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ESF - must find you a place??

  1. #9
    starbucks2 is offline Registered User
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    Thanks everyone. Has added more to my stress but better to be informed rather than have false hope. We are in DB and would be more than happy with an ESF kindy but I don't want my little boy having to travel 40 mins each way on a bus to Tsing Yi kindy so that he gets the "privilege" of an interview for an ESF school. It would be different if it was a guaranteed place. He is going to attend a kindy in DB which does K1, K2 and K3 (similar to P1) so have 3 years to find a place in another school. Problem is, it sounds like the problem isn't getting any better.

    So Cara, your friend's child just ended up getting 2 years behind waiting to get in or did they put her in year 3 once she finally got in? I'd be really interested to know what happens to kids who can't afford international schools but don't get into ESF - homeschooling???! I didn't realise there were local schools for non-Chinese speakers or do you mean going to a local school and having them learn Chinese?

  2. #10
    MommyTo3 is offline Registered User
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    Definitely not true. I still know so many non-Cantonese speakers on the waiting list. ESF does not give priority over native English vs. non-native-English speakers, they give priority to non-Cantonese speakers. We are not native English speakers but my kids are all at ESF, my oldest in Y2 and the twins just got accepted in Y1. However, mine have US passport and their first language is English. Close to half the interviews at our school were offered to siblings, however. They're definitely used to be an overflow issue from some schools to others, but the overflow from Bradbury to QBS this year is highly unlikely. I still know many many Cat 1 children on the QBS waiting list. I am not even sure how the Corporate Surety Scheme works this year. A lot of people seem to settle with extended preschool / Year 1 programs at preschools which is obviously the new business, however, all these kids would still need a place by Year 2. Of course, some have moved on before that point but it's partly delaying the problem, hoping you're high enough on the list to get an interview if somebody leaves. Also, at this point it is still completely unclear who is leaving at the end of the year, and who isn't.

    The ESF Kindy route is becoming extremely popular but is only useful when you're in Cat 1. Cat 2 doesn't have a chance these days. I know many parents who are actively moving their children into ESF Kindy or are on waitinglists there now in order to get a priority for interview. However, you need to have at least a couple of terms (in K1 and K2) in order to get priority. So at the latest you should be moving to ESF Kindy in April of the K1 year (Term 3) or it won't make a difference either.

    Another problem for people on waiting list is that ESF is not a school who rejects very easily, they take kids will all abilities as long as their English is more than sufficient and they have "normal" social skills. They're not known for being super picky, so the rejection rate is low ... leaving more on the waiting list.

    Being a sibling, going to ESF Kindy all gives you priority, though no guarantee whatsoever.

    It's stressful, but I think we're very lucky. When my oldest applied it wasn't a problem and her Kindy (non-ESF) has a very good relationship with the local ESF school, and therefore the twins had no problem getting in. At their Kindy, only siblings and an ESF Kindy child were offered an interview, all the others didn't have a chance (yet), and they're all category 1.

  3. #11
    megan2008 is offline Registered User
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    Why are so many interested in ESF? Does it have better educational opportunites?

  4. #12
    TheQuasimother is offline Registered User
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    Starbucks2, the other kindies at DB has a very high acceptance rate into Bradbury, no statistics to back this up - just word of mouth from other parents.

    The situation with ESF acceptance is very much also dependent on where you live and popularity of schools. Where there is a higher English speaking population, it's tougher. I stand by what I say, not being an Island resident, every single kid we know from our son's ESF kindie even in Cat. 2, got an offer. Several received 3 has the PIS has preference for parents with PR. When we made our choice for ESF, we moved into a neighbourhood to ensure that the odds for our child is the highest. We identified 2 ESF schools that would have been a shoe-in (even for Cat. 2 students) and decided on a neighbourhood that falls into the catchment area.

    Megan2008, if you are like us, paying for our children's education out of our own pocket and seeking an IB/English based education, ESF offers the cheapest monthly fee option. It's not necessarily better or worse (though some would argue) but it reflects what a good comprehensive public school in the UK/Australia would offer.

