Updated: Jun 15
Major update for 2024/2025 to reflect the abolition of zones - all FAQs here incorporate new policy effective for applications made from 1 August 2023.
English Schools Foundation, as the largest provider of English Language Education in Hong Kong, operating 16 primary, secondary and all through schools plus 5 kindergartens and one special school. If you are considering an ESF school, the best time to apply is when your child is approaching K1, Year 1 or Year 7.
For 2025/25, that means 1 - 30 Sept 2022:
K1: Children born 1 Jan – 31 Dec 2021
Year 1: Children born 1 Jan – 31 Dec 2019
Year 7: Children born 1 Jan – 31 Dec 2013
‘One form’ application system
For ALL applications, parents make a single application for all ESF schools, including the private schools: Discovery College and Renaissance College.
This makes the process simple and transparent with only one application fee due.
Parents may choose up to four selected schools: any centralised ESF school, DC and/or RCHK. It is not necessary to choose four - between one and four.
If an interview is granted, it may be at any of your selected ESF schools – the one most likely to accept your child. Your child will receive a maximum of ONE offer from ONE ESF school.
School zoning NO LONGER applies for all ESF primary and secondary schools.
1. Our child is currently attending an ESF kindergarten. Do we need to apply to primary?
Yes, you need to apply to Y1 1-30 September. Currently, children graduating from ESF kindergartens will enjoy priority PLUS an interview-free process when applying for Year 1 at an ESF school.
ESF kindergarten children who can benefit from a mainstream, English medium curriculum, will be guaranteed a Year 1 place at an ESF school.
2. Help! I can’t load the online application form.
Use the latest versions of IE, Firefox or Chrome. Safari is unstable.
3. I didn’t submit my application until the very end of the application period in September and I’m worried I’m way down the list.
Don’t worry – the date of submission is not taken into account, as long as you submit 1 – 30 Sept. All K1/Year 1/7 applications received within the Central Application Period are processed. From this list, applicants are then ordered according to the priority criteria. Your chances are not affected.
4. My child is in an ESF kindergarten. Do I need to submit the kindergarten reports?
No. Parents complete the Gateway Year 1 transfer form.
Be sure to submit all other supporting documents on time.
5. My child is in an ESF kindergarten. Is s/he guaranteed a Year 1 place?
Currently, children graduating from ESF kindergartens will enjoy priority PLUS an interview-free process when applying for Year 1 at an ESF school.
6. I forgot to apply last year. Can I apply this year?
Yes, although you’ll be making a general application, not a central application. You may do this anytime; the earlier, the better – no need to wait until September.
7. My child is born at the end of November and I prefer her to be older in the year, rather than younger. Is it ok if I apply next year?
No. You must apply 1-30 Sept and take it from there. It’s possible for a child born at the very end of the year to be assessed and not offered a place if the school feels s/he isn’t ready. In this case, the child may be considered for a Year 1/7 place the following year, but this is only possible for parents who apply at the right time, according to their child’s date of birth IF ESF drives this decision. For secondary, there’s more flexibility where it’s usual for a child to continue on in the next grade.
8. My child is born 1 January 2016 and s/he’s very advanced and I don’t want him/her to be the oldest in the year as s/he’ll be bored. Is it ok if I apply this year?
No. Your application will be rejected and you may or may not have your application fee refunded. Children are NEVER invited to start early.
9. Are all applicants interviewed?
No. Unfortunately, some applicants will not be invited for interview.
You will receive one of 3 types of letter (and email):
Invitation for assessment for a guaranteed place. As long as your child meets the minimum entry requirements, s/he will immediately be offered a place,
Invitation for assessment for a reserve list place. As long as your child meets the minimum entry requirements, s/he will be placed on the waitlist (sometimes referred to as the ‘successful waitlist). Approximately, an additional 10-30 children will be in this situation, depending on the school. Historically, most of these children receive offers by the start of term.
No invitation for interview. If this is the case, there’s no point in pleading your case with the school and/or ESF centre; just sit tight and hope for the best – there’s always a chance of a late interview.
10. If my child is assessed and doesn’t pass, can we apply again?
Yes. You can submit a General Application six months after the last assessment.
11. My child is on a local passport; does that mean we have a slim chance of getting a place?
All ESF and international schools have quotas to meet for local and non local students to satisfy EDB requirements.
12. My child has been waitlisted; I'd rather s/he waits for a space at our second/third/fourth choice school - is this possible?
No. Your child will be waitlisted for your first choice school. Be strategic when selecting schools!
13. I made a mistake with my choices and only realised after I submitted the application. Can I make changes?
No. But, if your child is waitlisted, you'll be allowed to change your choices in February during the annual re-application exercise.
14. My child is in ESF primary; can I choose which secondary school s/he goes to?
No. Allocation is according to the ‘associated secondary school’:
As mentioned in Q5, children graduating from ESF kindergartens will enjoy priority PLUS an interview-free process when applying for Year 1 at an ESF school. For local passport holders, this may result in a place allocated in any school with available Year 1 places if your chosen schools do not have availability.
15. I made an application earlier and it's in the system - can I update my school choice?
You will be given the option to update your choice of school from mid-July 2023 with each application retaining the original date of submission. No need to contact ESF; you'll receive an email in July from ESF Admissions with a link to access your application form to update choices. No extra application fee will be due.
All official instructions and the actual online application form here: https://www.esf.edu.hk/esf-admissions/
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