The English Schools Foundation will raise its fees by up to 5.9 per cent as negotiations drag on over the size of the subsidy it receives from the government. In a letter to parents yesterday, the ESF's chief executive, Heather Du Quesnay, said the increase was necessary to cover a 3.5 per cent pay rise for staff and the cost of improving services. Some parents complained that the fee rises were unaffordable. Du Quesnay said the ESF Board of Governors had decided on an average rise of 4.5 per cent. Annual fees for primary pupils will go up by 5.9 per cent from HK$66,100 to HK$70,000. In secondary schools, pupils from Form 7 to Form 11 will face a 3.47 per cent rise, from HK$98,000 to HK$101,400. In Forms 12 and 13, fees will rise by 4.22 per cent, from HK$102,000 to HK$106,300. The ESF also plans to raise the fees of its two independent private schools, Discovery College and Renaissance College, by an average of 9.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively. Fees for primary schools rose about 13.8 per cent from HK$58,100 in 2008/09 to HK$66,100 in 2012/13, and by 9.8 per cent and 14.3 per cent for Form 7-11 and Form 12-13 pupils. The latest rises need the approval of the Education Bureau. A spokeswoman for the ESF said the calculation of the increases had incorporated the ESF's annual subvention of HK$283 million from the government in the year 2013-14. The Education Bureau says it has been liaising with the foundation on the subvention review. The authorities proposed in 2011 that the English-language school system consider turning private in the long run, amid concerns about whether public money is being effectively spent. Du Quesnay, who retires in August, said in the letter that the subvention had been frozen at the same level for many years. She said salaries for all teaching and support staff had to be raised to keep pay competitive and to safeguard morale. She also said there were areas where improvement was needed, chiefly for children with special needs. "The board has agreed to fund additional spending of HK$1.7 million to open or extend Learning Support Classes at Island School and Sha Tin College." The letter said the board was conscious of the pressure the increases would place on families.