Nothing struck more fear into the hearts of my two daughters than going to school for the first time in England. The burgundy blazer with the giant egg emblazoned on the tie and the front of the jacket didn’t help matters either.
My daughters were 15 and 11 when we moved to England. They had both attended the same school rural Manitoba with the same group of kids since they started kindergarten. To say it was an adjustment is an understatement. The biggest issue was they weren’t sure what grade my oldest daughter should be in and it took them about a month to figure that out. Thankfully, they only had to attend the first school for one term until we moved to smaller town with a much better school. Happy Days!
In the UK, schools are either provided by the local government authority (State Schools) and are free for all pupils, or they are Independent Schools that charge school admission fees. All children must attend full-time education until the age of 16. Once they reach the age of 16 they can then go on to Sixth Form and no longer are required to wear a uniform (which pleased both of my kids greatly).
Up until the age of 16 children will be required to wear a school uniform and the school will give you a list of what you’ll need to purchase. For the most part it’ll be either skirt or trousers, shirt, tie, blazer or jumper (sweater). They will advise what type of shoes you will need (usually black/no sneakers or runners) and they are pretty strict on how kids can wear their hair as well as makeup and/or jewelry. There are uniform shops all over the place and they will have a list of the different schools uniform requirements if you happen to misplace your copy.
Primary School starts in Year 1 (5 years old). Most pupils begin their secondary education at the age of 11 (Year 7). When they turn 16 (Year 11), all pupils take a series of exams called the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), usually in about eight to ten subjects, which must include English and Mathematics.
In Scotland, pupils move to secondary education at the age of 12. At the age of 16 they take exams called Standard Grades and then move on to Highers and Advanced Highers.
Independent schools have their own admissions procedures so you will need to apply to them directly.