UK Education – Choosing a Pre school, primary, secondary, higher education, international, state school, independent, private
You may be anxious about how a move to the UK will affect your children’s education. The UK offers excellent educational opportunities for children of all ages, in both state-run and independent schools.
In the UK all children aged between five and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school.
However, many children below that age also attend nursery classes or playgroups in the state, voluntary or private sector. State nursery places are free for four-year-olds. For three-year-olds,
funding is at the discretion of local education authorities (LEAs), which are the bodies responsible for providing state education to pupils in their areas.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
In most areas children aged from five to 11 attend primary schools, which usually accept both boys and girls. From the age of 11 to 16 and beyond they attend secondary schools which may be either singlesex or co-educational. Over 90 per cent of pupils go to state schools.
In England and Wales there are four categories of mainstream state school:
3. Voluntary aided
4. Voluntary controlled
These differ in matters such as ownership of land and buildings and control of admissions. But all are self-managing and are funded by LEAs.
Within the four main categories, there are also:
1. Specialist schools (England only) which focus on a particular subject area.
2. Special schools for children with special educational needs.
Northern Ireland has three main categories of school:
2. Voluntary maintained
3. Voluntary grammar
Scotland also has three school categories:
2. Grant aided
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) gives contact details for all LEAs in
and also provides links to the Education Department websites of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
There are over 2,500 independent schools in the UK. Although they manage themselves, they are regularly inspected. Fees vary widely, depending on school type (day or boarding), pupil age range and location. You can obtain further information from the Independent Schools
CHOOSING A SCHOOL
There are several ways to obtain information before applying for a school place:
1. Visits to the school
2. Local authority booklets
3. The school brochure or prospectus
4. Performance tables published by the DCSF
5. Government inspectors’ reports
For further information visit the DCSF Parents’ Centre website for full details and useful links:
There are a number of international schools throughout the UK offering a variety of programmes such as standard US college-preparatory or a standard British programme leading
to GCE A levels, or a combination of both. Many offer an international curriculum – the Primary and Middle Years Programmes of the International Baccalaureate Organisation, followed by preparation for the diploma of the International Baccalaureate, a credential recognized worldwide for university entrance.
You can obtain further information from the European Council of International Schools at:
If your children have already completed their secondary education they can take advantage
of the UK’s world-renowned higher education sector. They can choose from an enormous number of courses, ranging from diplomas in specialist vocational programmes such as nursing, to degrees in all academic disciplines.
Higher education institutions in the UK range from small rural colleges to large city-based universities. Student numbers vary from under 1,000 in small colleges to more than 30,000 in large universities. Most first degree courses last three or four years. Some vocational courses such as medicine, dentistry and architecture are longer. Diploma courses in disciplines such as
engineering usually last two years. UK universities and colleges have a long history of welcoming
international students. Of the 2.2 million full-time and part-time students in the UK, over 300,000 are international students drawn from 180 countries.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) processes applications for places on most fulltime first degree and diploma courses. It holds up-to-date information on over 50,000 courses at 325 member institutions. For more information visit the UCAS website at: