Education and Schools in London
London’s schools vary tremendously in terms of the standard of education and the quality of the facilities they offer. As a general rule of thumb, the better schools tend to be in the more affluent areas of the city.
State schools (public) and independent schools (private) are the two main types of institutions in London.
Public schools in London
State schools are run by the government, follow the national curriculum and give priority to pupils resident in the catchment area. This means that expats should consider where they want to have their child schooled when choosing an area or suburb in London to set up home in.
The best place to start when looking for a local school is on the internet. Parents can use a school finder online and input a postcode to find all the schools near their home.
Expat children aged between 5 and 16 years old who are dependants of a person who is legally allowed to live in the country are entitled to the same education rights as British children. Namely, they can attend state primary and secondary schools in the UK free of charge.
Private schools in London
Independent schools are privately run, charge high fees and usually offer a superior standard of education along with facilities for students to pursue a variety of extra-curricular activities. Most private schools in London follow the National English Curriculum, but some have introduced the International Baccalaureate programme as an option for education after the age of 16. Some private schools teach through a religious lens, such as Christianity, or using an alternative education philosophy, such as Montessori.
International schools in London
A third option, popular with expats, are international schools in London. These institutions offer the opportunity for students to continue with the curriculum of their home country, and as an added advantage, the familiar modes and language used for instruction can also be comforting for expat children.
Expats should be warned, though, that fees for these schools run high – particularly so for international schools with a good reputation. There may also be additional costs for things like uniforms, school lunches and extra-curricular activities.