Attendance & length of school day/year

Discovery College must meet Hong Kong Government requirements regarding the length of the school year.



No students, with the exception of Year 12 and 13 students (refer Senior Student privileges), are expected to be present on campus before 8 am and after 3.30 pm (Primary students) or 4.00 pm (Year 7 -11 Secondary students) unless involved with academic or co-curricular activities. On weekends, no Year 7 to 11 students are permitted in the school at any time unless they have permission and are accompanied by a teacher. 



No students are expected to be present on campus before 8 am. Parents must provide supervision from 3.30 pm if their child is required to wait at school between the end of classes and the start of any activity.


All students should arrive in the morning between 8 am and 8.15 am, leaving them time to go to their classrooms, unpack their bags, greet their teacher and be prepared to start the first lesson. Parents who bring their children to school in the morning are asked to leave the class before the start of the school day in order to allow the learning to commence without distraction.



  • Full-time attendance is mandatory for all students 

  • Years 1-3 students will be monitored by their classroom teachers throughout the day 

  • Years 4-13 students will log their arrival using a multi-purpose Smart Card and have attendance monitored throughout the day. To be marked on time students must swipe the attendance card readers before 8.20 am 

  • Parents/caregivers must inform the school via the process outlined below if their child is absent on any given day or will be absent for a longer period. 

  • Unexplained absence will be queried via email or a phone call to parents/caregivers as soon as possible 

  • Patterns of non-attendance will be followed up with parents/caregivers as soon as possible, by member/s of the Student Support team, e.g. learning advisor/class teacher, deans, vice-principals, heads of school 

  • Attendance will be recorded on school reports

Absences and requests for leave

Parents are required to notify the College if your child is sick or absent BEFORE 8 AM by either: 


Call:  3969 1000 ( leave a message if required)


For Secondary students, in particular, the following thresholds apply to make clear to students, parents and staff the level of concern that will generally be attached to different levels of absence: 

  • 99-100%: Outstanding

  • 97-98%: Good

  • 95-96%: Satisfactory

  • 90-94%: Unsatisfactory

  • 76-89%: Cause for concern

  • 75% and below: Significant cause for concern


The College reserves the right to treat each case individually, but in general, contact will be made with parents by key Student Support staff when an absence becomes a cause for concern / significant cause for concern. In such cases, the student, parents and staff are expected to work together to bring the student’s absence back to levels that do not cause concern, including by prioritising school over other events and activities that may otherwise require the student to take leave during the term. Students with significant medical absence may be asked to provide medical certificates.

Medical appointments

Students are strongly encouraged to make medical appointments during holiday or after school hours. In the case of unavoidable or emergency appointments, parents are required to notify the College as soon as possible using the absence procedures above.


Essential and non-essential travel

Parents wishing to have their child take extended leave (2 or more days)  from school during term-time do so under the following conditions:

  • the College will determine what is essential travel and what is non-essential travel. For essential travel, students can expect some negotiation around assessment dates and information about the work to be covered in their absence; 

  • for non-essential travel, staff are not required to provide any more than a summary of the work to be covered and assessment dates will remain unchanged.


Requests should be made as early as possible so any adjustments to teaching and learning prior to term-time departure/arrival can be forecast. Requests should be made in writing to the Head of Secondary or Head of Primary. Because leave can significantly interrupt the process of learning, parents are strongly encouraged to organise holidays during school breaks.



Students are expected to have arrived at school and swiped in (Years 4-13) before 8.20 am in order to be in their classrooms before 8.25am ready to start the school day. Any student arriving from 8.20 am onwards will be deemed to be late. Parents of students with recurrent lateness will be informed. Lateness will be recorded on all school reports with the following comments:


  • 0-4 days – Acceptable

  • 5-9 days – Cause of concern

  • 10 or more days – Unacceptable


Students are also expected to maintain an operational swipe card and should replace a lost/inoperative card straight away. Concerns over students repeatedly signing in manually / failing to bring an operational card will be followed up with the student and their family.


Primary students leaving school during the day

Primary students are not at any time permitted to leave the school grounds unaccompanied. When a student is required to leave school early for a specific reason, parents should notify the class teacher via email with the arrangements that include time of collection, adult collecting and reason for early departure. The collecting adult will be expected to sign the student out at the front office prior to collecting from the classroom.


