• Image. British pragmatism strives to be economically and socially effective with all the zeal for traditions. School curriculum combines classics and innovations: students simultaneously learn Latin and programming languages, read Shakespeare and the latest authors, and are versed in the history of Great Britain on the same level as the latest postcolonial history. Graduates of English schools have brilliant erudition and are business savvy, which provides them with excellent prospects for many years to come.
  • Funding. It is very important for the UK government to maintain an excellent image of the educational system, so the school system is constantly being modernized in favor of greater and greater efficiency. Thus, the government spends more than 27 billion GBP/year on the development of secondary education, and private sector investments amount to about 11 billion GBP/year. Together they provide significant resources to support English schools at the highest technical and educational levels.
  • Multinationality. England, especially London, has a rather open cultural policy and accepts many talented foreigners. In British society, one rarely encounters discrimination or arrogance in relation to families from abroad, since the main criterion here is success. Therefore, a foreigner who gets into an English school will find himself in a comfortable atmosphere of diversity and will get to know both British and foreign teachers and students.
  • Boarding schools. Most international schools in England offer not only quality education and a friendly atmosphere, but also comfortable living conditions under the roof of the school itself — these educational institutions are called boarding schools. They provide all the conditions for a comfortable life and study: from a separate room and three meals a day to reading clubs and a personal mentor. A similar practice has existed since the 18th century: at that time wealthy citizens sent their sons to closed schools in order not only to teach literacy, but also to educate real gentlemen out of them. In this context, "sending a child to school" means the beginning of an important stage in his life, which will save parents from household worries and give the child the first experience of independent life, albeit under the tireless control of the school.
  • Discipline. English schools, especially boarding schools, take discipline very seriously. The student’s day is scheduled almost in minutes — from the exact time of breakfast to the schedule of evening activities. To some, this method may seem too strict, but it allows you to give as much knowledge as possible to the child, teach him how to work independently, and ensure the greatest safety when staying in another country.
  • Elitism. Private schools in England are often the subject of criticism: a significant part of English families cannot afford to send their children to a private school, which makes the division into rich and poor more and more obvious. The former are almost always guaranteed a good future, and the opportunities of the latter are noticeably reduced. For example, in 2006, more than half of freshmen at Oxford University graduated from private English schools, while graduates from government institutions, which are the majority in the country, made up less than 30% of the university’s student count.
  • Conservatism. The image of a rational and traditional Englishman is not a tourist myth: England is a rather conservative country where pragmatism and order in everything are appreciated. To this day, in many English schools, the order has been maintained for centuries: boys study separately from girls, the day of students is strictly scheduled from early morning until evening, in schools there is a special uniform with the coat of arms of the institution.
  • International rating. Despite such a positive image of English schools that has been forming in the minds of foreigners for centuries, the actual educational achievements of students in England are far from ideal. So, according to the international assessment program PISA, English students take the 27th, 22nd and 15th places, respectively, in reading, math and science, which somewhat violates the reputation of quality education of the UK[0].
Secondary education in England is one of the main pillars of the British economy: a strong school system annually prepares millions of teenagers for university education, which has an excellent academic reputation. In many ways, the effectiveness of English schools is explained by the fact that for more than two centuries, many of them have been private. This attracted more money and as a result, more good professionals. Another advantage of schooling in England is its openness: a parent from any country can send a child to an English school, providing him with not only a wonderful professional future but also many new acquaintances and useful contacts in the future.

Tuition fees in English schools

Type of schoolTuitionAccommodationGuardianshipPocket expensesTotal
StateFree13,123-23,622 USDFree1,968-2,625 USD11500+ GBP
Private day school19,685-34,120 USD14,435-19,685 USD1,968-5,249 USD1,968-2,625 USD28000+ GBP
Private boarding school32,808-41,994 USD7,874-11,811 USDFree1,312-1,968 USD33000+ GBP
Sixth Form College36,745-52,492 USD7,000 USD-10000Free1,312-1,968 USD36000+ GBP

Types of schools in England

English schools are divided into many categories, which is why for those uninitiated, English secondary school system can seem confusing and not completely clear. The division of English schools is carried out not only by the type of ownership (public or private) but also by membership in organizations, financing scheme, specialization, access for foreigners and even religion.

The state ones include:
  • Comprehensive schools;
  • Grammar schools;
  • Academies;
  • Free schools;
  • University technical colleges;
  • Studio schools.
Private are:
  • All public schools:
  • Mixed and single-sex education boarding schools;
  • Faith schools;
  • Specialist schools;
  • Sixth Form.

Admission to The UK schools

Age of applicants

Due to the intricacies of guardianship issues, admission to English schools is often limited by the minimum age of admission — 14 years. At this time, the last stage of compulsory secondary education begins, which involves more intensive training and preparation for the two stages of school exams — GCSE and A-Levels. Admission at an older age is also possible, especially for programs of the last two years, since often the English themselves take extra 1-2 years before A-Levels, which is caused not by poor grades, but by a desire to better prepare for admission to a prestigious college.

