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State vs Private Schooling - What is the difference?

  • March 18, 2020

Education is an important part of raising children and preparing them to live successful lives and we understand that if you have children, finding the right school for them is a crucial step of your relocation journey. In this blog, we have identified the main differences between Private and State Schools in order for you to have a wider understanding of education within the UK.


The main and most obvious difference between State and Private schools is how they are funded. Whilst State schools are financed by the government, Private Schools are largely financed by school fees paid by parents. This means that tuition fees for Private Schools tend to be high and expensive. On the other hand, private schools often have more financial aid access and consequently can award scholarships. On average, Private Secondary School Fees in the UK per year for day pupils are £15,000, whilst a boarder would pay £33,000.


As previously mentioned, some parents opt to pay more in order to have their children ‘board. A boarding school provides education for pupils who live on the premises, as opposed to a day school. The majority of UK boarding schools are private however there are a few state schools in the UK where students can board for an additional price. For Private schools, you will need to pay for tuition and boarding.  Boarding fees generally cover items such as accommodation, food and drink and laundry. It is important to note that every school is different and consequently we advise Asking the schools that you are interested in what they offer in their ‘boarding package’.

Class Size

Private schools do tend to be much smaller in size than State Schools, and thus may provide a more interactive and personal learning experience for students. The average class size in Secondary schools in the UK is currently 22 pupils, decreasing to 14 pupils at A-Levels whilst private schools may range from 8-15 pupils.


While a Private school might be more desirable due to class sizes, this might also result in fewer subject choices within the curriculum. Whilst the curriculum will always contain Core and STEM subjects, such as Science, Maths, English, Languages, I.T, History and Geography, there will be less choice of specific subspecialties within the curriculum for students.  


The application process for state schools is generic. You must apply through your local authority for a place at a primary or secondary school, even if it’s linked to your child’s current primary school. Most local authorities will ask for a list of three or four schools in order of preference, however London requests six. If your child qualifies for more than one of the schools, you will be offered a place for the school that is highest on your list.

If you want to apply to a private school, you will need to check out their specific websites as each establishment will have its own specific process. It is advisable to plan a few years ahead if you have a specific private school in mind, as many secondary private schools will have ‘feeder schools’, from which they take the majority of their first year intake. If you ae considering private education, visit the website of the Independent Schools Council.

Both Private and State schools will have their own admissions criteria. It is important for you to read the admissions criteria you look the look of, before filling in your application form. If you do not meet one of the first few criteria bands of the school you apply for, you are most unlikely to get a place.

Relocation to the UK

If you are an international doctor who would like to relocate to the UK and join the NHS, email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS post and on your journey to relocate to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs to the group every day. We will also be on hand to answer all of your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 60 videos covering everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS.

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go with IMG Advisor the Podcast. You can listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.


References (2020). Boarding schools | British Council. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020].

ThoughtCo. (2020). Public vs. Private Schools: 5 Major Differences. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020].

Writer, S., Walsh, J., Walsh, J., Walsh, J. and Walsh, J. (2020). Private School vs. State School: Which Would Work Best for You? - Peterson's. [online] Peterson's. Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020].


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