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UK study  Choosing an institution  State, independent and boarding schools

State, independent and boarding schools  

Education is compulsory in the UK for children aged from 5 to 17.

If you bring dependants between these ages with you to the UK, you must arrange full-time education for them. There are state schools in every area, and there are also many private schools that accept international students up to the age of 18.

State schools

Most UK children attend free schools run by the state system. This means schools are maintained and funded by central government or their local education authority.

Independent schools

In the independent system, schools are not supported by the state, and parents will usually pay the fees. The UK’s long-established and highly respected independent boarding schools welcome students from around the world.

There are three main types of independent boarding school for students aged 7–18 years. These are preparatory schools (sometimes called junior schools), senior schools (sometimes called secondary schools) and independent colleges (which are often referred to as tutorial or sixth-form colleges).

Boarding schools

These can be state-run (there are currently 36 boarding schools in the state sector in the UK), but the majority are independent.

Find out more from the UK Boarding Schools site.

More about UK educational institutions

English language schools
Sixth-form/tutorial colleges
Independent colleges
Further education colleges
Higher education colleges


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