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As an expat family, are State Schools a good option?

As the Education Specialist at Simply London, a number of my clients often ask me the same question: what type of school would be the best for my children, State (free) or Independent (private)?

Some families will favour the Independent system for its qualities which can be small classes, vast range of activities, good pastoral care and access to prestigious 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 or because nowadays you can really find amazing State School in London which could rival with prestigious Independent ones, for free.

The two systems have obviously their pros and cons but I would say there will be a huge difference if we are talking about Primary or Secondary schools.

From my experience, I am always happy to recommend State schools as an option to expat children in Primary Years Groups.

In London, there would be few problems to find a Primary State of good quality.

The answer would be completely different for Secondary.

In this case, a State Secondary school choice would not be my first choice for the following reasons (all reason based on my experience with previous families):

–          The In-Year application process makes it a bit of a gambling, meaning that you will never be sure to get a place in the coveted school.

–           The best Secondary schools in London are 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 be difficult for an expat newcomer to settle well.

–          The support for English as an additional language is not so good in State Secondary schools, meaning that your child won’t be able to cope if his/her English is not good enough.

Not getting the right school right away can really put at risk the academic results of your child but most importantly his/her happiness.

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.


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