Admissions Policy

1. Preface

The Admissions process for Year 1 and Year 7 Central Applications for August 2024 entry, as well as General Applications for all other Year Groups, is a ‘one form’ application process incorporating all ESF primary and secondary schools including Discovery College. Parents are strongly advised to review this process on the ESF’s website:

Discovery College must be satisfied that students entering are able to engage with an English-medium International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, and that parents will support students to achieve success within the context of the educational programmes and opportunities offered. For ESF primary and secondary schools, a percentage of places is reserved for students with special educational needs who qualify through the ESF moderation process.

In line with the Hong Kong Government’s requirements for all Private Independent Schools (PIS), Discovery College has no catchment area: any student residing in Hong Kong can apply to attend. When the College is at full capacity, at least 70% of the total students enrolled must have at least one parent who has Hong Kong permanent resident status.

Applications for entry to any ESF school, including Discovery College, are made through the Online Admission System (OAS) accessed via the ESF website. Year 1 and Year 7 applications are made during a strictly limited period, during the month of September of the year before children enter school. A few late applications are received each year and may be processed should there be places available.

Only one online application may be submitted per student. The life cycle of an application is one academic year.

Applicants from Hong Kong and applicants from overseas have equal status.

2. Priority for Admission

The only criteria for admission is that students must demonstrate sufficient English language skills so that they can benefit from our English-medium learning environment.

Applicants will be placed on a waiting list and will be invited to an interview/assessment when vacancies become available. They will be required to complete age-appropriate assessments to determine their ability to engage with an English medium curriculum. Following a successful admissions interview and assessment, a place may be offered subject to availability. 

Priority for an interview/assessment will be based on the following ranked criteria:

  1. Corporate Nomination Rights Nominees;
  2. The children of full-time teaching staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd*;
  3. The children of full-time support staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd*;
  4. The siblings of students enrolled at an ESF school;
  5. Individual Nomination Rights or Class A Kindergarten Debenture Nominees;
  6. Current students requesting internal transfer;
  7. The 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 or siblings of former students who have attended for a minimum of three years and graduated from an ESF school in Year 13;
  8. Children nominees from universities with collaboration agreements with ESF;
  9. Students who are qualified as an elite athlete#
  10. The children of parents holding the ‘Top Talent pass’ for employment in HKSAR;
  11. Students currently enrolled in an ESF pre-kindergarten programme (for K1 admissions only); and
  12. Other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.

# National-level athletes and athletes sponsored by the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) as an elite athlete.

In line with the Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) requirements:

Discovery College shall admit students to school in accordance with the prevailing admission policy, including the overarching requirement to admit students holding Hong Kong Permanent Resident status to no less than 70% of the overall student population of the college.

THROUGH TRAIN from K1 to Year 13

ESF kindergarten children joining K1 from August 2020, who can benefit from a mainstream, English medium curriculum, will be guaranteed a Year 1 place at an ESF school.

How to gain interview priority?

Our Nomination Rights Schemes provide a fast-track entry route for students to gain an opportunity for admissions interview/assessment.

Click here to learn more:

3. Internal Transfer Policy

Transfers are allowed following the completion of the commitment period, if applicable, to the current school or if the student has already been with the school for two or more years.

The address proof of the school zone must be provided if wishing to transfer to an ESF primary or secondary school, effective until 31 July 2023. Discovery College and Renaissance College are zone free and hence do not require address proof for the school zone.

It is particularly important during the Secondary years of schooling that disruptions to learning are minimised, and careful consideration is given to a student’s circumstances and the best interests of the involved stakeholders prior to an internal transfer taking place. ESF takes a managed, considered approach to such transfers based on dialogue and collaboration.

The student may join the internal transfer waitlist for the year group and school of zone according to the category priority order. The timing of the transfer will be dependent on a number of factors, including availability.

In general, requests made during the course of an academic year will be considered and, where agreed, enacted, for an August start at the new school.

Year 6 to Year 7 transfers – the guaranteed secondary school placement is based on the system the student is currently in. If the student is attending one of the all-through schools — Discovery College or Renaissance College, the Year 7 place is guaranteed for their respective secondary school phase. ESF primary students are guaranteed places at an ESF school based on the conditions specified. Click here for key dates.

Procedure for transfer request
All requests for transfers may be submitted from 1 January, at the earliest, and will generally be considered in Term 3 for entry to the following academic year. 

For students on a two-year commitment, the transfer request may be submitted six months in advance of the completion of their commitment. Normally there is movement and withdrawals over the summer period for transfer to take place.

For secondary requests, approval will occur where there is a specific and legitimate reason for the transfer. Factors may include:

  • Relocation: has the student changed residential location and does the new location present unreasonable challenges in getting to school
  • Programme compatibility: does the new school offer programmes/subjects that are compatible with the student’s best interests as a learner
  • Support: is the new school able to provide sufficient support for the student in response to their needs/context
  • Best interests: viewed holistically, is a move from the current school to the new school in the best interests of the student

The written transfer request must be submitted to the Admissions Office at the student’s current school. The current school will raise the transfer request if the relevant conditions or requirements are met. The future school is informed of the transfer request.

Once there is availability, the future school will inform the student’s current school to initiate the transfer process. The current school will be in contact with the family to confirm and start the transfer arrangements.

4. Year of Birth to Year Level Placement

Students are placed in year groups according to their date of birth (1 January – 31 December).  Students usually start Year 1 during the calendar year in which they turn five. Students are not admitted early. Occasionally, a student whose birthday falls late in the year, and would benefit from a delayed start may be advised by the school to delay admission to the following year. 

The entry year group submitted by parents on the application form may be adjusted by ESF to ensure the student’s date of birth matches the school’s age requirements.

Year of Birth to Year Level Placement:

Applications for a specific academic year cannot be made until September of the previous year at the earliest.

5. Inmigration Status

An offer of a place cannot be made to a child who is not a resident of Hong Kong unless the child is permitted by the Director of Immigration to reside in Hong Kong.

Unless clearance is obtained from the Director of Immigration, no child will be admitted to any school in Hong Kong whose travel document/passport bears the endorsement “Visitor” over the immigration stamp.

Parents of non-local children are advised to seek the approval of the Director of Immigration ( as soon as possible for entry to Hong Kong of the child in question, for the purpose of study.

6. Policy Review

Discovery College’s admissions policy is subject to regular review. It is the responsibility of individual applicants to check the College website for any updates to the policy.

7. Enquiries

Enquiries about this policy should be directed to the Admissions office at