Schools in London: A New Yorker Expat Guide

by | Feb 23, 2024 | Americans Moving to London, Education and Schools, Families Moving to London

Moving to London from New York? This guide simplifies the schools in London education system for expat families. ensuring you make the best educational choices for your children.
Moving from the bustling streets of New York to the historic charm of London brings an exciting new chapter for any family, especially when it comes to education. With a system that’s both venerable and forward-thinking, London offers unique educational opportunities for your children. This expanded guide aims to ease the transition, shedding light on the nuances of London’s school system and how to navigate it for the best possible start for your little ones.

Detailed Overview of the London School System Compared to the United States

The UK’s education system is divided into stages: Early Years, Primary, Secondary, and Further Education. Unlike the U.S., with its K-12 structure, British children start primary school at age 4-5 and move to secondary school at age 11-12. We will help you understand how these stages align with the American system and what it means for your child’s education path.

Public vs. Private: An In-Depth Look:

Choosing between public and private education is a significant decision for expat families. In London, public schools (known locally as state schools) offer high standards of education without tuition fees, making them an attractive option for many. However, private (independent) schools are sought after for their smaller class sizes, specialized programs, and often, a more global perspective, which can be particularly appealing to families from abroad. We’ll explore the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.

Navigating the Admissions Process with Confidence:

The admissions process in London can be daunting, with different requirements for state and independent schools. For state schools, applications are typically made through the local council, while private schools require direct application, often accompanied by entrance exams and interviews. We help With step-by-step advice on preparing your applications and what to expect through the process.

Understanding School Holidays in London

A significant aspect of planning your child’s education in London involves understanding the school holiday system. This can differ from what you’re used to in the US or Australia. London schools typically follow a three-term year with breaks in between, offering families time to rest, travel, or engage in educational activities outside the classroom.

The Three-Term System Explained:

  • Autumn Term: Starts in September and runs until mid-December, with a half-term break in late October.
  • Spring Term: Begins in early January and ends just before Easter. Usually in late March or early April, including a half-term break in February.
  • Summer Term: Commences after Easter and finishes in July, with a late May half-term break.

Longer Breaks for Rest and Exploration:

  • Christmas Holidays: Typically two weeks at the end of the Autumn Term.
  • Easter Holidays: Two weeks bridging the Spring and Summer Terms.
  • Summer Holidays: The longest break, lasting six weeks from late July to early September.

Making the Most of School Holidays:

These breaks provide excellent opportunities for your family to explore the UK and Europe. And engage in educational camps, or simply enjoy some downtime. Planning for these periods can help you make the most of the time off. Whether you’re looking to travel, enroll your child in special interest classes, or participate in local events and activities.

How London Relocation Can Assist

Understanding the rhythm of the school year is crucial for settling into life in London. London Relocation can offer advice on balancing your housing needs with the academic calendar. Ensuring you’re well-placed to take advantage of school holidays for family time and exploration. Our team is here to support you in every aspect of your relocation. This includes making the most of the educational opportunities and holiday periods offered by schools in London.

By incorporating the details of the school holiday system into your planning, you can ensure a smoother transition for your family. This allows you to fully embrace the cultural and educational experiences available in London.

Key Considerations for International Families – Beyond Academics:

For families moving from the US or Australia, it’s crucial to consider not just the academic fit but also the cultural and social transition for your child. This includes looking at schools offering support for English as an Additional Language (EAL). As well as extracurricular activities that might help your child settle in and make new friends. There are also practical considerations such as uniform requirements and the typical school day schedule in London.

How London Relocation Supports Educational Needs – Expanding Our Services

London Relocation’s services go beyond just finding a home. We offer a holistic approach to your move, including detailed support for your child’s educational journey. From identifying schools that match your child’s needs and aspirations to arranging tours and assisting with the application process. Our team is here to ensure your family’s transition to London is as seamless as possible. We also provide ongoing support once you’ve moved. Helping you navigate parent-teacher meetings, school events, and any other aspect of school life in London.

FAQs Schools in London

  • Q: Are there options for American curriculum schools in London? Yes, London has several American schools that offer a familiar curriculum for students from the United States, easing their academic transition.
  • Q: How do I assess the quality of schools in London? Schools in England are regularly inspected by Ofsted, and their reports are available online. Additionally, exam performance data and parent reviews can offer valuable insights.
  • Q: What role do catchment areas play in school admissions?
  • For state schools, your address can significantly impact your eligibility for certain schools, known as catchment areas. We can advise on the best areas to consider for access to top-rated schools.


Choosing the right school for your child is a pivotal decision, particularly when relocating to a new country. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate London’s educational landscape. Ensuring your child finds a school where they can thrive. With the support of London Relocation, you can look forward to a smooth transition. Focus on the excitement of exploring a new city and the opportunities it brings for your family’s growth and learning.

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