Policy and Procedures for Admission to ESF Primary and Secondary Schools

1. Preface

We offer nine primary, five secondary, one special needs school, five kindergartens and two private independent schools under the English Schools Foundation.

The ESF Ordinance, CAP 1117 states that the object of the foundation is to offer ‘a modern liberal education through the medium of the English language to boys and girls who are able to benefit from such an education.’

Our mission is to inspire creativity and nuture the global citizens and leaders of the future. We will do this by creating joyful learning environments led by a community of exceptional teachers, who bring out the best in every child through a personalized approach to learning and by inspiring curious minds.

Schools offer an all-ability education and must be satisfied that students entering are able to engage with an English-medium curriculum, and that parents will support students to achieve success within the context of the educational programmes and opportunities offered.  For ESF primary and secondary schools, a percentage of places is reserved for students with special educational needs who qualify through the ESF moderation process.


ESF Primary and Secondary Schools

In line with the Education Bureau requirements, at least 70% of the total students enrolled in ESF primary and secondary schools will qualify as ‘non-local’, defined as being holders of an overseas passport.


Private Independent Schools

Our private independent schools, Discovery College and Renaissance College, provides an all-through education for primary and secondary students in their respective campuses.

In line with the Hong Kong Government’s requirements for all Private Independent Schools (PIS), both Discovery College and Renaissance College have no catchment area: any student residing in Hong Kong can apply to attend. When the Colleges are at full capacity, at least 70% of the total students enrolled must have Hong Kong permanent resident status.


Applications for entry to any ESF schools are made through the Online Admission System (OAS) accessed via the ESF website. For K1, Y1 and Y7, application is made during a strictly limited period, 1 to 30 September of the year before they enter school.  A few late applications are received each year. Both private independent schools, Discovery College and Renaissance College, do not operate a Year 7 central application process.

For students choosing an ESF primary or secondary school, he/she can only apply to the school of zone according to their Hong Kong residential address. Discovery College and Renaissance College are zone free. There is no geographical zoning for the kindergartens, however, there are guidelines in identifying a suitable kindergarten. (please see HERE)

Students from overseas wishing to apply for ESF primary or secondary school can only apply to the school of zone for their expected area of residence in Hong Kong. Applicants from Hong Kong and applicants from overseas have equal status.

ESF Zones are adjusted from time to time in the light of changing numbers.

Only one online application may be submitted per student. (Life cycle of application – one academic year)


2. Priority for Admission

Students applying for enrolment to an ESF school are placed on a waiting list.  Priority for an admissions interview/assessment will be based on the following ranked criteria; students who are able to benefit from an English medium education and who (in order):

    1. Are Corporate Nomination Rights Nominees;
    2. Are the children of full-time staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd#;
    3. Are siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School;
    4. Are Individual Nomination Rights Nominees;
    5. Are current students requesting internal transfer;
    6. Are the children of former students who have attended an ESF school for a minimum of 3 years or are former ESF students returning from a period overseas or siblings of former students who have attended for a minimum of 3 years and graduated from an ESF secondary school in Year 13;
    7. Are children attending an ESF International Kindergarten* [Note: contingent upon the child studying in the kindergarten continuously until the end of term 3 prior to entry into primary school];
    8. Are children nominees from universities with collaboration agreement with ESF; and
    9. Are other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.


# Teachers are given priority according to employment terms for ESF or the private independent schools.

* Priority for interview is subject to having attended kindergarten for a minimum of two terms prior to the applicable January Year 1 interview period. Students recently arrived from overseas are exempt from the two terms requirement.


3. Admission Procedures for primary and secondary

The ESF system places children in Year Group according to their date of birth (1 January – 31 December).  Children usually start Year 1 during the calendar year in which they turn 5.  Children are never admitted early.  Occasionally children whose birthday falls late in the year and who are considered to be not ready for school may be advised by our school to delay admission to the following year.  Please note that the entry Year Group entered by parents on the application form may be adjusted to ensure the child’s date of birth matches the school’s age requirements.

Year of Birth to Year Level Placement:

Year 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22
1 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
2 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
3 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
4 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
5 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
6 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
7 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
8 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
9 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
10 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
11 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
12 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
13 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
  1. Applicants must submit the application package in full.
  2. Parents may only submit one online application form per child to an ESF primary or secondary school.
  3. All Year 1 and Year 7 applications received within the Central Application Period (01 September – 30 September) have a computer generated  RANDOM number. The waitlist of interview for each school is compiled taking into account the priorities category order, the random number for each application. Any Year 1 and Year 7 applications received after the Central Application Period will be placed at the end of their respective school’s waiting list in date order of receipt.
  4. Applications for all other year levels are considered under application date order and added to the waiting list according to the priority criteria.
  5. Applicants will be invited for interview and assessment at the school as vacancies become available; a meeting with parents is included in the process.
  6. Following a successful admissions interview and assessment, a place may be offered.
  7. Acceptance of the offer must be confirmed by payment of a deposit and a Capital Levy within the time frame specified on the offer letter, generally a period of between 7 and 14 days.
  8. Acceptance of an offer is with a commitment of 2 academic years to the offering school before any transfer request can be made regardless of the residential address.
  9. Re-application is required when:
    • An offer for an interview and assessment has been declined
    • An offer of a place has been declined
    • A student has not met the entry requirements at interview and assessment
    • The 1 academic year validity period of the application has expired.
  10. If an offer of a place is not made after interview and assessment, even though the student meets the entry requirements for the school, as at the time places are not available, the child will be returned to the age-appropriate waiting list according to his/her priority status and, in the case of Central Admission applicants, the random number he/she was assigned.  In the event a place becomes available within six months of the initial successful assessment, no further assessment will be required.

