ESF Drops Zoning Requirements for Admissions

Families in Hong Kong can apply to any English Schools Foundation school, regardless of where they live, after ESF scraps its zoning requirement.
ESF Drops Zoning Requirements for Admissions
By Carli Allan
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The English Schools Foundation (ESF) has scrapped its geographical or ‘zoning’ requirement for admissions, which means families in Hong Kong can apply to any of its 22 schools.

The ESF, Hong Kong’s largest provider of international education, has announced that from August 1, it will open up all schools to applications regardless of where the family lives. 

Currently, all ESF schools, other than Renaissance College (RCHK) and Discovery College and the five ESF Kindergartens, operate a system where families can only seek a place for their child in a school that sits within their allocated geographical area in Hong Kong based on their residential address.

There are limited places available and long waitlists at most ESF schools, just as you’ll find at many of the top-tier international schools in Hong Kong. 

All applications for ESF schools must be received during ESF’s Central Application Period. This runs from September 1-30 every year. 

Read more: How to apply to an ESF school

Commenting on the change, Chief Executive Officer of ESF, Belinda Greer, said:

“I know that choosing a school for our children is one of the most important decisions that we make as parents. This new admissions policy gives families more choice in making that decision and is based on our belief that, regardless of which one of our schools they attend, ESF students will always have access to a world-class education, delivered by world-leading teachers who understand that every child is unique.

ESF has 22 schools including kindergartens, primary, secondary and all-through schools and enrols 18,000 students.

ESF has more than 18,000 students enrolled in its 22 schools. These include the following primary schools: Kowloon Junior, Beacon Hill,  Sha Tin Junior, Bradbury, Peak School, Glenealy School, Clearwater Bay, Quarry Bay and Kennedy School.

ESF secondary schools include Sha Tin College, South Island School, King George V, West Island School, and Island School.

ESF has always had a reputation for being considerably cheaper than most international schools in Hong Kong, although this is changing. Until 2016, ESF schools received a government subsidy, which meant that fees were lower compared to other international schools. However, this annual HKD 283 million subsidy from the government is being phased out over the next 13 years; subsidies have already stopped for Years 1-8. 

ESF has increased fees for primary and secondary students by an average 5.8% for the 2023-24 academic year.

Tuition fees in Years 1-6 at ESF’s will rise from HKD 119,100 to HKD 126,200; the fees for Years 7-8 will be HKD 167,100; Years 9 to 11 will be HKD 145,400; and families of students studying the IBDP in Years 12 and 13 will pay HKD 152,900, up from HKD 144,700.

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