Choosing a school is one thing, getting in is the challenge
Getting your child into a school of your choice requires extensive planning, often years ahead. The process, however, varies depending on the type of school.
Many parents will be making multiple applications - trying their luck for their children in 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 pre-schools, it is necessary to put their names down on waiting lists as early as possible.
International schools: Most require children to demonstrate they can learn in English, and the more popular schools are selective, taking into account signs of children's early academic abilities and social skills.
For example, places in Chinese International School's reception year places are offered based on how children perform in observation sessions to assess language abilities (in English and Putonghua), academic and social skills. For subsequent years, students must sit written tests, in English, Chinese and maths and, at secondary level, non-verbal reasoning.
Chinese International and Hong Kong International accept applications two years prior to admissions. Some schools such as Canadian International have no deadlines but offer places on a first-come-first-served basis, as long as entrance criteria are satisfied. If schools have places, they will consider last-minute applications.
Direct subsidy scheme primary schools: The most sought-after DSS schools normally set deadlines for admission in early September, though some run a second round of admissions for a limited number of places. They offer places after interviews, based on factors such as academic achievement in pre-school, language abilities and extra-curricular activities. Children of alumni and members of sponsoring church bodies may be given additional priority.
Direct subsidy scheme secondary schools: Admission is based on academic achievement in primary and interview. Participation in extra-curricular activities may also be taken into account. It is essential to keep hold of all academic records and other certificates your child may have. Diocesan Girls' School, for example, requires applicants to submit school reports for three consecutive years.
The more popular schools have limited admission periods, normally November to January. It is vital to check with the school, as these vary.
Less popular schools will be able to admit students until shortly before the start of the academic year. This allows parents whose children have not been successful in gaining suitable places in aided schools to shop around during the summer term for Primary One and Secondary One places, as well as Form Six after HKCEE results are announced.
Aided primary schools: Applications for discretionary places 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 will be 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: Application forms are distributed in late November, and applications for discretionary places need to be made between late December and the end of January. For 2007 admissions, the proportion of discretionary places will rise from 20 per cent to 30 per cent; parents also will be able to apply for places at two schools instead of just one. Applications for central allocation are made through a child's primary school in early May. Also new for this year, 10 per cent of central places are not restricted to school nets. Results of both mechanisms are released in mid-July.