Blogs > Life in the UK

How to apply for UK schools

  • August 17, 2022

Your NHS position has been secured, now you get to do the fun part - relocating! Setting up your children in great schools is always a priority for our doctors. The good news is the UK has a variety of schools to choose from and a high standard of state (free) schools as well as private education.

Apply for a State schools in the UK

You can apply for a place at a state primary school online or by using your local council’s application form. Find out what schools are available in your area by typing in your postcode here. Each school will have their own set of admission criteria. All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these.

They may give priority to children:

  • who live close to the school
  • who have a brother or sister at the school already
  • from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • who pass an entrance exam (for selective schools, for example grammar schools)
  • who went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’)
  • who are eligible for the pupil premium or the service pupil premium
  • whose parent has worked at the school for 2 years or more


Your local council can give you information about schools’ criteria and how to apply.

Follow your local council’s application process to:

Because you may be applying from another country, contact the local council in the area where you’re going to live.

You may need to:

  • supply proof of your new address, for example a mortgage or rental agreement or deeds for the property
  • prove that you’ll live in the area before the start of the next school term

School starting age

Most children start school full-time in the September after their fourth birthday. This means they’ll turn 5 during their first school year.

For example, if your child’s fourth birthday is between 1 September 2021 and 31 August 2022 they will usually start school in September 2022.

Completing your application as an IMG

When you fill in the form (online or on paper) you’ll be asked to list the schools you’re applying for in order of preference. Please note, listing only one school will not increase your chances of getting a place there.

Contact your local council to find out about applying for a school place once the school year has started (known as in-year applications). They can tell you which schools still have places and how to apply.

Once your child has been offered a place, they will usually start school at the beginning of the following term.

How can we help?

If you are an international Doctor and you need support in relocating to the UK and joining the NHS – we can help you! Email your CV to [email protected] today.

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 vlogs and blogs 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 100 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go to IMG Advisor the Podcast. You can find 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.


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