An applicant’s priority status may change, for example, through making a Nomination Rights application or as a result of a sibling gaining entry to an ESF school.  In such cases, the applicant will be placed onto the waiting list in their newly acquired priority group according to the date the priority change occurred.

Click here to see the frequently asked questions on the Online Admissions System (OAS). 

Parents may submit an online application for admission for the current academic year and next academic year. There are waiting lists at each of our schools and the offer of a place is dependent on vacancy being available.

Central Applications for 2016-17 Year 1 (born in 2011) and Year 7 (born in 2005) will be open from 1 to 30 September 2015. For parents who wish to apply, please click Year 1 or Year 7 for the latest application information available from July 2015. 

Those who have missed the central application period or who are applying for years other than Year 1 and Year 7 need to apply through general applications.

You may submit an application to an ESF school and to one or both of ESF’s Private Independent Schools at the same time. For statistical purposes parents are asked to indicate schools applied to by ticking the appropriate box(es) on the online application form.

Applications to ESF’s Private Independent Schools - Renaissance College and Discovery College are to be completed on separate application forms located on the individual school websites.

Applicants to ESF International Kindergartens should refer to the website: ESF International Kindergartens for further information on admissions procedures.


ESF schools are not selective: admission is through interview/assessment and depends above all on the student's ability to benefit from an ESF education. Moreover, school places are offered according to zone (geographic location of the students’ address). Please click here to see further details on ESF’s Admissions Policy.

For ESF’s two Private Independent Schools (PIS), Renaissance College Hong Kong (RCHK) and Discovery College (DC), the Admissions Policy has to be in line with the Hong Kong Government's requirements for all Private Independent Schools (PIS): 

  • RCHK and DC 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 at least one parent who has Hong Kong permanent resident status. 
Please click on the links to see the Admissions Policies of the two Private Independent Schools (PIS), Renaissance College Hong Kong and Discovery College


For General Applications, parents may submit an online general application for admission for the current academic year and next academic year. There are waiting lists at each of our schools and the offer of a place is dependent on vacancy being available.


Yes, the waiting lists for ESF schools are long. As of June 2015, there were about 2,000 on the waiting list for ESF primary and secondary schools. 


Applicants on the current waitlist will be sent a system email in February or March inviting them to reapply. (No reapplication fee is required.) If no reapplication is received, the application will be considered withdrawn.

Yes. Applicants will need to complete an online application form and also an Individual Nomination Rights (INR) application form, which is available for download from the ESF website. The INR application and cheque is submitted in hard copy to ESF Centre.

INR applications may be made at any time.  Exceptionally, INR applications for Year 1 and Year 7 entry in August 2016, can only be made on or after 2 September 2015.  Applications should be submitted to ESF Centre, 25/F, 1063 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. All Nomination Rights applications will be handled by the ESF Centre.

INR applications are processed according to the date and time when the application form, together with the deposit of HK$50,000, is received at the ESF Centre.

INR nominees are the third priority after teachers’ children and siblings of ESF students.

No. The nominee has to be a named individual on the application form. The INR holder must be a parent of the nominee.  However, a company can apply for a Corporate Nomination Right (click here for details).

In any academic year, the number of places offered to INR applicants will be limited to 150 across all ESF schools from Year 1 to 13.

The HK$50,000 deposit is refundable only if the child fails the admissions assessment.

If the child passes the assessment, the HK$450,000 must be paid when the place is accepted.

No, the HK$500,000 is for a named individual and is non-transferable and non-refundable once paid for a confirmed place.

Placement is subject to success at interview/assessment and place availability. Priority is accorded to waitlist placement and consequent timing of consideration for interview/assessment.

Yes, placement is subject to availability at the school and a commitment to remain at the school for a defined period. INR applicants may indicate up to three schools in order of preference at which the Nominee can be considered. Waitlist placement will be considered for each school listed in turn. Nominees must be prepared to attend any of the schools indicated. Transfer is possible after a period of time, but it is applicable only if the family resides in the school zone. Nominees must undertake to make their own travel arrangements if living outside the area covered by the school bus service.

As all other applicants, the INR Nominees will go through the standard interview assessment procedures. Overseas families will be assessed when they are in Hong Kong.

