ESF’s wholly owned subsidiary, ESL Services Ltd, operates four – soon to be five – kindergartens around Hong Kong. Historically, students in these kindergartens have received priority for interview for Year 1 at primary.
In February 2013 ESF announced this would no longer be the case, effective Aug 2013.
This meant that those with children born in 2010 and entering an ESF kindergarten in Sept 2013 would be the last cohort to receive a priority interview for primary. All 2011 children applying for entry in Sept 2014 would not receive priority.
The priorities were listed as follows:
Children of full-time staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Limited;
Siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School;
Holders of ESF Nomination Rights;
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;
Other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.
For a lot of parents, this eradicated a lot of the appeal of an ESF kindergarten, especially for those living far away from one. So, some parents didn’t apply and some chose other kindergartens over ESF, even when an offer was on the table.
So, these 2011 children (set to enter Year 1 in 2016), whether or not they were enrolled in an ESF kindergarten, all had equal chance to receive an interview for Year 1 in Jan 2016. Or so we thought…
Until 18 June 2014, when ESF very quietly reversed their decision on the priority for ESF kindergarten students.
“The ESF Board has taken into account the views of parents, principals, teachers and other stakeholders. As all ESF kindergartens are now authorized IB World Schools, the Board has strong reason to promote continuity of learning within the ESF system from kindergarten through to primary. Also, following the Government’s decision to withdraw the ESF subvention, it became possible to consider continuing with the long established practice of offering ESF International Kindergarten children a priority for Year 1 interview.””
The priorities now look like this:1.Are Corporate Nomination Rights Nominees2.Are the children of full-time staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd3.Are siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School4.Are Individual Nomination Rights Nominees5.Are the children of former students who have attended an ESF school for a minimum of 3 years or are former ESF students returning from a period overseas6.Are 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]7.Are other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education
* Students recently arrived from overseas are exempt from the two terms requirement. Students graduating from K2 in the first year of operation of the new Tung Chung kindergarten are also exempt.
A thread on the HK Schools Facebook Group was started on 27 June showing that some parents are furious at this flip flop. One parent said, “totally ridiculous and unprofessional of them to mislead parents in making such important decisions- the whole thing is a shambles.” Having given up the chance of an ESF K1 place, a Year 1 application from these children now falls behind one place into the 7th priority.
It doesn’t mean that children not attending ESF kindergartens don’t have a chance – they do. Not all kindergarten students will apply for primary and not all who apply will pass. But, it does make it more challenging.
Others have speculated that the reason for this flip-flop is not exactly that stated by ESF.
A teacher commented, “I am very curious as to how the IB early years curriculum can differ so greatly (from EYFS (Uk) curriculum) in its desired learning outcomes at this age/stage to warrant such a statement about an integrated curriculum…not convinced!”
We also did hear that the number of applications to ESF kindergartens dropped substantially for 2014/15 after the removal of the priority.