Forget demerits or complaining to parents when pupils do not hand in homework on time or are not punctual for class. One school in Ma On Shan has come up with an almost foolproof way to get pupils to toe the line. Yan Chai Hospital Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School roped in a coach from Spanish soccer club Barcelona and a local comedy director to hold movie-making and soccer classes - but only those who perform well in class can continue training in a bid to realise a dream of being a professional soccer player or film star. The programmes, launched in the current academic year, are so successful that principal Elaine Pan Yee-lin says the academic performance and conduct of pupils improved overnight. 'If they don't behave, they can't play soccer or make movies,' she said. The programmes are also a lifeline for a school that in the past few years could barely attract sufficient pupils to stay open. With the city's secondary school numbers set to fall by 15,000 pupils by 2016, any programme that can attract the attention of pupils and parents is critical in ensuring the survival of schools. A school must attain a minimum enrolment threshold of 61 pupils to stave off closure. A total of 72 primary schools and 12 secondary schools have closed since the 2005/06 academic year. This year, more than 40 pupils left their former schools to enrol in the soccer and movie-making classes, an unheard of move as normally sport and visual arts training are extra-curricular activities in schools. The soccer classes are held from 10am to 6pm for Form One to Six pupils every day. While most local schools boast campus TV or radio stations as part of a move to expand pupils' learning beyond classrooms, the Ma On Shan school went a step further. With HK$2.2 million from its own funds, a floor of the school was converted into a movie-making studio, complete with a mock-up courtroom and Chinese tea restaurant, editing rooms and soundproof recording booths. 'We recruited 100 students for a year-long movie-making venture. A 90-minute film will be screened in local cinemas,' Pan said. The lengths to which the school will go to invest in film-making training impressed comedy director Lee Lik-chee so much that he agreed to serve as a member of the school's management committee and teach pupils free. Lee, who co-directed hit comedies such as Shaolin Soccer and King of Comedy with Stephen Chow Sing-chi, said he was impressed by Pan's passion. 'Many schools have campus TV stations which can train students' presentation or oral skills. But no one has film studios with mock-up facilities,' he said. 'I told other schools that there must be mock-up studios on campus if you are serious about making movies. You can't bring a bunch of students outside for shooting for safety reasons. But no one took my advice.' For all the fun and glitz that comes with learning from a top director, Lee said the benefits of movie-making training extended beyond the showbiz glamour. 'Local secondary students are afraid of looking people in the eye. They speak in an abashed and halting manner in public. A main aim is to boost their self-confidence. All the practical skills like lighting or photography techniques will also give them an edge over others when they go out to look for jobs.' While pupils were in awe of Lee at his first lesson last week, other pupils were working up a sweat on a nearby soccer pitch. Form Four pupil Tsang Kin-fong, 17, left Lam Tai Fai College this year to enrol in the soccer programme. 'No school can allow us so much time to play soccer. I can play it every day for the whole afternoon. I came here only because of the soccer programme,' he said. Pan said the soccer programme boosted school admission numbers. 'Sha Tin is among the districts heavily hit by falling rolls. We could barely attain the admission requirement over the past few years. 'However, all our places were filled before the end of the summer holiday this year. We admitted over 70 students. We had to turn some away. We got calls from mainland parents who said they would only come to Hong Kong if we accepted their kids who love football.' Set up 17 years ago, the school has a reputation for breeding footballers. About 20 graduates are with local soccer clubs full-time. It beat more than 400 schools to win a city-wide inter-school soccer competition from 2004 to 2008. The school struck a deal with the Kitchee club, which provides HK$3.5 million a year to train pupils. Kitchee chief executive Ken Ng Kin said he would check the pupils' academic report cards regularly to make sure they did not neglect their studies. 'I have seen far too many kids who play very good soccer but fail all their subjects,' he said. 'Some kids told me they had not done any homework for four years. Many schools are indulgent towards them as they bring glory to the school by winning competitions. They can get away with anything but the pupils are the ones who suffer in the end.' Coach Josep Ferre, in Hong Kong as part of FC Barcelona's global programme for training youngsters, said his charges must show the same discipline in the classroom as on the pitch. 'If they fail to do what their class teachers say, they know they can't play,' he said. Pan said two pupils were kicked out of the soccer programme for misbehaviour. 'They begged me to let them back. But they can only apply again next summer. Anyone who falls foul of school rules is banned from joining competitions or is kicked out. A 10-day trip to Spain, with expenses paid by Kitchee, will be organised for Easter but only those who perform well in class can join.'