After school care and supervision

Primary students are not permitted to remain inside the school grounds after 3.30 pm, unless unaccompanied by an adult and participating in an after school club/sporting activity. All primary students attending after school activities must be supervised by an adult during this time. 


Length of school day

  • A normal school day for formal instruction will be from 8.25 am-3.15 pm 

  • All students will have a 20 minute recess and a 50 minute lunch break (different times for Primary and Secondary).

  • Co-curricular Activities will occur after school and at lunchtime. Where these activities occur after school, finishing times will be communicated to parents/caregivers at the time of enrolment in the activity. 


Length of school year

  • Discovery College will be open for tuition the equivalent of 185 days in each academic year. 

  • Days lost for inclement weather conditions are not required to be made up at the end of the year.  

  • Information on events/activities will be available on the College’s annual calendar, the website and through the weekly e-newsletter, The Explorer.  

Severe weather procedures

Rainstorm and typhoon warnings

The rainy season lasts from April to September. Parents are advised to note the following arrangements, which apply in all cases except where students are taking external examinations

Before school hours:

Parents should use radio or television (or consult the EDB website) to receive announcements on the closure of schools.

If Typhoon Signal Pre-8 or Signal 8 or above is raised prior to school hours, all schools will close. Kindergartens and the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School (JCSRS) will close if a Signal 3 is hoisted. The pre-8 signal indicates that the observatory expects to raise the Signal 8 within two hours, giving schools and families the opportunity to be prepared.

If a signal is raised while students are travelling to school, the school is responsible for receiving the students and holding them until arrangements can be made for them to return home at an appropriate time.

In school hours:

With the government announcement of the closure of schools, all schools are to close. In that situation, principals will ensure that safe and adequate arrangements can be made for students to return home.

If that is impossible the school will inform affected parents that their children will remain in school until it is safe to release them or until a parent or designated responsible adult picks them up. Students will not be sent home on school buses once a Signal 8 or above has been hoisted.

Lowering of signals:

When a typhoon signal is lowered to Signal 3 (or Signal 1 for kindergartens and JCSRS) or all signals are cancelled, all schools will open on the next school day.

If the signal is lowered or cancelled before 10.30 am, the afternoon session of kindergartens will proceed as usual and the school buses will operate (unless EDB announces that kindergartens are to close).

Heavy Persistent Rain

The Amber, Red, Black Warnings are independent of other warnings e.g. landslip or typhoon warnings.

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Schools will not allow students to return home, including on a school bus when a Red or Black Warning is issued.

In these circumstances, children may only be released to a parent or designated responsible adult if requested by a parent to do so. Schools will not request parents to come to school to collect their children in dangerous conditions.

If school buses can be arranged when the relevant signals are lowered, then they should run. If not, the school must advise parents (or designated responsible adult) to collect their children from school.

Each school will have a contingency plan to cover inclement weather conditions and shall advise parents so that procedures are fully understood by all concerned.

Schools that lie in areas prone to flooding or landslips will monitor conditions and take the necessary precautionary measures. When in doubt, parents should consult the school website for clarification on arrangements in inclement weather. 

When relevant observatory signals are lowered, the emergency notices will be removed from websites, indicating a business as usual situation.


External Examinations

It should not be assumed that the above procedures will hold for those taking external examinations e.g. GCSE, A Level or International Baccalaureate Diploma.

  • Parents will be advised about contingency plans for extreme weather by the schools in their communications to parents on examination arrangements. Parents are advised to keep these arrangements easily available should such conditions arise. All schools will follow common procedures for each session of such examinations.

  • In extreme weather please do not telephone your child’s school unless it is absolutely necessary.

  • Please refer to the ESF or College website.


Emergency Evacuation / Lockdown

Discovery College has very robust systems in place to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors. Practice drills for Emergency Evacuations and/or Lockdowns are held each term so that staff and students know what to do in the case of a real emergency. These drills are often held without warning in order to gauge our preparedness and improve our procedures (if necessary).


Emergency Evacuation

The signal for an Emergency Evacuation will be the continuous ringing of the bell. Emergency Evacuations will be carried out in cases of fire, gas leaks, bomb threats, or other emergency situations where it is deemed that safety will be enhanced by moving from the school building to the emergency assembly area, located on the Foreshore.


If it is deemed unsafe to use the Foreshore, Siena Park between Discovery College and Club Siena will be used. Parents and others who arrive at the school will be directed to gather outside Club Siena. 



