More get secondary school of their choice
There were cheers and tears for primary school pupils across the city yesterday as they found out whether they had received places at the secondary schools they wanted.
Some 72 per cent were allocated their first choice of school, up from 70 per cent last year, despite fears that a government drive to cut the number of classes would reduce flexibility.
Some pupils from poorer families complained that they had missed out on top schools because they could not afford to take part in extra-curricular activities to help them shine.
The Education Bureau said 57,000 children, up 500 from last year, had been given places under its central allocation system. Some 86 per cent were allocated to one of their top three choices.
At King's College in Sai Ying Pun, one of the city's most respected schools, parents and children filled the main lobby in the hope of receiving one of a handful of places likely to become available because pupils don't take up places offered them.
One pupil said he had been offered a place at St Paul's College - an elite directly subsidised all-boys school - but wanted to try his luck at King's as well. 'I actually love this school more as its arts and cultural atmosphere is richer,' he said.
His mother said she chose to let him apply to the other school because she feared that he would miss out at King's due to the government's class-reduction scheme, in which some 200 secondary schools cut one of their Form One classes.
'The class-reduction scheme may make my son's chance slimmer. That is why we chose to be more secure,' she said. King's came under fire from its alumni for choosing to take part in the programme last year.
The allocation of school places takes part in two stages. In the first, the discretionary stage, parents can apply to two schools, which can then choose up to 30 per cent of their intake based on criteria including academic performance and personality.
Those who miss out enter the central allocation system, which takes into account academic performance, with a random element used to separate pupils at similar levels.
Percy Chan Wan-hei was also hoping for a place at King's after only getting his fourth-choice school in the allocation, despite putting in the hours on extra-curricular activities.
'I have language classes and gymnastics training from Monday to Friday,' he said. 'I am interested in the classes, which also enrich my extra-curricular portfolio but I feel sad they did not help much.'
For pupils from poorer backgrounds, however, extra-curricular activities are simply not an option.
'My friends with similar academic performance as mine got the offer [they wanted] but not me,' said Onez Lau Pui-yan, who joined the queue for a last-minute place at Belilios Public School in Tin Hau.
Her mother said: 'It is hard to pay for extra-curricular activities if you are from a grass-roots family. But if the marks of several students are similar, students with more [extra-curricular activities] stand out and that is why my daughter is left out.'
Pupils must report to the secondary school they have been allocated for registration tomorrow or on Friday. Failure to do so indicates that they have chosen to give up the place allocated them.