Persons relocating to the UK are often confused about how the UK school system works, and whether their children are eligible to attend a UK state-funded school or not.
Breytenbachs has subsequently compiled a short guidance for overseas parents to provide some insight into the UK school system.
Admission to UK state-funded school for overseas children
In most cases, children from overseas have the right to attend state-funded schools in England. A child may not be refused a school place simply because of doubts about his or her immigration status.
The following children are however NOT entitled to a UK state education;
- Children from non-EEA countries who are in the UK as short-term visitors, such as tourists or persons visiting relatives.
- The children from non-EEA countries who have permission to study in the UK. Children, in this case, are allowed to study in England on the basis that they have to attend an independent fee-paying school.
You are also very welcome to contact Breytenbachs Immigration and speak to your consultant about your visa stipulations.
UK Private Schools
All children (see exclusions above) from the age of 5 to 16 years old are entitled to a free place in a state school. This is where most parents choose to send their children. Some who can afford the fees of a Private school do send their children to Private schools.
Private Schools are also known as independent schools, and charge fees for children to attend these schools, as opposed to being funded by the UK Government.
Private schools do not have to follow the national curriculum, but have to be registered with the government and are regularly inspected.
If you are interested to find out more about Private Schools in the UK, we suggest the following links;
School Terms in the UK
Schools in the UK run their academic year from early September to Mid-July. Each year is broken up into 3 terms, and each term is divided in half. The Autumn terms run from early September to mid-December ( the Half term is late October), Spring term runs from Easter to mid-July with half term falling in late May or early June.
Find out more about the UK School Terms
Types of UK Schools
The Nursery is for children from as young as a few weeks to 3 years old.
These are generally privately run schools (though there, are State run ones as well), as such they run 51 weeks of the year, bar inset days and bank holidays. From the age of 2 – 4 your child may be entitled to funding from the Government for part time placement.
Nursery classes are attached to Primary Schools. They have separate buildings and playgrounds but share the same head teacher and staff. They follow the Early Years Foundation Curriculum.
These schools are for children from 4- 11 years old. They currently follow the Early Years Foundation Curriculum, moving on to Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum.
These are schools for children from 11 to 16 or 18. These schools follow the Key stages 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum.
Sixth Form Colleges
These institutions cater for Young people from 16 to 19 years old. Here the students do their A levels and other certificates that are accessible after the age of 16.
Most schools are SEN equipped, and as part of the English Schooling Ethos/ Values, children with special needs are mainstreamed as much as possible. The schools may even be equipped enough to have the Professionals’ needed to work the care plan for the child visits them in the school environment.
Deciding on a UK school for your child
When deciding on a UK school for your child, it might be worth your while to check out league tables and evaluation by the UK Government body, OFSTED.
These tables show test and exam results for all schools. They’re published annually by the government’s Department of Education . You can then compare the schools you favor and use the information to help you make a decision.
League tables list the following for parents:
- Key Stage 2 test results for all state primary schools.
- GCSE results for all state and independent schools.
- AS and A level results for all schools and sixth form colleges.
The UK Government body OFSTED
The Government body, OFSTED regularly check and evaluate all UK schools. It is OFSTED’s job to make sure that the schools are safe and regulated to government requirements. They do this by carrying out regular inspections and grading the schools. These inspection reports are available online, where they deal with the following.
- achievements and standards;
- pupils’ development and well-being;
- the quality of teaching and learning;
- how the curriculum is taught;
- the care, guidance, and support the school provides; and
- how well the school is led and managed.
OFSTED Judgements are scored on a four-point scale:
1 – outstanding, 2 – good, 3 – satisfactory and 4 – inadequate.
The OFSTED report will also make suggestions for improvement, and the school is expected to put the suggestions into practice.
Tips on choosing the best UK school for your child
- Join as many forums as you can. Facebook caters to all areas in the UK, and there are even groups for separate Boroughs. Mumsnet is a good forum as well.
- While searching for schools, it is best to remember that places fill quickly in the UK and you need to make sure you know the process. To this end use the Local Education Prospectus booklet published by your school of choice, or order it online from your local authority. Alternatively, your local Town Hall or Library may have copies.
- Remember that your local authority manages the admissions for all state schools, so you need to be in communication with them. You also need to fill in a common schools application form, which you obtain from your local authority.
- You can appeal if you are not happy with the places offered to your child.
- Once you have an idea of the schools you want your child to attend, make a point to visit the school to see it with your own eyes and form your own opinions.
- Research the schools online, use Google reviews, as well as running your own searches.
- Use the OFSTED site, as they inspect the schools once every 3 years or sooner if there has been a complaint.
- Ask the staff (right down to the assistants and even the cleaners in the classrooms) questions.
- Last but not the least, trust your instinct!
Applying for a place at a UK State School
It is possible to apply for a place at state school online or by using your local council’s application form.
Nursery Schools – for children under 5 years of age.