Language proficiency

English schools are open to foreign students and ready to provide the necessary support with learning the language during the school year. Usually, in order to study together with the rest of the school, you need to keep up with the school curriculum of the 9th grade, most importantly the language proficiency of at least Intermediate level. This entails that the student speaks English well, understands spoken language, reads simple texts and can write a short text. All these skills are included in the curriculum of many world schools, so if English grades are kept at a good level, there will be no problems. Remember, however, that the higher the rating of the desired school in England, the greater its admission requirements. To improve English proficiency one can attend language courses (they are offered by many private schools in England), after 2-3 trimesters the student will have the opportunity to transfer to the main school group.

Academic performance


Top-rated schools expect not only solid language proficiency but also good grades in the previous school. Unlike some systems, where one grade can ruin everything, in England academic performance is calculated in accordance with the GPA, that is, the arithmetic average of all grades. Thus, C for physical education is not an obstacle for a brilliant mathematician, and average grades in biology and physics will not ruin the chances for a creative child. However, one should not assume that with the transfer to a new school, the study of compulsory subjects will end: in England, like in any other country, the school curriculum requires compulsory study of mathematics, science, and the English language. To enter the Sixth Form, it is advisable to have a GPA of at least 4.0 out of 5, and if we are talking about the last two classes of A-Level, the excellent grades in core subjects are required.

Admission tests

Anyone who wants to send a child to an English school needs to know about the difference between selective and non-selective schools: some private schools automatically enrol all pupils whose age and level of English corresponds with requirements, while the most popular schools have more applicants than places, so admission to them is carried out by competition. Sometimes it’s just a selection of students with the best indicators (grades in school and English), more often — an entrance exam in English and mathematics. Most examinations are held in schools, but some schools allow remote examination for foreign applicants.

The learning process in UK schools

The school year and breaks

The school year in English schools is divided into three trimesters, each of which lasts about three months: the first trimester starts in early September, the second in early January and the third in mid-April. The school year will begin with an introductory week, targeting both the newcomers and the seniors: the school is introduced to the accepted students and new teachers, with plans for next year and changes in the school. In the second week, the standard rhythm of training begins: lessons start at around 8 am and continue until 4-5 pm with a lunch break. Depending on the schedule, there may be gaps in the student’s school day, during which one can prepare for the next lesson. Time after classes is reserved for recreation, sports and homework. At this pace, English students live throughout the school year.

Trimesters are divided by two large breaks, each about 3 weeks long — Christmas and Easter holidays. There are also short breaks in the middle of each trimester: the last week of October, the second week of February and the last week of May. However, one should not assume that English schoolchildren have too much rest: the holidays are intended more for independent study than for a carefree pastime. The most long-awaited and free from work holiday is Christmas: almost all of December, students and teachers spend quiet holidays with their families.

Compulsory and optional subjects

Depending on the level of study, English schools have different lists of subjects. Throughout the Senior level of education from grades 9 to 11 school students have a whole list of compulsory subjects:
  • English Language;
  • Mathematics;
  • Science;
  • History;
  • Geography;
  • Physical Education;
  • Foreign Language.
Some schools add the basics of business, design, psychology, sociology and a few other special courses to its list of compulsory subjects. In other schools that teach under iGCSE programs, on the contrary, only the first three (English, mathematics and science) are included in the list of compulsory subjects, and the remaining subjects are electives, selected depending on the future specialty of the student. As a rule, in high school, 5 to 8 subjects are studied per academic year.

As for the A-Levels, here everything is simpler: for two years, students study from 3 to 5 disciplines in which they plan to take an exam at the university. Basically, students choose subjects in one direction, in accordance with which their in-depth study will be planned. Compulsory subjects do not exist, but there are recommended subjects: applicants from top universities are recommended to take maths, English and one of the traditional school subjects — physics, chemistry, biology, history or geography. Additional subjects taken in the last years of study can be very specialized and studied with an accurate understanding of the future specialization: it can be law, media and communications, textile design, antique history and others. Requirements for the delivery of such subjects are presented by specialized faculties of many leading universities, so before choosing subjects for A-Levels it is advised to look at the website of the desired university.

Accommodation for students

A foreign student in an English school has two accommodation options. The first, most comfortable, is living in a residence at the school. Since the vast majority of English schools are boarding schools, students are given the opportunity to live near the school building under the supervision of the guardianship department of the school itself. In some cases, housing is available only at the dormitory, for example, when the campus is located in the countryside or because of the special image of a private school. All amenities are included in the accommodation: your own room (sometimes you can choose a room with a neighbour), a private bathroom, three meals a day, a gym, a dining room, relaxation rooms and much more. The option of living in a school is not only safer and more comfortable but also allows the student to learn time management, social adaptation and diplomatic skills.

The second option is to live in an English family. In this case, the student’s parents must sign a contract with a guardian agency, which will select a family and introduce the student to his new neighbours. The receiving party guarantees a separate room, three meals a day and, in some cases, pocket money. The advantage of this option is the opportunity to get an English education, learn the British national character and learn about the country’s culture first hand. In addition, parents have a choice of the type of family the child will live in: it can be a single parent, an elderly couple, couples with children, or even military families.

