As a world city, and the centre of British Education, London offers many options for international expats moving with school-aged children. State schools (meaning free, public schools), private English schools, and private International schools are the main options available.
The choice used to be fairly simple: if they had the budget, expats would send their children to a Private school. If they didn’t, it would be a State School.
However a recent trend has shown that there are now many more factors playing a role in the decision on the type of school, outside of the mere budget criteria:
- Location: there are state schools everywhere in London. Private schools can be more selective, therefore reducing the choice of potential locations when choosing an area to live in.
- Environment: some parents will favour schools with a lot of expat children, others will favour more “local” schools to give their children the most “British” environment possible.
- Education: British education vs. International Baccalaureate – this is the choice that parents who can afford a private school will be faced with (a good choice, that is!)
- Housing: rental properties located in the catchment area of an excellent state school will require a price premium. Most private schools don’t have a geographical catchment area, leaving parents with potentially more housing options.
- Timing: at what time of the year the application is made can play a role in the availability of spaces, both in state and private schools.
There isn’t a “One Size fits all” choice for schools and education in London.
The most important is to weigh all the choices and criteria, and keep as many options open as possible.
At Simply London, we call it a “School Strategy”, which says it all. It can sound daunting, but with the right priorities and choices, our experience is that there is always a good option available for the family’s situation.