Thursday, 29 January 2015

Beware #school #league tables. How to choose a senior school the right way.

Today saw the publication of the latest senior school league tables. 2014 senior school league tables

We’re all familiar with the format which ranks each school’s performance at GCSE and A level, so parents can supposedly compare the merits of one school with another, when considering their future school choices. Of course the results of these examinations play an important part of evaluating the success of a school, however all parents should remember that there’s so much more to the educational programme of a school than simply their past examination results.

In terms of league table position, one should review carefully the admissions criteria for entry to the schools you are considering. Highly competitive schools, which admit only the brightest of the numerous applicants, should be delivering top examination results. Better than that in my opinion, are the schools which are less academically selective in their admissions process, but still achieve top grades in exams, since these would appear to have delivered beyond expectation, rather than simply meeting it.

League tables should be only be a teeny tiny part of the long list of factors to take into consideration when putting together your potential senior school short-list. Education is not just about examination results, it’s also about:
  1. Offering individual support to every child so that they can attain their unique potential in a whole range of curriculum areas, at whatever level that may be.
  2. Developing the ability to think for oneself, challenge and question.
  3. Developing communication skills, confidence and independence.
  4. Developing a sense of community and awareness of others.
  5. Acquiring knowledge and learning how to apply it effectively within the world of work.
  6. Engaging in a whole range of diverse experiences to find new hobbies and interests which can be continued into adult life.
  7. Identifying potential careers of interest, as well as being advised on the best education pathway towards achieving them.
  8. Developing employability skills including those needed for presentation, interview, time management, reliability, responsibility, decision making and leadership.

There are many successes achieved annually in schools, quite apart from those achieved in examinations. Sport, drama, art, music, public speaking, design and technology, Young Enterprise, Duke of Edinburgh, to name but a few. These in my view should be taken into account as proof of success an attaining all-round education, which, alongside examination results, is so important in these days of highly competitive university entry, internship or job interview.

For advice on choosing the right school please contact our team of experienced, professional consultants.

Phone 01865 522066

Click here to visit our website Choosing the right school

It’s all too easy to go into ostrich mode if your child is having challenges with #learning.

Roshni Shah is a Neuro-Developmental Therapist and mother of a child with additional needs.You will find her useful advice below, in her guest post to our blog this week.

Navigating the system can be long and arduous so the sooner you get the ball rolling, the better the outcome for everyone.  Here are a few points to help guide you.
  1. Warning signs    Unless your child’s difficulties are severe or very obvious, it quite often occurs that they are only identified when they start pre-school or nursery. Nursery staff interact with many children and are in a far better position to identify what is outside of the normal parameters.   Signs to look for are poor fine and gross motor skills, poor social and communication skills, significantly delayed speech and language,  hyperactivity (beyond the normal boisterousness of childhood) and a general failure to thrive.                
  2. Don’t panic!  If a problem has been identified, keep calm.  Children are extremely sensitive to the emotional status of their parents.  If you’re anxious so will they be and the learning and developmental challenges may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  3. The school is not your enemy  –  talk to your child’s teacher and the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENco).  They may be able to put into place a support system at school which will help your child to catch up.  This may include a contact diary between teacher and parent, one-to-one support during lessons, extra supported homework, and peer-mentoring to encourage social integration.
  4. Seek Professional guidance – if further intervention is required, talk to your GP.  Depending upon your child’s difficulties, they can refer on to your local Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), a Paediatrician, an Occupational or Speech and Language Therapist and many other specialists with child developmental training.
  5. Alternative Therapies - The internet is a wonderful tool to learn about the problems that your child is having and what alternative interventions may be able to help them.  Many have a strong scientific basis and proven research, though they are not always recognised by the NHS.  Due diligence is a must before undertaking any therapies; parents of children with special needs are equally vulnerable as the children they are trying to support.  Claims of being able to ‘cure’ an array of conditions must be viewed with extreme caution. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
You can contact Roshni via the following her website link below

Monday, 26 January 2015

Tips for helping your teenager with effective internet research

When I was at school our first port of call for homework and school project research were the heavy, gold embossed volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica which decorated the shelves in my father’s study. Not so now, since children have such wide access to a wealth of information at their finger-tips via the internet.

Here are a few tips to pass on to your teenager to advise on how to use the internet effectively for research.

Establish rules for browsing which should be discussed and keep an eye on what they are up to. Ideally put the computer in a central location or if they’re using a laptop in their room, insist the door stays open and pop in regularly.

Encourage them to vet the author by looking into experience and level of expertise via their website. Are they a recognized, reputable or credible source of information and hence can their opinion be trusted?

