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The 5 steps to finding a private school in London

Whether you are moving from abroad to London, or you are already in London and your children are to start school soon, finding places in London private schools can be a daunting prospect.

If you are lucky enough to be able to afford the private school fees, congratulations. A world of excellent school options awaits you.

But, there are so many schools to choose from, and so many possible locations, that it can be difficult to know where to get started!

To give you a head start, you will find below the methodology that we use when helping clients find a private school in London for their children.

Step 1 – Define your “strategy”

There are two ways to go on about finding a private school in London:

  1. Finding the best possible schools in specific neighbourhoods, or
  2. Selecting the best possible schools, and then looking for the family home as close as possible.

If you already live in London, or already know where you will be living, a logical first step is to look at the school options closest to you home.

If you are still open about locations, we generally recommend that you narrow down your neighbourhoods options first, focusing your search on 2-3 areas, and the schools within these areas.

Or you might want to look at the top schools in London, and work out the rest. That can be a good strategy, although we would warn you that the top London schools are oversubscribed, and therefore the chances of obtaining a place can be quite low.

Being open to as many options as possible is always the best strategy for families, to avoid disappointment with oversubscribed schools.

Step 2 – Define what a good school is for your child

Before you start your research, don’t forget to define what a good school is for your child:

  • Academic level
  • Type of curriculum
  • Other pupils
  • Class sizes
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Anything else that is really important to you and your child

This will impact how you filter the various school options that will be available to you, and help you to narrow down these options efficiently.

Step 3 – Research the best private schools in London

Here are some resources to get you started with your research:

  • The ISI reports will give you a mine of information about each private school in London.
  • The official league tables are also a very good source information to compare schools with each other.

We recommend that you focus on 3 to 6 schools if you can.

Step 4 – Proceed with your school applications

Here is how it works for private schools in London:

  1. Visit the website of each school, they will have all the information you need to understand how to apply for each school, including the fees due for each application.
  2. Feel free to contact the admissions team of each school for any question – they are very happy to answer any question you might have, including the availability of places.
  3. Fill out the forms, include the required documents, and pay the application fees (usually one set of fees per child application). This can be done online in most cases.
  4. If tests or interviews are required for your children, the school will contact you to organise these.

Whilst there is no limit to the number of private schools you can apply for, each school will require application fees to be paid – these fees are not refunded if the school cannot offer a place to your child, or if you decide not to take the place.

Step 5 – Confirm your school places

Once your application has been processed by the school(s), you will receive a response (an “offer”) from them:

  • There is no set time frame for the response, but this can take between a few days and a few weeks.
  • If no places are available, the school will probably offer you to include your children on a waiting list. There is no reason not to do it.
  • If a place has been offered to you, you will always need to confirm acceptance with the school in writing.
  • You will be asked to pay a one-term deposit for each child to confirm your place.

Have you been offered private school places for your children? Congratulations!

Once that is done, don’t forget to read all the information sent out to you by the school, including where to buy the famous school uniform (not all schools expect it, but many do).

If you have secured a place in one of your preferred private schools, congratulations!

Once the children have started at their new school, you can be proud of yourself!

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