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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:38pm

English Schools Foundation

The English Schools Foundation (ESF) operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and a school for students with special educational needs across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. It is the largest international educational foundation in Asia. 

NewsHong Kong

'Outsiders' have slim hope of landing ESF places

New scheme gives priority to staff and sibling connections and families who pay HK$500,000

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 5:40am

Pupils hoping to land a place at an English Schools Foundation school in coming years will have a slim or non-existent chance of even securing an interview unless they are well connected to the ESF or have paid a costly nomination rights fee.

This is indicated by figures from the ESF, which announced on Monday that it would no longer give priority to non-Chinese-speakers and children from ESF-affiliated kindergartens.

Under the new scheme, priority will be given to those with staff and sibling connections, families who have bought the nomination rights costing HK$500,000 a student, and children of former ESF students.

A new assessment system will also be introduced to test applicants' English proficiency and their suitability for an ESF school through interviews with both the child and the parents.

But data revealed by the foundation show the annual offering of primary one places can easily be surpassed by the number of applicants who are connected to the ESF. More than 400 pupils who are either siblings of current students or children of staff applied for year one entry for the 2013-14 academic year.

These students get priority for interviews for one of the 1,020 year one places available every year, along with 600 graduates of ESF-affiliated kindergartens,

An ESF spokeswoman said that under the system, which will take effect in August for interviews for 2014 admission, the priority for kindergarten children would continue until 2016.

The foundation has said that year one place numbers will not change in the short term.

The spokeswoman stressed that priority for interview did not guarantee admission. When asked how the new system would measure commitment to ESF-style education - a criterion for admission - she said details of the interview could not be revealed because they were not final.

Expatriate parents are worried that the scheme means they will face greater competition from locals, who are expected to rise in number as the policy is more favourable to them.

Critics have said that the lack of quality English education will damage Hong Kong's reputation as an international city and its attractiveness to overseas talent.

Meanwhile, ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said in a radio programme yesterday that it would be hard for the ESF to give more scholarships to pupils without financial resources from the government.


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This article is now closed to comments

i agree the quality of education counts part of the reputation of a city. the new scheme will surely hinder expatriate or foreign elite to come to the city.
Interesting statistics. The headline of the article is correct, but only until 2016. I agree that it is appalling that those families that happen to choose an ESF kindergarten get priority over others. Some families do not live close to an ESF kindergarten but do live close to an ESF primary school. Generally, parents do not want to travel far for kindergartens and don't like putting 3 year olds on buses. The ESF should change the priority for ESF kindergartens immediately and not wait until 2016. As for staff and siblings, most international and direct subsidy schools give such priority, so this is nothing unusual. Many also have similar debenture programmes, so again, this is not unusual. The priority for the ESF kindergarten, given the lack of publicity of this priority and the few ESF kindergarten locations available is definitely unfair. I can't understand why the ESF did not act on this immediately for their new admissions policy.
" I can't understand why the ESF did not act on this immediately for their new admissions policy." I would speculate it's because they had made prior commitments to the parents of current students and to renege on that would also be unfair. By waiting till 2016, those children will have completed their course.
Pls spare a thought for those in the kindys, they will be left in the lurch if the policy is implemented immediately. That's why it's 2016.
Why would they be left in a lurch. They would be in the same position as the thousands of other children attending other private kindergartens who will soon realize their children have no hope of getting into the ESF because they didn't go to the ESF kindergarten. ESF has not publicized its priority for children in its kindergartens, they have very quietly implemented it. It is not a fair policy.



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