Ask yourself, is the opinion one-sided? Researching both points of view and both sides of the argument is critical to forming a balanced view, once in possession of all the facts and several different opinions.

The internet has the huge advantage of making it possible to research information, opinions and ideas globally. However it’s important to be aware of where the site you’re looking at originates to truly understand the background to the information source.

Be sure to select search keywords and phrases carefully. The closer they are to your specific topic of interest or question, the more likely you are to find what you’re looking for. Getting the keywords wrong may mean you become bogged down with heaps of irrelevant information.

Look beyond page one of Google search results and be wary of sponsored links to boost posts for commercial reasons.

Remember that Google is not the only search engine. Using others will bring up different results.

Beware of plagiarism and respect copyright. Information found on websites should not be reproduced word for word through use of copy and paste. Always give credit to research resources.

We advise families from the UK and all over the world, helping them to make the right education choices at the right time.

Please visit our website for more information  /

Friday, 16 January 2015

#University Taster days are a great way for year 12 students to try before you buy.

With the passing of the #UCAS deadline for the class of 2015, we now move to the start of the university research process for Year 12 students. A good way to start might be to take a look at the Universities Taster Days Programme, since the booking system for these is now open.

Taster days are designed to provide an opportunity to find out more about what studying certain courses might entail, as well the chance to try out university life, before planning a UCAS application. The courses are subject specific covering a wide range of areas from Arts, Science, Humanities, Engineering, Law and Modern Foreign Languages, as well as vocational subjects such as Nursing and Midwifery. 

Not only do these courses offer students a valuable, informative insight into areas they are certain they wish to study at University, but they also offer those who are not at all sure an opportunity to try out a course that they may be interested in, but aren’t sure about at this early stage.

Often mentioning attendance at a taster day strengthens a student’s UCAS personal statement by demonstrating their interest and commitment to the subject. It also helps with research for possible interviews by clarifying their understanding of what exactly a subject will involve. It’s particularly useful as way to get to know what it would be like to study at a university that is on your application short-list, including getting to know the town or city in which it is located.

Taster days run from February onwards, with the majority in the Easter holidays or in late June and July after AS exams are over.

The best websites for taster day information are lists all the taster courses run at 26 London Institutions and which covers taster courses, open days and other related events across the country. New taster days are regularly added to the lists even during the summer term, so if nothing takes your fancy straight away, keep checking for new additions.

Courses at universities like Kings, LSE and UCL fill very quickly but don’t be deterred. Add your name to the waiting list since places often free up at a later date.

If you think taster days are a good idea but can’t find one listed for a university or course that interests you, contact them directly to find out which tasters they recommend and make sure to ask for the date of their next open day.

Do you need help planning your UCAS application including writing your personal statement? Our team of education consultants are here to help.

Call us on 01865 522066

Friday, 2 January 2015

Goal setting for 2015-is #mentoring the pathway towards success in #education?

With all the talk of New Year resolutions, I started thinking about the importance of goal setting for 2015; whatever age and stage your child might be in education. Whether related to performance in imminent mocks or other exams, report grade targets, sporting, artistic or musical achievements or just getting to school on time with homework completed, goals are an excellent motivator, as well as building self-confidence through the feeling of achievement. They give a purpose to the day-to-day routine of school life by defining what you aim to achieve on a term by term basis. Goals help with organisation and time-planning as they give short-term purpose and a long-term vision for where you wish to be in the future.

Here are a few tips for goal-setting.

They must be challenging, demanding significant effort to attain them, but also realistic. Goals which allow treading water or thumb twiddling are not worth having. Seeing goals as ambitious but attainable steps will give a reasonable chance of success and can then become the building blocks towards a much bigger end-goal in the future.

Goals must outline your personal ambition and not the aspirations of friends or family or be dependent on others for success. You must be committed to your own goals and buy-in to their purpose and how you will achieve them.

Make goals positive in terms of things you will achieve or execute well, rather than things you will not do.

Committing to goals by writing them down and sharing them with others will give a much better chance of achieving them. Reading them regularly as the weeks go by to keep them fresh in your mind will help you attain them. Others can offer support and encouragement at the inevitable times when you start to lose your way.

Setting goals gives meaning to education and serves as an excellent motivator, particularly for teenage boys. Work backwards from their career aspirations, higher education pathway, required qualifications, subjects, grades at school.

Goals should be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-defined.

Happy New Year from our team of education consultants.

Do you need some help with mentoring your teenager towards achieving their education and career goals? Why not give us a call to find out how our education consultants can help with goal setting and career planning?