Legislation to allow schools and private tutorial centres to operate on Sundays will have its first reading in the Legislative Council next month. The Education and Manpower Bureau is tabling the Education (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill in response to concerns from private tuition centres and adult education groups who have been campaigning for greater flexibility to run lessons on Sundays and holidays, currently prohibited under the General Holidays Ordinance. But the senior education officer at the EMB overseeing the amendment said the aim was not to encourage primary and secondary schools to lay on extra lessons. 'It simply offers schools the flexibility to run classes if there is a consensus from staff, students and parents,' said senior education officer Yu Law Siu-man. She added it was unlikely schools would ask teachers to work longer hours. Catherine Yiu Wai-yee, secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Private Educators, welcomed the news and dismissed concerns it could lead to greater pressure on children. 'We offer the time-table, but parents make the call.' But teachers are already concerned about the pressures to extend the school week. Mark Lau Wai-ming, principal of Lok Sin Tong Chan Cho Chak Primary School, Sha Tin, said it was parents who pressured schools to provide extra activities. 'Parents often think that if children go to school at the weekend they are learning more,' he said, adding that his school was not increasing weekend duties for its staff. Eltha Wong Hui Kit-yee, service co-ordinator for children and youth services at Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service, said parents might use Sunday classes for baby-sitting. 'Some already dump their children with our service and go shopping or play mahjong,' she said. Families should be encouraged to spend time together on Sundays. The Native English-Speaking Teachers Association (Nesta) has noted the increasing trend for NETs to be asked to run weekend activities and has stated that this is a move they wish to resist. Nesta chairman Adam Rekrut said that NETs were complaining about the growing number of requests to take on Saturday duties. 'We are against Saturday work unless it is voluntary. Language teachers already work Saturdays, correcting compositions, preparing lessons, research, and professional development,' he said. 'If we want creative, productive and constructive learning, rest must be added to this equation.' Cheung Man-kwong, president of the Professional Teachers' Union, said schools were at liberty to ask teachers to work Saturday mornings, but Saturday afternoons and Sundays should be free. Chris Wardlaw, deputy secretary for education and manpower , said he was not aware schools were increasing their Saturday activities. 'Increasing expectations on NETs are, I think, anecdotal,' he said.