The chief executive of the English Schools Foundation, Heather Du Quesnay, will leave her post next year at a time when the foundation is struggling to press the government to continue its HK$284 million-a-year subsidy.
An ESF spokeswoman confirmed Du Quesnay would leave after her contract ends in August. The spokeswoman stressed it had nothing to do with parents' dissatisfaction at the progress of negotiations on the subsidy with the Education Bureau.
"It's not because of that. She is simply retiring," she said.
The Education Bureau insists it will phase out the subsidy, or subvention, to the ESF, which has been in place since the ESF was established by the government in 1967. Parents have criticised ESF's management for failing to strike a deal with the government.
ESF chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing stressed that Du Quesnay was retiring because she will be 65 when her contract ends.
"Our normal retirement age is 60 but it can be extended on a case-by-case basis up to 65. Heather's contract was renewed last year by the board for a two-year term to August 2013 when she reaches 65," Tong said.
The board has already formed a selection panel, chaired by Tong, to recruit a new chief executive officer.
Some ESF parents were pleased at Du Quesnay's impending exit, saying it was mostly her fault that the ESF had failed to press the government for the continuation of the subvention.
"I'm happy about it. I hope the person replacing her will be more reasonable," parent Christian Mueller said.
A member of the ESF Concerned Parents Group, who asked not to be named because his child still studies at an ESF school, said there had been many mismanagement issues under Du Quesnay. He criticised the management for offering ESF teachers high pay rises while at the same time increasing fees.
Before joining the ESF in 2005, Du Quesnay was chief executive of the UK's National College for School Leadership. She was also director of education for Hertfordshire County Council and the London Borough of Lambeth.