In this blog post, we give you an insight into how the UK’s school system is structured, securing a UK school place and some top tips on how to pick the best school for your child and their needs.
The UK Government’s education spend is the second-largest of public service spending in the UK, behind healthcare – representing around £91 billion in 2018-19, equivalent to 4.2% of national income.
With over 30,000 schools to choose from in the UK – you can confidently relocate knowing that your children with have access to excellent education, regardless of whether they go to a state or independent school.
Understanding the UK’s School System
First and foremost, it’s important to know that the UK’s state school system is free! So, no matter what your gender, background or sex is – your child will have access to education whilst living in the United Kingdom.
In most parts of the UK, it’s the law for children to start full-time school from the first September after their 4th birthday. They’ll then move onto secondary school education the first September following their 11th birthday.
Once they reach their 16th birthday, the following June they’ll be able to leave school but they must stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday. This can either be sixth form, college or a work-based apprenticeship.
When it comes to the specific school types, there are a number of different types of schools from academies, free schools, grammar schools, faith schools, independent schools to boarding schools.
What age do I need to apply for their school place?
After nursery (aged 2—3), the first stage of school in the UK is called Reception! They will then go onto year’s 1-2 (infants school) 3-6 (junior school) 7-11 (secondary school) 12-13 (sixth form or college).
To help you understand what school you should apply for, at what age, we have created the following table…
|Age||Type of School Applying to:||Application Date|
|4||Infants School||The January before the September your child is due to go to reception school|
|6||Junior School||It most cases, your child will just automatically move from the infants to secondary school|
|10||Secondary School||The October before the September your child is due to go to secondary school|
|16||Sixth Form||Most teenagers will stay on and go to the sixth form in their school. However, if this isn’t available or they want to move – they’ll need to apply to a different school or college|
Of course, any applications received after these deadlines will still be processed but only after all on-time applications have been completed and so, your preferred school may no longer be available to choose from.
As a healthcare professional relocating from abroad, it’s likely that you may not relocate during the school holidays. So, you’ll need to have a look round the schools available and use your local council to apply for your school of choice! These applications are known as ‘in-year admissions’ and will be processed within a few weeks. It’s important to note that they’ll consider both your preference and school spaces available.
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Where do I look for schools in my area?
The most logical place to start would be the Gov.uk website. Here, you can view the types of schools available in your area, view the national curriculum, the school admissions process, school-term and holiday dates to finding the safest route for your child to get to school.
How do I know which UK school is best for my child?
When it comes to choosing the perfect school, there are a number of ways to create a school shortlist. Of course, first and foremost you need to work out how far you’re willing to travel to take your child to school…
Next, you should compare each school’s facts, figures, league tables and exam results which again can all be found on the Gov.uk website.
The third step will be to use the inspection reports by Ofsted – an independent schools inspectorate.
That being said, you should always prioritise visiting the school in person to listen to the pupils, teachers and if there’s an open day – talk to the parents who may already have children at the school and get their opinion!