THE English Schools Foundation (ESF) has called on the Government to allow it to take over former garrison-run schools in an attempt to alleviate the demand for international school places. Yesterday saw the official opening of the 15th ESF school, the West Island School in Pokfulam. But the organisation believes there is still an urgent need for extra premises, especially at the primary school level. Government figures show there are 2,000 primary school-age children and several hundred of secondary school age waiting for places in ESF and international schools. Governor Chris Patten, officiating at the opening of the West Island School yesterday pointed out the importance of providing enough places at international schools in Hong Kong. 'I think it is probably the case that all of us underestimated, in particular, the need for places at the primary level, where the biggest problems so far have been. 'We are doing a study at the moment of the requests for places and we will have to meet it the best we can,' he said. Chief Executive of the ESF, Jennifer Wisker said currently there were sufficient secondary school places within the ESF system but not enough primary school places. 'We are trying to cope with the primary demand. We are short of places, particularly in the New Territories where the waiting list there is well over 100. We will do some extensions where we can - but that takes time.' She said the ESF had applied to the Education and Manpower Department to take over military-run St George's School in Kowloon Tong, due to be handed back to the Government next year. 'We will be looking at former schools to use in the short term, like those currently used by the military, such as St George's.,' she said. The St George's site would provide the potential for 900 school places. Chairman of the ESF, Deputy Secretary for Security, Ken Woodhouse said St George's School would be a logical move, given that it was an existing school.