Education – How to get places at top UK schools

  1. If you are moving with school age children, start the school search BEFORE you start your home search. The location of your preferred school should dictate where you live, not the other way around! Be open-minded about school options in your destination. Don’t assume that what is right for your expat friends’ children is right for yours.
  2. Educate yourself about all the UK school options: British Independent (private) schools, British state schools, International schools, American schools and Bi-lingual schools.
  3. Understand the British year groups from Reception (age 4+) to Year 13 or Upper 6th (age 17+) and how they compare to yours.
  4. Consider what education options are open to you based on your child’s age and academic profile. For example, if your child is over 13 and only going to be in the UK for 2 years, it might be best to place your child in an international school rather than a UK school.
  5. When you have decided on the best education route for your child, research the schools in your destination area. Many British school children travel a good distance for the right school and school bus services are common. To search for all schools in your destination area, visit
  6. Make a shortlist of schools for each of your children – be prepared to send them to different schools – this is very common in the UK! Evaluate the schools by looking at their websites, their leavers’ destinations and also independent reports by Ofsted for state schools and for independent schools.
  7. When you call the Admissions office of your short-listed schools, provide them with your children’s dates of births and confirm that you are talking about the correct year group. It can be very confusing!
  8. Visit your short-listed schools! Even if the Admissions staff say they are full in that year group, ask if you can visit anyway, if it is a school you have prioritised. Waitlists can be very fluid especially in London where families move often.

For families on the move, the worry of achieving places at good schools can be the most stressful element of your relocation. We recommend that this is the one area where you should seek help from an experienced relocation company. To hear how Dovetail has secured places at top schools for our expat families, please call us on +44 (0) 1243 790044 or Contact Us now!