'Starting your UK education in an independent school is the perfect opportunity to learn about UK life and culture. You can study for world-famous qualifications that will set you on the path to future success.'
Study at a UK independent school and you'll experience a modern and multicultural environment. Staff will be on hand seven days a week to help you with your studies and to organise social events, sporting activities, music, drama and much more. You'll have fantastic opportunities to develop as a person and make friends with other students from all over the world.
Gain qualifications that UK universities want
If you want to continue your studies in the UK, the qualifications you'll gain at a UK independent school can help you move on to your chosen course and institution.
A UK independent school will offer you the support you need throughout your studies. You may not speak much English when you come to the UK, but you'll improve quickly once you're here. Unlike many students who need to complete an international foundation year before embarking on a UK higher education course, you'll be able move straight on to a degree.
By studying in the UK you can focus on the subjects that really interest you from an early stage. You can choose combinations such as:
- physics, mathematics and further mathematics
- economics, politics and sociology
- music, drama and English.
Your academic studies will have clear focus that will prepare you for a degree. You'll be picking up specialist knowledge and learning the facts and figures that you can build on at university.
Guardians for children under 16
All international students under the age of 16 should have a guardian. This should be someone resident in the UK, normally over the age of 25, who can care for you if you are suddenly ill, or during vacations, half terms and at weekends if you cannot go home. Most schools insist that a guardian is appointed. However, in Scotland, this is a requirement in all schools. More information on guardianship can be obtained from the Independent Schools Council website.
Courses to study at UK independent schools
GCSEs are the standard school-leaver qualifications taken by virtually all UK students. If you come to a UK independent school before you reach 16, you'll study towards GCSE examinations in up to 12 subjects (on average, students take eight). Some subjects are compulsory, including English and mathematics, and you can select others, such as single or combined sciences, foreign languages, music, drama, geography and history, from a series of options.
GCSEs provide a good all-round education that you can build on in the sixth-form, at college and eventually at university. Some schools offer IGCSEs, the international equivalent of the GCSE.
AS- and A-levels are taken after GCSEs. They're the UK qualifications most widely accepted for entry to university. They are available in subjects such as the humanities, arts, sciences and social sciences, as well as in practical subjects such as engineering, and leisure and tourism.
You can study up to four subjects simultaneously over two years. AS-level examinations are taken at the end of your first year (called the lower-sixth or Year 12) and A-level qualifications at the end of your second year (called the upper-sixth or Year 13).
- International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB Diploma)
International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes include the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for pupils aged three to 12, Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16 and the Diploma Programme for students aged 16 to 19. The Diploma is the most popular. This is a two-year pre-university programme that is an alternative to A-levels and is recognised for entry into higher education in the UK.
You are required to study three subjects at higher level and three at standard, complete the Theory of Knowledge course and an extended essay, as well as participate in Creativity, Action and Service. English, a second language and maths are compulsory at either higher or standard levels.
There are more than 130 IB schools in the UK offering one or more of the three IB programmes.
- The Cambridge Pre-U Diploma
The Cambridge Pre-U Diploma, developed by Cambridge International Assessment, is offered in some schools and colleges as preparation for university and as an alternative to A-levels and the IB Diploma. To gain the diploma, you will need to study three principal subjects, as well as complete an independent research report and a course on global perspectives. Individual Pre-U elements may also be studied alongside A-levels.
For information, visit the University of Cambridge website.
At many UK independent schools, you can take part in extra-curricular activities to develop your hobbies and learn new skills. Music is a popular pastime at many schools, and you may be encouraged to take graded music exams offered by awarding bodies such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, or Trinity College. The exam grades gained from these are widely accepted toward university entry requirements. Similarly well-recognised examinations are available in ballet, dance and speech and drama.