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State primary vs. State secondary schools

State schools are increasingly popular among expat families looking for the great British education at no cost, in particular when there are several children.

However, state schools might not be the best option for every child, depending on which school year they are looking to start in.

To start with: why state schools (over private schools)?

Families attracted by the State school system would favour it because:

  • they want their children to be raised in a more mixed social environment
  • you can really find amazing State Schools in London which could rival with prestigious Independent ones
  • they are free

Differences between State Primary and State Secondary schools

From our experience, we are usually happy to recommend State schools as an option for children in Primary school. In London, there would be few issues finding a primary state school of good quality – there are dozens of them.

The answer would be completely different for Secondary.

In our experience, and provided as a family you can afford private school fees, a State Secondary school would not be our first choice for the following reasons (all reasons based on our previous experience with clients):

  • The In-Year application process makes it a bit of a gambling, meaning that you will never be sure to get a place in your preferred school.
  • The best Secondary state schools in London are mostly oversubscribed, and more than often religious schools (Roman Catholic or Church of England) with drastic admissions criteria regarding the applicant’s faith.
  • The Secondary State schools are in general huge, with an average of 1000+ pupils. It can make it more difficult for an expat newcomer to settle in.

This doesn’t mean that Secondary State Schools should not be considered at all – there are very good ones (in particular Grammar Schools, although these are selective with an entrance exam), but it might be a consideration to transition through a private secondary school first, or, for a family with several children, to prioritise the choice of a private school for the older children.

So if you are a prospective expat family, always take the time to discuss education matters with an education specialist, who will be able to advise you on making the right choice for your child, because each family and each child is different.

Download the free guide to State Schools in London!

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