4. Applications for Admission for primary and secondary

If you are applying under General Applications, the following supporting documents must be submitted to the school of zone according to your Hong Kong residential address. To determine the school of zone, please refer to ESF school zone document on the website. If in doubt, you may call the school of zone or email admissions@esfcentre.edu.hk to enquire. An application can only be considered when the necessary documents and application fee are received by the school.

In the case of applications made during the Central Application Period for ESF Year 1 and Year 7 in September, supporting documents must be sent by REGISTERED POST to ESF Admissions at ESF Centre, 25/F, 1063, King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong.  Supporting documents include copies of:

      • Completed ‘Online Application’ form or the application slip/acknowledgement email
      • Application fee online payment result
      • Student’s Birth Certificate
      • Student’s Passport (including their visa status) and Hong Kong ID Card if issued
      • Student’s school reports for the last two years, with English translation as appropriate. If applying for Year 1, one kindergarten report;
      • Educational Psychology Reports or similar (where appropriate);
      • A reference letter from student’s current school (for applications to Year 3 and above)
      • Examination certificates/results (for Year 12 applications)
      • Parents’ Hong Kong ID Cards and  Passports
      • Details of parent attendance at ESF primary/secondary school(s) (if applicable)
      • 2 student’s passport size photographs showing his/her frontal face with clear facial features, measuring 4cm (width) x 5cm (height)
      • Two proof of HK address documents – a copy of a stamped tenancy agreement or a current government demand for rates bill plus an original utility bill or bank statement.

An application with insufficient supporting documents or non-payment of fee will not be processed.


5. Application to ESF and ESF Private Independent Schools (PIS)

Dual applications are permitted to both systems.  For statistical purposes, parents are asked to indicate schools applied to by ticking the box/es on the individual application forms.  Applications to Discovery College and Renaissance College are through a separate application processes, detailed on each of the college’s websites.


6. Interview and Assessment for Admission

All ESF schools offer an enquiry based English medium education and as such, children applying to join an ESF school must demonstrate sufficient language skills to engage with the curriculum. For Year 1 admissions, the process used to assess a young child’s level of English language competence is through a play-based approach. Assessment reports from kindergartens also support the assessment process at Year 1.

Parents meet with school staff to provide further information on their child and to get the opportunity to ask any questions that they may have. The meeting also serves to support the transition process for those children offered places.

Secondary and older primary students applying to join ESF will take age-appropriate assessments for English language.  At interview, school staff assess the student’s ability to engage and succeed in an English medium curriculum. The student’s academic background, previous school reports and supporting documents support the admissions process for those students offered places.

Entry on to the IB Diploma Programme (DP) is based on a student meeting one of the following requirements

  • Achievement, or a prediction, of 5 Grade C’s or above in IGCSE examinations or successful completion of the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP)
  • An equivalent national qualification to the MYP or IGCSEs
  • Students who have not completed any of the above will still be considered on a case-by-case basis

Students who do not meet the above requirements may still be considered for IB Courses.

Entry on to the IB Career-related Programme (CP) is based on a student showing interest and ability in the specialism that they wish to pursue for their career-related study. A general level of educational ability which will allow the student to be successful in their IB courses and the CP core is also required.


7. Application Fee

The application fee is $2,000 per applicant per application for ESF primary and secondary school. The application fee is $1,200 for Discovery College and Renaissance College. This is a non-refundable, non-transferable fee which covers the cost of admissions administration, including personnel, system costs, commissions paid to our online service provider, etc.  Due to the high number of application, the collection of this fee does not constitute any assurance that an interview or a school place will be offered.

All application fee is settled by credit card through PayDollar, our online payment service provider.


8. Fees

See School Fees


9. Immigration Status

An offer of a place cannot be made to a child who is not a resident of Hong Kong unless the child is permitted by the Director of Immigration to reside in Hong Kong. If a child whose travel document/passport bears the endorsement “Visitor” over the immigration stamp and would like to attend a school in Hong Kong, clearance need to be obtained from the Director of Immigration. If clearance is obtained, ESF primary schools may accept students for Year 1-Year 2 for academic year 2017/18 under the non-subvention fee. (see school fees). Parents of non-local children are advised to seek the approval of the Director of Immigration (www.immd.gov.hk) as soon as possible for entry to Hong Kong of the child in question, for the purpose of study.


10. Admissions Enquiries

Enquiries may be sent to admissions@esfcentre.edu.hk or call 3762 2411


11. Policy Review

ESF’s admissions policy is subject to regular review.

It is the responsibility of individual applicants to check the ESF website for any updates to the policy.

12. Enquiries

Enquiries about this policy should be directed to the ESF Admissions Manager at julie.wong@esfcentre.edu.hk

Updated on: 6 Dec 2017