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Placing a Foreign Student in a UK School

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 14 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
Local Education Authorities Lea Foreign

We have already looked at how to place our children in schools abroad and how to help them fit in once they have made the transition to a foreign school but it is worth noting that the reverse can apply as foreign students are now becoming commonplace in our schools in the United Kingdom.

This can happen because a family has come to the United Kingdom in relation to employment or because they are wishing to seek Asylum in the United Kingdom. Whatever the case every child is entitled to an education and as such every attempt is made by the schooling system and the Local Education Authorities to make sure that places are available for any foreign student wishing to seek an education here.

Differences to be Aware of

For the most part the principle is the same for those families wishing to relocate to the United Kingdom as it would be for those families leaving the United Kingdom for foreign climbs. Although in saying that there are some noticeable differences.

The main difference being that we – in the United Kingdom – teach our children in English as our first language with foreign languages such as French German, Spanish and now in some schools Mandarin – bringing up the rear in language stakes. This, just as it is British children moving abroad – a stumbling block that needs to be overcome for any foreign student to gain a reasonable and satisfactory level of education.


Just as with British children, it is important and a good investment of time, for a foreign family to visit and select a list of schools that would appeal to their individual child’s needs should that be a course of action open to them. Obviously if the family are seeking asylum in the United Kingdom then a visit before hand is a lot less likely and it can sometimes be a lottery in terms of finding a place for their children. Local Education Authorities will help with this as best they can in conjunction with the Foreign Office and British Consulate to their country of origin.

It is also worth noting that foreign students will fall under the same system of criteria as British children when it comes to the application process for a specific school. Their applications will be determined not so much on the merits of where they are from – in relation to country – but where they are living in relation to the distance from the schools of choice etc. This is the same for all children and indeed the same applies for any benefits that might be obtained; school meals, financial assistance for travel and uniforms etc.

If you are from a foreign country and wish to place your child or children in full time education in the United Kingdom it is worth noting that there may be – in some schools – a rudimentary series of aptitude tests that may need to be taken – in order to gauge the level of your child’s learning to date, especially if they have already been in education in your home country. This may also include a basic test as to how they cope with the English language that – as we have already discussed – is the first language in our schools.

Some schools do teach in other languages as a first choice language but these schools it is worth mentioning – have limited places available and normally have long waiting lists. This also applies to specific religion schools such as those that teach Hinduism and other religions practiced mainly abroad.

In conclusion it is not impossible to place your child in a United Kingdom school if you are from abroad but there are certain stumbling blocks that have to be overcome so if you are relocating to the United Kingdom from abroad and have the time to do so, it is a worthwhile endeavour to take the time to find out what your child’s best options are.

