28 June 2021
If you are one of the estimated 200,000 people the Foreign Office has estimated will move from Hong Kong to the UK with a BNO visa following recent political changes, making the decision to repatriate may seem to be the hardest one of many. However, if you have school-aged children, the most challenging decisions are likely to centre around education and schools. Key issues to consider as you turn your mind to the educational aspect of making that leap of faith might include:
1. Your child’s UK curriculum year group. This is essential information as it can affect how easy it will be to find a place. Certain year groups – in both the state and independent sectors – are harder than others in which to find places. This includes Reception – the first year of school when your child is 4 – and year 7, when your child is 11. These are the years when every child of that age is applying for places. If you are very late in applying (applications are usually made a year before entry) it will still be possible to find a place but availability is likely to be limited and choice will be tight.
2. What academic level your child has reached. Do they speak English fluently? How strong is their maths and written English? All independent schools are likely to assess your child and this will include written assessments. An interview, usually virtual by zoom, is also likely to be part of this process. Many independent schools in the UK, particularly in London, are highly selective academically, so it’s important to be realistic about your child’s abilities.
3. What kind of school will suit your child. Are they creative? Passionate about sport or music? Perhaps what drives them is a desire to perform and they would wilt without lots of opportunities to act. The UK is well known for the breadth that many independent schools offer. The extra-curricular activities can be a key component of your child’s welfare. Participating in activities they love might boost their confidence and help all other aspect of their school life falls into place so they will flourish across the board.
4. What kind of curriculum you would like your child to study. If they have been at an international school in Hong Kong which does the IB and MYP programme, is this something you would like to continue? A growing number of UK independent schools offer a choice of A level or IB. There are also a number of international schools, mainly in and around London that offer the PYP, MYP and IB diploma programmes.
5. How much it costs. Having done your financial calculations, you may decide to look at state school options. Look at the area in which you intend to live, and research the schools in a two mile radius. As a general rule the closer you live to the school the more chance you will have of getting a place. However you cannot apply to state schools until you have moved and can provide proof of residence at an address. State boarding schools have slightly different criteria and there may be more flexibility.
6. Special needs. It is possible that your child has struggled at their school in Hong Kong. Perhaps they have a learning difficulty that has only recently been identified or you are still trying to understand what is holding them back.
Might you need help from The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants?
The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants regularly helps families moving to the UK find schools. We have a range of personalised services which you and your family will find invaluable when planning your relocation.