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When is the Right Time to Move School?

The right time for your child to move will obviously depend on factors at home and at their existing school, such as how happy they are or how well they are doing. However, there are some useful considerations to bear in mind at each educational stage.

Early years nursery education

Nursery places are widely available for three and four year olds. Just like private nurseries, many schools accept Childcare Vouchers and offer partnership funding arrangements with local authorities. Attending nursery before Junior School is a great way to smooth the transition to ‘big school’ and enables younger siblings to feel part of the same fun environment if older siblings also attend the school.

Junior School

A steady flow of children join independent schools throughout the primary years, as there tends to be greater flexibility with places at this time. Some schools with limited secondary places typically find primary places filling up in P4, P5, P6 and P7.

The entrance assessment at primary stage tends to be more relaxed and focused on ability, rather than specific academic attainment levels.

Should you decide to move, most schools operate a school buddy system to help your son or daughter integrate quickly and get to know their new classmates as soon as possible. 

S1 to S4

It’s best to check with your shortlisted schools how many places they have for S1 each year, and what selection criterion is used. This will give you a good idea in advance how hotly contested the places will be. Your child will be required to sit an entrance exam. Schools have the best interests of students at heart and for this reason students looking to sit National 5’s are usually encouraged to start in S3 rather than S4. If you are relocating, schools will be as accommodating as possible.

S5 and S6

Moving to an independent school for the final two years of school life can be highly successful. Many young people join in S5 for Higher courses and S6 for Advanced Highers. 

Independent schools offer an exceptional choice of subjects with the added flexibility of being able to take a mix of qualifications from different exam boards. This means a student could work towards a suite of A-levels and Highers at the same time. 

S6 is considered the pre-university year and most schools adopt a more independent study approach. This prepares undergraduate hopefuls for the heightened level of responsibility and expectation that will be upon them if they do go on to further education. 


Parents are always advised to make enquiries early – preferably a year in advance. The usual admissions cycle is outlined here although it’s best to check dates with your chosen school.

Admissions Period


Open Days


Application Deadlines


Entrance Tests


Induction Days


Start of the school year

August to September 

Click here for more information on school fees or here if you are looking to learn more about entrance assessments.