New teachers should be allowed to teach less and devote more time to tuning into the work environment and further training, two prominent educators have said. A framework for teachers' continuing professional development is also needed, they argue. Dr Lo Mun-ling, who heads the Centre for the Development of School Partnership and Field Experience at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said that new teachers should be given the option of teaching no more than 15 lessons each week, with their relatively high starting salary reduced accordingly. Many teachers are required to teach up to 30 lessons a week. Professor Amy Tsui Bik-mei, the leader of the Unified Professional Development Project at University of Hong Kong, a collaborative partnership on teacher-training between the university and secondary schools, agreed with Dr Lo. 'The first five years are a crucial period in a teacher's career. They will quit very soon if they are overloaded with work. But if they are allowed to tune into the work environment gradually with sufficient support, they will be likely to stay in the profession and become excellent mentors for new teachers,' Professor Tsui said. Dr Lo also said that the career development ladder for teachers should be revised so that promotions did not always imply more administrative duties and less teaching. 'Promotions are offered to teachers who can teach well. It is a waste of talent if they are asked to spend less time on teaching,' she said, and urged the creation of posts similar to China's master teachers who shouldered the leadership role in curriculum planning and teacher-training. Education Commission member Tai Hay-lap supported the idea of fewer teaching hours but said that new teachers' workloads and salaries should not be reduced for longer than two years. However, he doubted institutions would be granted additional resources for continued teacher training. Mr Tai, who is also the principal of Tuen Mun Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School, said a continuous professional development framework for teachers was needed comparable with the one the Education Department set down for principals this month. But schools had to take a major role in grooming teachers and motivating them to conduct their own evaluations, he said. Academic qualifications were only loosely linked to promotion, he said. 'Attendance on courses is the only thing that matters. Teachers can go to classes, fall asleep and still get promoted.' However, Vincent Lo Wai-shing, member of the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications, said new teachers were unlikely to accept the option of a reduced salary and less work. Rather than a top-down policy, he said that teachers' needs would be better served if schools were given the freedom to decide how to lighten their workload and offer them on-the-job training.