ESF - English Schools Foundation

Lantau's residents step up campaign

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2008, 12:00am

Discovery Bay parents have stepped up their campaign to secure priority for places at Discovery College, the new English Schools Foundation through-school.

About 120 parents this week took their complaints to Civic Party legislators Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, and district councillor for Discovery Bay Amy Yung Wing-sheung.

The legislators are now due to meet with ESF and Education Bureau representatives later this month, and a formal complaint may be lodged with the Legislative Council's complaints body.

The parents are complaining that they were not granted interviews for Year One admission to the school, despite being long-term residents of the area.

The college opened last year in a temporary campus in Lai King and is due to move to its new site in Discovery Bay in August.

As a private independent school, it has no designated catchment area, meaning Discovery Bay children need to compete for places with applicants from other parts of the city.

Parent Ava Goei-Vujovich said the meeting had given parents a chance to vent their frustrations.

'Parents really voiced their dissatisfaction,' she said. 'There were concerns about where their children will go come September. The majority have not made contingency plans for an alternative school.'

Most of the parents were permanent residents from non-Cantonese-speaking families whose children would not be able to attend local schools. Their only affordable alternative would be the ESF's Bradbury School on Hong Kong Island, but most did not want their children to spend 11/2 hours on a ferry every day.

Ms Eu said it was understandable that parents felt 'agitated' about the situation.

'This is a special community with special transport arrangements,' she said. 'It doesn't make sense to send children out of Discovery Bay to go to school, and it also doesn't make sense to send children in from other places to go to school there.'

School principal Mark Beach was unavailable for comment, but an ESF spokesman said the matter was 'under active consideration'.