Moving To Hong Kong With Your Kids: Parents’ Guide On The Country’s Schooling Options

Starting a new life as a parent in another country can be challenging at first. Finding a place to live and a school for your kids can be overwhelming. The good news is that Hong Kong offers some of the best educational institutions in the world.

Schooling options include the typical government-owned public ones and independent private ones. You can also consider an international school that might help your kid transition better.

We will explore these schooling options below to help you choose the best for your children.

Moving To Hong Kong With Your Kids:

Hong Kong Education System

The country has three options for a school that will cater to your child’s educational needs. Public, Private, and International schools are available all over the place, and the Education Bureau supervises them.

The government of Hong Kong has recently made some adjustments in the education sector to be inclusive for expat children. Public schools here are now offering international programmes to help non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students accustom themselves to Hong Kong’s learning culture.

Public schools in the country follow the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), while the international schools follow a different set of curriculums. Most international institutions follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

A few international schools also follow their home country’s educational curriculum and implement it in Hong Kong.

Moving To Hong Kong With Your Kids

Public Schools

Consider entering your child into a public school if you think that the language would not be a problem. Local public schools teach students Cantonese since this is the widely used language in Hong Kong and other southern parts of China.

Other schools use Mandarin as their instruction language, which is spoken in mainland China.

If you see your children living their whole life here, it would be a critical factor if they can adapt to the local language.

Another thing, the government offers 12 years of free education from primary to secondary level. This is available for all children enrolled in public schools.

Aside from the waived fees and the language barrier, you can learn more about public schools here in Hong Kong through the pros and cons below:


  • Public school graduates usually find it easy to enter science and other academic-related courses in college.
  • Native English speakers could also find it easy here because public schools have a high focus on the English Language.


  • The focus leans more towards science-based exams and subjects and strays away from artistic approach, logical thinking, and emotional development.
  • The academic focus means that the students must attend additional classes even after a full day of school, leaving no more time for personal things.
  • The structure can be demanding and pressuring.

International and Private Schools

International and Private Independent Schools (PIS) are directly under the private school sector of the country. Many parents who have just moved to Hong Kong often choose these schools.

They want International and Private Independent schools because of the more accessible curriculum that provides their children a smoother transition after relocating.

Aside from the more straightforward curriculum, the pros and cons of this type of schooling option are listed below:


  • Graduates from elite international secondary schools receive a higher education quality and are often admitted to first-class universities.
  • Students receive advanced global education concerning cultural diversity and language.
  • English is primarily used as a teaching language, while other schools offer bilingual and multilingual ways of educating.
  • Some international schools prioritize their home country’s citizens, siblings of existing students, as well as the children of their staff and alums.
  • International schools also prioritize children with special needs with delicate service.
  • Many schools provide their students with alternative ways of learning, extra-curricular activities, and training with guidance to be college-ready.


  • There is high competition to secure a spot at top international schools, so there may be a long waiting line.
  • Some international secondary schools only accept students with a passing mark on their primary school’s examination results.
  • You need to deal with high tuition fees at International schools.

On the same note, there are seven Private Independent Schools (PISs) as an alternative to international schools. Parents can explore this option as they also offer non-local curriculums that are helpful in transitioning into the local learning environment.

The government of Hong Kong supports these PISs because they diversify the country’s education system while also giving parents more choices for their children.

The government requires these kinds of schools to have at least 70% of permanent Hong Kong resident students.

Some Important Notes

  • You can make a list of schools you are interested in so you can start contacting them about admission deadlines.
  • It is essential to know that many schools, except for the Australian International School, start the school year in August.
  • International and private schools have their own sets of admission procedures and requirements, so make sure to check them all thoroughly.
  • Most schools open their application process one year early, while a few accept applications even from birth.


The government of Hong Kong offers some of the best educational institutions in the world, so all you need to do is to be thorough in choosing a school for your children. You can use the discussed school options above to make a decision that would likely affect your kids’ future.

Public, private, or international schools are available, and one of them would play a critical part in your child’s educational attainment.

About the Author: mike

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