There are a large number of independent schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, taking international pupils of all school ages. We can help you find the one that's best for you through our links to sites, our information on the UK education system and our advice on applications.
Independent schools offer a high academic success rate, with most pupils moving on to a UK university after completing their schooling. The UK independent school system offers one of the best educational experiences in the world and will enable your child to become a fluent speaker of English. This will prepare your child for a successful career with many opportunities.
All independent schools have to be registered with their government education departments, who enforce many minimum standards. They are inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and accredited by the Independent Schools Council. All of which ensures that teh quality of their education is extremely high and safeguarded by many legal requirements and standards.
Most of the courses work towards standard public exams, which ensures that qualifications are consistent and recognised. These are usually General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs) for pupils aged sixteen and A-levels for pupils aged eighteen. In Scotland, pupils take the equivalent exams, known as Scottish Certificate of Education Standard Grades and Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers. Some Scottish independent schools also offer GCSEs and A-levels as an alternative. It is also possible to study for the International Baccalaureate at many independent schools.
Tutorial or sixth form colleges are usually for those aged sixteen and above. They offer a wide range of courses in small classes, including career-based and access courses. They also run one year courses to resit A-levels (these usually take two years).
There is a lot of competition for UK independent schools; most require academic entrance tests and many pupils sit the Common Entrance exam at the age of eleven or thirteen. This is difficult for children who have been through a different educational system, so international students are usually tested on mathematics and English language.
The academic year usually begins in September, so you will need to apply a year before the start date. You will also need to contact your school or tutorial college directly to ask for application details and a registration form.
Independent schools are expensive; annual fees range from about £3,000 to more than £16,000. These costs will also depend on how your child will be boarding (full-board, half-board, or living with a UK family).
One of the best places to research UK schools is the Independent Schools Council Information Service (ISCis), which has a comprehensive, easy-to-search database of all its member schools. The British Accreditation Council (BAC) keeps a searchable database of independent tutorial colleges, while The Conference for Independent Further Education (CIFE) provides links to its member colleges and the Association of Colleges - London offers information on London colleges. You can also visit the Independent Schools of the British Isles and Hobsons UK Schools websites.
If you would like help with your application or need more details our Education Advisers can help. You can also contact the centre in your country: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen.