London: Schools for Expats

London School Sketch

If you're moving to London with your family, the first item on your To Do List will be to freak out about find schools for the kids. As you will soon learn, it's never too early to start applying. If you find out you're moving to London on Monday morning, start researching schools that same day. Almost everyone has a horror story about exams, applications, fees and waitlists. But don't worry! It's not always as bad as it sounds - at least it wasn't for us. Here's how I organized our search:

1) English schools

We ruled out English schools early on in our process for a few reasons. First, we were really keen on a French/bilingual school. Second, one of our daughters would have transferred in at Year 6 - the year when students prepare for and take the exams that dictate which secondary school they will get into. Many say that Year 6 can be a difficult year of test taking and we thought it might make for a rocky transition. That being said, I've since learned about some pretty amazing English day schools.

Oh! I should mention this: When Brits say public school, they mean independent, fee-based schools (what we call private schools here in the US). I have no idea why they do this, but it seems intentionally confusing. Here are a few links if you decide to go the English school route:

2) International Schools

These are schools that cater to expats and/or international students.  The American School of London, in particular, has a good reputation. We took a tour and were impressed with a lot of what they offer. Ultimately, we wanted a bilingual program so we went in a different direction.

If you decide to go the international school route, I highly recommend applying early and taking a tour or the school (when school is in session). You will learn a great deal about the school's philosophy and personality. Here are some international schools in London to get you started:

3) French Schools

They say London is France's sixth largest city - so it's no surprise that the Lycée in South Kensington has been over-subscribed for years. New French schools are FINALLY opening and/or expanding to fill the demand. Nonetheless, you should do your research and apply early and often. (Also- check the OFSTED reports. Some schools may be growing too fast.)

Primary Schools (end at Grade 5):


P.S. Whatever you decide - apply early! And apply to a few backups!

P.P.S. For what's it worth, our top choice (and we got in!) was L'école Internationale Franco-Anglaise. My #2 choice probably would've been Ecole Jeannine Manuel.