Private English schools

Private schools are the most popular choice for foreigners and the most affordable, so we will start with them. These institutions are open to students from other countries and have adaptation programs for newcomers, while public institutions are available only for residents and citizens of the UK. Education in a private school is paid, but this is an investment in the future of the child: studying at a good school is the first step to entering a top university, which determines the future competitiveness of a graduate in the labor market.

Type of schoolSelectivityIndividual programsBoardingSpecialization
Public schoolyes / noyesyes / noyes / no
Boarding school (mixed, single-sex)yes / noyesyesyes / no
Specialist schoolyesnoyesmusic, dance, arts or sports
Faith schoolnoyesyes / noreligious education and scientific outlook
Sixth Formyes noyes / nopreparation for the A-Levels final exam

Public schools in England

For a stranger to the British System, "public school" is likely associated with a free public institution, similar to American public colleges and European universities. However, in England the opposite is true: a public school is an educational institution created on a public (i.e. non-state) initiative. They first began to appear about 300 years ago, when secular educational institutions were founded by wealthy citizens, as opposed to religious schools that were dominant at that time. Two centuries later, public schools have become the most prestigious institutions of secondary education, whose graduates comprise a significant part of students at top universities.

Education in public schools is paid: for one trimester, you will have to pay from 5000 to 15,748 USD. As a rule, public schools have a common profile and offer a fairly wide range of training — from the exact sciences to entrepreneurship, however, in each case, the curriculum is compiled individually in accordance with the prospects of the student after school. Thanks to financial independence, schools have the freedom to find teachers, develop curricula and introduce innovations. You can enroll in a private school with or without exams, however, the more prestigious the school, the more difficult it is to get into it. Access to private schools is open to foreigners, even if they do not reside permanently in England. The issue of guardianship will be taken up by special guardianship companies or the school itself.

Boarding schools in England

Boarding schools are a type of public schools, especially relevant for foreign families. The boarding school is an educational institution that, together with the educational services, offers accommodation in a school residence, three meals a day and supervision of students. Historically, it is this form of schools that has gained the greatest popularity in developed countries: living on the territory of the school teaches discipline, allows you to immerse yourself in the educational process and establish strong friendships with teachers and comrades. Like a daytime private school, boarding school can be entered without exams, but to enter the top boarding schools, you will have to pass the entrance exam in English and mathematics well. The cost of studying at a boarding school is usually higher than at a day school due to housing and meals: the price for a trimester is from 13,123 USD to 20,997 USD.

Tuition fees in mixed boarding schools in England

SchoolCityAgeScholarshipsCost per year
Rugby SchoolRugby11-18 yes28,614-45,605 USD
Shrewsbury schoolShrewsbury13-18 yes32,007-45,983 USD
D'Overbroeck's CollegeOxford11-18 discounts55,688 USD
Kent CollegeCanterbury11-18 discounts32,468-44,594 USD
LVS Ascot SchoolAscot11-18 yes42,905 USD
Cats CollegeLondon14-18 discounts25,078-39,054 USD
St. Clare's OxfordOxford15-18yes50,944 USD
Bellerbys CollegeLondon14-18 discounts23,937-35,511 USD
Queen Ethelburga's CollegeYork14-18 no57,322-60,503 USD

SchoolProgramRequirements GCSERequirements Sixth Form
Rugby School
  • interview
  • transcript
  • cognitive test
  • interview
  • cognitive test
  • grade B in core disciplines of the GCSE
  • Shrewsbury school
  • transcript
  • test English
  • test math
  • test French
  • Interview
  • 6 GCSE exams
  • 4 written exam of choice
  • D'Overbroeck's College
  • IELTS 4.5+
  • transcript
  • test English
  • test math
  • motivation letter
  • IELTS 6.5
  • test English
  • test math
  • GCSE results no lower than B
  • Kent College
  • interview
  • test English
  • test math
  • interview
  • test English
  • test math
  • 6 GCSE exams with marks In
  • LVS Ascot School
    • GCSE
    • A-Level
    • Pre-A Level
    • Combined Program
  • interview
  • IELTS 5.5
  • interview
  • IELTS 5.5
  • Cats College
  • IELTS 4.0+
  • transcript (GPA 4.0+)
  • IELTS 4.0+
  • GCSE from A * to B
  • transcript (GPA 4.0+)
  • St. Clare's Oxford
  • IELTS 4.0+
  • transcript
  • test English
  • test mathematics
  • transcript
  • IELTS 5.0-5.5
  • test English
  • test mathematics
  • Bellerbys College
  • IELTS 5.0+
  • transcript
  • IELTS 5.5
  • grades C in 4 GCSE subjects
  • Queen Ethelburga's College
  • general test
  • IELTS 4.5
  • general test
  • IELTS 5.5
  • Boarding schools with separate-sex education in England

    From the 18th century until today, the practice of UK single-sex boarding schools has been quite common. Despite the fairly progressive views of the British regarding emancipation and feminism, this practice still exists, as are its supporters. As a rule, the advantages of separate education include the idea that schoolchildren will not be distracted from their studies by romantic intrigues. It is also believed that in male groups the competitive spirit is much higher and that boys in general are more active, therefore, in schools for boys much attention is paid to sports education. In groups of girls, on the contrary, they usually notice a spirit of mutual support and tranquility, so in such schools there is much more focus on clubs and group projects. Supporters of separate education argue that such a scheme teaches students to take on all the functions in an independent life without dividing the cases into "male" and “female”. However, the question remains of how the child’s view of the world and the opposite sex can be formed without any real interaction in the early period of life. Be that as it may, this practice works well, and the final choice is up to the parents and the child.