No, both Discovery College and Renaissance College have their own schemes. There is no INR scheme for the four ESF International Kindergartens.

No. The INR scheme is not applicable to applicants with Special Educational Needs. There are separate admissions procedures for children applying for Learning Support Centres and Jockey Club Sarah Roe School. Please see the details at:  http://www.esf.edu.hk/SEN/Admissions

After confirmation of a school place, INR applicants will have to pay the INR balance of HK$450,000, the admissions deposit and the non-refundable capital levy of HK$38,000 (for Year 1) and will be reduced, on a sliding scale, for students who join the system in later years. Please see: http://www.esf.edu.hk/our-schools/admissions-criteria/school-fees for details of the payments required.

Maintaining and sustaining education standards has always been the highest priority at ESF. It is vital that the pay level must be able to attract and retain quality staff. Before deciding on whether a pay rise is necessary, ESF has carried out a comprehensive analysis of the economic environment related to fees and pay in Hong Kong, and compared staff benefits of comparator schools. Data was drawn from the HK Government and other authoritative organisations such as Towers Watson, Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, Mercers, the Employers Federation of Hong Kong and a network of five main comparator international schools in Hong Kong.

Schools and ESF Centre have researched and explored qualifications from around the world. The Business And Technology Education Council, BTEC, is considered the best solution in applied learning because of the quality and range of the qualification. We have looked at the TAFE model from Australia, had meetings with their representatives and have assessed that for our purposes the cost is far too high. We simply don’t have the number of students going to Australia to justify the cost of the courses. ESF has explored Australian qualifications twice over the past 15 years and in both cases this has been the answer. 
Canadian and American courses tend to be local qualifications which offer excellent learning but without international opportunities or accreditation. Universities in Canada fully understand applied learning e.g. Ryerson University, Toronto, University of British Columbia.
Across ESF we are supporting a range of models in order to meet the needs of individual students and also to give a range of learning opportunities. Over the years, we have grown from a simple Travel and Tourism course combined with Business to the rich variety we now offer.
West Island School has been a pilot school in the IB Career-related Certificate, IBCC, which has an IB structure, recognising applied learning qualifications but also offering two IB standard level certificates – one of which has to be a language.
Courses on offer for September 2011
On the Kowloon-side
The establishment of a range of BTEC courses to include: Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art, Design (Media as the optional modules); Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport; Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business (ICT as the optional modules); Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts. (These may not all run dependent on numbers.)
On the Island-side
There will be further extension of BTEC/IB approach, to add to the current offer of Sport, Business, Travel and Tourism, Performing Arts, Media, Engineering, Visual Arts, with the addition of Product Design.
The model on the Island side is one of combination rather than the full Extended Diploma.

Provision time of Chinese lessons varies among schools. On average 2 to 2.5 hours of Chinese is taught to Year 7 to 9 and 2 hours for Year 10 to 11. There is a plan to adjust provision time at Key Stage 3 and 4 but it will not be a substantial increase. In Years 12 to13, the requirements from International Baccalaureate are followed.

Students completing Chinese A1 or A2 in IB will reach full local employability in terms of language skills. In the Language B categories, those in the Higher Level will be able to carry out basic, authentic tasks in daily communication. Candidates in the Standard Level will be able to use Chinese in controlled situations. All these are based on average achievement (4-5 points in the final examination).

ESF provides quality English education for those who cannot enter the local school system, often for linguistic reasons. Therefore, students are not expected to achieve the Chinese standard same as that in local schools. However, some students may achieve a near native standard in our differentiated programme.

ESF is not a bilingual educator, but when our daily Chinese programme has completed a full cycle, we expect it to be one of the strongest among international schools in our region.

ESF started its Chinese programme more 10 years ago with pinyin and simplified characters. Our new curriculum stipulates that traditional characters should be introduced in Key Stage 2. Both forms are equally honoured in our daily teaching and in all international examinations which our students take.

ESF does not teach Cantonese as a major part of its Chinese curriculum. However, experimental classes and extra-curricular activities in Cantonese are supported and students are allowed to use Cantonese in class when appropriate. Our strong effort to develop literacy in Pathway 2 and 3 greatly facilitates mother tongue maintenance for Cantonese speakers.

