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LCQ16: Teaching space to support the New Senior Secondary academic structure

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (February 11):


     It is learnt that as the number of grades and classes will increase upon implementation of the new senior secondary ("NSS") academic structure in the next school year, many schools are facing the problem of classroom shortage; they therefore have applied to the Education Bureau ("EDB") for the provision of additional classrooms and special rooms.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the names of the schools, grouped by school type (including special school):

  (i) which had applied to EDB for the provision of additional classrooms in the past three school years, together with the details of the addition works (including the number of classrooms to be added and the projected completion date), as well as the number of schools whose applications are still pending approval and the relevant reasons;

  (ii) which have or will have shortage of classrooms in the current and the next five school years, and the number of classrooms in shortage each year;

(b) whether it will speed up the vetting of applications and shorten the construction time; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) of the existing measures to ensure that schools have sufficient classrooms to dovetail with the implementation of the NSS academic structure; and

(d) whether it has assessed the number of schools which will need to cope with the problem of classroom shortage by means of floating classes; if it has, of the names of such schools and the numbers of floating classes required in each of the next five years; if not, the reasons for that?



     Under the New Senior Secondary (NSS) academic structure, schools have to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for students and teaching space should no longer be restricted to traditional classrooms. Schools should use the available resources flexibly to create more teaching space to support the implementation of the NSS curriculum and adopt flexible time-tabling to provide students with reasonable choices of subjects and diversified learning experiences.

     My replies to the questions are as follows:

(a), (b) and (c)

     To enable schools to acquire additional teaching space, we have provided the NSS Curriculum Migration Grant for aided schools to carry out alteration works with reference to their school-based circumstances and needs.  Aided schools could also utilise the other deployable government funds such as the surplus of the Operating Expenses Block Grant or the Expanded Operating Expenses Block Grant to top up the related expenses.  An additional subsidy of not more than $300,000 will also be provided to each school with genuine needs, upon application, for alteration works.  Besides, to assist schools in carrying out alteration works, EDB has commissioned the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department to provide technical advisory services and related guidelines to schools starting from the 2008/09 school year.  In fact, most schools requiring additional teaching space have been carrying out or have completed alteration works with their existing resources.

     Annex 1 sets out seven schools that have applied to EDB for the provision of additional classrooms by means of in-situ redevelopment or use of vacant primary school premises.  Their applications are under processing with regard to its infrastructural conditions and curriculum needs.  Though the completion date of works or the availability of premises for occupancy is yet to be determined, our aim is that the completion dates, if applicable, should be before the full implementation of the NSS academic structure by 2011/12 school year.  In addition, there are applications from various schools in the annual major repairs/alterations exercise for room conversion and/or other types of alterations.  Since these applications are also bundled with various other types of major repair works of individual schools, we are not able to identify those solely related to alteration for additional teaching space for the implementation of the NSS academic structure.    

     As regards special schools, there are a total of 21 schools which would require conversion works for the implementation of the NSS academic structure. Please refer to Annex 2 for these 21 schools.  EDB plans to provide about 26 additional classrooms and other teaching space to these schools through re-partitioning of existing rooms, or construction of new annexes or roof-top extensions. Among these special schools:

  (i) conversion works for 2 special schools have been completed;

  (ii) conversion works for 5 special schools are expected to be completed before September 2009; and

  (iii) for the remaining 14 schools which would require construction works of more extensive scale, EDB and Architectural Services Department have already visited the schools concerned and formulated preliminary conversion/design proposals for undertaking technical feasibility studies.  We will strive to complete the works before full implementation of the NSS academic structure by 2011/12 school year.

     EDB is working closely with relevant government departments in taking forward the conversion works of the special schools concerned and would employ additional professional staff to deliver the works.  EDB would also continuously assess the need of schools for additional teaching space and facilities for the implementation of the NSS academic structure to meet the changing educational needs, and depending on the circumstances, provide them with the required resources to carry out the required alteration/construction works or to deliver the works.

(d) According to the existing policy, EDB should eliminate floating classes from S1 to S5 in public sector schools.  However, for S6 and S7 classes, schools should make the best use of their teaching spaces available for arranging appropriate groupings of students for different electives/learning activities, with reference to the nature of the curriculum, including split-class teaching in special rooms.

     Nevertheless, in the implementation of the NSS academic structure, floating classes at different levels may arise in individual schools in the double cohort year as a transitional arrangement.  The sector has already been alerted of this arrangement during consultation and such has also been clearly stipulated in the policy document "New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education and Higher Education" published in 2005.

     In addition to the implementation of various measures mentioned above, EDB has all along been supporting schools in class restructuring and providing schools with strategies on effective use of teaching space, including a computer-assisted time-tabling package to optimise room usage.  As a matter of fact, if a school wants to increase its number of classes in order to change from asymmetrical to symmetrical but is under physical constraint, it can always adopt a cyclic symmetrical class structure without having to increase its number of classes.  

     We would continue to work closely with schools and provide necessary support to them having regard to individual circumstances.

Ends/Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:31


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