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State primary vs. State secondary schools

State schools are increasingly popular among expat families looking for great British education at no cost, in particular when there are several siblings in the family, as private school fees can add up rapidly.However, state schools might not be the best option for every child, depending on which school year they are looking to start in.

Why choose 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 rival with prestigious Independent ones
  • state schools are free

Differences between State Primary and State Secondary schools

In 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.

However, the answer would be completely different for Secondary schools.

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 gamble, 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.

Public schools or Private schools for expats?

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.

Want to be fully prepared to find your next home in London? Buy and download our self-help guides!

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Guide to State Schools in London

All the information you need to find the right London State School for your child, and apply successfully: top state schools; when and how to apply; catchment areas; admission criteria; waiting lists; appeals; application websites for all London Boroughs.

Only £ 14.99

Guide to State and Private Schools in London

A practical guide to state and private schools in London: where the best schools are in London; school years and curriculum; applications process and timelines; application requirements; Special Education Needs, glossary of school terms.

Only £ 14.99

Guide to Private Schools in London

All the information you need to find the right London Private school for your child, and apply successfully: top private schools, cheapest private schools, boarding schools, international schools, British schools, school fees, bursaries, how and when to apply.

Only £ 14.99
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