The education chief came under pressure from lawmakers this week to extend small-class teaching to secondary schools. However, speaking in the Legislative Council education panel on Thursday, Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the move would cost an additional HK$7 billion. The gradual introduction of smaller classes in primary schools from September 2009 was one of a number of commitments in the policy address. The move would reduce class sizes to 25 in 'suitable' schools. If fully implemented, it would cost taxpayers HK$1 billion to hire 3,000 extra teachers and build 40 more schools. 'We would consider reducing secondary class sizes after the academic year 2009/2010,' Mr Suen said. 'But first we have to review small-class teaching in primary schools to identify the most suitable teaching approach and how to emphasis teacher training.' Chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung, said the government would need to target parents when promoting small-class teaching and listen to frontline teachers' concerns in detail to avoid any unforeseen problems. 'Otherwise a popular policy could turn into an unpopular one,' he warned. Yeung Sum, Democratic Party lawmaker and deputy education panel chairman, suggested the government gradually introduce small-class teaching by reducing secondary class sizes by two students a year. Speaking after the panel meeting, education lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong agreed with Mr Yeung's call saying the government needed to stabilise secondary school class sizes because of the drop in Form One admissions. 'Otherwise, it will result in a new wave of secondary school closures,' Mr Cheung said.