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. Last year, ESF received a total of 3,011 applications for Year 1 and 397 applications for Year 7 during the application period.
That said, ESF does offer parents some hope:
“Yes, the waiting lists for ESF schools are long on the Kowloon side schools. They are relatively shorter and hence more opportunities on Hong Kong Island side schools. As of June 2018, there were about 2,000 on the waiting list across all ESF primary and secondary schools.”
ESF has always had a reputation for being considerably cheaper than most international schools in Hong Kong, although this is set to change. 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 1-3.
To help secure your school place for the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 academic years, read on to find out more about the ESF application process.
Effective from academic year 2018/19, ESF has introduced a new ‘one form’ application system for ESF primary and secondary schools including Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK). Parents can only submit one online application per child with their selected preference of schools; you can choose up to three selected schools including the ESF school in your zone, DC and/or RCHK.
Starting this year, if a parent chooses the ESF school of zone as a selected school, there will be a fourth option available for parents to select an alternative ESF out of zone school.
All applications for K1, Year 1 and Year 7 must be received during ESF’s Central Application Period, which runs from September 1-30. It doesn’t matter when you apply during this month as all applications are processed in random order from October 1.
Yes, there is no automatic allocation of a place.
Can I apply to any ESF school?
Except for the kindergartens, Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK), ESF schools only accept students living within their catchment zone. Proof of a Hong Kong residential address is required as part of the application process. Renaissance College and Discovery College do not have catchment zones.
Parents can only submit one online application per child with their selected preference of school.
• K1: Vacancies at ESF Tung Chung International Kindergarten
• Year 3: There are no vacancies, but waitlists are shorter at Peak School, Bradbury School and Kennedy School
• Years 4 and 5: There are no vacancies, but waitlists are shorter at Glenealy School and Peak School
• Year 6: There are no vacancies, but waitlists are shorter at Peak School, Bradbury School and Glenealy School
• Years 7 and 8: There are no vacancies, but waitlists are shorter at Renaissance College (RCHK)
• Year 9: Vacancies at Discovery College (DC) and Island School; shorter waiting list at Renaissance College (RCHK)
• Year 10: Vacancies at Discovery College (DC), Island School, Sha Tin College, West Island School and Renaissance College (RCHK)
• Year 11: Vacancies at Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK)
• Year 12: Vacancies at all ESF schools, including Discovery College (DC) and Renaissance College (RCHK)
Successful applicants will be invited for an assessment, either for a guaranteed place or a reserve list place. Alternatively, you will receive a letter/email confirming that your application has not been successful. The key dates of the application process are outlined below:
What are the tuition fees?
All ESF schools have the same fee structure, with the exception of the two PIS schools. Tuition fees are HKD 111,200 in Years 1 and 2; HKD 111,200 in Year 3; HKD 93,900 in Years 4-6; HKD 128,400 in Years 7-11; and HKD 135,000 in Years 12 and 13. Fees range from HKD 118,100-159,900 at RCHK and HKD 122,600-165,800 at Discovery College.
All new students starting from August 2015 have had to pay a non-refundable capital levy (NCL), which starts at HKD 38,000 in Year 1 and decreases to HKD 3,800 by Year 13.
All five of its secondary schools offer IGCSEs and the IBDP; there are currently five ESF schools offering the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP), including West Island School. All secondary schools are currently phasing in the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Years 7 to 9 to replace the previously bespoke curricula offered by each school.
These two all-through schools are Private Independent Schools (PIS). They have received government assistance – land on a 10-year lease and a grant to construct a school building – and at least 70% of their student population must be Hong Kong permanent residents. Although both schools are run by the ESF, they differ from other ESF schools as they do not have a catchment area, do not offer IGCSEs (instead they offer the full IB programme), and tuition fees are slightly higher.
Yes, ESF has Individual and Corporate Nomination Rights Schemes, which gives families priority for admission; these families can apply to a school outside of their catchment zone.
To apply online, click here: http://www.esf.edu.hk/admissions/