Choices include GCSE Chinese (two tiers), IGCSE Chinese (first or foreign language) and Chinese in IB Diploma (A1, A2, B and ab initio).
Learning a language is similar to, if not more difficult than, learning a musical instrument. It requires constant practice. Regular homework is absolutely necessary, but it should come in all forms including conversation and even games.
A similar pathway structure in secondary schools ensures differentiated continuity, although placement will be adjusted in Year 7, just as it has been done each year in primary schools. Both curriculum and teaching materials are reviewed constantly to address cross phase issues.
A positive attitude is essential for success. You can help a lot to achieve it, as you could for all school subjects. When a child is learning a foreign language, helpful parents often act as a sounding board, a simulated conversation partner, audience to a seemingly unintelligible performance, a patient helper waving flashcards or even a holiday provider to where the target language is spoken. Praise your child for even the half word learnt and perhaps start learning Chinese together with him or her. A replay of Chinese class at home might not be wise.

In the 2013-14 academic year, the 12,968 students in ESF schools and the 4,597 in the Private Independent Schools and the kindergartens include over 70 different nationalities. Almost 70% of our students have parents who are permanent residents of Hong Kong.

Just over one quarter (24.6%) of students held a British passport, 25.2% held a Hong Kong or Chinese passport and a further 10.2% held a passport from another East Asian country.

33.9% of PI School students held a Hong Kong passport, 16.8% held a British passport and 7.3% held a Chinese passport.

30.0% of kindergarten students held a Hong Kong passport, 20.0% held a British passport, 11.0% held an Australian passport and 12.0% held a Canadian passport.

Of the 12,968 students in ESF Schools, 8,809 (68.1%) were permanent residents of Hong Kong. Of the 3,378 students in the PI Schools, 2,531 (74.9%) were permanent residents of Hong Kong.




According to the information provided by parents, English is the first language of a significant majority of students (75.7%) in ESF schools. At PI Schools, the percentage was 57.6% and in Kindergartens it was 84.4%. Native Cantonese speakers account for 11.7% at ESF schools, 27.4% in PI Schools and 6.1% in kindergartens.

The largest ethnic group was Chinese (44%) followed by Caucasian (20%) and Eurasian (12.0%).  

NCL is introduced to replace the existing Refundable Capital Levy (RCL) to build up sufficient capital funding stream for continuous renovation and replacement of school buildings and facilities.

Parents of students who are enrolling into ESF schools from August 2015 (i.e. school year 2015/16) will be required to pay NCL, alongside with admission deposit, when they accept an offer of a school place. NCL will replace RCL from 2015/16 onwards.

No, the child will not be required to pay NCL as the scheme is yet to be effective in November 2014 (midway of the school year 2014/15).  NCL will apply to all new students from August 2015 (school year 2015/16) onwards.  However, the student will be required to pay RCL as the RCL scheme is still applicable in November 2014.

NCL will be charged in full, as per the sliding scale table, for the first two children of a family. For the third and subsequent children of a family, parents will only be required to pay 40% of the sliding scale provided that the first two children of the family have already paid full NCL and they are still in ESF schools when their sibling enrols. 

If a family has more than two children enrolling in ESF schools within the same school year, the concession will apply to the third and subsequent children attending the highest year group.

No. The child has to pay NCL in full.  NCL and RCL are two separate schemes and their concession rules operate independently to each other.  Sibling concession on RCL is not applicable in this case.

All students who have RCL on account are not required to pay NCL. When a student in primary school reaches Year 7, the student will not be required to pay NCL as long as RCL is still on account.

Yes.  Students studying in PIS or ESF kindergartens are required to pay NCL if they join ESF schools from 2015/16 onwards.

All existing students of ESF are covered under the RCL scheme.  Students in ESF primary schools should have already paid RCL except for the Year 4 and Year 5 students in 2013/14.  RCL for these two groups of students, if not paid already, are due when they reach Year 7 in 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively.  They are required to pay RCL instead of NCL.

Yes, all students will have to pay NCL on enrolment.  As NCL is a one-off levy, once it is paid, the student will be exempted for the rest of his time with ESF schools. Parents have to indicate this information in the enrolment form upon re-enrolment for verification. Once the information is verified, ESF will arrange a refund within 3 months after the commencing of school.  This arrangement is also applicable to the leavers who have paid NCL before and re-enrol in ESF schools again.

