Cross-border children making first-round school places 'harder to get'

Cross-border children may be making it more difficult to get into North District schools as discretionary admissions at lowest in 16 years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 4:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 2:35pm

Increasing pressure from cross-border children may have reduced the chances of success for North District parents seeking discretionary primary school places, principals say.

The possibility emerged after a city-wide exercise that saw the lowest overall discretionary admissions rate in 16 years, with only 42 per cent of some 52,500 applicants offered a first-year place based on a points system, according to the results released yesterday.

Sheung Shui Wai Chow Public School admitted 79 out of 300 first-round applicants this year. About 50 children had an absolute right of entry into the school because their siblings studied there, or their parents worked at or graduated from the school.

Principal Chan Siu-hung said only 30 children with links to the school were admitted last year. But this year it took four places from the central allocation round for such children, which meant the competition would be even more intense later. Last year, saw a total of 75 out of 280 pupils admitted at the discretionary stage.

Chan said the admission rate in North District could be the lowest of all districts as it was the most popular among mainland parents. He cited his school, where less than 30 per cent of applicants were admitted.

Chu Wai-lam, vice-principal of Fung Kai No 1 Primary School in Sheung Shui, said it had seen more demand from mainland parents this year, leading to a 10 per cent rise in applications, but only 19 per cent of the 321 applicants were admitted.

Of 52,500 children seeking places under the points-based system - the first of two rounds of admission to primary schools - just 42 per cent succeeded.

Under the Primary One admission system, each government or aided primary school may make use of half its total Primary One places as discretionary places, which give priority to children with ties to the school.

The remainder will be reserved for a computerised central allocation in January next year. One successful applicant was mainlander Connie Shen Yongyi, who gave birth to two children in Hong Kong. Her son got a Primary One place at Wai Chow because his older sister is a second-year pupil there. The couple, who previously lived in Lo Wu, bought a HK$2 million apartment in Sheung Shui last year and are now on two-way permits that require them to return to Shenzhen every three months. "We had no choice but to move," Shen said. "We didn't want our children to cross the border every day."

Another mainlander, Wu Songxian, whose daughter did not get a discretionary place, said he was considering buying property in Sheung Shui. He has rented a flat there for HK$7,000 a month since September.