My son was excited about the prospect of going back to primary school, only to find that his new teacher is off on long-term sick leave. The school has employed a substitute teacher for now, but it is unclear whether this teacher will stay on. The whole situation is very unsatisfactory and parents have been told very little so far. Is this likely to have an impact on my son? This is not an ideal start to the new academic year and is disappointing for your son. Unfortunately, if a teacher has to withdraw from their job due to illness, or other personal reasons, suitable teachers can be difficult to find at short notice, especially if the position is not necessarily permanent. However, there are dedicated and high-quality supply teachers in Hong Kong who are willing to fulfil short-term contracts such as this (and, for example, maternity leave). Your sons principal will be well aware that some parents are concerned about this situation, but it is hard to plan ahead at this stage if the length of your sons teachers absence is uncertain. Organising the staffing of a school can be complex enough under normal circumstances, but it can become particularly tricky when unforeseen difficulties such as this arise. You could certainly ask the school management team if they can provide any further clarification regarding the timescale of this projected absence. Be aware, though, that the information may not be available yet and they may be just as much in the dark as yourself. Any change of teacher during an academic year is bound to have an impact on a childs learning. Building positive relationships and strong bonds with pupils takes time. A good class teacher gets to know the learning potential and personalities of each individual, and consistent routines are very important for primary school students especially in the early years when key skills are being developed.