Baby blues: is it fair to take school enrolment applications from birth?

Updated: Apr 21, 2021


Getting into the ‘best’ school in Hong Kong is an inexact science. Sometimes it feels like the only way through the hallowed gates is via a family connection, a near-perfect test score, or forking out millions for debentures. Whichever way, it’s almost always a case of parent pays.


Unfortunately, simply having the means to afford the fees is not usually enough to guarantee entry into the city’s top private schools, and families have gotten used to the idea of having to compete for a finite number of places. However, the tide has started to turn, and hopefully the command that admissions offices hold will wane as new schools open and parents gain more power.


Until recently, the market demand has enabled many schools to accept applications from birth. But most parents agree that this practice achieves little other than taking advantage of parents’ often exaggerated concerns.

Until recently, the market demand has enabled many schools to accept applications from birth. But most parents agree that this practice achieves little other than taking advantage of parents’ often exaggerated concerns.


Raising this issue on various forums such as the “Hong Kong Schools” Facebook page  elicited dozens of heartfelt responses within minutes. Every parent agreed that the outdated practice only serves to fuel their anxieties rather than ease them.


Winney, a first time mother from Hong Kong, learned that she should apply to one of her shortlisted schools – Kiangsu Chekiang International Section– from birth on the same Facebook group. "As a first time mum, I felt under such pressure to read up on application procedures. I applied when my child was 18 months old and was told I might not make the cut for the interview invitation,” she said.


Sammy, another mum, called the whole process “distressing.” While Lisa Browning said, "It creates a sense of superiority. I know some of the schools are good, but are they that good?!”


For many schools, accepting applications from birth is an opportunity to attract potential families early on, not to mention gain an important source of revenue. Yet many schools that accept applications from birth, including Kellett School and Canadian International School, do not guarantee entry to those applying early, nor ensure priority access above those who apply later.