Finding a school in Hong Kong

Finding a school in Hong Kong

7th February, 2012

If you’re moving to Hong Kong with school-aged children, the best advice I can give you is to plan ahead. The demand for school placements enormously out-strips supply, which can make finding a school in Hong Kong very competitive and often difficult.  


In this post we’ll look at how you can make finding a school in Hong Kong easier. If you’re moving there soon, you can find out more about becoming an Expat in our free eBook The New Expat.

High standards

If finding a school in Hong Kong is on your family’s agenda, then the good news is that the international schools on offer are of a very high standard. Although they are relatively few in number, establishments such as the Canadian International School and Hong Kong International School are known around the world for the quality of their teaching and track record for good grades. A child educated in a good Hong Kong international school will graduate with grades and social skills that will set them up for life and hold them in good stead for a university placement anywhere in the world.

The bad news is that these excellent credentials come at a price – and that means time as well as money. However, for many parents the school fees in Hong Kong are often a secondary concern, as the difficulty in getting a child enrolled is so pronounced.

Few schools, not enough places

According to the English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong, there were 2000 applications for 1000 school places last year. Many parents applied in the previous year – over twelve months before school started – only to be rebuffed. Part of the problem is a simple lack of space, with school sites restricted and planning permission to extend notoriously difficult to get. And with such high numbers of applications, schools are forced to use tough entrance exams to choose one child above another.

Getting ahead

So how can you make sure your child is in the 50% of applicants who gain a place? In my experience, families who are successful at finding a school in Hong Kong are forward planners in every sense. This is not just limited to getting your application form in early. Make sure you cover every base by ensuring your child is ‘test-ready’ as far as you are able.

Hong Kong might have a competitive school system, but it also has a highly professional body of private tutors and practice exam teachers who can give your child the best chance of being chosen. Many parents report that their highly intelligent children don’t do well in Hong Kong exams simply because of cultural differences – the tests are not what they expect. A private service will help educate your child as to how marks are awarded by Hong Kong international schools. If you’d rather not get a tutor, and have friends in the city with school age children, consider asking their advice on what to expect in the tests.

At the end of the day, finding a school in Hong Kong might be tough, but a little extra tuition and a strong application will really increase your chances of securing the right place for your child.

More on finding a school in Hong Kong

For more detailed information on finding a school in Hong Kong, it’s worth looking at the English Schools Foundation’s website:

For more information around making the move abroad, don’t forget to download our free eBook The New Expat which covers other family matters, accommodation issues, medical considerations, financial arrangements and much more.

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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