Policy and Procedures for Admission to ESF Schools


1. Preface

The English Schools Foundation operates five kindergartens, nine primary schools, five secondary schools, one special needs school, and two all-through private independent schools.

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.’ Students entering an ESF school must be able to engage with an English-medium curriculum.

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).

ESF Primary and Secondary Schools

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

ESF all-through Private Independent Schools (PIS)

Our Private Independent Schools, Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK), 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 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 school are made through the Online Admission System (OAS) accessed via the ESF website. Year 1 and Year 7 applications are made from 1 to 30 September of the year before the student enters school. As DC and RCHK are all-through schools, they are not included in the Year 7 central application process.

Effective 1 September 2018 the Year 1 and Year 7 Central Admissions process entry will be a ‘one form’ application system for ESF primary and secondary schools, DC and RCHK.

Parents are required to submit one online application per child with selected school preferences. Parents may choose up to three schools:

  • 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 additional 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 a school bus service will not be provided.

Each application is valid for one academic year.

School Zoning

Parents of students choosing an ESF primary or secondary school can apply to their designated school of zone according to their Hong Kong residential address. The online application will also provide parents with a fourth option – to select an out-of-zone school. This option may be considered should there be availability at the alternative school.

There is no geographical zoning for DC and RCHK.  Zones for all other ESF primary and secondary schools are adjusted from time to time.

Parents of students applying from overseas for ESF primary or secondary schools should 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.


2. Priority for Admission

Students who are able to benefit from an English medium education are invited to apply for enrolment to an ESF school, including the two PIS schools and will be placed on a waiting list. 

Priority for an admissions interview/assessment will be based on the following ranked criteria:

  1. Corporate Nomination Rights Nominees
  2. The children of full-time teaching staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd*
  3. The children of full-time support staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd*
  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. The 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 attending the kindergarten continuously until the end of Term 3 prior to entry into primary school]
  9. Children nominees from universities with collaboration agreements with ESF
  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 Year 1 consideration is subject to having attended K1 by the start of the spring term. Students recently arrived from overseas are exempt from this requirement.

3. Admission Procedures

Students are placed in Year Groups according to their date of birth (1 January – 31 December).  Students usually start Year 1 during the calendar year in which they turn five.  Students are not admitted early.  Occasionally, a student whose birthday falls late in the year, and would benefit from a delayed start may be advised by the school to delay admission to the following year. The entry Year Group submitted by parents on the application form may be adjusted by ESF to ensure the student’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

A managed number of school places are reserved for students with Special Educational Needs. The SEN admissions process is managed centrally at ESFC and includes the Admissions and Review Process (ARP) to determine school placement and suitable provision. Places are reserved for students with special educational needs, who qualify through the ESF moderation process. https://www.esf.edu.hk/sen-admissions/ 

Application Summary

  1. Applicants must submit the application package in full.
  2. Parents should submit one online application per child with their selected preference of schools. Zoning applies for ESF primary and secondary schools. DC, RCHK and Kindergartens remain zone free.
  3. All Year 1 and Year 7 applications received within the ‘Central Application Period’ (1 September to 30 September) will receive a computer generated random number. Applications will be ranked by priority category and assigned a random number for central processing. The interview list for each ESF/PIS school is compiled, taking into account the priority criteria, the parent’s preferences, placement availability and requirements in line with the EDB. Transport restrictions into Discovery Bay will also be taken to account for DC processing. 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, and so unfortunately, we are not able to interview all applicants who apply on-time. Year 1 and Year 7 applications received after the Central Application period will be placed on a waiting list in date order of receipt.
  4. All other applications are considered as ‘General Applications’ for the current year.  General Applications are processed by 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 will be offered subject to availability.
  7. Acceptance of an offer must be confirmed by payment of a deposit and a Capital Levy within the time frame specified which is generally a period of 7 to 14 days.
  8. Acceptance of an offer brings with it a commitment of 2 academic years to the offering school before any transfer request may 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 6 months following the date of the last interview/assessment;
  • The one academic year validity period of the application has expired. Applicants on waiting list 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 student will remain on 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 6 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 on the ESF website. If the student is attending one of the ‘all-through’ schools – DC or RCHK, the Year 7 place is guaranteed for their respective secondary school phase. Click here to see the key dates for transfer.

4. Applications

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

When applying for ‘General Applications’, copies of the following supporting documents must be submitted online:

      • Student’s Birth Certificate
      • Student’s Passport (including the visa status) and Hong Kong ID Card, if issued
      • Student’s school reports from the last two years, with English translation as appropriate. If applying for Year 1, one kindergarten report if applicable
      • Educational Psychology Reports or similar (if applicable)
      • A reference letter from the student’s current school (applications for Year 3 and above)
      • Examination certificates/results (Year 12 applications)
      • Parents’ Hong Kong ID Cards and Passports
      • Details of parent attendance at ESF primary/secondary school(s) (if applicable)
      • Electronic photograph of the student showing his/her frontal face with clear facial features, measuring 4cm (width) x 5cm (height)
      • Proof of Hong Kong address documents – latest stamped tenancy agreement or a current government demand for rates under parent’s name;
      • Proof of Hong Kong address documents – latest original utility bill or bank statement under parent’s name.

5. Interview and Assessment

All ESF schools offer an inquiry-based English medium education. Students applying to an ESF school must demonstrate sufficient English language skills. All students will be required to complete age-appropriate assessments to determine their ability to engage with an English medium curriculum. Previous school history, reports and additional documents support the admissions process.

NEW: Students who are attending ESF Kindergartens and eligible for the kindergarten priority will complete the Year 1 the assessment process on site at their respective ESF Kindergartens. Assessment information from ESF Kindergartens will support the assessment process.  

Students in ESF Kindergarten identified with additional learning needs may be recommended to apply though the SEN Admissions and Review process. This is a separate application process managed centrally at ESF Centre. This process also applies to all students applying from outside ESF.

All parents will be invited to meet with school staff to provide further information on their child and have the opportunity to ask any questions. The meeting serves to support the transition process for those children offered places.

Applications for Year 12 entry 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

Entry to the IB Career-related Programme (CP) is based on a student showing interest and ability in the area 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.

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

6. Application Fee

7. 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 must be obtained from the Director of Immigration. If clearance is obtained, ESF primary schools may accept students for Year 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 (www.immd.gov.hk) for entry to Hong Kong of the child in question, for the purpose of study.

9. Admissions Enquiries

Please direct any enquiries to admissions@esfcentre.edu.hk or contact the ESF Admissions Hotline on 3762 2411

10. Policy Review

ESF’s admissions policy is subject to regular review and 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: 25 Jan 2019