English Schools Foundation parents are determined to defend the subsidies their children receive during a review of its finances to be conducted by the Education and Manpower Bureau. The chairmen of parent-teacher associations from the ESF's 16 schools met yesterday in response to Tuesday's meeting between foundation leaders and the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, who asked the ESF to carry out the review and seek savings. Parents would defend the parity of subsidy principle under which the English Schools Foundation was created - that their children receive equivalent subsidies to those in the local system, said Mike Haynes, chairman of the joint council of PTAs. The ESF has received a subvention of around $300 million for the current academic year. 'Parents are taxpayers in Hong Kong and under the Basic Law there is a right for every child to receive free basic education, or a monetary equivalent. Equal provision is not available within the local system because of language and different backgrounds,' he said. 'We are not looking for special favours for our children. But parents want to be sure that if the review takes place standards of education in the ESF must be maintained.' A sub-group of the ESF's executive council also met yesterday. 'Members of the committee endorsed that there should be a review, but they stand by the submission we gave to Professor Li,' said Jonathan Harris, the ESF's chief executive. The submission says the ESF cannot accept any further reduction in its subvention, which has been frozen since 1999. 'We feel we have already contributed to savings,' said Mr Harris. 'The majority of our parents have indicated that they would expect us to protect our position, legally if necessary.' The submission warns that a sharp reduction would result in a large rise in fees and poorer access for students from middle and low-income backgrounds. Professor Li stressed on Tuesday that the ESF, like other publicly-funded organisations, should find ways of increasing efficiency in response to the 'huge' deficit.