Elite English-medium schools have hit back at claims that changes to the school banding system have not adversely affected the standard of their pupils. A recent survey commissioned by the Education Department showed the standard of Form One pupils admitted in September by 111 schools had only declined slightly. But Rosalind Chan Lo-sai, chairwoman of the Association of English-medium Secondary schools, said many teachers had noticed a deterioration. 'It is unfortunate for Hong Kong that we seem hell-bent on turning the good schools into mediocre institutions,' she said. The banding system, under which pupils are ranked according to their academic performance in Primary Five and Six, determines the order of allocation. Band one pupils stand the best chance of attending their favoured school. The number of bands was reduced from five to three last year, so each band now embraces students with a wider range of abilities. The top schools complain the change has diluted the quality of their intake, as some pupils previously rated band two are now grouped under band one.