    Tuition fees for single-sex boarding schools

    SchoolCitySexAgeScholarshipsCost per year
    Badminton SchoolBristolF11-18discounts48,109 USD
    Farlington SchoolHorshamF4-18yes38,562 USD
    Eton CollegeWindsorM13-18yes50,826 USD
    Harrow SchoolLondonM13-18yes50,983 USD
    Winchester collegeWinchesterM13-18 yes49,999 USD
    Wycombe Abbey SchoolHae -WycomF11-18 yes37,204-49,605 USD
    Downe House SchoolThatchF11-18 yes34,468-47,637 USD
    St. Paul's SchoolLondonM7-18 yes31,893-47,767 USD
    Headington SchoolOxfordF11-18yes22,381-48,542 USD
    Dulwich CollegeLondonM3-18yes25,803-53,857 USD

    SchoolProgramGCSE requirementsSixth Form Requirements
    Badminton School
  • interview
  • cognitive test
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • exam in two chosen subjects
  • Farlington School
  • exam English
  • math exam
  • 6 GCSE with grades 4 and above
  • Eton College
  • interview
  • exam science
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • interview
  • 6 GCSE with A grades
  • Harrow School
  • ISEB test
  • Harrow Test
  • Transcript
  • interview
  • 6-7 GCSE with marks A*/A
  • test in three GCSE subjects of your choosing
  • Winchester college
  • transcript
  • 6 GCSE with marks A*/A
  • Wycombe Abbey School
  • interview
  • online -test
  • exam science
  • exam history
  • exam geography
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • exam foreign language
  • interview
  • exam english
  • 9 GCSE/IGCSE with marks A*-A
  • 3 written GCSE / IGCSE exams
  • Downe House School
  • transcript
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • transcript
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • High GCSE scores
  • St. Paul's School
  • Interview
  • ISEB Pre-Tests
  • Test English
  • math test
  • interview
  • general test
  • recommendations
  • 8 GCSE marked A* and A
  • Headington School
  • transcript
  • exam English
  • interview
  • exam English
  • exams in core disciplines
  • Dulwich College
  • letters of recommendation
  • test English
  • test math
  • test for verbal and nonverbal thinking
  • IELTS 6.0
  • interview
  • recommendations
  • test English
  • exams for core disciplines
  • 5 marks A/A* by GCSE exams
  • Specialized schools in England

    Many private schools have a very specific program, which is useful for parents of talented children to know about. Specialist schools, that are also boarding schools, are for those who already decided to connect their lives with such areas as academic music, dance, art and sports. The selection for such a school is not based on past academic performance, but on the basis of the child’s giftedness, for example, a portfolio of drawings, recordings of speeches and all kinds of awards at local and international competitions. The school, for its part, guarantees to develop the talent to a professional level, to provide the best masters of their craft as teachers and to open the door for the child to a great future.

    Tuition at specialized schools in England

    SchoolCityAgeSpecializationScholarshipsCost per year
    Wells Cathedral SchoolWales2-18musicyes22,736-40,283 USD
    The Yehudi Menuhin SchoolStoke D'abernon8-18musicno54,326-55,763 USD
    Arts Educational SchoolLondon11-18music, design, artyesupon request
    Tring Park School for the Performing ArtsTring8-19ballet, dance, music , theater artsyes27,224-45,550 USD
    Elmhurst School for Dance and Performing ArtsBirmingham11-19 dancingyes24,118-33,326 USD
    Millfield SchoolStreet2-18 sportsyes48,483 USD
    The Hammond SchoolChester4-18 dancing, theater, music, musicalyes23,228-34,901 USD
    Purcell School of MusicBushes9-18 musicyes33,736-43,078 USD
    Chetham's School of MusicManchester8-18 musicyes32,570-42,035 USD
    Royal Ballet SchoolLondon11-19 balletyes38,106-43,613 USD

    SchoolProgramRequirements GCSERequirements Sixth Form
    Wells Cathedral School
  • interview
  • letters of recommendation
  • transcript
  • 6 GCSE with grades C and B
  • The Yehudi Menuhin School
  • transcript
  • audition
  • English proficiency B2
  • proficiency in playing a musical instrument
  • transcript
  • audition
  • GCSE results
  • English proficiency B2
  • proficiency in playing a musical instrument
  • Arts Educational School
  • transcript
  • audition
  • transcript
  • auditioning
  • GCSE results
  • Tring Park School for the Performing Arts
    • GCSE
    • A-level
    • Acting Course
    • Dance Course
    • Musical Theater Course
    • Performance Foundation Course
    • Commercial Music and General Music
  • general test
  • transcript
  • audition
  • general test
  • transcript
  • audition
  • results GCSE
  • Elmhurst School for Dance and Performing Arts
  • interview
  • audition
  • interview
  • audition
  • Millfield School
  • interview
  • transcript
  • general test
  • interview
  • general test
  • 5 GCSE with grades With
  • The Hammond School
    • GCSE
    • BTEC
    • Trinity Diploma in Professional Musical Theater
    • Trinity Diploma in Professional Dance
  • exam math
  • exam english
  • test for non-verbal thinking
  • video audition
  • 5 GCSE with grades A* -C
  • letters of recommendation
  • Purcell School of Music
  • interview
  • transcript
  • audition
  • written test
  • A video of your performance
  • letters of recommendation from a music teacher
  • interview
  • transcript
  • audition
  • written test
  • 5 GCSE graded C
  • A video of your performance
  • letters of recommendation from a music teacher
  • Chetham's School of Music
  • transcript
  • audition
  • English proficiency B1
  • A video of your performance
  • letters of recommendation from a music teacher
  • transcript
  • audition
  • GCSE results
  • English proficiency B1
  • A video of your performance
  • letters of recommendation from a music teacher
  • Royal Ballet School
    • GCSE
    • A-level
    • Spring & Summer Program
    • BA Classical Ballet and Dance Performance Degree Program
  • audition
  • transcript
  • audition
  • transcript
  • Faith schools in the UK

    Despite the fact that once faith, or religious, schools were considered very strict and intolerant organizations, in modern England they have a very favorable image. Faith schools are sponsored by the Church of England or charities and can follow the canons of Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism. As a rule, these schools should not be subject to the national curriculum, but their activities are controlled by officials: for example, no Faith school has the right to teach creationism as the only theory of the creation of the universe or to impose religious ideas. Usually, children from moderately religious families study here, as parents value not only fundamental education, but also moral, ethical and cultural code provided by religion. Admission to religious schools is available to foreigners and, most often, without entrance exams. Some schools (mostly Jewish) guarantee full boarding.

    Cost of training in religious schools in the UK

    SchoolCitySexAgeReligionScholarshipsCost per year
    St. Mary's SchoolAscotF11-18Catholicismyes34,263-48,267 USD
    Mayfield SchoolMayfieldF11-18 Catholicismyes26,771-43,208 USD
    Tonbridge SchoolTonbridgeM11-18 Catholicismyes38,358-51,133 USD
    Ratcliffe CollegeLeicester-3-18 Catholicismyes17,594-39,208 USD
    Clifton CollegeBristol-11-18 Anglicanismyes30,984-50,196 USD
    Abbots Bromley SchoolAbbots Bromley-3-18 Anglicanismdiscounts30,124-37,145 USD
    Ardingly CollegeHaywards Heath-3-18Anglicanismyes30,984-43,857 USD
    Leweston SchoolSherborne-3-18Catholicismyes35,039-40,944 USD
    Ampleforth CollegeYork-3-18Catholicismyes31,389-45,133 USD
    Jamea Al KautharLancasterF6-18Islamnoon demand

    SchoolProgramGCSE requirementsSixth Form requirements
    St. Mary's School
  • interview
  • exam science
  • exam latin
  • exam religion
  • exam geography
  • exam english
  • exam maths
  • interview
  • examinations in specialized subjects
  • Mayfield School
  • interview
  • letters of recommendation
  • ISEB Pre-Tests
  • interview
  • letters of recommendation
  • three 45-minute tests
  • results of 8 GCSE with marks A*-B
  • Tonbridge School
  • interview
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • UKiset assessment tests
  • IELTS 6.0
  • UKiset assessment tests
  • 4 subject exams A-level
  • Ratcliffe College
  • interview
  • exam science
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • nonverbal thinking
  • certificate IELTS, ESOL
  • 6 GCSE with grades B and above
  • Clifton College
  • transcript
  • interview
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • exam natural science
  • interview interview
  • English
  • exam math
  • results 6 GCSE
  • exam science
  • Abbots Bromley School
  • interview
  • transcript
  • English proficiency B2
  • interview
  • transcript
  • GSCE
  • Ardingly College
  • interview
  • transcript
  • letters of recommendation
  • exam science
  • exam English
  • exam mathematics
  • ISEB Common Pre-test
  • interview
  • letters of recommendation
  • exam English
  • exam math
  • Minimum GCSE scores
  • verbal thinking test
  • Leweston School
  • interview
  • transcript
  • letters of recommendation
  • interview
  • IELTS 5.5
  • 6 GCSE with grades 5-7
  • Ampleforth College
  • interview
  • transcript
  • general test
  • letters of recommendation
  • interviews
  • letters of recommendation
  • 5 GCSE with grades B and above
  • Jamea Al Kauthar
  • interview
  • transcript
  • general tests
  • two letters of recommendation
  • interviews
  • GCSE results
  • two letters of recommendation
  • Sixth Form in England

    Sixth Form is one of the most sought after study options for international students. It generally means the last stage of secondary education preceding the university. Sixth Form colleges are special private institutions that prepare students for Advanced Levels graduation testing during 2 years of study. A-Levels determine the subsequent academic fate of a graduate, which is why it is given so much attention. Preparation for the exam also happens in ordinary schools, but according to statistics, it is the graduates of Sixth Form who pass A Levels with the highest score and enter the leading universities in England and Europe. Sixth Form colleges are very selective and considered to be the most expensive secondary education sector in England: one trimester of study and accommodation can cost from 11,811 USD to 19,685 USD. Sixth Form offers both full-time and boarding type studies.

