Hong Kong schools

New head teacher at scandal-hit Hong Kong primary school vows to restore confidence

Yvonne Siu will abolish hated rules as she faces challenge of rebuilding staff morale and regaining parents’ confidence in wake of scandals including pupil numbers being manipulated for extra funding

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 8:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 10:44pm

The new head of a Hong Kong primary school embroiled in a series of recent scandals, including the exaggeration of the number of pupils to secure more funding, has vowed to restore confidence and good governance.

“I will not be another Chan Cheung-ping,” Yvonne Siu Lai-shan said, referring to her predecessor at Hing Tak School in Tuen Mun, who was removed for multiple malpractices, such as purging teachers and taking away important school documents, along with the false pupil numbers.

The case was so controversial that, before the board meeting on Wednesday morning, the education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung visited Hing Tak to show support while promising a citywide examination of attendance in September to verify enrolment numbers reported by schools.

After meeting for more than two hours, the board unanimously agreed Siu’s appointment for her experience in management and coordination.

Siu, 55, is currently the master teacher in charge of executive coordination at the Tin Yan Public Estate Branch of LST Leung Kau Kui Primary School in Tin Shui Wai, before which she worked for the Precious Blood Primary School in Happy Valley.

Though declining to comment on Chan’s behaviour, Siu promised to abolish two rules bitterly opposed by the school’s teachers – a mandatory tribute of bakery vouchers by those returning from sick leave and coerced promotion trips to Shenzhen.

“Having too much pastry is not healthy and will make you fat,” said Siu, of the voucher rule, adding that the school would focus on recruiting local pupils in the next two years.

Expecting a total of 650 pupils, among which 104 would be new to Primary One on Friday, the new principal faced the challenge of quickly uniting all 51 teachers and regaining parents’ confidence.

“Restoring effective communication with the teachers is most important for reunification,” said Siu, who also promised to hold a parents meeting as soon as possible.

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Despite declaring all the chaos in the past, Lui Ki-cheung, a board member appointed by the Education Bureau to steer Hing Tak out of the hectic August, said the school needed at least six months to tidy up its financial records and another year to restart normal promotion of teachers because of loss of documents including accounts books, contracts for supporting staff and teachers’ appraisal reports.

Chan has avoided any public appearances since early August and made a complaint to the Labour Department, demanding remedy from the school for firing her during sick leave.

Lui said not a penny of compensation would be paid for the dismissal and called on Chan to drop the request.

Both the Education Bureau and the Labour Department said they would not comment on individual cases.