The principal of an English Schools Foundation primary school has apologised to parents after children went home with a publishers' promotional package without her knowledge. Sandra Webster, the principal of Bradbury School, has pledged not to allow unsolicited material from publishers to be sent home in pupils' book bags again after parents accused the school of allowing direct selling to children. But ESF leaders said Bradbury had not profited from the marketing drive, and other promotional activities at the school did not breach the foundation's policy on commercial marketing to children. Children at Bradbury were sent home last month with bags full of magazines from a publisher seeking subscribers, and invited to pay for private karate and yoga tuition following taster sessions held in physical education classes. Bags supplied by Bayard Presse Asia contained a flier asking parents to submit a form giving their personal details with a cheque if they wanted to subscribe - or return the package to the child's classroom by October 2. The annual subscription charges were HK$455 for one magazine, HK$819 for two and HK$1,228.50 for three. Children could keep any magazine in the bag that their parents signed up for. Marcus Langston, a publishing director who has two sons at the Stubbs Road school, said he objected to his boys being used as part of a 'direct-mailing machine' to carry books weighing almost half a kilogram home. 'There has been a lot of parental concern and discussion about the weight of school bags in Hong Kong,' he said. 'To then find that the school is shoving half a kilo's worth of unsolicited publications into an already overloaded school bag is surprising. 'It amounts to a breach of trust between the ESF and the parent. They are essentially using the children to deliver a product to a very targeted audience free of charge. The ESF must clarify its policy on, and involvement in, commercial promotions made to students in its schools and inform parents fully ahead of any such promotions.' Business development manager Jim Birkett, whose seven-year-old daughter attends Bradbury, said: 'At the beginning of this term, students were given two lessons of yoga or karate free of charge as part of their timetabled PE lessons. 'After these lessons, they were handed a flier by a coach inviting them to join a kids' yoga or karate club. It cost about HK$3,000 per term for a weekly after-school class. My daughter did enjoy the yoga and she brought home the flier in her school bag. But I think it's just unacceptable that the school should promote a private lesson to my children in a PE class as part of the curriculum.' Birkett said his daughter also liked the Bayard Presse books and was disappointed when he told her she could not keep them because he was not prepared to pay for them. 'I was annoyed that I had been put in a position of having to disappoint my daughter. I would like to know whether the ESF or its schools are benefiting financially from allowing these companies into schools. 'I think it's inappropriate for the ESF and its schools to permit or encourage private companies to use the school campus to conduct marketing campaigns promoting the sale of books or extra-curricular activities to students.' ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said: 'The ESF has played no part in this at all. It is a matter for the school. I think it is not appropriate for commercial companies to try to market things through students. 'There is a new librarian at Bradbury. She received this material and sent it out to parents thinking that was a regular practice... Parents complained to [the principal] about it. She apologised and said it would not happen again. 'But I don't think there is any harm at all in someone who offers a lesson in school being able to give children a flier advertising lessons after school, which the children can take home and show their parents. We have a very clear policy about these kinds of activities. Schools should not act as marketing agents for commercial organisations. There is no need to review the policy.' Webster said a yoga instructor took part in one lesson as part of a healthy eating study, and four karate lessons had been held during PE. She said the only benefit to the school from having the specialist coaches were staff training - staff picked up tips - and a higher standard of lesson for pupils. No fees were kept by the school. Benny Leung, deputy general manager of Bayard Presse Asia, said it sent out about 10,000 book packages through 20 international schools and around 40 to 50 government or aided schools each September.