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A guide to securing a UK school place as an international healthcare professional

A guide to securing a UK school place as an international healthcare professional

Nov 2, 2020.

In this blog post, we give you an insight into how the UK’s school system is structured, securing a UK school place and some top tips on how to pick the best school for your child and their needs.

The UK Government’s education spend is the second-largest of public service spending in the UK, behind healthcare – representing around £91 billion in 2018-19, equivalent to 4.2% of national income.

With over 30,000 schools to choose from in the UK – you can confidently relocate knowing that your children with have access to excellent education, regardless of whether they go to a state or independent school.

Understanding the UK’s School System

First and foremost, it’s important to know that the UK’s state school system is free! So, no matter what your gender, background or sex is – your child will have access to education whilst living in the United Kingdom.

In most parts of the UK, it’s the law for children to start full-time school from the first September after their 4th birthday. They’ll then move onto secondary school education the first September following their 11th birthday. 

Once they reach their 16th birthday, the following June they’ll be able to leave school but they must stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday. This can either be sixth form, college or a work-based apprenticeship.

When it comes to the specific school types, there are a number of different types of schools from academies, free schools, grammar schools, faith schools, independent schools to boarding schools.

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What age do I need to apply for a UK school place?

After nursery (aged 2—3), the first stage of school in the UK is called Reception! They will then go onto year’s 1-2 (infants school) 3-6 (junior school) 7-11 (secondary school) 12-13 (sixth form or college).

To help you understand what school you should apply for, at what age, we have created the following table…

AgeType of School Applying to:Application Date
4Infants SchoolThe January before the September your child is due to go to reception school
6Junior SchoolIt most cases, your child will just automatically move from the infants to secondary school
10Secondary SchoolThe October before the September your child is due to go to secondary school
16Sixth FormMost teenagers will stay on and go to the sixth form in their school. However, if this isn’t available or they want to move – they’ll need to apply to a different school or college

Of course, any applications received after these deadlines will still be processed but only after all on-time applications have been completed and so, your preferred school may no longer be available to choose from.

As a healthcare professional relocating from abroad, it’s likely that you may not relocate during the school holidays. So, you’ll need to have a look round the schools available and use your local council to apply for your school of choice! These applications are known as ‘in-year admissions’ and will be processed within a few weeks. It’s important to note that they’ll consider both your preference and UK school places available.

Where do I look for schools in my area?

The most logical place to start for a UK school place would be the website. Here, you can view the types of schools available in your area, view the national curriculum, the school admissions process, school-term and holiday dates to finding the safest route for your child to get to school.

How do I know which UK school is best for my child?

When it comes to choosing the perfect school, there are a number of ways to create a school shortlist. Of course, first and foremost you need to work out how far you’re willing to travel to take your child to school…

Next, you should compare each school’s facts, figures, league tables and exam results which again can all be found on the website.

The third step will be to use the inspection reports by Ofsted – an independent schools inspectorate.

That being said, you should always prioritise visiting the school in person to listen to the pupils, teachers and if there’s an open day – talk to the parents who may already have children at the school and get their opinion!

Relocating to the UK with a family is a very exciting yet stressful change, for everyone! It’s important that you work with a Recruitment Agency like ID Medical that is on hand to provide you with dedicated support, every step of the way! We are proud to share that we have a dedicated settlement team on hand to help you navigate the UK school system and help you find the perfect UK school place for your children!