Admission Process

Selecting a Kindergarten

You may only apply to one ESF International Kindergarten. There is no geographical zoning of ESF kindergartens. However, the following guidance is offered to families in identifying a suitable kindergarten, based on location.

  • Families residing on Hong Kong Island may choose to apply to Hillside Kindergarten.
  • Families residing in Clearwater Bay, Tseung Kwan O and Hang Hau may choose to apply to Abacus Kindergarten.
  • Families residing in Ma On Shan, Tai Po and Shatin may choose to apply to Wu Kai Sha Kindergarten.
  • Families residing in Sai Kung may choose to apply to Abacus Kindergarten or Wu Kai Sha Kindergarten.
  • Families residing in Kowloon may choose to apply to Tsing Yi Kindergarten.
  • Families residing in Lantau, including Discovery Bay, may choose to apply to Tung Chung Kindergarten.
  • Families residing elsewhere in the New Territories may choose to apply to either Tsing Yi Kindergarten, Tung Chung Kindergarten or Wu Kai Sha Kindergarten.

Note: The kindergartens may offer a visit at another kindergarten to which the application was made to manage the overall volume of applications.

How to Determine your Year Group

K1 application

K2 application

K1-aged children commence kindergarten in August each year. Each kindergarten will receive applications for K1 in accordance with the table below:

Child born between Submit application form Start date in K1 class
Jan – Dec 2020 1 – 30 September 2022 August 2023
Jan – Dec 2021 1 – 30 September 2023 August 2024
Jan – Dec 2022 1 – 30 September 2024 August 2025
Jan – Dec 2023 1 – 30 September 2025 August 2026

No child will be able to attend kindergarten prior to their allocated academic year.

Applications to K1 are invited from 1 September to 30 September of the year prior to admission. Applications should be submitted using the online application system here. Submitting an early application will receive no priority. All applications will be processed after the end of September. Places will be offered first to applications received during September. Applications for K1 received after the end of September will be allocated a place on the waiting list in accordance with their priority and date of application. An application fee applies to all applications.

For K1 – applications to ESF kindergartens for 2023/24 – key dates
1-30 September

Central application period for parents to submit application:

Acknowledgement email containing the applicant’s reference number will be sent upon submission

7 October
Deadline for receipt of supporting documents
October to November

Parents will NOT receive any notification letters these months

Application forms will be verified, parents will be contacted if there are any missing documents

Applications are processed in random order and are assigned a computer-generated sequential number and then ordered according to the priority criteria.


Parents receive play-visit status notification letters.

  • Invitation to attend a play-visit for a place/entry wait list if successful; or
  • Confirmation of waitlisting for possible future play-visit opportunities.
First round play-visits conducted at kindergartens
Parents receive letter with play-visit result
March to August
Further play-visits conducted by kindergartens as necessary

Applications for K2, or for K1 outside the September admissions period, may be made at any time. Places are limited, but may become available during the academic year. If no place is immediately available your child’s application will be added to our waitlist in accordance with their priority and date of application.

Admission Criteria

Children admitted to the kindergartens should be able to engage with an English medium, inquiry-based curriculum. Overseas passport holders will receive priority over local passport holders.

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 or Class A Kindergarten Debenture 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;
  9. Students who are qualified as an elite athletes #
  10. The children of parents holding the ‘Top Talent pass’ for employment in HKSAR;
  11. Students currently enrolled in an ESF Pre-K programme (for K1 admissions only); and
  12. 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.

Allocating a Place

All K1 applications received during September will be processed and sorted by a computer-generated random number and the priority.

Applications will be allocated either a morning or an afternoon session. Priority children will be offered firstly for a morning session, after which those without priority are offered according to their random number drawn. Care will be taken to ensure that twins and siblings of attending children are allocated the same session. The kindergartens will take account of the needs of the overall kindergarten community when making offers.

The process for making offers for K1 will start in December. Working through the list, parents and children are invited for a visit where the staff will meet and observe the children and talk with the parents. Parents can hear about the curriculum, view the environment and decide whether they wish to proceed with the application. Children may be invited back for a second visit. The purpose of the visit is to determine whether the kindergarten is an appropriate setting for the child.

Offers of places will be made after the visits and will continue to be made until all places are filled. Some parents and children may not be invited for a kindergarten visit in the event that places have been filled.

If a place becomes available at a later date, parents and children on the waiting list may be invited to visit the kindergarten.

Successful applicants will be issued with an enrolment form. To take up the place, parents are required to sign the enrolment form, purchase a debenture, and pay the first month’s fee in advance.

Unallocated applications will remain in their designated place on the waiting list.

K1 applications received outside of the September application period or after the deadline of 30 September, will be allocated a place on the waiting list in accordance with their priority and by the date of application.


Starting in December each year, kindergartens will invite children to attend the school for a visit. The child must be accompanied by their parents. The purpose of the visit is for the kindergarten to observe the children, talk with the parents and determine whether the setting is appropriate for the child. It also enables parents to hear about the curriculum, view the premises, and decide whether they wish to proceed with the application.

Children may be invited back to the kindergarten for a second visit if the school needs further information on the child. The kindergarten may involve the special educational needs advisor in this visit.

Kindergartens will offer places to successful applicants after the visits have taken place. In some cases, offers of a place may be conditional upon a second or subsequent visit to the kindergarten, occasionally, parents may be requested to make additional arrangements to support their child when in kindergarten.

Moving on to ESF Primary

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.

To enable your child to enjoy the full benefit of their pre-primary education, you are advised to keep him or her enrolled in kindergarten for the full two years of the programme. Within ESF, the PYP curriculum extends from kindergarten into primary and students planning to continue their education in ESF will have the advantage of continuity in their learning as they transition from kindergarten, preparing them socially and educationally for life in Year 1 in an ESF primary school.

Kindergarten Class A Debenture - Gain Interview Priority

The ESF Kindergarten Class A Debenture guarantees interview priority for K1 admissions.

Learn more here.

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. 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 parent 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 sessions:


Click here to read the Application Procedures

Click here to go to the Kindergarten Online Application System

Admissions Enquiries

Have a question? Feel free to see the list of frequently asked questions here.

Or contact us at:


Updated on: 26 July 2022