The order of those items on your London checklist may depend on if you have already have a family friendly area of London in mind or not. If not, once you check one of the two off your list, the doing the same for the other will become much easier.
Children who attend school in London will be part of the UK’s education system, which is compulsory for children between the ages of 4-18. If you aren’t familiar with the UK education system, take a look at our guide to the educational differences between the UK and the US.
School reputation and rankings
As all UK schools do, schools in London are regularly inspected by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills). They produce a report for each school which is highly regarded to by parents, which can be found on their website. A school with a ‘good’ Ofsted report is, in many parents’ opinions, a good school.
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A useful website to find a school's league tables and school rankings can be found at locrating.com. On this website you can create school shortlists while you decide which London school to pick for your children.
International schools in London
There are many excellent state and private schools in London, but there are also quite a few international schools, London being the UK capital and all. If you are thinking of signing your child up for an international school, take a look at three of the top ones below.
Southbank International School
Southbank International School is one of the most popular international schools in the city of London with 3 campuses based in Westminster, Hampstead, and Kensington.
90% of the co-educational students that attend here are from international families and have the opportunity to study for their International Baccalaureate from the age of 3 to 18. The school even offers over 20 different languages for students to study.
The core curriculum ensures that students at Primary school level are taught both English and Spanish, but additionally can learn other languages as part of their extracurricular activities. The school does not accept beginners in English, but students who need support in studying English will be offered EAL lessons.
The American School in London
The American School in London is an extremely popular international and independent, private, American school located in St John's Wood, London.
The school has an American curriculum and accepts students from Kindergarten (aged 4) to Grade 12 (aged 18). 76% of the students who attend this school have, at minimum, one parent with a US passport. Despite this, the admissions do stress that the school is open to a diverse student body.
The school's aim is to provide an 'American education with a global perspective' and has an 'outstanding' rating from Ofsted.
Many students at The American School in London decided to complete 4 years of each of the following subjects: English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, and a World Language while pursuing other extracurricular interests.
L'Ecole Internationale Franco-Anglaise
L'Ecole Internationale Franco-Anglaise is an independent school based in Marylebone which provides a bilingual primary and secondary education for students living in London.
The school teaches students between the ages of 3 to 15 years in the French curriculum as opposed to the UK's national curriculum. This international school is fairly small with just 160 students over 8 different year groups.
The French academic curriculum at the French school is offered so that their students can succeed in a bilingual education system while their individualities are nurtured. The school's aim is that all their students go on to become 'true citizens of the world'.
Application processes vary depending on what type of school you apply for.
Applying for state school in London
To apply to a state school you must apply online through your County Council, for example the London Borough of Camden. You will have the choice to apply for either a 'Main Round Application' which is for students starting Year R for primary or infant school, Year 3 for junior school or Year 7 for secondary school.
If you need to apply for a place for your child during a school year, you must apply to 'In Year Admissions'.
Applying for a London private school
To apply for a private school, you must contact the private school of your choice directly and complete an application form. You may incur a registration fee. Students applying to private schools will need to sit an entrance assessment and an assessment interview.
Good test scores are not solely what a private school will take into consideration; they will also be looking to see how well each child fits into the school community. Once your child has been accepted, you are usually required to place a deposit for their fees.
Like all UK schools, schools in London have 'catchment areas' which are locations where the school's students live and are chosen from. It is very unusual for schools, especially popular schools, to accept students from outside their catchment areas. You can find schools that are in your local catchment area on your County Council website..
Which London school?
Whether you choose a state or a private school or haven't yet made up your mind, all London schools offer 'open days' which give both parents and students the chance to visit and learn more about the school.
October is a very popular month for school open days because by visiting the school then, gives you 3 months to make up your mind before applications are due in. Open days are a great way to decide which school is best for one's situation.
Important factors that need to be considered when choosing a school, just like in any country, are:
Do I live in the catchment area for my chosen school?
How good is my chosen school's Ofsted report?
Are the class sizes suitable?
Do I have faith in the teachers at my chosen school?
Most importantly, Will my child be happy and successful at this school?
Now that you’re equipped with the basics, it’s time to find a school in London for your kids!