Securing A Place In A UK Independent School

If you have children, it is important to begin addressing the issue of schooling prior to your departure, to ensure you and your family settle well at your destination.

Independent schools are fee paying schools. They can be single-sex or co-educational, start at any age between 4 and 18 years, can be day or boarding schools, large or small. They are independent in their finances and governance. They are funded by a combination of tuition charges, gifts and investments and are generally governed by a board of directors. All schools are registered and monitored by inspectorates approved by the Secretary of State and Ofsted.

For UK Independent Schooling, entrance is not restricted by where you live, unlike state schools.
Usually an interview is held, but if coming from abroad, this may not be necessary. There may be an academic assessment, particularly to those schools which perform particularly well at GCSE or A level. For entrance to senior schools there is usually an assessment, but this can simply be for ‘streaming’ purposes. Some schools look for high attainment in a particular area, such as sport, music, drama and/or art, while others simply want you to feel comfortable, and like the feel of the school.

Points to consider:

  • If there are places available and where you want to live.
  • Whether you can afford the fees. Costs vary dramatically from school to school and will increase as the child moves through the school. Boarding school fees can be considerably higher than the day fees (by more than 30%). School fees are typically lower in the North and for prep schools.
  • The environment you would like for your child(ren) e.g. single sex or co-educational,  religious affiliation, large or small school.
  • What the facilities are like for sports, music, drama, etc., and what the educational standard is.
  • What are the age ranges for the school? (i.e. a school that goes from 4-18 could be an excellent option to prevent having to move a child again during an assignment)
  • What is the family background / culture of pupils? (e.g. are there many expatriates / any children from the same country as you?)
  • What is the level of parental involvement? (e.g. is there a Parent/Teacher association to support the school)
  • What is your instinct about the school? How well did you get on with the staff?

Checklist for making an application:

  • Find out the specific admission procedure, as this can vary dramatically from school to school. Look at the websites and contact the school registrars directly by telephone – they are remarkable people who are always happy to give you an insight into the school.
  • A visit to the school is invaluable to make sure that it suits your child’s needs. They vary enormously and each has its own personality. A visit will give you (and your child) a proper feel for the school – how welcoming they are, what the facilities are like, what the teaching style is like and so on.
  • Meet all stated deadlines for submission of paperwork. Ensure the timeliness, completeness and accuracy of your admission document(s), or you may jeopardise your chance of securing a place.
  • Be prepared to compromise – the best private schools become very oversubscribed and can be difficult to get into. Independent schools offer a very good education, with the vast majority of pupils getting excellent examination results.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families needing school places for their children. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email