For impatient parents, the English Schools Foundation is extending its individual nomination rights scheme, which gives priority interviews to children wishing to enter an ESF primary school, to kindergartens.
The Kindergarten Class A Debenture targets parents of children born in 2017 who are attracted to ESF’s interactive and lively teaching methods.
This year, applications for K1 places at five ESF International Kindergartens – Abacus, Hillside, Tsing Yi, Tung Chung and Wu Kai Sha – will be open until September 30, and the debenture provides a preferential interview opportunity.
Teachers will evaluate students accepted into ESF kindergartens before the enrollment.
And if they can show a high standard of English-language education, students will be guaranteed a place all the way up – which is a one-stop 15-year education among the biggest group of schools catering to English speakers.
That is the through-train system announced this year which will take effect from August for new K1 students.
Applications for the new debenture will be open on Monday at 10am at the ESF Centre in Wan Chai, and will cost HK$500,000 each, the same as the nomination rights.
“The new debenture scheme is a way of giving families an even greater guarantee that their children can secure a place at ESF,” said Rob Shorthouse, ESF director of communication.
He said ESF is a world-class education system and believes the earlier students go for the system, the better achievement in their personal growth will be seen.
ESF is always sought after by parents, leading to long waiting lists for schools, especially on the Kowloon side. The official website says that by June 2018, there were about 2,000 on the waiting list for all ESF primary and secondary schools.
The group runs 22 schools for about 17,700 pupils of more than 60 nationalities.
Shorthouse disagreed that the debenture would make competition fiercer for ESF places in the higher years or cut the number of applications.
He said the nomination rights scheme has been in place for Y1 applications for years, and the debenture has only a small number available.
“We continue to see a high number of applicants for our schools,” he said.
At present, the schools observe the children’s performance through games and meet their parents to see the level of family education and English skills for 45 minutes before kindergarten enrollments.
The interview process had never been easy anyway, and the admissions assessment will not change with the debenture and through-train system in operation.
Emphasizing the debenture is entirely voluntary and covers only a tiny percentage of the available places, Shorthouse said the overwhelming majority of ESF students will still come to the schools through the standard application process, and dismissed worries that the group has made money a factor for children to get a spot in school.
ESF chief executive Belinda Greer has noted that the world is changing at a pace not seen before, and the group’s mission is to equip students with the skills to thrive in an ever-changing environment.
However, the new plans could make students surround themselves with the same classmates.
“ESF is non-selective,” Shorthouse said. “The only requirement is the English level.
“If you walk into any one of our schools, you will see that they are incredibly diverse, happy places. This will not change,” he said.
(This article was published at The Standard on September 10, 2019: Education: Early start for through train )