The policy of encouraging primary and secondary schools with similar philosophies to link up is founded on the premise that the basic nine-year education that every student is entitled to receive should be coherent. So it is ironic that a major focus of the consultation paper on the so-called 'through train' of education is on how students from linked primary schools could apply to enrol in other secondary schools and whether, if their applications failed, they could fall back to their linked secondary schools. The attention to this issue belies the fact that some schools will always be regarded as better and their places more hotly sought after. No matter that students from linked primary schools can continue with their studies in corresponding secondary schools without any hassle. If more 'prestigious' secondary schools would take them, they would happily make the switch. But who could blame the students, and their parents, when standards vary greatly across schools? And it is not as if this problem were unique to Hong Kong. In the UK, a recent study found that a school could add GBP1,000 (HK$10,690) to the price of every home in its catchment area just by increasing the proportion of students getting five passes in the General Certificate of Secondary Education by 10 percentage points. In Hong Kong, home owners know that flats close to good schools with a history of producing top graduates always fetch higher prices. Many parents are also known to have gone to the trouble of moving houses or faking addresses in order to maximise their children's chances of admission to good schools. Although the merits of through-train education are obvious, it will be interesting to see how many primary and secondary schools will heed the call to marry. Apart from a small number of established schools that have already been linked for historical reasons, most schools are expected to stay 'single' amid the hectic changes that are sweeping through the education system. Even the consultation paper expects linked schools to constitute a small proportion of the total. Although through-train education is aimed at encouraging students to study in linked schools, there is no reason why they should be discouraged from trying to enrol in other secondary schools. If they do so, it is because they consider those schools to be better, which should give their current schools reason to reflect on their own performance. In a free society, no one should be penalised for opting for something better, however elusive it may be.