    I must say though, that the education you get at an ESF kindie is no grand thing. It's typical playschool not really adapted for the HK context. So in comparison to the other kindies, it's quite mediocre really especially when it came to the stressful periods during the interview rounds. It was the concerted effort of parents, who know how tough and competitive admissions can be, more than teachers who prepared for the kids. The only advantage I saw as a parent with a child in the kindie was the grouping during the interviews - kids from the same class were grouped together and so on the day of the interviews, it was more like a fieldtrip than anything else so the kids didn't seem to have the jitters. Overall, we have nothing to complain about as we knew what we were in for and the school delivered (as far as what we had expected of them). I am expecting more from the primary section though.
    “If you want to get to the castle, you’ve got to swim the moat.” Richard Jenkins in Eat Pray Love

  5. #13
    MommyTo3 is offline Registered User
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    I've heard the same thing about ESF Kindies. And I agree, some preschools do have higher acceptance rates than others. Sunshine seems to do better than Woodlands from what I personally noticed. We are also paying out of our own pocket. I just can justify paying double or almost triple for another international school, I don't believe I am getting 2 or 3 times better education, plus we have 3 children ...

    I must say I am very happy with our ESF primary school, the level is good, many many great teachers, but I do notice there are differences too and they're certainly not all exactly the same. I consider myself quite lucky with our school.

    On the island, you definitely need to be Cat 1 in order to have a chance to get a spot, Cat 2 won't be sufficient. Too many Cat 1 still on waiting lists. Same goes for CWB, I think. It may be different, with more Cat 2, at SJS, KJS, BHS, but no personal experience.

  6. #14
    starbucks2 is offline Registered User
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    Thanks. I had to look up the ESF school site to see what Cat 1 and Cat 2 means. So, Cat 1 is first or alternative language English but do not speak Cantonese?

    Maybe I am banging on a bit but if (1) we don't get into the ESF school in our catchment, or (2) we get an interview but don't get a place, what happens? I assume for (1) you go on the waitlist for the ESF for your catchment or maybe get offered another ESF school (based on someone above talking about overflow from Bradbury to Quarry Bay. For (2) do you get a chance to do the interview again the next year or does it depend on the reason for "failing" the interview?

    PS I also heard that being a permanent resident helps?
    Last edited by starbucks2; 03-15-2011 at 10:17 AM.

  7. #15
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by starbucks2 View Post
    So Cara, your friend's child just ended up getting 2 years behind waiting to get in or did they put her in year 3 once she finally got in? I'd be really interested to know what happens to kids who can't afford international schools but don't get into ESF - homeschooling???! I didn't realise there were local schools for non-Chinese speakers or do you mean going to a local school and having them learn Chinese?

    1) no, her child was not behind at all. she went to K3 instead of P1. they are equivalent. by the time she was accepted to ESF, she had finished K3 and went straight into P2.

    2) if you check out the thread about being rejected by KJS you will see that i listed a bunch of schools in the tung chung area that are for non-chinese speaking students. these schools DO teach chinese, but are geared towards students who do not already speak it. for the school that my children will go to, parents have a choice for chinese language (cantonese or mandaring), mathematics (cantonese or english) and all other subjects are taught in english.

    3) bear in mind that children attending local schools start P1 a year later than those attending ESF. this is in line with the age that children start primary school in canada.

  8. #16
    starbucks2 is offline Registered User
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    Thanks Cara - the thread on KJS does raise some of the same concerns so I have read through it and it is useful.

    Quasimother - do you mind me asking what school your child is at?

    And can anyone clarify the below:

    Quote Originally Posted by starbucks2 View Post
    Thanks. I had to look up the ESF school site to see what Cat 1 and Cat 2 means. So, Cat 1 is first or alternative language English but do not speak Cantonese?

    Maybe I am banging on a bit but if (1) we don't get into the ESF school in our catchment, or (2) we get an interview but don't get a place, what happens? I assume for (1) you go on the waitlist for the ESF for your catchment or maybe get offered another ESF school (based on someone above talking about overflow from Bradbury to Quarry Bay. For (2) do you get a chance to do the interview again the next year or does it depend on the reason for "failing" the interview?

    PS I also heard that being a permanent resident helps?
    Last edited by starbucks2; 03-15-2011 at 03:03 PM.

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