Dwindling class size poses challenge though satisfaction for secondary school allocations hits new high

The results of the Secondary School Places Allocation were released on Tuesday and saw 94 percent of students assigned to their top three choices - the highest in 14 years. However, the shrinking student population led schools to send staff to recruit newly immigrated students to maintain their class sizes.

At the Fresh Fish Traders' School located at Tai Kok Tsui, many parents embraced their children upon learning they were allocated to their top choice schools. Some parents admitted that they couldn’t sleep on Monday night and worried about the allocations.

At Yaumati Catholic Primary School, 90% of students were assigned their first choice. Both parents and students waited eagerly in the auditorium to receive the allocation results, with many parents being moved to tears after their children got good news.

Among these students, some were surprised that their top choice schools had rejected them during the Discretionary Places (DP) stage interviews, yet they were able to be enrolled in their first choice in the Central Allocation stage.

However, not everyone had desirable results. Some parents explained that though their children were accepted by a school during the DP stage, they wished to get into a better school and were disappointed about the allocation results. They prepare to knock on the doors of their preferred schools to see if any placements were still available.

In total 49,448 Primary Six children participated in the Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) System this year, with 83 percent allocated to their first choice school and 94 percent of students allocated to one of their top three choices.

This year’s high satisfaction rate could be due to the declining student population leading to less competition. 2,607 fewer students were participating in the SSPA compared to last year.

Due to the shrinking student population, many schools sent staff to recruit newly immigrated students at the School Places Allocation Section of the Education Bureau to maintain their class sizes.

About 20 to 30 teachers were seen outside the Allocation Section at 10 am and approached the parents asking if they were interested in their school. Some parents and students were seen entering the car suspected provided by the schools after some discussions.

When asked about the situation, most of the teachers refused to talk and tucked away the school's leaflets. Some teachers claimed it was embarrassing to reveal their identities, and others explained they were not allowed to talk to reporters as it was their first year being a “helper”.

One teacher who chose to remain anonymous said his school has sent staff over the past few years to “check out the situation”. Though he has not been as assertive as others, he is still willing to talk to parents if they are interested.

He hopes the government will listen to the opinions of the academic community instead of blindly resolving the student population issue by dissolving and merging schools.