Educators have welcomed a system that will see primary schools take into account a wider range of skills when assessing pupils' abilities to help to determine which secondary school they attend. The Education Department issued new guidelines for internal assessments of Primary Five and Six pupils yesterday, placing greater emphasis on problem-solving skills and creativity. Primary schools had been accused of relying too heavily on drilling students in preparation for internal tests, which some educators argued favoured girls, who generally performed better under the scheme. But Assistant Director of Education Lee Kwok-sung said the new guidelines were not introduced to narrow the gap in academic performance between boys and girls, and that any such effect would be unintended. Under the new guidelines, boys and girls will be processed together from the start of the forthcoming academic year. The practice of processing the sexes separately, which had been standard since the late 1970s, was ruled to be discriminatory by the High Court in July. Primary schools will be called upon to try out new methods, such as continuous assessment, to determine ability. 'We hope there will be an overall enhancement of pupils' performance regardless of their gender,' Mr Lee said. Internal school assessments play a crucial role in deciding which secondary school pupils go to. All primary pupils are currently divided into three bands. A band one student stands a higher chance of attending his favoured school than a band three pupil. Educators yesterday welcomed the new guidelines. Dr Catherine Chan Ka-ki, chief executive of the Curriculum Development Institute, said primary schools should place greater emphasis on ongoing evaluation of pupils' performance rather than relying on pen-and-paper tests. Meanwhile, Paul Lee Kit-kong, chairman of the Primary Education Research Association, said implementing the new assessment methods would be a gigantic task. 'It requires teachers to possess a higher level of skills in setting test questions,' he said.