The key to admissions ... is planning
Getting your child into the school of your choice often requires years of planning. 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.
Most offer places on a first-come, first-served basis. For popular pre-schools, it is necessary to put a child's name on the waiting list early.
The medium of instruction is generally English, and children are required to show they can learn in the language. Many are selective, taking into account early academic ability and skills. Places in Chinese International School's reception year, for example, are based on observation sessions to assess language abilities (English and Putonghua or the child's mother tongue), and academic and social skills. For later years, pupils sit tests in English, Chinese and maths, and, at secondary level, non-verbal reasoning. Primary pupils are also given a group problem-solving task.
Chinese and HK International School accept applications two years before admission. Some, such as Canadian International, offer first-come-first-served places.
English School Foundation schools
Applications should be submitted in September for Year One and Year Seven and are sorted according to strict admission criteria with children who do not speak Cantonese and/or read and write Chinese given priority. Students can only apply to the designated school for the zone they live in.
Direct Subsidy Scheme primary schools
Entry requirements vary, but the most sought-after direct subsidy primaries normally set early September as admission deadline. However, some do 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 pre-school, 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 attainment in primary school and at least one interview. Extra-curricular activities may be taken into account. It is important to keep a child's academic records from primary school: St Paul's Co-educational College, for example, asks for reports for the previous two years. The more popular schools have limited admission periods, normally November to January. Less popular schools admit until shortly before the start of the academic year.
Aided primary schools
Most Hong Kong schools are in this sector. Applications are made in September. Parents may 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 the results announced in early June.
Aided secondary schools
Forms are distributed in late November and applications for discretionary places are made between December and late January. Can apply for places at two schools. Applications for central allocation are made in early May.