ESF parents slugged further 4pc
Fees at English Schools Foundation schools are to rise an average of 4 per cent in the next academic year, as the government confirmed that its subsidy for the schools would remain unchanged for the time being.
Staff will also receive a 4 per cent pay rise, angering some parents who say teachers are already paid enough, and unions who say the increase should match inflation, which is 4.9 per cent.
In an e-mail to parents, ESF officials said that annual fees for primary school pupils would be HK$66,100, while those for pupils from Year Seven to 11 would be HK$98,000, an increase of 4.92 and 3.05 per cent respectively.
The biggest rise will be for Year 12 and Year 13 pupils, with fees rising 5.05 per cent to HK$102,000.
'Parents are well aware that there is a very close correlation between pay and fees because 80 per cent of ESF's budget is spent directly on staff,' ESF's chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said in the e-mail. 'The board has done its utmost to contain spending next year.'
ESF chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing said it wanted to build up its reserves. 'The [rise] only just about covers the increased budgeted costs. [Meanwhile] ESF needs to build up reserves to finance future capital expenditure,' he said.
Parents had expected fees to rise but some were angered by the pay rise for staff.
'Teachers are well paid yet they are asking for more. However, they [the executive body, which runs the foundation] got the support of the board. What can parents say?' a parent who asked not to be named, said.
But Warren Shaw, the chairman of the ESF teachers' union, said that the 4 per cent increase was too low. 'ESF teachers have had only a 3.5 per cent pay rise across the past five years,' he said. 'ESF teachers' pay is declining and the offer of 4 per cent is inadequate'.
Last year, ESF raised fees up to 3.3 per cent, with rising costs again cited.
The latest rise came as discussions about the HK$283.4 million subsidy between the government and ESF management drag on, with no clear signal as to when a decision will come. An Education Bureau spokeswoman last night said the subsidy would remain frozen until a review was completed, without giving any timeframe.
The bureau last year suggested phasing out the subsidy, which has been frozen since 2000, but this infuriated parents.
ESF officials earlier said their annual review of school fees could only be carried out after a decision on the subsidy was made. But they later said a decision was not expected until next year at the earliest.
Du Quesnay said earlier this month she believed the ESF would win the battle to maintain the subsidy, citing suggestions that chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying wanted to continue to fund the ESF.
Du Quesnay said the fee adjustment would be endorsed at a board meeting on May 8. An ESF spokeswoman said the board decision was based on findings of a cost review by consultants.
Part of the fee rise would be spent on enhancing services for children with special educational needs. Du Quesnay said money would also be spent on improving IT facilities and paying for a new government requirement to perform criminal record checks on new staff.
The proportion of ESF graduates who go on to further their studies at various universities around the world