    Sixth Form tuition for colleges in England

    SchoolCityAgeScholarshipsCost per year
    Ashton Sixth Form CollegeAshton16-18 yes21,404 USD
    Cardiff Sixth Form CollegeCardiff14-19 yes42,519-57,414 USD
    Concord CollegeActon Burnell12-19 discounts52,361 USD
    Abbey College CambridgeCambridge13-18 yes31,495-38,057 USD
    Ashbourne Independent Sixth Form CollegeLondon14-18 yes33,464 USD
    Bosworth Independent CollegeNorthampton14-18 yes38,188-39,763 USD
    Cambridge Tutors CollegeCroydon14-18 yes20,118-52,479 USD
    Bath AcademyBath14-18 no30,007-45,931 USD
    Abbey College ManchesterManchester14-18 no19,685-28,871 USD
    Rochester Independent CollegeRochester14-18yes41,600-45,537 USD

    SchoolProgramA-levelBTEC requirements Foundation requirements
    Ashton Sixth Form College
    • BTEC
    • A-level
    • XL program
    • Mixed Study Program
  • 6 GCSE
  • Interview
  • Interview
  • 4 GCSE with grades 4
  • individual requirements
  • -
    Cardiff Sixth Form College
  • IELTS 6.5
  • transcript
  • 6 GCSE with A* grades
  • --
    Concord College
  • interview
  • UKiset assessments test
  • --
    Abbey College Cambridge
  • IELTS 5.5+
  • 5 GCSE with grades C
  • -
  • IELTS 5.5+
  • 5 GCSE with grades With
  • Ashbourne Independent Sixth Form College
  • interview
  • transcript
  • letters of recommendation
  • statement of purpose
  • GCSE results
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    Bosworth Independent College
  • IELTS 5.5+
  • 5 GCSE with grades B
  • IELTS 5.5+
  • transcript
  • 3 GCSE with grades C
  • IELTS 5.5+
  • transcript
  • Cambridge Tutors College
  • IELTS 5.5+
  • 5 GCSE with grades A-B
  • -
  • IELTS 5.5
  • transcript
  • Bath Academy
  • IELTS 6.0
  • transcript
  • English level A2 +
  • -
  • IELTS 6.5
  • transcript
  • Abbey College Manchester
    • A-level
    • Retake A levels Intensive
    • International Foundation Program
  • Recommendations
  • GCSE grades of A*-C in core subjects
  • -
  • IELTS 6.5
  • GCSE results
  • Rochester Independent College
  • transcript
  • Letters of recommendations
  • language certificate
  • exams or courses information
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    State schools in England

    State secondary education in England has a rather complex structure: here you can find prestigious, mass, specialized, and selective schools. Moreover, all of them are under the jurisdiction of the state. Education in state schools is free, but only available to taxpayers, that is, those who permanently live in the territory of the UK, whether it is an Englishman or a foreigner in a permanent place of residence. Some schools have paid sections for international students.

    Type of schoolSelectivityFull BoardingSpecialization
    Comprehensive schoolnonoNo
    Grammar schoolyesnoHumanities
    Academyyes / noyes / noIn subjects
    Free schoolnoyes / noNo
    University technical collegenoyes / noBy specialty university-based
    Studio schoolnoyes / noProject work under the guidance of established specialists

    Comprehensive schools in England

    Comprehensive schools are the most common type of secondary education institutions in England that have been actively developing over the past century. They are under state control and are intended for a wide array of children from 14 years old regardless of their previous performance, social status or family affluence — there is no selection at the admission stage. Education in secondary schools is free and mostly general, that is, without a specialization (in contrast to academies). This option is suitable for those parents who plan to move to England with their children.

    Academies in the UK


    Academies are currently the second most popular type of school. The first academies were created during the government of Tony Blair. Over the past 6 years, there has been a significant upsurge of this type of educational institution: if in 2011 there were only 629 academies in England, by 2017 their number exceeded 4000. Academies have great freedom in choosing students, teachers, curriculum and sources of funding. Being formally state-owned, they have the right to receive funding from outside organizations, which often makes them dependent on commercial organizations — this aspect is especially criticized by supporters of the old system.

    Academies are often specialized: a particular focus is on specific subjects, for example, mathematics, a foreign language, business, art, engineering, etc. A special admission code applies to this type of school, according to which the academy has the right to arrange entrance exams if there are more applicants, than places at school. Formally, this means that there are no academies with mandatory entrance exams, but in reality — the better the academy and the more people who want to study in it, the more difficult it is to enter.

    Free schools in England

    Free schools are a special type of government institution whose main difference is greater organizational freedom from the Department of Education with significant government funding. Free schools, also sometimes called "new schools", are a special educational project launched in 2010, within the framework of which alternative and specialized programs for children from poor families are being developed. Free schools are created at the initiative of local authorities, parents or charity organizations and are often equipped for children with special needs. Education in them is completely free, access is completely free, but it is open only to the residents and citizens of the UK. According to statistics from the Ministry of Education of England, free schools have become a very effective solution for affordable education, and their graduates perform better on exams than graduates of ordinary general schools.