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Respected sir/madam Hi, i am at present living in spain with my wife and 6 years old child who as spanish nationality and we have permanent residence of spain but indian passport. My child right now is studying in wingates british english private school. As we are looking to shift my child to uk state funded school bcoz here fees are very high and is it possible that my child who is having spanish passport can get admission in uk schools. If he get admission can only one of the parents can travel with child bcoz i have my permanent job here. Thankyou.
Ali - 14-Aug-17 @ 11:42 PM
Hi I've got a question regarding schooling for one of my friends who is 17 years old moving from hungary into this country (London) and due to Hungarians only gaining their GCSE's when they're 16 and 17 she doesn't know what step to take as she hasn't got any GCSE's to show up in college so I recommended for her to ask a high school near of maybe her going there for 1-2 years to get a GCSE and then she's able to request a place in college, I'd be greatful for any advice and help from anyone. Thankyou.
Lilla - 6-Aug-17 @ 1:01 AM
Hello, hope you can help please. My question is almost identical. Live in Australia currently although British ( my daughter has duel citizenship) she will be completing year 9 in December. Contemplating returning There are no GCSEs here. If we move to the UK can she access sixth form without them? Is it better for her to finish her year 10 over here anyway or get moving soonasap over there. Really need an answer to this at your earliest convenience. Thank youso much.
Motherland - 29-Jul-17 @ 12:29 AM
Helllo... my son is currently studying in Dubai ( grade 10 ) and I want him to continue his studies in the U.K. ( grade 11 ) but I am not sure about how the school system works in the U.K., will the schools accept him since he is applying for grade 11 plus he is in an American school so he is not familiar will GCSE exams. Thank you
Ahmad - 23-Jul-17 @ 12:38 PM
Hi. I'm currently studying in the Philippines, in Grade 11 (or Year 12) and I was wondering if it's possible to transfer to a school in the UK sometime around December. I'm a bit worried as I might be behind, considering that school there starts in September. Would I be accepted despite my late enrollment? I'm planning to complete at least one semester here (which ends in November) before I decide to study in London as I wish to finish my high school education there. My parents are worried that I may not be accepted and I'd end up having to skip a year. Is it also possible to start sixth form without having GCSEs? Pardon me as I'm a bit new about the way the system works there ^^
Ligh - 21-Jul-17 @ 3:17 AM
@vidhya - If you have a visa to bring you and your child to the UK, you will find all schools have an EAL (English as an additional language) provision for pupils. However, as in any learned subject this can take time as it can put students back in their educational levels while first and foremost try to get to grips with the language. If you want the best start for your child, then teaching them English prior to coming to the UK is your best option, so they don't find the transition too difficult. Tom
TDF80 - 11-Jul-17 @ 10:49 AM
Hi, my child was studying in India( primary school), but now our family went aboard(UK). I am so scared for my child because of studying. We decided our child study in UK. But what are the problems??. Specially for language. Can you please say any information??,
vidhya - 10-Jul-17 @ 10:57 AM
Hi my daughters aged 14 aged 10 attending gymnasium school in Germanyare getting good grades.Now we are planning to move to England but the problem is English language specially in mathematics.plz advise us how to get admission in state grammar school U.K.
Aali - 8-Jul-17 @ 6:57 AM
Vanessa - Your Question:
Hi I'm from Indonesian and will be working in the UK next mobth. I will bring my 15 yo son. He has conolwted his 10th grade in Indonesia. Should I bring his school report when he's applying school in UK? What are the requirements to get in public school? Thank you.

Our Response:
You can see all you need to know via the link here which is for fee-paying schools and here for non-fee paying schools. A school report is always helpful to have. However, much depends upon the school you choose to send your son to as all will have differing requirements.
GetTheRightSchool - 7-Jul-17 @ 1:38 PM
nanapoku - Your Question:
Hi, im a boy of 18 years and im writing to apply for high school in UK and I don't know how to go about it, so please can you assist me on how to go about it. im in spain and want to come and continue my education there.

Our Response:
Please see UCAS website here for further help and information.
GetTheRightSchool - 4-Jul-17 @ 10:18 AM
Hi, im a boy of 18 years and im writing to apply for high school in UK and i don't know how to go about it, so please can you assist me on how to go about it. im in spain and want to come and continue my education there.
nanapoku - 3-Jul-17 @ 10:59 AM
I am 14 and I want to study 8 grade in any forieng country plz do something.
agha - 30-Jun-17 @ 11:21 AM
Hi I'm from Indonesian and will be working in the UK next mobth. I will bring my 15 yo son. He has conolwted his 10th grade in Indonesia. Should I bring his school report when he's applying school in UK? What are the requirements to get in public school? Thank you.
Vanessa - 30-Jun-17 @ 1:27 AM
Hi .. my son is already studying in uk he came with me as i am doing my master in UK and i just finished. The question is can i let him continue study in UK if i want to go back home? I can afford him and i can let him stay with a family to look after him. He is 15 years old and he will be in grade 10 next semester. Thank you
Fahad - 28-Jun-17 @ 2:47 PM
Hello my sister in law wants to come and live with me but she wantS to come just in September. What do Ineed to do to get her a school? She is 15.and I assume according to her age and school yearin France that SHE WILL BE GOING TO YEAR 10 HERE. Any special documents?
Cynha - 28-Jun-17 @ 12:30 AM
Hi,can I please have information of how to put my sister in a UK school? She's Italian,13 years old and with a beginner level of English. Does she have to attend a course before integrate her in the normal school?Many Thanks
Rubolina - 25-Jun-17 @ 11:10 PM
Hi there I am an Indian and Currently I am working in Mali with UN as a PX manager I want my daughter to study in UK at present she is India with her mum She is 2 year old Please let me know the options How we can start her education in UK from beginning
Mantu - 24-Jun-17 @ 1:56 AM
Sir, i am a Sri Lankan and my son studied in Dubai from grade 1 to 11 British curriculum can you help me in finding school in Sheffield to finish his studies. thanks a lot
saibo - 20-Jun-17 @ 7:28 AM
Dear Principal, I am writing to apply for admission of my son in class Nine in your school for the next session starting from September 2017. My son Sium IBN Chowdhury has completed class Eight.My Daughter also studying in Newcastle University and my wife will be staying with my children as we live in Bangladesh. My son is a very bright student andvery active in other extra curricular activities. We being the parents of Sium consider that your school caters our son's requirements for a rightful education. We kindly request you to consider our request to admit him in to your renowned and esteemed school.Waiting for your reply. Regard Abdus Mahmud Dhaka,Bangladesh
Abdus - 8-Jun-17 @ 11:57 PM
My son is 15yrs old and conpleting year 9 in kenya..in uk his offered year 11 by schools. How can he do gcse in one year? Why this age rule?
Anar - 8-Jun-17 @ 9:54 PM
Hi, I will be moving to England for 3 months, but I would really like to go to school and don't miss time. Is there anything I can do?
luci.m - 2-Jun-17 @ 9:14 PM
Hi i m from India currently in 10th std...looking for addmission in 11thstd in london pls help with the process
Rahul - 25-May-17 @ 11:04 AM
hello, I am a 4.0 student from the US, and I'm looking to transfer to a school in the UK to have new experiences. I will be starting IB classes in my 1st year of high school, so will my IB classes transfer, and where should I go to school in the UK. Thank you for your time, and response.
ally - 22-May-17 @ 8:57 PM
Hello. I am from Bulgaria and currently living in London. I would like to take my brother in England so he can study and play football at the same time. He is 14 years old and his level of English is quite good. Can you please recommend me a good school or what are his options? Many Thanks
evie - 21-May-17 @ 9:15 PM
Syed ali imran - Your Question:
Hi I am belge national and moved to uk like 2 years back now my family will going to join me here. My daughters are french speaking I just want to know the procedure for school addmissions as they don't speaks English ; they are 8 and 5 years old.Thanks alot

