Admissions Policy

1. Preface

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Effective from academic year 2018-19, the Admissions process will be a ‘one form’ application system for all ESF primary and secondary schools including Discovery College. Parents are strongly advised to review this process on the ESF’s website at

Discovery College must be satisfied that students entering are able to engage with an English-medium International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, and that parents will support students to achieve success within the context of the educational programmes and opportunities offered. For ESF primary and secondary schools, a percentage of places is reserved for students with special educational needs who qualify through the ESF moderation process.

In line with the Hong Kong Government’s requirements for all Private Independent Schools (PIS), Discovery College has no catchment area: any student residing in Hong Kong can apply to attend. When the College is at full capacity, at least 70% of the total students enrolled must have Hong Kong permanent resident status.

Applications for entry to any ESF schools, including Discovery College, are made through the Online Admission System (OAS) accessed via the ESF website. Year 1 applications are made during a strictly limited period, 1 to 30 September of the year before children enter school. A few late applications are received each year and may be processed should there be places available.

Unlike the ESF secondary schools, Discovery College does not operate a Year 7 central application process.

Effective from the academic year 2018-19, Year 1 Admissions for August 2019 entry, as well as General Applications for all other Year Groups, will be a ‘one form’ application system for ESF primary and secondary including Discovery College.

Parents need only submit one​ online application per child with their selected preference of schools. Parents may choose up to three selected schools: Discovery College, the ESF school of zone, and/or Renaissance College. If a parent chooses the ESF school of zone as a selected school, there will be a fourth option available for parents to select an alternative ESF out of zone school.

Only one online application may be submitted per student. The life cycle of an application is one academic year.

For students choosing an ESF primary or secondary school, he/she can only apply to the school of zone according to their Hong Kong residential address.

Discovery College is zone free.

Applicants from Hong Kong and applicants from overseas have equal status.

2. Priority for Admission

Students applying for enrolment to an ESF school, including Discovery College, are placed on a waiting list. Priority for an admissions interview/assessment will be based on the following ranked criteria.

Students who are able to benefit from an English medium education and who (in order) are:

    1. Corporate Nomination Rights Nominees;
    2. The children of full-time teaching staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Limited1;
    3. The children of full-time support staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Limited1 ;
    4. The siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school, Private Independent School (PIS) or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School;
    5. Individual Nomination Rights Nominees;
    6. Current students requesting internal transfer;
    7. Children of former students who have attended an ESF/PIS school for a minimum of three years or are former ESF/PIS students returning from a period overseas or siblings of former students who have attended for a minimum of three years and graduated from an ESF/PIS secondary school in Year 13;
    8. Children attending an ESF International Kindergarten2 ; and
    9. Other applicants who can benefit from an English-medium education.

1Staff are given priority according to employment terms for ESF or the Private Independent schools.

2 Priority for interview is subject to having attended ESF kindergarten for a minimum of two terms prior to the applicable January Year 1 interview period and contingent upon the child studying in the kindergarten continuously until the end of Term 3 prior to entry into primary school. Students recently arrived from overseas are exempt from the two terms requirement.


Internal Transfer Policy

Transfers between Discovery College and other ESF/PIS schools are allowed following completion of the 2-year commitment period, if applicable, to the current school or if the student has already been with the school for two or more years.

The address proof of school zone must be provided if wishing to transfer to an ESF primary or secondary school. Discovery College and Renaissance College are zone free and hence do not require address proof for school zone.

The student may join the internal transfer waitlist for the year group and school according to the category priority order. The timing of transfer will be dependent on availability.

Year 6 to Year 7 transfers – students attending Discovery College are guaranteed a Year 7 place for their secondary school phase at Discovery College. 

Procedure for transfer request

  • All requests for transfers may be submitted from 1 January, at the earliest, for entry to the following academic year. For students on a two-year commitment, the transfer request may be submitted six months in advance of the completion of their commitment. There may be a possibility of mid-term entry depending on the place availability if the student has already completed their commitment to his/her current school. Normally there is movement and withdrawals over the summer period for transfers to take place.
  • The written transfer request must be submitted to the Admissions Office at the student’s current school. The current school will raise the transfer request if all conditions or requirements are met. The future school is informed of the transfer request.
  • Once there is availability, the future school will inform the student’s current school to initiate the transfer process. The current school will be in contact with the family to confirm and start the transfer arrangements.

3. Admission Procedures 

The ESF system places children in Year Groups according to their date of birth (1 January – 31 December).  Children usually start Year 1 during the calendar year in which they turn 5. Children are never admitted early. Occasionally children whose birthday falls late in the year and who are considered to be not ready for school may be advised by our school to delay admission to the following year. Please note that the entry Year Group entered by parents on the application form may be adjusted to ensure the child’s date of birth matches the school’s age requirements.

Year of Birth to Year Level Placement:

YEAR 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23  2023/24
1 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
2 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
3 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015  2016
4 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
5 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
6 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
7 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
8 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
9 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
10 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
11 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
12 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
13 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Applications for a specific academic year cannot be made until September of the previous year at the earliest, e.g. applications for 2019-20 cannot be made until September 2018 at the earliest.