    University technical colleges in England

    University colleges are one of the types of free schools and are based on existing universities. Such colleges provide secondary and specialized education in one of the proposed specialties: most often they include engineering, design, and programming. Under the financial and academic competence of English universities, colleges adopt the experience of higher education institutions, while adhering to national standards of secondary education. College graduates have good chances to enter partner universities, and graduates of special programs can find work right after graduation. Studying at university colleges is free and available without entrance exams, but only for UK citizens and residents.

    Studio schools in England

    Studio schools deserve a special mention. This type of educational institution is another subtype of free schools and is a fairly innovative project, because of which at the moment there are just over a dozen of them. The idea of ​​school studios was copied from workshops that existed in the 15-17th centuries, where masters taught several students directly at work. The modern model of such schools implies intensive work in small groups on specific cases and projects under the guidance of established specialists. At the same time, the studios maintain the status of schools thanks to the integrated system of studying the basic compulsory subjects (English, mathematics and the science), which allows students to enter any university after school. Access to the school-studios is completely free, tuition is free, but they are available only to citizens and residents of England.

    Educational programs in English schools

    The variety of programs available in English schools is sometimes fascinating: each private school offers the reader dozens of abbreviations, the meaning of which is not always clear not only to foreigners, but also the residents of Albion. The following are the most common types of educational programs in England.
    NameFull titleMin. ageDuration, yearsNext stageCost
    GCSEGeneral Certificate of Secondary Education141–2A-Level6458+ GBP
    A-LevelAdvanced Level162university8476+ GBP
    BTECBusiness and Technology Education Council 142-3university/job7426+ GBP
    Oxbridge PreparationPreparation for Oxford and Cambridge171university9687+ GBP
    IBInternational Baccalaureate162university9687+ GBP
    Foundation Year-171university10655+ GBP
    NCUKThe Northern Consortium17.512 University course NCUK10736+ GBP
    Special preparation (Medics/Math/Business)-14optionaloptional2664+ GBP
    Academic English-146-12 monthsschool or university5247+ GBP

    GCSE / IGCSE — General Certificate of Secondary Education

    This program is a classic example of secondary education, which is clear to parents from any country. GCSE is a certificate that is issued to a student after 11 years of school. However, it does not give the right to go to university. At the end the exams are taken and future specialization for future studies may be chosen. But it will take an English student two more years to become eligible for admission. The iGCSE option is the same certificate, but with an international orientation — the students receive it if they plan to enter a foreign college.

    A-Level — Advanced Level

    A-Level is the most critical time in a student’s life in the UK, which is essentially a two-year intensive preparation for the final Advanced Level exams. At the initial stage of this program, students determine for themselves the desired field of study, that includes 3-5 subjects. Then, based on this choice, a class schedule is formed, each of which is devoted to an in-depth study of the subject. Since the A-Level exam is conducted by an independent commission, not a single school teacher can know for sure what questions will come up, so students have a difficult task — to cover a huge amount of information in one year. As a rule, students choose more or less related subjects (such as literature, English language, linguistics and dramaturgy), which allows not only to ease the burden, but also grasp a certain direction better. However, many students choose subjects not only according to their future specialty, but also according to their interests — this is how a strange combination like biology, mathematics, photography and psychology can arise. It should be noted that university admissions committees often welcome a variety of interests from an applicant. The important thing is that at the end of the school the knowledge is sufficient enough for one specific area, called a Major at British universities.
    Teachers of English schools strive to help students to succeed in exams, since not only it affects the prestige of the school, but also the rating of the teacher depends on the results. The student can choose when to take exams (in January or June), but the bulk of students take them precisely at the end of the school year. At the end of the program, A-Level students have access to the university: A-Level results are recognized by universities throughout the UK, as well as in the USA, Canada, Australia, Asia and Europe.

    BTEC in England

    BTEC is an acronym that stands for "Business and Technology Educational Council" and also refers to a special type of qualification in UK schools. This is a specialized program with a special emphasis on practice. This option is suitable for those children who learn best in practice and who would like to apply their knowledge more quickly in professional activities. The BTEC diploma allows you to get a job or an internship right after school and gain professional experience simultaneously with theoretical knowledge — this practice is especially useful in such areas as business, engineering, education, art, tourism and social work.

    Unlike standard GCSE and A-Level programs, BTEC does not imply a scientific or research career, although you can change the learning path if you wish. It should be borne in mind that not all universities recognize BTEC on a par with A-Levels. You can enroll in BTEC after 8 years of study (including in a foreign school), and you can study at it up to the master's level, combining study with work, which is especially convenient in England thanks to the developed part-time higher education system.

