Admissions Policy

1. Preface

ESF offers 9 primary, 5 secondary, 1 special needs school, 5 kindergartens and 2 private independent schools, including Discovery College, under the English Schools Foundation. The ESF Ordinance, CAP 1117 states that the object of the foundation is to offer ‘a modern liberal education through the medium of the English language to boys and girls who are able to benefit from such an education.’

Our mission is to inspire creativity and nurture the global citizens and leaders of the future. We will do this by creating joyful learning environments led by a community of exceptional teachers, who bring out the best in every child through a personalized approach to learning and by inspiring curious minds (ESF Strategic Plan 2015-2020).

Discovery College offers an all-ability education and must be satisfied that students entering are able to engage with an English-medium 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.

Discovery College provides an all-through education for primary and secondary students. 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As the Hong Kong Education Bureau is still reviewing the HK$2,000 application fee for Discovery College and Renaissance College, the new ‘one form’ application system will not be launched for admissions processing for 2017-18 academic year. The Year 1 Central Application process will commence on 1 September 2017 under the current online application system. Dual applications will continue to be permitted to ESF and the two private independent schools (PIS).  Applications to Discovery College are through a separate application process, detailed on this website.

For more information regarding the ESF’s Admissions Policy, please visit the ESF’s website at 

2. Priority for Admission

Students applying for enrolment to Discovery College may be placed on a waiting list. Where such waiting lists occur, priority for an admissions assessment/interview will be based on the following ranked criteria; students who are (in order):

  1. Children of full-time teachers at Discovery College are guaranteed an interview for a place at Discovery College.
  2. Children who are Nominees under the Corporate Nomination Rights scheme.
  3. Children of full-time teachers at RCHK and at ESF Schools.
  4. Children of Discovery College full-time Support Staff with a minimum one-year employment at date of application, and dependent on continued employment at date of admission.
  5. Siblings of students attending Discovery College at the date of actual admission, or children who are Nominees under the Individual Nomination Rights Scheme.
  6. Former Discovery College students who left the College to move overseas.
  7. Children of former Discovery College students.
  8. Children attending an ESF Educational Services Limited Kindergarten, contingent on the student studying continuously at the kindergarten for a minimum of two terms prior to the applicable January Year 1 interview period and through to the end of Term 3 immediately prior to entry to primary school.
  9. Other applicants.

With the exception of students applying for Year 1, Siblings and Nominees under an Individual Nomination Right will have the same priority for an admissions assessment/interview, with the date of application determining the order.

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 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23
1 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
2 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
3 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
4 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
5 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
6 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
7 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
8 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
9 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
10 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
11 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
12 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
13 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Applications for a specific academic year cannot be made until September of the previous year at the earliest, e.g. applications for 2018/19 cannot be made until September 2017 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 DP Programme (Years 12 & 13) for the full 2 years of the programme and should start school in mid-August of the beginning of the academic year.

Applications for Year 13 will not be considered for students who have not completed the first year of the IB Diploma Programme.

The process for admission is:

  • Applicants must submit the application package in full.
  • All Year 1 applications received within the Central Application Period (01 September – 30 September) are processed in random order and assigned a computer generated sequential number. From this list, students are then ordered according to the priority for an admissions assessment/interview, apart from Corporate and Individual Nomination Rights Nominees, who are ranked in order of receipt of their Nomination Rights Application.
  • Any Year 1 applications received after the Central Application Period will be placed at the end of the waiting list in date order of receipt.
  • Applications for all other year levels are considered under application date order and added to the waiting list according to their priority.
  • Applicants will be invited for an assessment and/or interview at the College as vacancies become available.
  • Assessments are administered at the time of interview, apart from Years 7-13 where the assessment and interview may be conducted separately.
  • Following a successful admissions assessment and interview, a place may be offered.
  • Acceptance of the offer must be confirmed by payment of a 2-month deposit (see College Fees).
  • Re-application is required when:
    • An offer for an assessment/interview has been declined
    • An offer of a place has been declined
    • A student has not met the entry requirements at assessment/interview
  • Where an applicant has been unsuccessful at assessment/interview, a reapplication may be submitted at any time, along with an application fee. The applicant would be added to the appropriate Waiting List, in order of date submitted and priority, and would need to undertake a new assessment (no earlier than 6 months from the previous assessment) should a place becomes available.
  • If a student is successful at assessment/interview, however, is not offered a place due to the unavailability of places, the child will be returned to the waiting list according to his/her priority and, in the case of Central Admission applicants, the random number he/she was assigned. In the event a place does becomes available within six months of the initial successful assessment/interview, no further assessment will be required.

Once an online application has been successfully submitted, along with payment of the application fee, supporting documents must be sent directly to “Discovery College (Attn: Admissions Manager), 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
  • Student’s Birth Certificate
  • Student’s:
    1. Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card or
    2. Passport/PRC Exit Entry Permit pages showing personal details and Visa/Landing Slip (if issued at the time of application) and
    3. Student’s Hong Kong Identity Card (if issued at the time of application);
  • Student’s current and last year’s school reports, with English translation as appropriate 
  • A reference letter from student’s current school (for applications to Year 3 and above)
  • Educational Psychology Reports or similar (where appropriate)
  • Examination certificates/results (for Year 12 applications)
  • Both parents’:
    1. Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards or
    2. Passports / PRC Exit Entry Permits pages showing personal details and Visas / Landing Slips (if issued at the time of application) and
    3. Hong Kong Identity Cards (if issued at the time of application);
  • Details of parent’s attendance at Discovery College (if applicable)
  • 2 student’s passport quality photographs showing his/her frontal face with clear facial features, measuring 4cm (width) x 5cm (height)
  • Proof of HK address (if known at time of application) – a copy of a stamped tenancy agreement or a current government demand for rates bill or utility bill or bank statement.
  • Proof of employment of the director or employee whose Nominee is nominated under a Corporate Nomination Right (for Corporate Nomination Rights applications only).

An application with insufficient supporting documents or non-payment of application fee will not be processed.

5. Application to ESF and ESF Private Independent Schools (PIS)

Dual applications are permitted to both systems. For statistical purposes, parents are asked to indicate schools applied by ticking the box/es on the individual application forms. Applications to Discovery College and Renaissance College are through a separate application process to other ESF schools.

6. Assessments and Interviews for Admission

Applicants must demonstrate through assessment/interview that they are capable of engaging with an English medium IB curriculum.

Students applying for admission to Discovery College take age-appropriate assessments for English. 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 curriculum being offered at the school.

Applicants’ academic background, previous school reports and supporting documents will also be taken into account. 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.

7. Admission into the IB Diploma Programme

The IB Diploma Programme is 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 IB Diploma Programme:

  • 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 IB Diploma 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 full Diploma status or Courses status.

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