Application Procedures for Primary & Secondary

Applications for entry to any ESF primary, secondary or all-through schools are made through the Online Admission System (OAS).

Year 1 and Year 7 Central Applications are made in the month of September of the year before the student enters school.

General Applications for all year groups can be made throughout the whole year.

Click here if you are applying for an ESF kindergarten.

How to Select Your School

Parents should submit only one form per child with their selected preference of schools. Zoning applies for ESF primary and secondary schools but NOT for Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK).

Parents may choose up to four schools:

  • ESF school of zone
  • Discovery College (DC) and/or
  • Renaissance College (RCHK)
  • ESF out-of-zone school

If a parent chooses the ESF school of zone as a selected school, there will be an additional option available for parents to select an alternative ESF out-of-zone school. If there is an opportunity to interview, this additional 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.

Note: If parents select an alternative ESF out of zone and are offered an interview at one of the selected out of zone schools and parents decline, the application will NOT be returned to the school of zone. It will be withdrawn from all lists and parents will need to reapply.

Each application is valid for one academic year. Parents will be contacted by email before April each year for “re-application” with no additional fee. See more details below.

How to Determine Your Year Group

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 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24 2024/25 2025/26
K1 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
K2 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
1 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
3 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
4 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
5 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
6 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
7 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
8 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
9 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
10 or 11 2007 & 2006 2008 & 2007 2009 & 2008 2010 & 2009 2011 & 2010
12 or 13 2005 & 2004 2006 & 2005 2007 & 2006 2008 & 2007 2009 & 2008

School Zoning

School zoning applies to our nine primary and five secondary schools. Parents choosing these schools 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 Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK).

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.

Admission Criteria and Priority

The only criteria for admission is that students must demonstrate sufficient English language skills so that they can benefit from our English-medium learning environment.

Applicants will be placed on a waiting list and will be invited to an interview/assessment when vacancies become available. They will be required to complete age-appropriate assessments to determine their ability to engage with an English medium curriculum.

Priority for an 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 enrolled at an ESF school;
  5. Individual Nomination Rights Nominees;
  6. Current students requesting internal transfer;
  7. The children of former students who have attended an ESF school for a minimum of three years or are former ESF 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 school in Year 13;
  8. Children nominees from universities with collaboration agreements with ESF; and
  9. Students who are qualified as an elite athlete#
  10. Other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.

# National-level athletes and athletes sponsored by the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) as an elite athlete.

In line with the Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) requirements:
  • ESF’s nine primary and five secondary schools and Jockey Club Sarah Roe School shall admit students to school in accordance with the prevailing admission policy, including the overarching requirements to admit non-local students (those having overseas passports, excluding HKSAR and BNO) to no less than 70% of the overall student population of all schools operated by ESF. Overseas passport holders will receive priority over local passport holders.
  • Discovery College and Renaissance College shall admit students to school in accordance with the prevailing admission policy, including the overarching requirement to admit students holding Hong Kong Permanent Resident status to no less than 70% of the overall student population of the college.


THROUGH TRAIN from K1 to Year 13

ESF kindergarten children joining K1 from August 2020, who can benefit from a mainstream, English medium curriculum, will be guaranteed a Year 1 place at an ESF school.


How to gain interview priority?

Our Nomination Rights Schemes provide a fast-track entry route for students to gain an opportunity for admissions interview/assessment.

Click here to learn more:


Support for Learning

ESF offers three broad options, based on the ESF Levels of Adjustment (LOA) Framework.

Students who require less extensive, class-based teaching and learning adjustments are catered for within mainstream classes in all kindergartens and schools.

Students who require more extensive, daily teaching and learning adjustments are catered for within learning support (LS) within ESF primary schools and secondary schools.

Students who require the most extensive teaching and learning adjustments are catered for within the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School (JCSRS).

Parents should apply via the LS/JCSRS admissions procedures which includes the Admissions and Review Process (ARP) to determine suitable provision. Click here to learn more.

Applications and Waiting Lists

For Central Application (Year 1 and Year 7), all applications received within the ‘Central Application Period’ (1 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 school is compiled, taking into account the priority criteria, the parent’s preferences, placement availability and requirements in line with the Education Bureau. 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.

Year 1 and Year 7 applications received after 30 September respectively will be placed on a waiting list in date order of receipt.

For all other General Applications received during the year, these are processed by application date order and added to the waiting list according to the first preference school and priority criteria.

Interview and Acceptance of School Place

Applicants will be invited for interviews and assessments when vacancies become available. 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.

Following a successful admissions interview and assessment, a place will be offered subject to availability.

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. Click here for fees information.

Acceptance of an offer brings with it a commitment of two academic years to the offering school before any transfer request may be made, regardless of the residential address.

Admission to Year 12

Applications for Year 12 entry to the IB Diploma Programme (DP) are 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 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.

If School Place is Not Available

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 are required.

If the application expires after one academic year, applicants on the 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.


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; and
  • the one academic year validity period of the application has expired. 

Transferring from ESF Primary to Secondary

All Year 6 students enrolled in an ESF primary school by 1 December are guaranteed a secondary place at an ESF school on completion of Year 6.

For Year 6 students in Learning Support (LS): your child’s placement will be managed and allocated through a different process that takes account of the availability of Year 7 LS placements across all secondary schools. Your child’s Year 7 placement will be confirmed by the end of November.

Click here to see the key dates for transfer.

If the student is attending one of the all-through schools – Discovery College or Renaissance College, the Year 7 place is guaranteed for their respective secondary school phase.

About EDB Requirements

ESF primary and secondary schools

In line with the Hong Kong Education Bureau requirements, ESF primary and secondary schools shall admit students in accordance with the prevailing admission policy, including the overarching requirements to admit non-local students (those having overseas 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 two Private Independent Schools, Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK), provide an all-through education for primary and secondary students on their respective campuses.

In line with the Government’s requirements for all Private Independent Schools (PIS), when the schools are at full capacity, at least 70% of the total students enrolled must have Hong Kong permanent resident status.

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 schools may accept students for Years 1 to 7 for the academic year 2022/23 under the non-subvention fee (see school fees). Parents of non-local children are advised to seek the approval of the Director of Immigration for entry to Hong Kong of the child in question, for the purpose of study.

Join our Information Sessions and School Tours

Joining our information sessions and school tours is the best way to understand more about our schools –our philosophy, curriculum, and how we help students to be the best that they can be!

Our staff will be present to answer all your questions in person. Click here for coming webinars.


Admissions Enquiries

If you have a question, feel free to see the list of frequently asked questions here.

Contact us at:

Updated on: 16 August 2022