Tuesday, 18 February 2014

My league table of helpful school admissions teams

I was very interested to read @GoodSchoolsUK article about school admissions staff in The @Telegraph on Saturday. fw.to/OhbfFzR

As I speak to a considerable number of schools admissions teams on a daily basis on behalf of parents both in the UK and abroad, I did have a wry smile when I read the article. Sadly much of it was very familiar. 

However, on the other side of the coin, I thought I would perhaps take this opportunity to fly the flag for some of the admissions teams who I have always found to be very helpful and friendly, no matter how busy or rushed off their feet they are. Some are highly selective schools with many applications per place. Others are smaller schools who work very hard to recruit pupils. It seems whether a school is selective or recruiting, it is possible to maintain a welcoming face at the parent-facing front-line.

Here, in no particular order, are my top ten friendly schools admissions teams, from personal experience.
Blundell's School www.blundells.org
Windlesham House School www.windlesham.com
Sedbergh School www.sedberghschool.org
Bedford School www.bedfordschool.org.uk
Harrow School www.harrowschool.org.uk
Queenswood School www.queenswood.org
Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe www.rgshw.com
Queen Anne’s School www.qas.org.uk

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Friday, 14 February 2014

What is a guardian family and why does my child need one when at UK boarding school?

All British boarding schools insist that any pupil whose parents are resident outside the UK has a UK-based guardian, appointed by their parents, to act as the local in-country contact in case of emergency and to ensure that the child is well cared for at exeat weekends and half term holidays, if they are not planning to return home.

A guardian family provides a much needed break from the hectic school routine at exeat weekends and half term holidays, with a welcome change of scene - a home-from-home where warm, long-lasting friendships are created. Having a supportive and caring family who will take an interest in your child’s wellbeing will offer you reassurance that they are safe, well cared for and happy.

Committed guardian families are often professional people who have current or past experience of education. They will attend parents’ evenings on your behalf, watch your child play in music concerts or sports matches and keep in regular contact with both you and your child so they can act quickly should any concern or issue arise. Should your child remain with the same guardian family throughout their time at boarding school, long-lasting, trusting relationships will grow, as they progress through their time at school. Indeed many children come to see their guardian as their ‘English’ family.

If you do not have family, a friend or colleague based in the UK, who is fully aware of what this role entails and is happy to take on this responsibility, it is vital that you seek the assistance of a quality guardianship organisation such as THE GUARDIAN FAMILY NETWORK  Your child is a long way from home and you will want to be sure that they are well taken care of and happy.

It is a bit like having travel, home or car insurance, if any emergency situation arises with the most precious thing of all-your child, you will want the reassurance that there is someone based in the UK, who will be on-hand to offer them support.

If your child requires a visa to study at boarding school in the UK, you will also need to submit the details of your UK guardian arrangements when communicating with the school regarding the visa application

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Tips for making the right GCSE choices

Many year 9 students and their parents are currently mulling over GCSE choices. Making the right decisions is important. Increasingly, GCSE results are used as a measure for accepting pupils onto A level or IB courses. It is not uncommon for schools to require at least a B grade at GCSE in any subject which a pupil would like to study in the sixth form. Increasingly, employers and universities are looking at GCSE grades, in addition to sixth form predicted grades, so choosing the right ones is important. Here are a few tips to bear in mind to help with this process.

Review your child’s past exam results and reports. When making choices, two things are important. As well as identifying talents in certain areas, enjoyment of the subject is critical, as this will lead to a more enthusiastic approach to study.

Reviewing past results in each subject is a good indicator for potential success for your child. Your school will probably have specialisms in particular curriculum areas. This is often linked to the quality of teaching in a well-resourced environment, as well as teachers with the personality and passion to inspire enthusiasm for their subject.

Core subjects of Sciences, Maths and English are compulsory. Dual award or triple award science is an important decision to reflect on, especially if your child has ambitions to pursue a career in Medicine or Engineering for example.

Breadth is important. For most, a mixture of creative and academic subjects will develop a whole range of important life skills. However, if your child has ambitious aims for further education, choosing a humanity and an additional language, as well as one creative or practical subject should work well.

Attaining at least 7 A* grades in what are widely considered to be more academic subjects, in one sitting, will be an important factor for those aspiring to top universities.

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