UK Secondary Institutions

There are various different types of secondary school in the private sector of UK Education so making the right choice can be confusing. There are independent boarding schools, tutorial colleges, international study centres and sixth form colleges all offering secondary education in the UK. Here we try and help you make sense of it all and explain what is on offer to get your child successfully into a UK university.

What is an independent school?

This term covers all fee-paying schools which are independent of government control over admissions. They still mainly teach the National Curriculum (GCSEs and so on), but many are now offering the International Baccalaureate instead of or as well as A-Levels.

They are sometimes new schools set up in the private sector, but mostly they tend to have long histories such as Eton, founded in 1440 and Harrow in 1572. You still have to pass an exam to get in, it’s called The Common Entrance Exam, and it is normally taken at age 13 because pupils at independent schools normally enter at a later age than in the state sector.

They vary enormously in ethos and quality, of course, but your GetSet advisor will be able to advise which of them is most suitable for your needs.

Are all UK independent schools boarding schools?

Not all independent schools have boarding as a lot of them are day schools and some of the schools that were once just boarding schools now have many places for day students.

Unaccompanied overseas students will need to be placed at a boarding school, preferably one that is predominantly boarding as opposed to a day school that has just a few boarding places.

Call GetSet and our counsellors will help you select the right school for your child.

Coed or Single Sex?

Co-ed means boys and girls studying together though if at a co-ed boarding school, the boys and girls are housed in separate boarding houses. Most schools are now coed but a few boys schools and girls schools remain.

There are many pros and cons for both co-ed and single sex education but the decision is ultimately that of the parents. GetSet can help bring to your attention many of the different issues surrounding this question.

What are Sixth-Form Colleges?

These began to become popular in the 1960s and generally provide a high level of tuition, doing well in league tables.

Most are government funded and form an integral part of the secondary education system, preparing 16-18 year-olds for university via A-Levels and the International Baccalaureate. Other courses such as BTEQ and NVQ are available at many.

What are Tutorial Colleges?

Tutorial colleges offer a more intense academic preparation, and are successful at raising less academic students to the level required for university entrance, preparing students to re-sit their A-Levels, and preparing overseas students for university entrance, mostly via the A-Level route. Many also offer language training, GCSEs, and other further education

As they are more intensive, and have a higher teacher-student ratio than most other institutions, they tend to be a bit more expensive. Your GetSet advisor will be able to advise whether or not your child would be better suited to this kind of intensive academic environment.

What is an International Study Centre?

As the name suggests, these are schools set up to teach overseas pupils from an early age to ages 16 or 18, and prepare them for university entrance or as a stepping stone to enter a UK independent school. They are privately funded and specialise in giving a British education to overseas students who have completed some of their education abroad.

The schools are specially geared towards the particular needs of overseas students preparing for independent school or university and are very suitable for students who were not educated abroad in English.

Your GetSet advisor can discuss with you whether this sort of school or a UK-student-focused school would be best for you.