How to find a school for foreign kid in England

I am German, wife Taiwanese and she is hellbent on moving to England from Taiwan. Brexit aside it is still possible, because EU free roaming of people is in place until Dec 31 2020. We would have to register for the pre-settled program and then everything would be fine. In 5 years even citizenship could be obtained if one wanted to and would know what happened in 1016 or so and what was William the Conqueror’s favourite cotpiece.
That aside, I am worried about the schooling. Wife wants English school for our son to escape the German grammar and he being able to communicate well with English kids and listening and understanding English TV and movies might do okay. Well, I worry the reading and writing part which would have to be started from scratch. Not looking forward to explain to him why “low” and “cow” get pronounced differently.
So far we would probabaly not be able to afford a prep school for him (he is 8 y.o. and currently in 2nd grade of German section/TES) so it would be a primary school being offered by the government I guess.
So far I found out I have to contact the *shire-school admission office, so possible Stratford-upon-Avon school admission office, if we move to there (close to pre-existing English relatives).
Everybody seems to take this step for granted and never describes it anywhere on the Internet. Not that I found it at least. So how does this work (going there, which school will I get, what trouble can we expect if I show up there freshly arrived and without an English social insurance number and my German bank account)? Any experience, thoughts and comments welcome.
And yes, I still try to convince her to choose Germany…

There are education consultants that can help you every step of the way. I am using William Clarence for applying for my masters in the U.K. But they are not cheap. There are probably other ones if you look.

Tell her England is not a good place for Germans to live after Brexit that might convince her. If not then move fast as times are changing. Britain will soon be on an Australian style points immigration system. Generally kids go to the local comp (comprehensive school) closest to their house. House prices go up near good schools. Mine went to the local church school which had extremely good academic standards , but you have to go to church a bit (or at least that helps with admission) to church of England schools.

Thank you all. One question. So do you guys physically go to the local school admission office and say: I have my kid here and he needs a school? I will look into the William Clearance thing.
I am wondering if the school admission will assign a school place for a foreign kid as well or if we will be end of the line or ignored.

IME Taiwanese often have an image of England that is far from reality.

I’d choose Germany.


True although the poster is moving to Stratford on Avon not Moss Side or some North Eastern ghost town, so his family would be fine. If they reside there then their kids have to be given a school place, not doing so is against the law. He’s chosen a nice area to live. England goes from extremes and sometimes just travelling one hour away can go from a depressing nightmare to a wonderful quaint English town.

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If they haven’t already a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon is advisable before moving there. A tourist nightmare with astronomical property prices.

EDIT: I’m out of touch with the house prices. Just ran a search and there’s some nice affordable places.

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oh ok good point. I thought he’s been there as he has family in England, but I might be wrong and I presumed he was fairly “comfortable” :thinking: because he was moving to a “respectable” area.

School admissions are handled at county level. In the case of Stratford-Upon-Avon that’s Warwickshire (

They may operate some kind of advice centre you can physically go to, but probably the application will be done online.

Okay, then the process is pretty clear. Wife and I were very comfortable in Warwickshire, kind of the first time we had an environment we both liked. Living in a rented little wing of a fine cottage next to the local Lord’s mansion gate with the lamas someone had outside peeking over the gate was a bit of a vacation fairytale England. But I also know the working class Worcester scene from the old days and liked it.
Now wife only saw the fairy tale version so being comfortable or not surely will depend on the housing we would find. That is probably what I should discuss next with her :wink: Because that place next to the mansion is out of the question.

An Update. There is nothing on the TV anyways. Of course the wife wants the place next to the Lord’s mansion again. For a time at least. And then find a place to live. Okay, let’s assume we would have rented a little house somewhere and then I apply online at the Warwickshire school admission office (got the link) for a school place for our son.
Any idea how long the processing might take? Would not want him to be without schooling for months…

Main question in bold above.

It is however a nightmare to thing he has to re-start in an English school. He has just learned reading and (still not very good) writing in German and to restart him in English. Yikes. He speaks rather well and understands next to everything in English, but how to spell words is a mystery to him. He will pronounce English words he reads in German of course. His English class in the German school in Taipei focusses on speaking now. Did anybody attempt such a thing before? Of course the wife follows her Taiwanese “don’t think too much” approach here…

Why does she not consider Germany and love England so much?

5-6 weeks is the answer the admission office gave me (processing time)

Pretty much as simple as go there, find somewhere to live, rock up to the local school and so ‘hey can I play too?’

The local councils have a responsibility to educate everyone of school age, if you go somewhere with v few schools you will almost certainly get put into the closest one. If there are multiple schools then you may be able to choose which one and if they have space you’ll get in .

There is a massive difference living somewhere and working there and visiting when you are on holiday.

maaaaaaate why do you want to turn to the dark side? germany is a much fairer land than england. tell your wife she is smoking crack and not to believe dumb ass asian stereotypes such as england is full of tophat wearing gentlemen.

if she really wants your kid to learn english i’m sure he can do it there. i have a german sister and nephew and their english is great.

With that in mind the transition to writing English should be easy. I wouldn’t overthink language as a factor there.

She might be right!

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While I know nothing of the German primary curriculum, I know the English one. Children have been learning to read and write since Year 1, and as your son will be 8 or older when he starts, that would put him in Year 4. By that age, children are reading small chapter books and producing written work from a wide range of genres. When I say written work, I mean several paragraphs long reports or complex narratives that go well beyond a few simple sentences.

I don’t mean to put a downer on your plans, but given that your son can’t read or write in English yet, he would most likely need language support in order to catch up because the English curriculum is writing heavy - almost every arts subject has a major piece of writing at the end.

If your wife insists on moving to England then your son should start learning to read in English as soon as possible to help him transition and ultimately cope in class.

Another poster started that the transition to writing English should be easy - I disagree. He has to learn to read first before he can start to encode words. Once he’s at the stage where he can read and has some understanding of phonics then he can make use of his speaking to write. In addition, students in England are expected to be secure with phonics by the end of Year 2, so what he needs to catch up on might not be taught in the classroom in Year 4 (depending on the school.

It all comes back to the demands of the English curriculum. There’s a lot of writing and he will have quite a bit of catching up to do, but if you start now with learning to read, that and his speaking skills will support him with his writing when the time comes.

Of all the overseas students I’ve encountered at our school over the years, the ones who settle best are the ones whose parents have prepared them as much as possible because then they are not so far behind their peers. If a student can read then they can go straight into a guided reading group and thus interact with classmates. For non readers or very low level readers, the option is usually reading as an individual with a staff member and missing out on engaging with other students.

To be honest, I’m with you on the whole starting school again in English. It sounds like a nightmare for your son and all because your wife dreams of idyllic England. What happens if she doesn’t like it and wants to move back to Taiwan? I’m with other posters, choose Germany, especially for your son’s sake. I’m sure they’re are plenty of idyllic places in Germany for her to fall in love with. Can’t you rent the cottage next to the Lord’s manor in Germany? There must be a few.

Thank you all for your kind input. I will basically seize all activity as the wife is not certain at all where to go. And with her failed expat attempts it is surely better to be cautious here. We are jumping in between 3 countries in our discussion and … the end result will surely be to stay in Taipei. :laughing: