AN EDUCATION Department investigation into absenteeism during the 1992-93 school year has led to the establishment of Hong Kong's second practical school at Au Tau in Yuen Long. The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Practical School is expected to open its doors next month to meet the needs of less academically minded students. Based on the truants studied during 1992-93 year, the number of practical school places needed is about 1,800. Along with the new school and the existing Hong Kong Sea School at Stanley, the Education Department plans to set up three more practical schools. The Yuen Long school will boast a more practically oriented curriculum than ordinary schools and will cater for Form One to Form Three students who are not motivated to study. It will prepare them for employment at the end of Form Three. Principal Lydia Ng Shuk-ying said the school would offer academic subjects such as Chinese, English, Mathematics, Integrated Science and Social Studies, cultural subjects like Music, Arts and Design and Physical Education, and practical subjects that would include Computer Studies, Accommodation and Catering Services, Hairstyling, Commercial Studies and Fashion and Clothing. ''We have made computer studies compulsory to meet the interests of young people and the demand of society, while students are allowed to choose two among the four electives,'' Ms Ng said. Students were referred to the school by the Education Department or placed by Secondary School Places Allocation, she added. ''Parents who think their students are more suitable for practical schools, should contact the Education Department,'' the principal said. The full capacity of the school would be 450, with five classes in each form. ''Our target for the first year is 150, but so far we have received only 41 referral cases from the Education Department,'' Ms Ng said. ''In the first year, while student numbers are still small, we hope to attain a smaller teacher-pupil ratio of 1 to 15 to ensure adequate attention to each student in the class. ''But when all places are filled, the ratio will go to 1 to 30 which is still smaller than that of normal schools.'' Induction courses and aptitude tests will be held next month to help students choose their electives and visits to schools offering similar subjects will be organised.