Admission advice for international arrivals
The following information will explain the process you should follow if you are planning to bring a child of school age into the country. This may be because you will be working or studying in or near Devon, including at Exeter or Plymouth Universities.
In England, children must be in full-time education between the ages of 5 and 16. This can be in a state school, in an independent school or at home if you are making your own arrangements to teach your child. For younger children, there are nurseries, pre-schools and childminders. For older children, there are sixth form colleges and further education colleges.
If you want your child to go to any of these nurseries, schools or colleges, please be aware that you must apply for a place there. Schools won’t accept children unless you have applied for a place and get confirmation that a place is available. The sooner you can make arrangements for school places the better although you may need to have confirmation of a visa allowing entry to the country in order to apply from abroad.
Parents can apply for a place at any school and, if there is room there, a place will be offered. This can mean, however, that some schools will be full and you shouldn’t assume that a place will be available at the school you would most like your child to go to. Places are not reserved for new arrivals, even where the child will be living next to the school.
We would encourage you to think about how your child will be educated when you are thinking about coming to Devon to work or study. All of our schools have websites giving information about what they have to offer children.
Once your child is here, he or she will be entitled to attend a state-funded school. These schools are free of charge and provide education for children between the ages of 4 and 18. It is important that you follow these 5 steps if you would like your child to attend a state school.
You are encouraged to visit schools and to look at their websites to help you to decide on the schools you prefer. All schools will provide the same curriculum but they do vary in size, some have a Christian faith ethos, they have different types of buildings and more or less outside space. You might prefer one school over another.
When you have decided on the school or the schools you are interested in, you must make a formal application for admission. Not all schools will have a vacancy for your child. Some will be full with a waiting list and it is wise to look at more than one in case any are unable to take your child. You can make an application by contacting the School Admissions Team based in Exeter on +44 345 1015 1019. They will be able to advise you which schools have vacancies in your child’s year group and to help you with the application. Please note that:
- you can make your application before you arrive in England though you may be asked to provide a copy of passports and visas
- if your child is aged 4 or 11, applications for places at the beginning of September in the reception class or in year 7 can be made up to 12 months in advance. Apply then if you can, otherwise apply as soon as you can.
- for other places, applications can be made at any time but no more than 2 months in advance.
The Admissions Team will contact schools and ensure that your child is offered a school place, either where you asked or, if that school is full, at an alternative as close to your home as possible. You must wait for this offer before contacting schools again.
Once you have been offered a place, you should contact the school and make an appointment to visit the school with your child. This is especially important if you haven’t been there before. This visit is to enable you to set an admission date with the school, to help them with information such as how to get in touch with you, religion, medical needs, special food needs, language issues and any extra help your child may need.
With an admission date, your child can then start in school and, we hope, enjoy learning alongside their new friends.
By following these steps, your child’s introduction to education in Devon should be a smooth and positive experience for you and for your child. It can be a daunting time for any child to be faced with a new school in a new country, especially if they don’t yet speak English very well.
Please do not:
- leave your child at a school that isn’t expecting them — schools should not take children unless a place has been offered there
- leave your child unattended at a school gate — it is your responsibility to ensure your child is received by the school each day of attendance
- forget to give contact information for a family member who has a reasonable knowledge of English – it could be that your family’s English-speaker is you, working or studying at the university, and not the person caring for the children during the day.
If you have any questions about admissions in Devon, please don’t hesitate to contact the Admissions Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +44 345 155 1019.
If you are planning to have your child taught at home – either by you or another member of your family, for example, you can ask for advice from Devon’s Elective Home Education Team. Call them on +44 1392 287230.
Devon has a number of independent schools – these are schools that will generally charge a fee for children to be taught there. If you would like your child to attend an independent school, you can contact them direct and make arrangements to do so. You can find out more from the Independent Schools Council or by calling +44 2077 667070.
Younger children and older children
If you have a child below the age of 5 years, you can make arrangements for them to go to a school nursery, a pre-school or to be with a child minder. This can be free for up to 30 hours a week and you can pay for extra hours. For more information about this see Early years and childcare or call +44 345 155 1013.
Children who are between 16 and 18 are expected to participate in education or work-based training. For most young people of this age, this will be at a school sixth form or a further education college such as Exeter College. For more information see Post-16 education.