The signal for a Lockdown will be the stop-start ringing of the bell. Other instructions may be given as required. 


Lockdowns will be carried out in situations where it is deemed that staff, student and visitor safety will be enhanced by remaining in rooms. This could include threats both outside and inside of the school.


The signal to end the Lockdown will be the continuous ringing of the bell for 3-5 seconds.


Hot weather procedures

During the summer months, the relative heat index is used to determine when the environment for outdoor activities poses an increased risk for heat-related emergencies. The index takes into account both temperature and humidity to determine the ‘relative’ temperature


Medical guidelines

College Health Professional
The College health professional is an integral part of the College staff and community. Their role is to provide medical support to students in the College and promote health in the curriculum. 



  • If there are any changes to your child’s medical circumstances, these changes should be updated via parent Gateway > Admin > Change Request > Medical Information. 

  • The nurse provides medical emergency intervention and assistance with incidental injuries such as cuts and grazes. The nurse does not provide medicine or diagnose illnesses.

  • Parents should inform staff if they have concerns regarding their child’s health when the child comes to school. 

  • Parents will be informed by staff if they consider a child to be unwell when the child comes to school. Parents should not send their child to school if they have a temperature over 37.5°C. 

  • Students should remain at home for an additional 48 hours once the fever and symptoms subsided. 

  • Students should remain at home for an additional 48 hours if they have been vomiting or having diarrhea symptoms more than 2 times within a 24 hours window.

  • Students should remain at home If they have any communicable diseases such as conjunctivitis, hand, foot and mouth disease, etc. Parents must obtain a confirmation from their doctor that students are fully recovered and supply a medical certificate to the school nurse before attending classes.



Procedure for attending the medical room

  • If a child is slightly unwell in class, the teacher will send the child to the medical room. The nurse will inform the teacher of their actions. If the child is seriously ill, the nurse can be called to the classroom. 

  • If the child is slightly unwell on the playground, the teacher or assistant on duty will send the child to the medical room. The nurse will inform the teacher of their actions. If the child is seriously ill, the nurse can be called to the playground. 

  • The nurse will inform the parents of their actions when necessary. 

  • Medical intervention will be recorded by the nurse in Gateway. 


Procedure for administering medicine

We encourage parents and physicians to minimize the prescribing of medication to be taken during the school day. Medications will be expected to be given before and after school hours when possible. Only the nurse administers medicine within the school premises. If your child requires medication in school, please adhere to the following guidelines: 

  • A completed Medication Authorisation Form must be submitted to the school before medication can be administered. The Medication Authorisation Form is available for download on Gateway or from the medical room.

  • Only medication prescribed by a doctor will be administered. A note, in English, should be received from the doctor to the effect that it is necessary for the child to take medication during school hours.

  • Any medication should be brought to school by the parent or parent’s representative. It should be delivered personally to the school nurse or class teacher. The medication should not be given to the bus escort.

  • Medications must be clearly labelled in English with contents, child’s name, dosage, and frequency.

  • Medication will not be sent home with a child. An adult must collect from the school where there is an excess of medication sent.

  • The school does not assume responsibility for any reactions that may occur following administration of medication sent from home, nor can there be any responsibility assumed if the parent does not send sufficient medication.

  • A long-term medication form is available for download on Gateway or from the medical room and should be completed at the beginning of each school year for medications used long-term, e.g. inhalers and EpiPens.


Procedure requiring external intervention / hospitalisation

  • When an accident occurs requiring medical intervention beyond the capability of the nurse, the College will attempt to reunite parents/guardians and children as soon as possible. Parents will be informed immediately of the situation and will be advised regarding the next steps.

  • Where a parent is unavailable or cannot be contacted, decisions on medical intervention will be based on the available knowledge and in the best interests of the child. 

  • Where a parent holds strong views against medical intervention based on religion, s/he must inform the College in writing and agree with the school nurse on alternative arrangements. The parent must also sign a waiver of the College’s responsibility for not intervening medically as normally required.

  • It is important that parents update all medical information on Gateway.



Within the Discovery College Community, we have several individuals with severe allergies. These allergies may lead to anaphylaxis. This is a rapidly progressive allergic reaction that is potentially life-threatening. Common allergens in school-aged students are nuts, sesame products, and shellfish.

As a result, the College operates as a complete PEANUT-free area. In addition, some year groups, areas, or situations may be asked to operate with further restrictions on products based on the medical needs of adults and students using these spaces or involved in these activities. Your support is greatly appreciated as it will assist us in ensuring we have minimised the risk to the students of concern. 

Head lice

  • It is important NOT to send your child to school if they are infested with head lice.

  • Parents should inform the teacher/nurse if their child has head lice.

  • If your child is found to have head lice during school hours, the nurse will inform you to come and collect them.

  • Once your child has received treatment and all eggs are removed, they can return to school.


Contacting parents

  • If a child is unwell or has a temperature over 37.5°C and needs to go home, the school will contact the parents/guardians. The College will not send a child home with anyone unless a parent or emergency contact has been contacted first. If unable to contact a parent/guardian then emergency contacts will be contacted.

  • It is the parents’ responsibility to keep their contact information with the College updated at all times.


We request the cooperation of all parents to help the school in maintaining a healthy environment.


Discovery Foreshore

The Discovery Foreshore comprises two artificially turfed football/rugby pitches. This has been a joint effort by Discovery College, the DB Community, Hong Kong Resorts International Ltd., and DB City Management. Inquiries for the use of this space by sports clubs, community groups, etc., are invited. All bookings are managed through Discovery College. The Discovery Foreshore is also open for casual use by the community if not

booked by groups.


Discovery Foreshore rules:

  • Everyone entering the sports field must comply with the posted rules.

  • No pets, except guide dogs for the vision impaired, are allowed in the playing area at any time.

  • Booking for the use of the playing field between the hours of 7 am-7 pm daily including weekends, must be made in advance through Discovery College. Please contact our office on 3969 1000.

  • No food is allowed without prior approval from the College.

  • Smoking is strictly prohibited.

  • No drinks, except capped bottled water.

  • No cycling, skateboards, or scooters.

  • Spitting, urinating and gum disposal are prohibited.

  • Participants using the sports area must wear sports shoes. Spiked footwear is prohibited.

  • Be respectful of neighbours by keeping noise levels to a minimum.

  • All persons using the field outside of regular booked activities do so at their own risk. Discovery College can not be held responsible for any accidents or injuries.


Facilities rental


At Discovery College we have areas that are available to be hired for a range of activities, including our library, primary sports hall, main gym, Discovery Foreshore (see above), performing arts theatre, black box theatre, swimming pool, Senior Student centre, playground areas, food technology room, dance studio, and classrooms. 


For further information, please contact our Front office on 3969 1000 during office hours 8 am-4.30 pm or visit > Contact Us > Facility Hire for more information.



Parents should understand that according to the Education Development Bureau (EDB) guidelines, ESF’s group personal accident insurance policy covers each student against accidental death / permanent disability; however, medical expenses are not covered. 


We recommend that parents have a fully comprehensive medical cover for their children to cover any medical expenses they may incur.


We also recommend that parents have insurance cover for any valuables, including laptops, that students bring into the College.


Money & valuables

Students are advised not to bring valuable items or large sums of money to school. The College accepts no responsibility for personal property brought to school by students.


Lost property 

All lost property will be placed in the lost property cabinet next to the security booth. Items can be collected at any time. Parents are required to name all property including lunch boxes and drink bottles. If items are not collected within ONE MONTH they will be disposed of. 


ESF Electronic Payment System


Discovery College uses an electronic payment facility to handle all miscellaneous fees (e.g. CCAs, Cobra sports, excursions, camps, PTA fees, etc). This facility can be accessed via the ESF Gateway on the internet and is used by all ESF/ESL schools. 


Each student is assigned a personal eWallet account. Discovery College then notifies parents of the cost of an activity and parents can choose one of the three methods below to settle the payment.



Parents can use Paypal or PPS to transfer funds into their child’s eWallet. During the course of the year payments for excursions, PTA fees and other expenses will be deducted from the balance of the account. The eWallet can be topped up at any

time or if you prefer to settle payments as they occur there is no need to top up the wallet.



Parents can sign up for a new or use an existing PayPal account to pay school-issued invoices directly by credit card/Paypal balance or to add funds to their child’s eWallet account.



Parents can sign up for a new or use an existing PPS account to pay school-issued invoices directly or to add funds to their child’s eWallet account.


Parental permission is sought from parents before any money is requested and parents are notified of any deduction made from a child’s eWallet account. Invoices must be settled in order of issue date. If you have outstanding earlier invoices you will not be able to settle later invoices until the earlier invoices are paid.


