Hang Seng School stars again as traditional elite colleges come up short in A-levels
Sha Tin's Hang Seng School of Commerce made it three in a row yesterday when it trounced traditional elite schools in the A-level results by producing both of the students who got six A grades and six of the 11 who scored five.
Just one of the remaining five-A students came from one of the traditional elite schools, St Paul's Co-Educational College. The other four came from a sixth-form college in Tai Kok Tsui and three English-medium secondaries in Tai Kok Tsui and the New Territories.
It is the third consecutive year Hang Seng School of Commerce has produced the lion's share of star students in the A-levels, and it is the only school to have six-A students since 2003. The six-form school accounted for the city's only two six-A students in 2006, while there were none last year or in 2004 and 2005.
Hang Seng's total tally of 515 A grades - picked up by 249 of its final-year students this year - accounted for nearly 12 per cent of the 4,401 As dished out in the whole city.
'I expected to do better than last year, but I never imagined we would do as well as this,' school president Chui Hong-sheung said. 'We have 46 per cent more A grades this year than last year.'
Dr Chui conceded the improvement was partly due to higher admissions requirements as exam success had boosted the school's popularity, but insisted it was also down to the hard work of students and teachers.
But while there were smiles of relief for the 17,570 students who did well enough to qualify for a university place - including 717 evening school and private candidates - the competition is now on to secure one of the 14,000 still up for grabs. Top-scoring Form Six students have already snapped up 420 places under the Early Admissions Scheme.
The large number of better students opting to go to university a year early to avoid the rigmarole of A-levels is seen as a key reason for the recent decline in the performance of what have been traditionally been seen as the city's 'best' schools.
Only seven of the 38 five-A students and none of the four six-A students produced in the past four years have been from schools in the formerly dominant old guard.
Grace Tong Pui-ying, 18, the five-A student from St Paul's Co-Educational, said the only reason she had completed her A-levels was because she had not done well enough in Chinese in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination to apply for university early.
Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung, principal of the Diocesan Boys' School in Mong Kok, admitted the scheme was having an impact on top schools' performance.
'Our results this year are not as good as those in the past,' he said. 'Part of the reason is that some of our top students left for the Early Admission Scheme.'
Just over a quarter of the 30,217 students learned that they had failed the crucial use-of-English exam, with 2,500 having fared so poorly they were graded unclassified - a slight improvement on last year but equalling the second-worst result in the subject in at least 13 years.
Lai Cho-kwan, 19, at Queen's College Old Boys' Association School, was trying to put a brave face on her lower-than-expected grades - one D and three Es, plus an unclassified mark for computing.
'I am an optimistic person,' she said. 'I've already decided to repeat Form Seven because I feel there is room to improve.'
The A list
Selected star students in their own words
Kenneth Yuen Yip-kan, 18
I want to be a laywer or an accountant. At this moment, I am pretty confident that I can make it
6As Ottilie Yuen Sze-wai, 19
Hang Seng School of Commerce
I have to pay tribut to my parents - without their support, I wouldn't have got through this two-year battle
Cathy Wong Hiu-yan, 19
St Rose of Lima's College
I expected I would get at least one A, but I didn't expect I would get five
Leung Chung-ming, 19
Hang Seng School of Commerce
I believe hard work is a factor behind success, but you must learn to balance work and life
Eric Wong To-shing, 19
PLK Vicwood KT Chong Sixth Form College
It was a long struggle and I felt like I couldn't endure it any longer. But I didn't give up
Grace Tong Pui-yung, 18
St Paul's Co-Educational College
My father helped me a lot. I almost turned him into another A-level student