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.  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 at least one parent who has 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.

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 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. 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 – 1 academic year)

Effective from August 2017, Year 1 and Year 7 Central Admissions process for August 2018 entry will be a ‘one form’ application system for ESF primary and secondary schools including Discovery College and Renaissance College. Parents may only submit one online application per child with their selected preference of schools. Subject to final approval by the Education Bureau, the application fee will be HK$2,000. School zoning (http://www.esf.edu.hk/esf-zones/) applies for ESF primary and secondary schools based on residential address at the time of application. Discovery College and Renaissance College remains zone free.


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, private independent 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;
    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.


* 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.

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


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 with their selected preference of schools. Zoning applies for ESF primary and secondary schools. Discovery College and Renaissance College remain zone free. 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 and the parent’s preferences as applied for on the online application form.
  3. Any Year 1 and Year 7 applications received after the Central Application Period will be placed at the end of their respective 1st preference 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; 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

For General Applications a hard copy of the completed online application form, along with supporting documents, must be sent directly to the 1st preference school.  If the 1st preference school is ESF, the documents are sent to the school of zone according to your current residential address.  If you are applying to Discovery College or Renaissance College, supporting documents are sent directly to the school.

In the case of applications made during the Central Application Period for 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 current and last year’s school reports
      • 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 quality 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)

Effective from August 2017, Year 1 and Year 7 Central Admissions process for August 2018 entry will be a ‘one form’ application system for ESF primary and secondary schools including Discovery College and Renaissance College. Parents may only submit one online application per child with their selected preference of schools. Subject to final approval by the Education Bureau, the application fee will be HK$2,000. School zoning (http://www.esf.edu.hk/esf-zones/) applies for ESF primary and secondary schools based on residential address at the time of application. Discovery College and Renaissance College remains zone free.


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. The process used to assess a young child’s level of English language competence is through a play-based approach. Assessment reports from kindergartens support the assessment process.

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.


7. Application Fee

Subject to EDB’s approval, the application fee is $2,000 per applicant per application. 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, we 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: 28 June 2017