British State Education System

There are some excellent schools in the State Sector with many dramatically out-performing some of the Independent establishments. Nevertheless, the system of applying for a place is somewhat complicated. 

All applications for a Reception place or in-year admissions (primary and secondary) must be made via the child’s home local authority, i.e. - all parents living in Surrey must apply directly to the Surrey County Council. This rule does not apply to voluntary aided, religious schools and academies, which are responsible for their own admissions but must operate within the agreed coordinated scheme.

Even though, it is not the only criteria the location of the family home is an important determining factor when the application takes place. Forward-looking parents plan ahead and find out the names of good State Schools and decide where they hope their children will be able to attend. In order to assist parents and to help them avoid disappointment and confusion from the outset, it is hoped the following information will be of use. Additionally an Education Consultant with local knowledge and established links with schools will be of considerable benefit to facilitate the process. 

State System Step by Step:

In the most areas or the UK, state schools are divided into two types:

Primary Schools – these admit from 3 & 4 (Nursery Year) with compulsory education starting at 4 turning 5 (Reception Year); pupils stay here until they reach 11 years old (Year 6).

Secondary Schools – these admit from 11 years old (Year 6) and pupils stay here until they complete their formal school at age 16 years (Year 11). Many secondary schools also incorporate a Sixth Form (up to age 18 years old, Year 13).

Some areas still maintain Middle Schools for ages 8-12 (Year 4 – 8) but they are gradually being integrated into either Primary or Secondary Schools.

When entry to most State Schools is based primarily on catchment area, siblings in school and religious beliefs, Secondary Grammar Schools select their pupils through examinations, known as 11 Plus exams, which children sit at the beginning of Year 6 of Primary School. The demand for state, free Grammar Schools is growing every year with some having up to 20 candidates for 1 place and children commuting time to the school close to 2 hours one way. Recently the new Government, with a lot of PMs being products of Grammar Schools themselves, has raised this issue by proposing the formation of more Grammar schools across the country. This has been condemned by many suggesting that such schools promote segregation as the gap in knowledge of a Year 6 child and that required for 11 plus examinations is so high that few can pass it without a paid tutor, which undermines a purpose of fees free schools.