Yes. The student has already left ESF system and never paid NCL before. You will be required to pay NCL when he re-enrols in the system.

For new students newly-enrolled in ESF schools, advance fees are already paid by means of admission deposit. They will not be required to pay advance fees.  For the rest of the students without RCL on account, they will be required to pay advance fees, regardless of NCL is paid or not.

ESF Financial Assistance Scheme is the scheme for eligible students who are already in ESF system. NCL is the levy charged to new students only. Financial assistance on NCL is not applicable.

The levy will be charged in full for a family’s first two children and reduced to HK$10,000 for subsequent children.

No. When calculating the levy for each child, we will only count children currently in the system. The refundable levy in this case would still be HK$25,000.

ESF has a financial hardship scheme that has fee remission for families who experience a sudden change in their material circumstances. There is however, no hardship scheme available for the RCL.  Further information on the scheme can be found here.

The levy will apply to all students equally, with the exception of ESF teachers, who will pay a levy of $HK5,000 for each child to whom the levy applies, regardless of the total number of children in the family attending ESF schools.

Yes, they would normally be expected to pay the levy if they are joining ESF before the beginning of 2015/16 academic year (after August 2015).

No, this is a one-off levy, normally paid in either Year 1 or 7.

The levy will be repaid at the end of the student’s final academic year, net of any outstanding fees.

As the levy is reimbursable, it is not tax-deductible. As ESF is a registered charity, any gifts made to it are tax-deductible. Parents have the option of making the levy a donation instead of having it refunded.

An employer can pay the levy in the same way that they can pay fees.

No. The aim of the levy scheme is that ESF can make use of the interest generated to contribute towards the cost of capital projects.

When the refundable capital levy is paid, an official receipt will be issued, parents are required to re-present the official receipt when they apply for the repayment. The repayment will be made 30 days after the official receipt is submitted. Procedures to provide refunds where receipts have been lost will also be put in place.

You will be asked to make payment of RCL at the same time as making the deposit payment to secure your child’s place.

RCL is still applicable to all new students entering ESF primary and secondary schools in the 2014/15 school year. NCL will replace RCL from the 2015/16 school year onwards.

For existing ESF students studying in Years 5 and 6 in the 2014/15 school year who have not paid RCL before, they are still covered by RCL scheme and required to pay RCL when they reach Year 7 in the 2015/16 school year and 2016/17 school year respectively.

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For any other inquiries, please contact the HR Recruitment Team at jobs@esfcentre.edu.hk

The cross-harbour Star Ferry ride only costs HK$2.50 on weekdays. Take your camera.

Star Ferry

Jan 2009

Visas are required for most nationalities but are easy to obtain. The fastest route to the Middle Kingdom from Hong Kong is by train, bus or ferry. Shopping trips to the border town of Shenzhen are popular but generally, the neighbouring province of Guangdong is better known for factories than natural beauty. Further afield, it is an hour’s flight to Guilin where the stunning limestone scenery draws artists and tourists from around the world. The cities of Beijing Shanghai and Xian are well served by direct flights from Hong Kong.

Scenery near Guilin

It depends where home is. Off-peak rates to the UK, US, Australia, Canada or New Zealand cost around 39 cents per minute with even cheaper special offers appearing periodically. Fast internet speeds mean computer 'webcam' phone calls using software such as Skype are stable and of good quality.
Compared with some countries yes, although teachers will discover that the increased buying power of superstores 'back home' has meant a levelling of prices for everything from computers to cameras in recent years. Relative to salary, however, gadgets and gizmos represent very good value.
A surprising number. Many are handy for city dwellers including Repulse Bay, Deep Water Bay and Stanley, which are all on the south side of Hong Kong Island. On Lantau, the stretch of sand at Cheung Sha takes longer to reach but is worth the effort. The postcard photographer’s favourite however, is Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) in Sai Kung. Powdery white sand lapped by turquoise seas reward hikers who reach the remote beauty spot.
Beach on Lantau Island

Supermarkets stock Marmite and Vegemite; Tim Tams and Branston Pickle. Imported fresh fruit and vegetables are often Australian and a range of Waitrose products from the UK are stocked by a local supermarket chain.

