Schools that will switch to teaching entirely in English from September have seen applications for discretionary places soar by as much as 27 per cent. A total of 16 Chinese-medium schools have got the go-ahead to teach in English since the so-called fine-tuning of the government's medium of instruction policy was unveiled last year. The changes mark the end of the mother-tongue teaching policy that forced most secondary schools to teach only in Chinese. Among the seven of these schools that had figures available at the end of the allocation round yesterday, four showed marked increases in the number of pupils applying for discretionary places, two had about the same number and one had less. Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School in Tuen Mun had the biggest increase, with 26.6 per cent more pupils applying than last year, followed by Munsang College, in Sai Wan Ho, which saw a 17.7 per cent increase, and CCC Mong Man Wai College, in Kwun Tong, where applications rose by 14.8 per cent. Choi Kwok-kwong, vice-principal of Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School, said it had 380 applicants fighting for the 54 places on offer by 5pm, compared to about 300 last year. Choi said the school was putting more emphasis on applicants' English proficiency in interviews for Form One admissions. 'As most applicants learn in Chinese in primary school, we plan to offer bridging courses on how to learn in English in the summer for successful applicants,' he said. Munsang College (Hong Kong Island) deputy principal Lo Kwok-yun said it had received 686 applications, compared with 583 last year for its 54 places. He put the increase down to the policy changes. 'There are 400 fewer students applying to Form One in Eastern District this year, but we have still managed to attract more applications,' he said. 'Some applicants are from areas outside the district like Tseung Kwan O.' Yuen Long Lutheran Secondary School received 508 applications for its 54 discretionary places - nearly 11 pupils per place - but last year the number was even higher. Principal Belinda Chan Yuen-chau said: 'We had enough applications for all our places within a few days. But our school is one of the very popular ones with parents and students in the district, and we had nearly 600 applicants last year. 'I expect a small decrease in the total number of applicants because of the switch to English,' she said. 'I think parents are considering it more carefully before they hand in their applications because these are big changes.' Chan said the school also had some applications from pupils of South Asian origin for the first time. The discretionary places stage of the secondary school allocation exercise began on January 4. Schools can admit up to 30 per cent of pupils in Form One in the discretionary round, in which they select pupils using their own admissions criteria. Due to a decline in the birth rate, the number of pupils in government and aided primary schools who are due to transfer to Form One in September is 56,000 - 7,000 fewer than last year.