Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How does the UK education system compare to Hong Kong?

A. There are many similarities between the UK and Hong Kong education systems. For a full comparison, visit our UK Schools page.

Q. What are Key Stages?

A. Like in Hong Kong, school years are divided into key stages. These are the Key Stages in the UK:

Q. What are State, Grammar, and Independent schools?

A. State, Grammar, and Independent are the three main types of school in the UK.

State schools:funded by the government and free to attend for UK citizens and now the dependents of Hong Kong BN(O) citizens. Parents may express preference, but students are allocated to their closest state school with availability.
Grammar schools:government funded state schools that select students by means of an entrance examination taken by some students in Year 6, often called the eleven-plus. Grammar schools often have a more academic focus. As with state schools, students must live in the catchment area to be eligible for a place.
Independent schools:private, fee-paying schools governed independently. These schools can set their own curriculum and may have entrance examinations. Independent schools can be day schools (attended during school hours) or boarding schools.
Q. When is the best time to join a UK school? (Key Entry Points)

A. There are definitely points in a child’s school career when it is easier to transition than others. The best time will depend on the individual, your family’s plan, and the school you are applying to.

If you are moving to the UK as a Hong Kong BN(O) citizen and plan to enroll your child in free state-funded education (primary or secondary), then you can do this at any point. Ideally, you should time your arrival with the start of the school year in September and it is inadvisable to transition part-way through GCSEs (Year 10 or Year 11).

If your child is planning to attend an independent day or boarding school, there are key entry points to aim for. Key entry points refer to the school years in which schools open their admission to new students, both local and international. Most independent schools have key entry points at:

Therefore, if your child is turning 7 years old before the start of the academic year 2022/2023, which is on 1st September, you can apply for 7+ entry in 2021 when admission begins. If the age of your child does not match the key entry points at the moment, you need to wait until they are old enough to join the school at the nearest entry point.

Q. When should we start applying to UK boarding schools?

A. Planning is key to a successful boarding school application. If studying at a UK boarding school is something you are considering for your child’s future, start preparing sooner rather than later. This is because there are many aspects to consider:

Many prestigious schools also require students to submit applications two years before their anticipated entry. So ensure you have researched the admission information for your chosen schools.

Visit Our Services page to find out how i-Learner’s OES can assist you throughout the planning, preparation, application, and transition process.

Q. Are UK schools welcoming to overseas students?

A. The UK is a popular destination for Hong Kong students, which can be great if your child isn’t ready to step out of their comfort zone. Hannah Patient is a former student at Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS), and her sixth form had ‘thirty boarders in total split across Year 12 and 13, and most of them came from Hong Kong or Macau.’

Choosing schools with large populations of familiar peers can ensure a strong support network in a new country. The school is also able to cater well to the needs and interests of a child-like yours and settle them in with events they’ll enjoy. At CRGS, Hannah says, ‘The school runs lots of trips and social events at the weekend (e.g. to Thorpe Park, London and Cambridge), and boarders have access to