How do I find a school when moving to the UK?
As a UK-based company, we are perfectly placed to help families return to or arrive in the UK for the first time. We have helped countless families find the perfect private schools for their children, and would be pleased to receive your call or email to arrange an initial free consultation.
Can I get my child into an "Outstanding" state school?
We do not support with state school applications, but the following should help outline the steps you will need to take.
1) Before you can apply, you will first need to have a confirmed residence (address) in the UK. You will need to be able to prove that you are renting or own the property.
2) You should then contact the Local Education Authority (LEA), which is obliged to provide your child with a school. School availability is determined by your home's location, which will fall into a "catchment area" for certain schools.
The catchment areas for excellent state schools will often have correspondingly inflated house prices or rental values. Furthermore, the best schools will usually be oversubscribed (i.e full and with a waiting list.) In short, it is very much a lottery, and you will be allocated whatever is available at the time of application.
You can of course try to reverse the process and contact appropriate LEAs before you have confirmed your address. However, some LEAs will be more helpful than others, and the situation can quickly change: A school which has an available place now may not do so by the time you have secured a suitable property.
As a result, unless you have an ample lead-in time of over a year, it is almost impossible to secure a place at an "outstanding" state school. Many families manage to secure "good" schools, particularly if they are moving to comparatively under-populated regions. However, those moving to somewhere like London can struggle due to the pressure on places, smaller school catchment areas, and greater disparity of quality between schools in very close proximity.
Can I find a place for my child in a top private school?
Due to the uncertainty of securing a satisfactory state school place, most families who relocate to the UK for work negotiate a private school-fee package with their employer and opt to send their children to a good private school.
Smaller class sizes, better facilities, and significantly stronger exam results all play a part in swaying families towards the private sector but, for relocating families, the outstanding benefit is the choice and control you will have. You will be able to apply for private schools prior to settling on your exact home location, and be as particular as you like with your preferences and priorities for your child's next school. Your child's educational destiny will be, to a much greater extent, back in your own hands, and you will be able to prioritise school choice before finalising your accommodation.
However, there remain two main obstacles for families who are relocating to the UK and need to find a private school for their child:
i) Most private schools require you to register well in advance - over a year and very often more than that. Unfortunately, most relocating families do not have the luxury of such notice, and are often working with just months to spare.
ii) There are also set "common" entrance points - particular school years where schools enrol a new cohort of students every September. You can find further information by reading About the UK School System.
Unless you are particularly fortunate, there is a strong chance you may need to apply for an "occasional place" outside of the regulation entry points. These can be few and far between at the better schools, even more so if you are looking to move to an area where local demand for private schools outweighs supply.
Of course, the incredibly broad and diverse provision of private schools in the UK means a solution can always be found.
So how can I find a find a top private school for my child?
Our top tips are as follows:
i) Try to be flexible on where you plan to live. Consider what commute you can manage.
ii) Have a good idea of your budget for both housing and schooling combined. You can balance the two out.
iii) Try to have an idea of your short and long term plans for your child's education here. Are you planning to settle, or will you be on the move again after a couple of years? Could you find a suitable school for now, then look to "upgrade" at sixth form, or another common entrance point? Might you need schools with optional boarding?
Let us help
Your children's education is usually the first major concern of a relocating family. If you resolve this as soon as possible, everything else will fall into place.
We offer a free initial phone consultation and can quickly help you understand how the land lies for your child(ren), the timelines and processes involved, and a suitable strategy.
If required, we can also introduce you to immigration and home/property relocation professionals.