A priority for expats moving to Manchester with children will be finding the right school. Relocating to a new place can be unsettling for kids, and choosing a good school plays a big role in ensuring a successful transition into expat life.
Factors worth considering include the child’s English language proficiency and academic ability. It is also best to first choose a good school before deciding which neighbourhood to settle in. This is because many government-funded schools in the UK base admission on catchment areas.
Government-funded schools in Manchester
The standard of government-funded or state schools in Manchester varies tremendously. Some schools are excellent, while others have poorer standards. The better government-funded schools tend to be close to the more affluent areas of Manchester.
Throughout the UK, state education is provided by the government at no cost to British citizens and foreigners legally residing in the country. These schools are effectively funded by taxes.
Expats should consult the school's Ofsted (Office of Standards in Education) report for information on the quality of teaching and facilities as well as the academic performance of students at a particular school.
Admission criteria vary from school to school, and expat parents should contact schools directly to find out about the admission process.
Private schools in Manchester
There are a large number of private schools in Manchester. Fees at private schools in Manchester are high, but standards are excellent, class sizes are small and students generally perform better academically than those in government-funded schools. Parents will also need to budget for additional costs, such as extra-curricular activities, stationery, school uniforms and overseas trips.
Admission requirements for private schools vary. In some instances, students will have to attend an interview or pass an exam.
International schools in Manchester
While there are no schools teaching foreign curricula in Manchester, there are a few schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB is often a good choice for expat families as it's well recognised by universities worldwide and is standardised throughout the schools around the world that teach it.
For expats who wish to have their children study the national curriculum of their home country, it might be worthwhile considering boarding options at international schools in London. As the capital, London is home to a diverse range of schools offering foreign curricula in the language of the school's country of origin.
Parents should note that many international schools are oversubscribed, so it's best to start the application process as early as possible in order to secure a place. In addition, international schools are typically even pricier than regular private schools, so expats should ensure they are aware of the financial commitment involved when it comes to fees and extras.
Special-needs schools in Manchester
Manchester has a policy of inclusion in place, and they are working towards making sure children with special needs are supported and have the same access to education as their peers. This policy of inclusion is attempting to keep children with different educational needs in mainstream schools, where they will be taught in mainstream classes, but provided with any additional support they require.
Although the policy of inclusion means mainstream schools are building their staff and facilities to accommodate for children with special educational needs, it is wise for expat parents to research what their school of choice offers in this regard before applying.
There are also specific special-needs schools in Manchester for children needing extra support that cannot be offered to them at a mainstream school.
Tutors in Manchester
Tutors can be helpful for expat families in a number of situations. Children from abroad may need a little help with catching up to the local curriculum or could benefit from extra tutoring for the English language if it isn't their mother tongue. Those parents worried about children losing their mother-tongue language skills while in Manchester should consider hiring a tutor who is a fellow native speaker and can help maintain fluency.
There's a wide variety of tutoring companies to choose from, with some of the most popular being Manchester Tutors, The Tutor Trust and Ace Learning Plus Ltd.