    Oxbridge Preparation

    The Oxbridge preparation program, as the name suggests, prepares students for admission to the two oldest and most prestigious universities in the world — Oxford and Cambridge universities. Many people know how difficult it is even for the native British to get there — only about 10% of the total number of applications are accepted.
    The admission program consists of submitting general documents like an entrance exam, written work and interviews. However, when entering Oxbridge, these stages can take the most unexpected turn: an uncertain or typical answer to trivial interview questions can be fatal for a graduate of the most elite school, and the average score for an exam can be completely overlooked thanks to a brilliant motivation letter. Specialists of schools offering the Oxbridge preparation program have extensive experience and know all the tricks of admission. Of course, no one can guarantee admission, but the chance increases significantly when the applicant knows what to expect.
    The program can vary greatly from school to school: somewhere it includes a three-week interview briefing, and somewhere it includes an annual preparation for entrance exams. If we are talking about a short-term program, then it will include a visit to universities, communication with representatives of the selection committee and express preparation for the interview. As part of a long program, a student usually goes through a standard school year, during which, along with A-Level, he prepares for entrance exams at Oxbridge and learns about the application process. If admission is still unsuccessful, the results of the Oxbridge Examination Center can serve well when entering other top universities.

    The IB program in England

    IB (International Baccalaureate) program is a widely sought-after pre-university education program, popular with both foreigners and the English. It was developed in Switzerland in the late 1960s as a project of international qualification, which would be accepted by universities around the world and thus increased the mobility of students. Today, IB is the most widely recognized international diploma and equivalent of entrance exams to top universities in England, the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia. The program is perfect for those who plan to enroll in several universities located in different countries at once — for example, Stanford and Oxford at the same time. Foreigners often choose IB in order to bridge the gap between the school system of their country and the country of the desired university, however, in the student classes of English IB schools, the ratio of English to foreign students is roughly the same.
    The IB curriculum is student-oriented, partly interdisciplinary and has a high quality education. Students pass two blocks of subjects: the first — elective — consists of three subjects chosen by the student in accordance with the faculty for which admission is planned. You can choose from 6 main areas: English, foreign language acquisition, arts, sciences and mathematics. The second — compulsory — includes three components: an independent essay preparation, a course on the theory of knowledge and the subject "Creativity, Activity, Service", which involves the development of social inclusion — a fairly common method in Western schools that teaches a student consciousness, responsibility and mercy. By the end of the school year, the student passes exams in all the subjects, and in accordance with the results of exams and general performance during the year, he receives a certificate with an assessment. The higher the score, the brighter the university future shines for him.

    Foundation Year program in England

    This program is designed for those who need training or reorientation before entering an English university. Often, such programs are offered by universities themselves, but they can also be taken in schools, which will be slightly cheaper. The Foundation Year has two main objectives: to improve the student's language skills and prepare him for the university workload. In addition, the Foundation Year is necessary for future students who graduated from school in countries where the school system does not correspond to the English one.
    Finally, students who have completed the training program are much more likely to enter a top university and receive a scholarship, so in the long run, Foundation Year can help save a significant amount of money. The curriculum offers annual academic English courses for students with a level from Intermediate, a general preparatory block of subjects in English, and sometimes specialized training with an average load. Although the Foundation Year diploma is not common to all schools, it is still recognized by almost all universities, not only in England, but also in the USA, Asia and Australia.

    The NCUK in England

    NCUK stands for Northern Consortium, that is a special educational fund uniting 11 British universities in the implementation of the international NCUK project. As part of this project, special annual programs are available in several English schools, after graduation from which the student is guaranteed admission to the second year of a Consortium member university. You can study in one of four areas: business, pharmacology, engineering and IT. The curriculum is about 20 hours a week and includes business or academic English courses, specialized subjects and work on projects.

    Professional preparation to the universities of England

    It is known that enrolling to some university faculties is particularly difficult: among those are medicine, law, mathematics and science. That is why those who want to enter high ranking universities or simply do not want to fail the entrance exams, very often undergo preparatory programs in their specialty. The UK schools are aware of the popularity of such programs and offer a variety of options on the basis of secondary education. In general, schools offer studies in the fields that it already excels at. The schools that are strong in math, prepare its students for admission to the fields of exact sciences, schools that are strong in humanities organize summer camps in literature and philosophy, and art schools offer preparation programs that will help the students to get into the best art academies. The length of such programs could be anything from 2 weeks to a year. A student can receive a serious specialized training or just spend a couple of weeks searching for the field of his or her liking.

    Academic English for admission to universities in England


    The program of academic English is included in almost any of the options described above, but it can be completed separately. The program involves not just learning the language, but also mastering the vocabulary, academic writing, reading scientific texts and training verbal skills — all of this helps to improve English and acquire the skills necessary in the future. You can take such courses in a language school, however, if a student plans to continue to prepare for A-Level, then secondary school education will help to avoid further risks and unnecessary costs. The main difference from programs like Foundation is the lack of purely specialized classes at school and great adaptability to students from different countries and with different levels of English.

    Facts

    Rating in the world1
    Foreign students20%
    Minimum age14 years
    Language of instructionEnglish
    Minimum level of EnglishB1
    Cost/year19,685-52,492 USD
    Cost of living/year9,186-23,622 USD
    Compulsory subjectsEnglish, mathematics, science

    Academic calendar



    I trimesterSeptember-November
    II trimesterJanuary-March
    III trimesterApril-June
    Location on map