Admissions Policy

1. Preface

The Admissions process for Year 1 and Year 7 Central Applications for August 2020 entry, as well as General Applications for all other Year Groups, is a ‘one form’ application process incorporating all ESF primary and secondary schools including Discovery College. Parents are strongly advised to review this process on the ESF’s website.

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 school, including Discovery College, are made through the Online Admission System (OAS) accessed via the ESF website. Year 1 and Year 7 applications are made during a strictly limited period, during the month of 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.

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. In line with the Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) requirements, Discovery College shall admit students to school in accordance with the prevailing admission policy, including the overarching requirement to admit students holding Hong Kong Permanent Resident status to no less than 70% of the overall student population of the college. 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 Year 1 consideration is subject to having attended K1 by the start of the third term and have completed the whole K2 year. Students recently arrived from overseas are exempt from this requirement.

Transport restrictions into Discovery Bay will also be taken into account for Discovery College processing.

3. Priority for Admission – Internal Transfer Policy

The transfer of current ESF/ESL students between Discovery College and other ESF/PIS schools is allowed following completion of a 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 transition – students attending Discovery College are guaranteed a Year 7 place for their secondary phase at Discovery College. It is not necessary to re-apply.

Procedure for transfer request between schools

  • 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.

4. Year of Birth to Year Level Placement

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 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24
1 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
2 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
3 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
4 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
5 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
6 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
7 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
8 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
9 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
10 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
11 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
12 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
13 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 2020-21 cannot be made until September 2019 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 / Career-related 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. There is some flexibility in the starting date, but apart from in exceptional circumstances as determined by the College a student will not be able to start after 4 weeks from the start of the academic year.

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

5. 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.

All admission application processes up to making a formal offer of a place can be undertaken prior to approval being received from the Director of Immigration for entry / residence in Hong Kong, e.g. issue of Employment / Dependent / Student Visas.

Please note that a permanent resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) who is not of Chinese nationality will lose the status of a permanent resident under the circumstances described on the Immigration website, and an applicant should check their Hong Kong residency status with the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

6. 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.

7. Enquiries

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