Finding a school in the UK as an international doctor relocating to the UK

Pupils in a classroom facing the board with their hands raised

Relocating to the UK as an international doctor or nurse is already a complicated process, that can be made even more confusing if you have children to worry about. One of the biggest concerns of relocating as a family is finding a good school for your child. It is also something that needs to be prioritised, so that your child doesn’t miss out on any important educational milestones.  

When choosing a school, there are many considerations to be had, such as distance/commutability to your home, its rankings and educational reputation, and any extracurriculars or programs offered that might suit your child’s interests. This article breaks down the steps you would need to take to ensure that your child’s transition into the UK school system is seamless.  

The school system in the UK and what you need to do to enroll 

Children between the ages of 5-16 are required to be in full-time education, and are entitled to a free place at a state school. This includes foreign national children with UK residency status. To register with a school, you will need proof of right to abode, an immigration status that allows them to enter the UK and study at school, and proof of address. Proof of address can be in the form of a mortgage or rental agreement, letter from a parents’ employer demonstrating work in the area, or GP registration.   

While the same immigration policies apply across all nations within the UK, each country has its own education system, guidance and laws, and may follow different curriculums.  

Finding a school for you  

Children from ages 5-11 will attend a primary school, and children from 11-16 will attend secondary school. There are several different types of schools in the UK: 

  • Community schools, which are sometimes called ‘local authority maintained schools’, which are not influenced by business or religious groups and follow the national curriculum 
  • Foundation and voluntary schools, which are funded by the local authority but have more power to change the way they do things. Sometimes they are supported by representatives from religious groups  
  • Academies and free schools, which are run by not-for-profit academy trusts, are independent from the local authority  
  • Grammar schools, which can be run by the local authority, a foundation body or an academy trust. These schools select pupils based on academic ability and there is a test to get in.   

It is advisable to try and enroll your child in a school in time for a new year, rather than enrolling them in the middle of the school year, as this may cause some delays in their learning and social integration, as well as be more complicated from an admissions perspective  

You can find out more information about a primary and secondary schools by:  

  • visiting the school – most schools have open days 
  • reading the school’s most recent Ofsted reports 
  • checking school performance tables 
  • talking to other parents about what they think of the school 

Different schooling options 

The UK offers several different types of schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Children with SEND will get specialist support at school, with each school having a specialist education needs coordinator, or SENCO. There are also several specialist schools – you can find out more here. 

There are also several international schools in the UK, offering British and country-specific curriculums, religious-based or alternative education. These schools provide internationally recognised qualifications. This may be a good option for your child if they have been previously enrolled in a school of this type, meaning they will not have to adjust to a new educational system. These schools are not state funded and can be costly.  

There are many private schools in the UK where a child can benefit from a wider range of extracurriculars to choose from, smaller class numbers and boarding options. These schools offer a diverse curriculum – but again, they are not state funded and may be costly.   


Relocating to the UK is hard, especially if you have kids – but with the right guidance, finding a school for your children can be made easier. In this blog, we have outlined the main steps to take and considerations you should make during this process.  

Remedium remains available to support you in your journey to the UK as an IMG. For more insights from Remedium, sign up to our newsletter here 

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