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SED visits schools to follow up on proposal of reducing allocation class size (with photos)

     The Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, and Under Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, visited secondary schools in different districts today (November 15) to follow up on the proposal of reducing the allocation class size during the transitional period of a temporary decline in Secondary One (S1) student population.

     Mr Ng said the Education Bureau (EDB), after thorough deliberation and discussion with the school sector, had decided to adopt a district-based approach to consult school principals in various districts on the proposal of a progressive reduction of allocation size by "1-1-1" or "2-1-1".

     "We strongly believe a flexible district-based approach on adjusting the allocation class size would best balance the needs and interests of school sponsoring bodies, school principals, teachers, parents and students," he said.

     According to the proposal, the allocation class size of S1 class for all public sector schools, including government, aided and caput secondary schools, will be reduced by one place each year starting from 2013/14 school year (i.e. the "1-1-1" proposal). However, individual districts facing greater pressure in student enrolment will be allowed more flexibility to opt for the ˇ§2-1-1ˇ¨ proposal by reducing two places in 2013/14 and then one place each in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 school year. Individual schools opting for the "2-1-1" proposal should seek endorsement from its School Management Committee (SMC) or Incorporated Management Committee (IMC) before submitting application to the EDB for approval. The EDB would take into account the demand and supply situation of S1 places of the district in considering the application.

     If the majority of schools in a district (i.e. at least two-thirds of public sector secondary schools) can reach a consensus on jointly opting for the "2-1-1" proposal, the EDB will take into account the demand and supply situation of school places in the district and approve the application from those schools which have reached a consensus to implement the ˇ§2-1-1ˇ¨ proposal. The remaining schools in the district which have not reached a consensus will not be affected and will continue to adopt the "1-1-1" proposal.

     In principle, the "1-1-1" proposal applies to through-train, feeder and nominated schools. However, if a through-train school, after adopting the "1-1-1" proposal, is unable to reserve not less than 7% of its total number of S1 places for admitting students of other primary schools; or if a feeder or nominated school has used up 100% of its reserved places in the previous school year, the allocation class size of these schools can remain at the current 34 places. Individual schools under other special circumstances may also submit application to the EDB to opt out from the "1-1-1" proposal (i.e. not to reduce allocation class size).

     Mr Ng called on school principals in various districts to decide on the reduction proposal as early as possible, so that the EDB could tie in with the timetable of the Secondary School Places Allocation System 2011/2013 and announce the relevant arrangements for the next school year before parents start considering school choices in December.

     To address the temporary decline in S1 student population, the EDB has earlier introduced a basket of relief measures, including relaxing the ˇ§three-classˇ¨ requirement to two classes, relaxing the criteria for approving S1 classes from 35 to 25 students per class and extending the retention period for surplus teachers from one year to three years. These measures aim to stabilise the school sector so as to ensure that no secondary school will be forced to cease operation and that not a single teacher holding a permanent post will be laid off in the next three school years as a result of the temporary drop in S1 student population.

     Mr Ng said: "We hope to preserve the stability and strength of the schools and the teaching force through a basket of targeted measures so as to enhance the quality of education. With utmost sincerity, we will continue to work for the well being of the school sector to further improve the quality of education in Hong Kong."

Ends/Thursday, November 15, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:50


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