The theme park opened in September 2005 and despite being smaller than other Disney resorts, offers an enjoyable day out. Rival attraction, Ocean Park has grabbed some of Disneyland’s limelight recently; especially since the arrival of another two giant pandas from China, bringing the total to four.

While there are lots of ways to give your credit card a thorough workout, it is also perfectly possible to live inexpensively in Hong Kong. Opt for local, rather than Western restaurants; seek out discount clothing outlets and hit the bars during happy hour to make your dollars go further. Click here for an ‘at a glance’ price list. 
ESF provides annual leave to Staff Members to promote work life balance. The Annual Leave Policy outlines the eligibility of Staff Members to annual leave and explains the procedures to be followed in applying for it. The provision of annual leave meets or in most cases exceeds the requirements of the Employment Ordinance.  Click hereto log on to the ESF Gateway for details.

ESF supports Staff Members in their study for and attaining further relevant professional qualifications to enable them to perform current or future jobs successfully. Staff Members attending professional development courses may need to sit examinations to attain professional qualifications. This Policy outlines the eligibility of Staff Members to Examination Leave and explains the procedures to be followed in applying for such leave.

ESF supports training and professional development as a means of developing key competencies which enable Staff Members to perform current or future jobs successfully. Therefore it enables eligible Staff Members to take leave to attend courses relevant to their work with ESF. This Policy outlines the eligibility of Staff Members to Study Leave and explains the procedure to be followed in applying for such leave.
In support of its family friendly practices and practices that support the good health and welfare of its employees, ESF enables Staff Members to take leave when they adopt a child. This Policy outlines the eligibility of Staff Members to Adoption Leave and explains the procedure to be followed in applying for Adoption Leave. There is no provision for Adoption Leave under the Employment Ordinance.
In support of its family friendly practices and practices that support the good health and welfare of its employees, ESF enables Staff Members to take leave upon the birth of their child to their partner. This Policy outlines the eligibility of Staff Members to Paternity Leave and explains the procedure to be followed in applying for Paternity Leave. There is no provision for Paternity Leave under the Employment Ordinance.
In support of its family friendly practices and practices that support the good health and welfare of its employees, ESF enables female Staff Members to take leave when they give birth to a child. This Policy outlines the eligibility of female Staff Members to Maternity Leave and explains the procedure to be followed in applying for Maternity Leave. The provision of leave under this Policy meets or exceeds the requirements of the Employment Ordinance.
The Sick Leave Policy enables Staff Members to take leave for periods of actual illness or injury requiring them to be absent from work. It also protects other Staff Members from being exposed to contagious diseases. This policy outlines the eligibility of Staff Members to Sick Leave and explains the procedure to be followed in applying for Sick Leave. Staff Members are eligible to sick leave to a level that meets or in most cases exceeds the provisions in the Employment Ordinance.   Click hereto log on to the ESF Gateway for details. 




The Expressing Breast Milk Policy supports the ESF’s family friendly practices, and practices that support good health and welfare of its employees. ESF promotes and supports breastfeeding and, therefore, encourages mothers wishing to express breast milk when they return to work. This policy outlines the provisions that should be made available in schools and other workplaces to support such activities.  Click hereto log on to the ESF Gateway for details.
The Inclement Weather Work Arrangements Policy details the work arrangements of Staff Members during inclement weather which can occur during the summer months. The over-riding consideration is student and Staff Member safety in all instances of inclement and dangerous weather conditions. At all times in managing work arrangements during inclement weather, ESF shall comply with advice issued by the Hong Kong Observatory in conjunction with the Education Bureau (EDB).  Click here to log on to the ESF Gateway for details.

Living in the centre of one of the world’s most frenetic cities appeals to many ESF teachers. City apartments are never far from restaurants, bars and shops but are inevitably more expensive than less-conveniently located accommodation. The Outlying Islands and New Territories appeal to families and those for whom space, and even a garden is a priority. Rental rates are cheaper but remember to factor in ferry costs and the extra commuting time.

Beach on Lantau Island
Beach on Lantau Island