Thursday, 22 August 2013

Tips for preparing your child for #boarding school

All over the country mums are busy sewing on name tapes and buying school shoes, slippers and trainers. Dealing with the practicalities of getting ready for boarding in September is easy, but how can parents prepare their child so they feel reassured that they have the skills and independence to thrive, when away from home for the first time?

Make contact with other parents whose children will also be joining the school as new pupils and invite their child over a few times between now and school starting. Even if they are not in the same house or class, it will be a familiar face to bump into during break and sit with at lunchtimes, until new friendships have been formed.

Find out from current parents what is ‘cool’. For example, if it is considered cool to be dressed in uniform from the second hand shop, try not to buy shiny new from the school outfitters. This could save you a bit of cash anyway!

Ensure your child has everything that they will require from the school kit list. It can be very upsetting to get into trouble in your child’s first few weeks if they do not have rugby boots, hockey stick, laptop or a calculator.

Talk through in advance with your child the fact that they may feel homesick and agree a strategy as to how you might deal with this together. Discuss which staff at the school are there for them to talk to if they are feeling low and how to find them.

Talk about their new school over the summer holidays. Look at the school website and joining pack together and help them to decide which extra-curricular activities they will take part in and how they will sign up for these. What sports teams will they aim to get into and what musical instrument, drama lessons etc will they engage in?

Look at the map/plan of the school site and help them to learn where everything is. Getting lost on the school campus when trying to find a science lesson for example can be a trigger for homesickness.

Give your child small experiences of independence. Let them take the bus into the local shops alone or meet up with their friends. Encourage them to understand the importance of being on-time and keeping to time deadlines you have set, such as when to be home.

Senior boarding schools encourage independence and thinking for oneself so ensure that your child has practiced this before they go away to school for the first time. Encourage them to take responsibility for keeping their bedroom tidy, changing into clean socks, learning how to put on a clean duvet cover and to be responsible for keeping track of their valuables and belongings.

Try not to linger at school too long when dropping them off on the first day. Settle them in, help un-pack, say hello to the matron or the Housetaff, ensure that your child is busy chatting with a group of peers and make a discreet exit. The longer you stay, the harder it will be to leave.

Prepare yourself for a few worried weeks ahead. The best way to crack homesickness is not to call home too often so if you don't hear anything, consider this good news. Frequent calls home in the first few weeks are not a good sign and should be discouraged. Try to remember your child will only call you in the few low times, when most of the time they are happily making the most of boarding school life.

For help and support with choosing the right boarding school why not come to the FUTURESCHOOLS FAIR. 
A free event of parents. Meet lots of senior schools all in one place and attend free seminars all about making the right school choice. Register via the website

Tips for #parents with a child starting 'big' #school in September

So the primary or prep school days are over and you and your child are now looking with a little trepidation towards life at senior school in September. How can parents prepare over the summer, so their child settles in as quickly as possible?

Find out if the new school will pass on contact details for other pupils joining this September. They may even be offering induction fun days during the summer. Initiate contact with other parents and invite children over. Even if not in the same class, it will be a familiar face to sit with at lunchtimes, until new friendships are formed.

Familiarise yourself with the school rules and ensure your child has everything from the school kit list. It can be upsetting to get into trouble in the first few weeks for not having the right uniform, trainers, hockey stick or calculator. Short skirts, dyed hair or piercings may also lead to trouble.

Discuss things that may be a bit daunting about the new school environment and how they might deal with these. Highlight which school staff are in their support network and how to find them. Familiarise them with the plan of the school site. Getting lost trying to find a lesson and being late can lead to angst.

Look at the school joining information together. Encourage them to get involved in extra-curricular activities from the outset. These are excellent opportunities to build friendships quickly.

Give small experiences of independence over the summer so they become resilient, able to think on their feet and have the skills to resolve problems themselves.

Instigating some of the above in the next couple of weeks, may make parents a little less anxious when September arrives, all too soon.

For advice on choosing the right school please give us a call on 01865 522066 or visit our website

Securing a #work placement - a few tips for students

It was with a sense of relief that I heard this week that my niece has finally secured a work placement, to gain invaluable experience in the work place, before resuming the final year of her degree course in 2014. A recent review of her numerous un-successful applications helped address where things were perhaps going wrong.  I hope sharing these may help others in a similar position.

Applications should demonstrate time has been spent researching the company and a keen interest in what they do. They should be addressed personally to the relevant individual, be clear, to the point, spelt and formatted accurately. Beware ‘copy and paste.’ An application letter with CV will give a better impression than an email unless the latter is requested.

Within the letter, emphasise a reliable, committed approach to working hard and that you are willing to make a contribution via mundane tasks such as filing, photo-coping, making tea or data entry, in exchange for the opportunity to learn and utilise new skills. Spending time in the work-place builds valuable experience and transferable skills no matter what tasks are undertaken on a daily basis. Work will not always be exciting and getting used to the varied demands of 9 to 5 will be beneficial later. Prove yourself indispensable by being very good at basic tasks, which support the effectiveness of the company as a whole and this will undoubtedly lead to other opportunities.

When invited for interview, turning up on time and dressed appropriately for the workplace will give a good impression. A portfolio showing examples of relevant project work or references from previous employers which demonstrate reliability and a hard working attitude will support your application. Appear enthusiastic, interested, well-informed and keen to learn. 

For more information about our services to advise and support youngsters with planning and applying for work experience and applying to university through UCAS please give us a call 01865 522066 or visit our website

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Level results not gone your way...pick up the phone and sell yourself!

With A level results out next week, many parents and teenagers are anxiously awaiting confirmation from #UCAS of a #university place in the autumn. Signs are good with reports of more places available this year, so don’t be put off if the grades received this week have slipped slightly.

In this event, the single most important piece of advice is to act swiftly and pick up the phone. It is second nature for a parent to want to put things right for their offspring, but in this instance, stand back and let your teenager make the calls.

Universities with places to fill will be looking for motivated, enthusiastic students who demonstrate an ability to live and study away from home. An anxious parent is not who they want to hear from, rather a keen teenager who can show they are not put off by a bit of grade slippage and can express why they still really want to study that course at their university. 

A bit of preparation and practice in advance of results day will help.
  • Gather all the paperwork and course prospectuses together now and have admissions contact numbers ready.
  • Re-read the course structure and modular content, to appear enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the parts of the course that appeal to you.
  • Consider why you chose that university in particular and what you have to offer by way of getting involved within the university community. Sport, The Arts, volunteering, work experience abroad-university is all about new experiences and broadening your horizons.
  • Texting, social media and email mean today’s teenagers don’t often talk in a 'business-like' way on the phone, so doing a few mock conversations with tips on how to appear confident, concise and credible will help.
  • Store 01865 522066 on speed dial and our team of experts will be on hand to offer advice and support.

If your A Level results are not as expected and you need some advice and support with UCAS and Clearing, call us on 01865 522066. Our team of experienced, expert consultants are here to help.