The challenge of moving to London with kids is, they have to be educated, somehow, and more importantly, somewhere”. If you’re moving to London with children, your school search and eventual choice of schools could be the defining factor on where you live in London.
London is a very cosmopolitan city, there are a myriad of (mostly private) international schools that cater to different expat groups. The entry requirements for each school will differ to most British schools and it’s a good idea to approach the school you are interested in way ahead of your expected move date, as there may be a waiting list for a place at the school. The choice of an international school is often a good one, children are able to continue with the same curriculum and activities that they are used to in their country of origin. It also helps in the continuation of cultural heritage and language skills. children may also feel more ‘at home’ in an international school.
When you attend a local British school, your acceptance into the school is based on a tricksy little factor called the ‘catchment area’. Basically, if you don’t live within the demarcated area around the school, your child will not be allowed to attend, or will be placed on a waiting list, and only accepted if a place become available. Remember that in the usual, quaint (read fickle), London way the border of a catchment area for a school can run smack-bang through the middle of a neighborhood. You could, literally be living on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ when it comes to getting your kids into a great school.
Private schools (called public schools in the UK) don’t have those kind of geographic restrictions, as long as you pay the (sometimes hefty) school fees, you can reside anywhere.
If you’ve already chosen your new home and neighborhood, and are opting for a local school, you will have to ‘make do’ with the school in the catchment, even if there is a better school, closer school, nearby. Tough choices, my lovely London parents, tough choices…
When we start the home search for a family in London, our very first step in giving London expat advice is to work on the school search. Our needs assessment isn’t just about how many bedrooms you need, it’s about finding out as much as possible about your family and ALL their needs, wants and even fears about moving to London. We know it’s a big step, for everyone, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.