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Schools in the United Kingdom fall into two categories:


(a) State schools: these do not charge fees and only admit students who live in the vicinity of the school.

(b) Public schools. These are founded privately and charge fees. Unless parents set up a home in the UK so that they can send their child(ren) to a nearby state school, their only option is a public school. At a public school, their child(ren) can stay on the school campus as a ‘boarder’.


You need to apply for admission to a state school through the Local Education Authority for the area in which the family home is located. Public school places are allocated by the school itself to students who do well in the entrance examination. Most public schools have a quota for overseas students and places are usually offered on the basis of merit.


Children in the UK go to a secondary school from the age of 11 to 16. In the first two years, they normally study various subjects in addition to the core subjects, English, Maths and Science (that is, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, either in combination or individually). In the last two years of secondary school, they prepare for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations in 5 to 10 subjects.


Once the student achieves good results in their GCSEs, the next stage is sixth-form college, where they prepare for 2 years (ages 16–18) for the Advanced Level (A-Level) examinations in 3 or 4 subjects. This is the last stage before university.


The following is Tatler’s list of the top 12 secondary schools in the UK, some of which continue educating students at sixth-form level:


Fortismere School, London N10

Harris Westminster Sixth Form, London SW1

Lady Margaret School, London SW6

Twyford C of E High School, London W3

Nonsuch High School for Girls, Surrey

Peter Symonds College, Hampshire

Beaumont School, Hertfordshire

Langtree School, Berkshire

Chesham Grammar School, Buckinghamshire

Mullion School, Cornwall,

Chipping Campden School, Gloucestershire

Thomas Hardye School, Dorset


The Telegraph newspaper lists the following as the best 12 public schools:


Cardiff Sixth Form College, Cardiff

The Perse School, Cambridge

Westminster School, London

King’s College School (KCS), Wimbledon

Queen Ethelburga’s College, York

Guildford High School for Girls, Guildford

Concord College, Shrewsbury

City of London School for Girls, London

Haberdasher’s Aske’s Boys’ School, Elstree

St John’s College, Cardiff,

King Edward’s School, Birmingham

Magdalen College School, Oxford


There are of course many more schools in both categories, with excellent facilities and GCSE results.


ASK Language Services is happy to advise students and/or parents and help them secure a place at a suitable school. 

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