Government makes U-turn on primary school previously deemed too small A primary school that was ordered to shut down earlier this year is planning to raise funds after the Education and Manpower Bureau approved it to run privately funded Primary One classes. Leung Kee-cheong, headmaster of the Fresh Fish Traders' School in Tai Kok Tsui, was pleased to learn the news yesterday, but also expressed worry over the school's financial situation. 'We still have HK$800,000 in donations left, and the Hong Kong and Kowloon Fresh Fish Trade General Association has promised to pour its emergency fund - about HK$1 million - into the school so that we can run Primary One classes in September,' he said. 'It costs about $600,000 to run a class, but the government requires schools to have money ready for three years as a guarantee. 'Though the association which sponsors the school will offer its help, it is their emergency fund. I really do not want to use it.' The chairman of the school's sponsor, Wong Tin-hung, said the association would fight until the end to protect the school, which was founded by grandparents of association members. 'The school was started by our grandpas and grandmas for disadvantaged children, and we will devote everything we have to support the school even if it means our association cannot function after putting our emergency fund into the school,' he said. The school has received only 10 applications for admission to its Primary One class, well below the minimum of 23 it needs to stay open. It is one of 13 primary schools that the education bureau has ordered to stop accepting new admissions from September. Ricky Wong Kwong-yiu, who went to the school in the 1970s and is now executive director of Wheelock Properties, has promised to donate HK$100,000. 'On top of that, I will also subsidise $1,000 to every Primary One pupil who will study at the school in September, so that they can buy books and uniforms,' he said. 'I hope that the school can continue to help more poor children, so that they can enjoy a quality education.' Apart from financing the Primary One classes, the school also needs more funds so that it can continue to offer English lessons in small classes. 'Students are now divided into small classes according to their abilities, with about a dozen in each class,' Mr Leung said. 'The effect is very good, as the teaching pace can be faster for the top students so that they can learn more, while the weaker ones are catching up very quickly. I really hope the classes can continue.' A spokeswoman for the Education and Manpower Bureau confirmed that four primary schools had applied to run privately financed Primary One classes in the coming school year and that only two applications had been approved. 'Two were successful because they could list methods for how to improve their students' performance, while the other two failed, as they could not lay out clear and concrete strategies on how to make teaching and learning more effective,' she said, declining to reveal the names of the schools concerned.