This page aims to provide candidates who are going to be moving to the UK with basic helpful information. Essential information, Culture and Education in the UK are provided below:
- Population: Over 62 million
- Major religions: Christianity
- Capital city: London (also largest city)
- Legal system: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Main languages: English
- Time: GMT (GMT +1 from the last Sunday in March to the Saturday before the last Sunday in October.)
- Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.
- Currency: The British Pound (GBP), divided into 100 pence
- Tipping: 10 to 15 percent of the bill in restaurants, hotels and taxis if a service charge hasn’t already been added.
- International dialing code: +44 plus relevant city code.
- Emergency number: 999
- Internet TLD: .uk
- Drives on the: Left
Expats moving to the United Kingdom generally have very few problems adjusting to the culture. The large city centers, like London and Manchester, are incredibly diverse with a multitude of cultures staking out claim to various neighborhoods and streets. Every type of cuisine, obscure grocery item and cultural accessory is readily available. English is spoken widely, although strong regional accents may convince expats otherwise. Traditionally, the British are polite, reticent and circumspect – although such is the diversity of classes and cultures that few stereotypes hold up very well to personal experience. Better to think of the UK as a whole world in one island and adopt an accordingly open mind.
The UK is a very multicultural society and is made up of various different ethnic communities which each have their own standards of social behavior and cultural etiquette. However, here are some point that expats might find useful when interacting with the British. When meeting someone for the first time it is best to offer a handshake. The British value their personal space and hugs are only appropriate for people one is more familiar with. When visiting the home of a British friend or colleague, it is good to take a gift for the host such as a box of chocolates, wine or flowers.
For further info on culture in the UK click here: Culture
For expats moving to the United Kingdom with children, making the right choice when it comes to picking a school will be a top priority. Attending the right school will play a significant role in ensuring a successful transition into expat life in the UK for the little ones.Factors that will affect the choice of school for expat children include the child’s previous schooling experience, academic ability and English language capability. Expat parents should note that most government-funded schools in the UK and some private schools base admission on catchment areas. Therefore, it is important to choose a school before deciding where to live within a city. Private schools and international schools with boarding facilities for students offer greater flexibility.
As a result of devolution, the education systems and schooling options do vary slightly between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Typically, the academic year in the United Kingdom generally starts in September and ends in July, with the main breaks in December, March/April and July/August.
The schooling system is divided into four levels:
- Early years: Ages 3 to 4
- Primary education: Ages 4 to 11
- Secondary education: Ages 11 to 18
- Tertiary education: Ages 18+
Education is compulsory in the UK for children between the ages of five and 17. Children usually start primary school during the school year in which they turn five. Students have the option of finishing school at the age of 16 or 17 after completing their GCSEs or continuing their secondary studies for a further two years where they have the option of studying for A-levels or BTEC awards. More and more schools in the UK are now offering students the opportunity to study for the International Baccalaureate (IB), which is recognised internationally.
For further info on education in the UK click here: Education & Schools
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