Early planning pays off
Getting your child into the school you want often requires years of planning. It varies with school type but many parents make multiple applications, trying the aided sector and sought-after Direct Subsidy Scheme schools, and backing up by scouring international and other private schools.
International kindergartens Most offer places on a first-come, first-served basis. For popular preschools, it is necessary to put a child's name on waiting lists early.
International schools Most require children to show they can learn in English, and many are selective, taking into account early academic ability and social skills. Places in Chinese International School's reception year, for example, are based on observation sessions to assess language abilities (English and Putonghua), and academic and social skills. For later years, students must sit tests in English, Chinese and maths, and at secondary level, non-verbal reasoning. Both Chinese and HK International School accept applications two years before admission. Some, such as Canadian International, offer places on a first-come-first-served basis.
English Schools Foundation schools Applications should be lodged in September for Year One and Year Seven and are sorted according to admission criteria with children from non-Chinese-speaking families given priority.
Direct Subsidy Scheme primary schools The most sought-after DSS schools normally set admission deadlines in early September, but some run a second round of admissions for a limited number of places. Places are offered after interviews based on factors such as academic achievement in preschool, language abilities and extra-curricular activities. Children of alumni and, for schools with religious backgrounds, members of sponsoring church bodies may have priority.
Direct Subsidy Scheme secondary schools Admission is based on academic achievement in primary school and an interview. Extra-curricular activities may be taken into account. It is essential to retain all academic records and certificates. Diocesan Girls' School, for example, asks to see school reports for three consecutive years. The more popular schools have limited admission periods, normally November to January. Less-popular schools admit students until shortly before the start of the academic year. This allows those not successful in gaining places in aided schools to shop around during the summer term for Primary and Secondary One places, and Form Six after HKCEE results are announced.
Aided primary schools Applications must be made in the last week of September. Parents can apply to only one school but their choice is not restricted by their school net. Results are announced in late November. If unsuccessful, parents can then apply through the central allocation system before late January, with results announced in early June.
Aided secondary schools Forms are distributed in late November and applications for discretionary places need to be made between late December and late January. Parents can apply for places at two schools. Applications for central allocation are made through primary schools in early May and results are released in mid-July.