Form One places available at English-medium schools in the next academic year have fallen for the second year running.
But the elite school principals say the competition for enrolments may not be severe because of the drop in the number of Primary Six pupils. An overall surplus of up to 4,000 Form One places is expected citywide in the coming school year.
A list of available Form One places released yesterday showed that most English-medium schools had cut their number of places offered in the central places allocation system.
There are 9,485 places this year, compared with 9,756 last year. In 2012, there were 10,357 places. Districts with more schools that use English as their medium of instruction, such as Central and Western, Wan Chai and Kowloon City, saw places cut by 23, 11 and 23, respectively.
"The number of new Form One pupils has been decreasing, so the competition will not get more heated just because we provide fewer places," said Cho Kong-sang, vice-principal of Ying Wa Girls' School, an Englishmedium elite school located in Mid-Levels.
Lo Sai-kwong, chairman of the Hong Kong Island School Heads Association, agreed. Most English-medium schools approved of the policy of assigning fewer pupils to each class because the principals and teachers had seen for themselves the declining number of new pupils over the years, he said.
A few of the schools, however, did not want to implement the policy because their principals found it difficult to turn down requests by staff members and their family and friends who wanted to secure a spot in the schools for their children, he said.
"After all, a smaller class would help teachers coach their pupils better," Lo said.
Most schools have already joined a citywide initiative to shrink each of their Form One classes by one or two places every year from 2012 to 2015.
But many teachers still want a further reduction, especially in districts where the shortage of Form One pupils has been most acute, such as in the Eastern and Southern districts, Tuen Mun, Sha Tin, Tai Po, Sai Kung and Wong Tai Sin.
A surplus of more than 7,000 Form One places is expected by the 2016-17 academic year.