At present there are around 2,500 independent and private schools in the UK. With this huge number, it can be a very daunting task choosing the perfect school for you or your child. Below are a few important points to consider before making your choice:
Should I choose a single sex or co-ed school?
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you would prefer a single sex school (just boys or girls) or a co-ed school (boys and girls together). There are many advantages and disadvantages of both, for example many people believe that students concentrate better in a single sex school but co-ed schools can enhance social skills. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong – it just depends on your personal preference.
Should I choose a boarding school or day school?
In a boarding school, students live and study in the school whereas in a day school, students study in the school but return home or to a host family in the evening. You can find out more information about the pros and cons of boarding and day schools in this article.
Where is the school located?
The location of the school is a very important factor to consider. If you are currently living in the UK, you may want to find a school located close to your home. If this is not the case, you could find a school anywhere in the UK. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- Do I want a school in England, Wales or Scotland? (The school system is slightly different in England and Scotland.)
- Do I want a school near a river, lake or the sea?
- Do I want a school close to a busy town or in a quiet rural area?
To help with your search, you can check our school list which shows many of the UK’s top schools listed by area.
Does the school compare well to other schools?
There are many websites that use a ranking system to put UK schools in a certain order, for example, the percentage of top GCSE and A-level scores achieved by the students each year. The rankings we find most reliable are the Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph UK Independent School Rankings. You can find a list of our recommended schools here.
Does the school offer the course I want?
Although most independent and private schools offer similar courses, you may want to find a school which specialises in certain subjects, especially if you/your child is choosing GCSE or A-level subjects soon. Additionally, there are schools which teach all courses but focus on specific subjects (e.g. Maths or Science) so if you/your child has a particular strength, it may be best to find a specialist school in order for you to thrive.
What are the schools’ entry requirements?
All schools have a standard that they require students to meet in order to offer them a place. This usually depends on the student’s previous school grades and current academic level, as well as the student’s level of English if they are a non-native speaker. Every school has different entry requirements so you need to make sure you choose one that you/your child is likely to gain a place into.
What facilities and services does the school have?
If you/your child is interested in a particular sport or activity (e.g. badminton, horse-riding, canoeing), you may want to find a school that offers this, either as part of the programme or as an extra-curricular activity. In addition, some schools may offer special services, e.g. flexible entry dates (starting in January/April as well as September) or short term stays.
Are there any other points I need to consider?
As well as the main points listed above, you also need to think about details such as:
- the teacher to student ratio (how many teachers are there per student in the school)
- the size of the classes (how many children there will be in each class)
- the international student ratio (how many non-native students there are in the school)
- academic achievement (the average exam scores that students achieve)
- students’ feedback (whether or not current/previous students were happy in the school)
How do I apply to a UK school?
Each school has a slightly different application process but most ask you to firstly complete an application form and pay a deposit. You/your child will possibly be asked to go to the school to complete an entrance exam and an interview. You will then be informed a few months later as to whether or not you have been successful.
Can I apply to more than one UK school at a time?
Yes, you can apply to as many schools as you wish, however you will need to complete the application steps above and pay a deposit to each school you apply to.
Do I have to find a UK school alone?
The good news is that you do not need to go through this complicated process alone. By booking our UK School Placement Service, we will do the hard work for you. We will work with you to find the best possible school for you/your child, we will arrange for you to visit schools and we will assist you with the application process. We also have contacts in many schools throughout the UK and can track your application.
We have been running our UK School Placement service since 2002 and we have successfully helped students to gain admission into top UK schools including Westminster School, Queen Ethelburga’s College, Wycombe Abbey School, Sevenoaks School and Concord College.