Consideration may be given for accepting an application of a child in a year group that is one year lower if the applicant has a late (September to December) birthday. This is taken into account along with other material aspects, such as the national teaching system from which the child originates. Greater flexibility may be applied where older secondary age groups are concerned and Year 12 in particular, however, all cases will be examined on an individual basis, and the College reserves the right to accept or reject any application at its discretion, the final decision being that of the Principal.

A student has to be in the IB Diploma Programme (DP) / Career-related Programme (CP) (Years 12 & 13) for the full 2 years of the programme and should start school in mid-August of the beginning of their Year 12 academic year.

Applications for Year 13 will not be considered for students who have not completed the first year of the DP / CP.

The process for admission is:

  1. Applicants must submit the application package in full.
  2. Parents may only submit one online application form per child with their selected preference of schools. Zoning applies for ESF primary and secondary schools. Discovery College and Renaissance College remain zone free.
  3. All Year 1 applications received within the ‘Central Application Period’ (1 September to 30 September) will receive a computer generated random number. Applications will be ranked by priority category and assigned a random number for central processing. The interview list for each ESF/PIS school is compiled, taking into account the priority criteria, the parent’s preferences, placement availability and requirements in line with the Hong Kong Education Bureau. Transport restrictions into Discovery Bay will also be taken into account for Discovery College processing. Applicants who are not able to gain a first-round interview are waitlisted for their first preference school. Each year, Discovery College is oversubscribed with applications, and so unfortunately, we are not able to interview all applicants who apply on-time. Year 1 applications received after the Central Application period will be placed on a waiting list in date order of receipt.
  4. Applications for all other year levels are considered under application date order and added to the waiting list according to the first preference school and priority criteria.
  5. Applicants will be invited for interview and assessment at the school as vacancies become available.
  6. Following a successful admissions interview and assessment, a place may be offered.
  7. Acceptance of the offer must be confirmed by payment of a deposit and a Non-refundable Building Levy (NBL) within the time frame specified on the offer letter, generally a period of between seven and 14 days.
  8. Acceptance of an offer is with a commitment of two academic years before any transfer request can be made regardless of the residential address.
  9. Re-application is required when:
  • an offer for an interview and assessment has been declined;
  • an offer of a place has been declined;
  • a student has not met the entry requirements at interview and assessment;
  • The one academic year validity period of the application has expired. Applicants on waiting lists at the end of the academic year may carry forward their waitlist position by reapplying for the following academic year.  Waitlist applicants will be contacted by email before April each year for re-application. No additional fee is required.
  1. If a student meets the entry requirements for Discovery College but there are no immediate places available, the child will be returned to the age-appropriate waiting list according to his/her priority status and, in the case of Central Admission applicants, the random number he/she was assigned. In the event a place becomes available within six months of the initial successful assessment, no further assessment will be required. If an offer is made for an alternative school, no re-interview and re-assessment is required. If a place has not become available  after six months from the initial successful assessment, the child will be required to undertake a further assessment to be considered for the offer of a place should one subsequently become available.
  2. Discovery College Year 6 students are guaranteed a secondary place at the college when transferring to Year 7.

4. Applications for Admission

It is important to note that an application with insufficient supporting documents or non-payment of the application fee will not be processed.

Before you start the application process, please view the ‘General Instructions (for General and Central Applications)’ on the ESF’s website at

In addition to the application form, which can be submitted electronically, you are required to submit supporting documents. An applicant can only be considered when the necessary documents are received.

A copy of the completed online application form must be attached to your supporting documents with TWO photographs.

If you are applying for ESF/ Discovery College/ Renaissance College Central Applications in September 2018 for Year 1 for the next academic year 2019-20, you will need to send your supporting documents by ‘registered post’ to the English Schools Foundation, Central Admissions, 25/F, 1063 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. Supporting documents must be received at the English Schools Foundation by 7 October 2018 for Year 1.

ESF will not acknowledge supporting documents during the September application period due to the volume of applications. Please check with the post office for confirmation of delivery.

We suggest parents do not wait until the Central Admissions deadline of 30 September 2018 to submit the online application.

For late Central Applications to Year 1 submitted after 31 October 2018, please send your supporting documents directly to Discovery College.

If you are applying under General Applications for Discovery College, supporting documents must be sent direct to Discovery College (Attn: Admissions Manager) at 38 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

Supporting documents include copies of:

  • Completed ‘Online Application’ form or the Application slip/acknowledgement email;
  • Application fee online payment result;
  • Child’s school reports for the last two years, with English translation as appropriate. If applying for Year 1, one kindergarten report;
  • Examination certificates / results (for Year 12 / 13 applications);
  • A reference letter from your child’s current school (for applicants seeking admissions to Year 3 and above);
  • Educational Psychology Reports or similar (where appropriate);
  • Child’s birth certificate;
  • Child’s:
    • Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card; or
    • Passport / PRC Exit Entry Permit (EEP) pages showing personal details and Hong Kong Visa / Landing Slip (if issued at the time of the application); and
    • Hong Kong Identity Card (if issued at the time of the application).
  • Two passport-style photographs of the child;
  • Parents’:
    • Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card; or
    • Passport / PRC Exit Entry Permit (EEP) pages showing personal details and Hong Kong Visa / Landing Slip (if issued at the time of the application); and
    • Hong Kong Identity Card (if issued at the time of the application).
  • Two proof of HK address documents – a copy of a stamped tenancy agreement or a current government demand for rates bill plus an original utility bill or bank statement;
  • Details of parent’s attendance at ESF or PIS primary/secondary school (if applicable).
  • Proof of employment of the director or employee whose Nominee is nominated under a Corporate Nomination Right (for Corporate Nomination Rights applications only).

5. Assessments and Interviews for Admission

All ESF schools offer an inquiry-based English-medium education and as such, children applying to join an ESF school, including Discovery College, must demonstrate sufficient language skills to engage with the the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. For Year 1 admissions, the process used to assess a young child’s level of English language competence is through a play-based approach. Assessment reports from kindergartens also support the admissions process at Year 1.

Secondary students applying to join Discovery College will take age-appropriate assessments for English language and mathematics. In addition, applicants are assessed for learning skills and cognitive ability. The assessments are accompanied by interviews that will explore each student’s potential for language learning as well as their ability to engage and succeed within the English medium curriculum being offered at the school.  The student’s academic background, previous school reports and reference, and supporting documents support the admissions process for those students offered places.

In addition to the age-appropriate assessments, secondary applicants may also be required to undertake an online English placement test.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate behavioural responsibility and the principles of good citizenship.

Whilst assessment interviews for Primary (Years 1 to 6) have to be undertaken in Hong Kong at Discovery College, assessment testing for overseas secondary students (Years 7 to 13) can be undertaken with the cooperation of the applicant’s current school and subsequent interviews arranged to be undertaken by Skype.

Discovery College will request the details of a senior member of staff of an applicant’s current school, and retains the right to verify the identity of any person nominated by parents to administer assessments on our behalf, either by way of a school’s website, or contact with the school’s Principal/Head Teacher or senior staff member of an educational company nominated for this purpose.

6. Application Fee

The application fee is HK$2,000.

This is a non-refundable, non-transferable fee which covers the cost of admissions administration, including personnel, system costs, commissions paid to our online service provider, etc. Due to the high number of applications, the collection of this fee does not constitute any assurance that an interview or a school place will be offered. Method of payment is by VISA/MasterCard through PayDollar, the ESF’s online payment service provider.

Please ensure that you have applied for the appropriate academic year and Year Group. The application fee will NOT be refunded for incorrect application or early application.

7. Admission into the IB Diploma Programme / Career-related Programme

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) are designed for students who have successfully completed their middle years of secondary schooling. Various indicators of this success exist as possible pathways for entry to the DP or CP:

  • A minimum of 28 points (out of a total of 49) in the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP);
  • An average, or predicted average, of Grade Cs in at least five IGCSE examinations;
  • New applicants will be admitted to the College and the programme on the basis of school transcripts, written applications, admissions tests and interviews.

New students will normally be entered into the DP or CP according to the preference of the student / their families and with agreement of the Vice Principal i/c Years 12-13.

The CP is designed to provide students with learning experiences in a specialist, career-related area, while the DP is designed to provide an academic programme in a broad range of subject areas. Students wishing to take the CP should therefore show a significant interest in one of the specialist areas offered by the College as a pre-requisite for admission to the programme.

Students with grades lower than the requirement but who, in the judgement of the IB Diploma Coordinator, would be suitable candidates for Year 12 entry may be admitted as a DP Courses student. However, all cases will be examined on an individual basis, and the College reserves the right to accept or reject any application at its discretion. Students will be counselled on the correct choice of either DP, CP or DP Courses.

8. Nomination Rights

See Nomination Rights Terms and Conditions

9. Fees

See College Fees

10. Immigration Status

An offer of a place cannot be made to a child who is not a resident of Hong Kong unless the child is permitted by the Director of Immigration to reside in Hong Kong. Unless clearance is obtained from the Director of Immigration, no child will be admitted to any school in Hong Kong whose travel document/passport bears the endorsement “Visitor” over the immigration stamp. Parents of non-local children are advised to seek the approval of the Director of Immigration ( as soon as possible for entry to Hong Kong of the child in question, for the purpose of study.

11. Withdrawal of Students

For withdrawal of students currently attending Discovery College or prospective students who have accepted a place at Discovery College, please refer to the Student Withdrawal Procedures.

12. Admissions Enquiries

Enquiries may be sent to either Mr. Bob Priest (for Secondary and combined Secondary / Primary applications) at or Ms. Annie WONG (for Primary applications) at

13. Policy Review

Discovery College’s admissions policy is subject to regular review. It is the responsibility of individual applicants to check the College website for any updates to the policy.

14. Enquiries

Enquiries about this policy should be directed to the Admissions Manager at