Education chiefs have pledged to proceed 'very carefully' with an $830 million scheme to boost English teaching in Chinese-medium schools to minimise its impact on teachers' workload and stress. The incentive scheme will provide grants to Chinese-medium schools over six years to help them build up their capacity for teaching English through teacher training, curriculum development and other activities. Grants will vary according to the needs of schools. Schools will apply to a panel of Education and Manpower Bureau officials and language experts, which will decide how much money they will get and agree on a suitable plan for each school in discussion with the principal and English teachers. Successful schools will enter into a 'performance contract' with the EMB specifying targets for improvement over six years, including students' exam performance. A mid-term review will determine whether the school will be funded for the final three years. The scheme won broad, cross-party support from legislators at Legco's Finance Committee meeting yesterday, which approved it as part of a $1.1 billion injection for the government's language fund. But following the furore over the suicides of two teachers, several legislators voiced concern that it would add further to teacher workload and stress. Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said: 'We see that there could be intangible, invisible pressures on schools. We have to proceed very carefully. We will consult teachers and school principals to make sure they are able to cope.' Yeung Sum, chairman of Legco's education panel, said its members were concerned schools' ability to attract students could be hit if they did not pass the mid-term review. Cheung Man-kwong, legislator for the education constituency, questioned whether schools with low-ability students would meet the scheme's requirements. Permanent Secretary for Education Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said: 'We are certainly concerned about this. If you have weak schools and they can somehow add value and also come up with reasons why, even though they have worked hard, they are still not achieving, we may not be taking away the funding.'