Our Response:
The approach of teaching English to non-English speakers in school rests with each Local Education Authority.An English as an additional language (EAL) program has been piloted across parts of England; however, individual LEAs retain responsibility for teaching English to non-English speakers. You will also have to contact the LEA of the area in which you think you are moving to in order to find out its individual policy regarding this matter.
GetTheRightSchool - 17-May-17 @ 11:27 AM
Hi I am belge national and moved to uk like 2 years back now my family will going to join me here. My daughters are french speaking I just want to know the procedure for school addmissions as they don't speaks English ; they are 8 and 5 years old. Thanks alot
Syed ali imran - 16-May-17 @ 5:13 PM
We are German nationals with extended family in the UK.Our son is 17, speaks fluent English and he just finished his German Abitur (UK A level equivalent). He would like to continue studying in the UK. There's a possibility he might need to redo his A level if he does not meet the requirements offered for a place at university and if this is the case, he prefers repeating only year 13 in a British school starting September 2017.We need some tips on how to proceed and information on costs involved. Do we need to be residents as parents or is it sufficient for him to stay with his grandparents/Aunties/Uncles who are all British nationals?
JG - 16-May-17 @ 7:07 AM
Hello, my friend from Greece age 17 and in year 11 wants to come to england and learn he has passed a english test and everything. But the thing is he is in year 11 there and if he comes here he will be in college/sixth form or something else, because of the age difference can someone tell me what he should do? What school to attend? College or what?
Petko - 15-May-17 @ 10:28 PM
My name is maryam, I'm from Egypt, I'm 16 years old, I'm in the second year in the secondary school. And i hope that i can complete my education in such as a beautiful country It's just my dream I search for any school in the UK to apply in it So i just ask if you can help me. Thanks for your time ??
Reem - 1-May-17 @ 3:45 AM
Dassy baby - Your Question:
We currently live in Nigeria, my children are British ages 10 & 11 respectively dey currently school in Nigeria because their father worked there, I want them to come to London and. E in a state boarding school. I want to know the right school I should apply to, because of where they're coming from, in order for them to fit in. I want a school that can really relate with the children from abroad very well and the children will be comfortable with. Thanks

Our Response:
You can see more via the ISC list here. It will show you the paid schools in your vicinity.
GetTheRightSchool - 28-Apr-17 @ 12:31 PM
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