The Payment system allows parents to check their child’s account balance, transaction history, and top-up records and also allows parents to transfer money from one child’s account to another (if you have more than one child at the College).


Please refer to the chart on the following page for the suggested approximate costs per year level to cover anticipated expenses for the 2021-22 academic year. These amounts have been compiled from previous years’ activities as a guide.


For further information, visit > Current Parents > ESF Payment System


Please note that no cash or cheques will be accepted. 

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Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS)

The FAS is accessible to students of ESF Schools and Private Independent Schools (PIS):

  • who have encountered sudden and unexpected changes of circumstances within the last 12 months.

  • following the death of a parent, tuition fees relief for 3 months will be granted.

  • In the absence of “sudden and unexpected” change of circumstances, financial assistance will be considered provided that:

    • the family has 2 or more students currently studying in ESF schools, and

    • one of whom has been studying in an ESF school continuously for 5 years or more, and

    • the family has good tuition fees payment history, and

    • the family’s income and assets level pass the means test

For Discovery College families, the funding is provided through the College’s Scholarship Fund. Financial assistance is not normally granted in the first year of admission. The scheme is intended to ease parent’s financial difficulties regarding school fees and, if approved, will make no reference to the academic achievement that a student has to attain.

Please note that the annual Non-refundable Building Levy (NBL) is included in the means tests as part of compulsory school fees.

For further information and to download the Guidance Notes and Application Form, please visit the ESF website and/or contact ESF Billing Section at


Visitors to the College 

For the safety of students, all visitors to the College including parents, must enter through security at the front entrance to the College and proceed to the main reception. 


Visits from former DC students 

We acknowledge that when students have been a member of DC and then move overseas to another school, they may on occasion wish to visit the College and feel the sense of

community they had here. As such, we want to honour this while not impacting the learning of the students currently in the school. 


Thus, former students who returned from overseas are asked to do the following

  • request from the Head of Primary/Secondary or VP Primary/Secondary, at least one day in advance, of their wish to come into school. An email will be sent confirming whether this is convenient.

  • only be in school during the designated primary or secondary lunchtime: 

    • Primary 12.30-1.25pm

    • Secondary 1.30-2.10pm

  • on arrival, sign in at the security to get a visitor’s pass. The front office staff will ask for a member of the Primary or Secondary Leadership Team to come and say hello at this time

  • while in the school, adhere to our school rules

  • return the visitor’s pass when leaving

ESF’s approach to handling substance misuse matters involving students

The approach outlined below is based on the ESF Substance Misuse Policy.


ESF is committed to creating an environment in which students are able to make well-informed, positive choices in avoiding substance misuse. We prioritise safety and wellbeing in learning, and we provide substance education that helps students to live healthy lives.


Substance Misuse

ESF considers the following to be substance misuse and prohibits them at all times, both on site and during any school activity:

● Possession, consumption and/or supply of alcohol

● Possession, consumption and/or supply of tobacco and related products (including e-cigarettes/vaporisers)

● Possession, consumption and/or the supply of dangerous drugs

● The supply, possession and/or consumption of medicines for which permission by SLT/School Nurse has not been granted

● Possession and/or supply of drug paraphernalia

● Involvement in the supply of dangerous drugs or drug paraphernalia


Investigation and Intervention

Schools may investigate situations in which suspicions or allegations of a student breach of the ESF Substance Misuse Policy arise. During such an investigation, schools may require students to submit to a search of their belongings. Schools may also, during such an investigation and/or as part of an ongoing behavioural agreement, require a student to undergo drug testing using procedures

determined by the ESF.


Parents wishing their child to undergo a drug test may approach their child’s school for advice.


Based on the outcomes of an investigation into suspected or alleged substance misuse, a school may determine interventions for a student that include, but are not limited to, the following:

● Facilitating access to medical and/or counselling services

● Additional substance education

● Seeking input from relevant professionals

● Establishing a behavioural agreement

● Contacting the police

● Suspension and/or exclusion according to the provisions of the ESF Suspension and Exclusion Policy


In some cases, schools may initiate interventions including those listed above where actions by a student that have occurred off site affect the good order and management of one or more ESF schools and/or there is a risk to the health and safety of one or more members of the ESF community.


Enrolment Requirement

It is a requirement of enrolment of their child at an ESF school that parents of an ESF student ensure their child complies with ESF’s approach to handling substance misuse matters.