should not be lower than the minimum student requirement (i.e. operating three classes with a total of 61 students). Therefore, schools are required to enroll enough students to operate two classes in each form and to meet the requirement of enrolling at least 21 students per class in order to continue providing collaborative courses.

     The spokesman stressed: "These two new development options introduced today will only apply to schools which are not able to operate three S1 classes for the first time starting this year.  The two options are not applicable to schools whose other development options have been approved or which have been accepted to continue to operate junior secondary classes on the 'per capita' subvention mode."

Ends/Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Issued at HKT 20:40


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