ESF announces new admissions policy

The English Schools Foundation will be introducing a new admissions policy which puts an end to its much criticized category system for prioritising children who apply for places at ESF primary and secondary schools*. The new policy will be effective from August 2013 for entry into ESF schools in August 2014.

Under the category system, the children of parents who stated that the main language spoken at home was English were placed in Category 1 while children whose parents said that they spoke some Cantonese were placed in Category 2. It was because it was difficult to verify the parents' statement, the category system became the object of much criticism among parents.

In the future, when the new policy is in place, the admissions assessment process will be strengthened. The emphasis will be on the actual testing of the children’s English language proficiency, and on verifying the parents’ commitment to an ESF style English medium education through a parental statement and interview.

ESF Chief Executive Officer Heather Du Quesnay pointed out that the revamped admissions policy will be more appropriate to modern Hong Kong. “ESF is very successful in providing a modern liberal education through the medium of English,” she said. “We are confident that the revised policy will be seen to be transparent and fair to families with an English language background.”

The priority for an interview or assessment under the new admissions policy (effective from August 2013) will be based on the following ranked criteria; students who are able to benefit from an English medium education and who (in order) are:

  1. Children of full-time staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Limited;
  2. Siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School;
  3. Holders of ESF Nomination Rights;
  4. Children of former students who have attended an ESF school for a minimum of three years or are former ESF students returning from a period overseas;
  5. Other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.

Children who attend an ESF International Kindergarten have in the past received priority for interview at ESF schools. Those children currently attending an ESF International Kindergarten in the 2012-13 academic year, as well as those who apply for and gain a kindergarten place in 2013-14, will continue to receive priority when they apply for a Year 1 place.

“Interest in ESF International Kindergartens has grown significantly in recent years, with demand outstripping the number of places available as parents seek a quality early years education that will help prepare their children for their primary years,” said Du Quesnay. “With the increasing numbers of able, English speaking children leaving the four ESF Educational Services (ESL) operated kindergartens, and plans for future expansion, it is becoming less feasible to provide a meaningful priority for an admissions interview at an ESF primary school.

She said that ESL kindergarten students have been extremely successful in winning places at ESF schools and they will continue to be actively encouraged to apply to ESF where they will enjoy the benefit of curriculum continuity and a common education framework. “ESL kindergarten students have also been successful gaining entry to other schools in Hong Kong and, with the pressure on school places, parents are advised to consider more than one school when applying for primary.”

Details of the new admissions policy will be available on the website:

*ESF’s new admissions policy does not apply to the two Private Independent Schools: Discovery College and Renaissance College.


Notes for editors:

The English Schools Foundation was established by the Hong Kong Government in 1967. ESF currently operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and a school for students with special educational needs across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Two “all through” Private Independent Schools and four kindergartens are operated by ESF’s affiliated company, ESF Educational Services Limited, which also offers English language classes and sports activities.

The curriculum, leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB), is adapted to Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region. ESF's teachers are highly qualified, with experience of the UK, Australian and other international school systems. School facilities are safe, secure and of the highest standards. All schools offer a broad range of out-of-school activities in Hong Kong and overseas. ESF schools are strongly supported by thriving and dynamic parent-teacher associations.

The 13,000 students in ESF schools and the 4,000 in the PIS and the kindergartens include over 50 different nationalities. About 70% of our students have parents who are permanent residents of Hong Kong. We are proud of our high academic standards and the excellent achievements of our students – more than 95% go on to leading universities worldwide.


ESF website:

Photos of ESF schools can be downloaded from the link below: