Policy and Procedures for Admission to ESF Schools

1. Preface

We offer nine primary, five secondary, one special needs school, five kindergartens and two all-through 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 nurture 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 (ESF Strategic Plan 2015-2020).

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. Click here for more information.


ESF primary and secondary schools

In line with the Education Bureau requirements, ESF shall admit students to the school in accordance with the prevailing admission policy, including the overarching requirements to admit non-local students (those having foreign passport, excluding BNO) to no less than 70% of the overall student population of all international schools operated by ESF.


ESF all-through private independent schools (PIS)

Our two private independent schools, Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK), provides an all-through education for primary and secondary students. In line with the Hong Kong Government’s requirements for all private independent schools (PIS), both DC and RCHK 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.


Online application system

Applications for entry to any ESF schools are made through the Online Admission System (OAS) accessed via the ESF website. For K1, Year 1 and Year 7, 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 DC and RCHK do not operate a Year 7 central application process.


One form application system from 2018/19

Effective from the academic year 2018/19, Year 1 and Year 7 Central Admissions for August 2019 entry, as well as General Applications, will be a ‘one form’ application system​ for ESF primary and secondary including DC and RCHK.

Parents may only submit one​ online application per child with their selected preference of schools. Parents may choose up to three selected schools: the ESF school of zone, DC and/or RCHK. If a parent chooses the ESF school of zone as a selected school, there will be a fourth option available for parents to select an alternative ESF out of zone school. If there is an opportunity to interview, this fourth option may be considered if the three preferences of schools are not available; however, parents will be responsible for arranging transport to the out of zone school as there will not be a school bus service.

Only one online application may be submitted per student. The life cycle of an application is one academic year.


School zoning

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. The online application will also provide parents with an option to select an out of zone school. This option may be considered should there be availability at the alternative school.

DC and RCHK are zone free. There is no geographical zoning for the kindergartens, however, there are guidelines in identifying a suitable kindergarten.

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.


2. Priority for Admission

Students applying for enrolment to an ESF school, including the two PIS, 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) are:

    1. Corporate Nomination Rights Nominees;
    2. The children of full-time teaching staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Limited*;
    3. The children of full-time support staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Limited*;
    4. The siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school, private independent school (PIS) or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School;
    5. Individual Nomination Rights Nominees;
    6. Current students requesting internal transfer;
    7. Children of former students who have attended an ESF/PIS school for a minimum of three years or are former ESF/PIS students returning from a period overseas or siblings of former students who have attended for a minimum of three years and graduated from an ESF/PIS secondary school in Year 13;
    8. 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];
    9. Children nominees from universities with collaboration agreement with ESF; and
    10. Other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.

* Staff are given priority according to employment terms for ESF or the Private Independent schools.
**Priority for interview is subject to having attended ESF 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

The ESF system places children in year group according to their date of birth (1 January to 31 December).  Children usually start Year 1 during the calendar year in which they turn five. 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 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23
1 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
2 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
3 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
4 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
5 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
6 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
7 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
8 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
9 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
10 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
11 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
12 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
13 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Please note:

  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.
  3. All Year 1 and Year 7 applications received within the Central Application Period (1 September to 30 September) have a computer generated random number. All the on-time applications will be ordered by priority category and random number for central processing. The interview list for each ESF/PIS school is then compiled taking into account the priority ordered list, the parent’s preferences as indicated on the online application form and the maximum number each school is able to interview. Applicants who are not able to gain a first round interview are waitlisted for their first preference school. Each year, our schools are oversubscribed with applications, hence we are not able to interview all applicants who apply on-time. Any Year 1 and Year 7 applications received after the Central Application Period will be placed at the end of their respective first 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 first preference school and 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 seven and 14 days.
  8. Acceptance of an offer is with a commitment of two 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. A new application may be submitted six months following the date of the last interview/assessment;
  • The one academic year validity period of the application has expired. Applicants on waiting lists at the end of the academic year may carry forward their waitlist position by reapplying for the following academic year.  Waitlist applicants will be contacted by email before April each year for re-application. No additional fee is required.

10. If a student meets the entry requirements for the school and there are no immediate places 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. If an offer is made for an alternative school, no re-interview and re-assessment is required.

11. ESF primary students are guaranteed a secondary place at an ESF school when transferring to Year 7 based on conditions specified. If the student is attending one of the private independent schools — Discovery College or Renaissance College, the Year 7 place is guaranteed for their respective secondary school phase. Click here to see the key dates.

4. Applications

It is important to note that an application with insufficient supporting documents or non-payment of fee will not be processed.

Before you start the application process, please click here to view the instructions on submitting supporting documents and here for the list of documents required.

5. Interview and Assessment

All ESF schools offer an inquiry-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 admissions 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 the 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 International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is based on a student meeting one of the following requirements:

  • Achievement, or a prediction, of five 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; or
  • 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.

6. Application Fee

Subject to the final approval by the Education Bureau, the application fee is HK$2,000 for ESF primary and secondary schools, Discovery College and Renaissance College. Please click here for futher details.

7. Fees

Click here to see school fees.

8. 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 needs to be obtained from the Director of Immigration. If clearance is obtained, ESF primary schools may accept students for Years 1 to 3 for the academic year 2018/19 under the non-subvention fee. (See school fees). Parents of non-local children are advised to seek the approval of the Director of Immigration as soon as possible for entry to Hong Kong of the child in question, for the purpose of study.

9. 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.


Email: admissions@esfcentre.edu.hk

Admissions hotline: +852 3762 2411

Updated on: 30 June 2018