Information Paper

Allocation of School Places


This paper outlines the present Secondary 1 (S1) and Secondary 4 (S4) places allocation methods.


2.According to existing policies, the provision of school places in public sector secondary schools (1) is planned on a territory-wide, not district, basis. The Government undertakes to provide all children of appropriate ages with school places at S1 to S3 levels; and 85% of students who have completed S3 with S4 places. The Government also provides public sector S6 places for up to one-third of students who entered public sector S4 two years previously.

Allocation of S1 Places

3.Under the existing Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) System for S1 places, parents can apply for a discretionary place(2) for their children in a government, aided or caput secondary school. A student who has been offered a discretionary place will not need to go through the central allocation procedure. Those who have failed to obtain a discretionary place or who have not applied for one may take part in central allocation.

4.Public sector S1 places are allocated on a school net basis. At present, the whole territory is divided into 18 school nets in line with the 18 administrative districts. Each school net comprises all the secondary schools in that administrative district and some secondary schools in neighbouring districts. The arrangement ensures that there is a fair mix of different types of schools and sufficient provision of S1 places in each school net.

5.The SSPA System assigns places on the basis of schools' internal assessments of students at primary 5 and 6, and parental choices. Parents may only choose secondary schools from the same district as that of the primary school attended by their children, or neighbouring districts. Since the majority of primary students study in schools near to where they live, this means that they will not be allocated to far away districts to study S1. Further information about the SSPA System is at Annex 1.

6.In the 1996/97 school year, 4,204 primary 6 students obtained S1 discretionary places, representing 5% of the total number of students participating in the SSPA System. Another 73,420 students were allocated S1 places through central allocation. Among these students, 64,938 were allocated to schools in their own districts and 8,482 in neighbouring districts. They represented, respectively, 84% and 11% of the total number of students participating in the SSPA System respectively. A summary of S1 allocation for the 1994/95 and 1995/96 school years is at Annex 2.

Allocation of S4 Places

7.Under the present Secondary Four Places Allocation Method, schools will arrange their S3 students in descending order of merits according to their performance in internal assessments. Based on the order of merits, students will be selected to continue S4 in their own schools. (Further information about the Junior Secondary Education Assessment (JSEA) System is at Annex 3.) In schools where eligible S3 students out number S4 places, some of the students will not be able to continue S4 in their own schools. Under such circumstances, ED will allocate these students, on the basis of the order of merits reported by schools and parental choices, to schools where there are still unfilled S4 places. As parents can choose from a territory-wide list of schools with S4 places, a small number of students may be allocated S4 places in schools in more distant districts.

8.In the 1996/97 school year, 68,570 S3 students were allocated S4 places. 63,765 (93%) of them were allocated to schools in their own districts and 4,805 (7%) in other districts. A summary of S4 allocation for the 1994/95 and 1995/96 school years is at Annex 4.

Way Forward

9.Changes in the population structure in individual districts will affect the demand for school places. Based on the supply and demand of school places, ED will adjust the class structures of secondary schools or build new schools to reduce, as far as possible, the number of students attending schools outside their own districts. In this connection, Government will also consider carefully, the recommendations relating to the SSPA and JSEA Systems in the Board of Education's Report on Review of 9-year Compulsory Education.

Education Department
December 1997

(1) Public sector schools include government, aided, bought-place and caput schools.

(2) Each government, aided or caput secondary school is allowed to keep 10% of its S1 places as discretionary places and to admit students to fill these places before the central allocation.

Annex 2

Summary of S1 Allocation

No. of students joining central allocation
No. of
No. of
taking up
No. allocated
to schools
in own
No. allocated
to schools

Annex 4

Summary of S4 Allocation

School Year No. of students allocated public sector S4 places No. of students allocated to schools in own districts No. of students allocated to schools in other districts