Applying to Schools in the UK

Differences between State, International and Independent included!

 By: Ann Dinsdale, GMS,

*This article is the sixth part of an 8 part series on the UK schooling system.  See the foot of this article for links to the other 7 parts.*

Moving to UK Schools

Next up in our UK Schooling series is how to apply to schools and some of the differences in the process between state, international and independent schools.

Some things to remember are that it’s really never too early to start your search.  As we’ve covered in the previous parts of this series there are so many factors to consider it can take quite a bit of time! 

Also be thinking about the end point.  Is there any chance your contract could be extended in the UK?  When the assignment is over, will you go back to your home country or move on to a completely different one?  Questions like these should factor into your decision because, for example, if you think you’ll move onto another foreign country you may want to consider streamlining your child’s education by enrolling them in an International school for continuity of curriculum.  

State Schools

Each council will have their own rules about when an application can be made and what supporting documents are required.  So once you’ve done your research and some visits, take a look at the council’s website in the area(s) you’re interested in.

Deadlines for applications State schools are typically as follows:

  • Entry to Primary School
    • Early in the January before the September in which child is due to start school
  • Entry to Secondary School
    • End of October of the year before entry
  • Applications after deadlines will still be processed but after all of the ‘on-time’ ones.

Entry into all other year groups can apply at any point in the school year through the local authority.

Keep in mind that Academies are independent of local-authority control when it comes to their application process and that Grammar schools select pupils on the basis of performance in their 11-plus exams.  Some also have a location catchment area!

International Schools

The processes start to vary with International schools.  Because many of the pupils move with their parent’s work assignments, selection is oftentimes based on previous school records and teachers recommendations.  The school may also require a certain level of ability in English or whatever the predominant language is.

We’ve also seen that International schools will ask for prospective students to registered with their school in advance of making their application – including paying a non-refundable hefty fee.

Independent Schools

Independent schools are entirely outside of government control and therefore have varied admissions criteria and dates.  Some require entrance exams, interviews with the family or simply are based on a first-come, first-served basis.

Just like the international schools, oftentimes the school will require registering and paying a fee before the application will even be considered. 

A positive of the independents is the lack of a geographical catchment area or restriction, therefore opening up your home finding search to a larger range of locations!

It’s always important to plan your move overseas carefully, especially if you have children.  There are many things you need to cover at both ends of the move.  People moving abroad make big mistakes by failing to get good, independent advice and support.

As international relocation specialists, the experts at Saunders 1865 – The VIP Relocation Company – can help you avoid making the common mistakes and we can make sure you accomplish everything that needs to be done around:

  • Helping parents navigate the complex education systems
  • Relieving parents’ worries about finding the right schools & securing places
  • Providing a quick & efficient service that saves time & provides independent, objective advice

Why not arrange a free consultation with one of our relocation experts today?  Just message us using this Contact Form