Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Senior school entry pre-tests and assessments or 11+ - why a rejection letter is not the end of the world.

At this time of year, many parents are faced with results from their child’s recent senior school entry pre-tests, interviews, assessments or for some, the 11+. Our consultants have been congratulating many who have received the good news they were hoping for from their first choice school.

However, sadly there have also been parents who have come to us to ask for help since their outcome was not so positive. Here are a few tips from our team of consultants which have come in handy recently, while we have been offering advice and support to parents at what can be a very tricky time for all.

Bad news on the result front presents a confusing challenge for parents as to choosing the right alternative. It tends to lead to a worried frenzy of reviewing your child’s academic potential. Asking if you applied to the right schools, seeking to identify curriculum areas where your child may have struggled in the entry process, questioning whether you should have prepared or tutored them more, are all factors which seem to spring into parents’ minds at this time.

Coupled with questioning your school application and preparation strategy, there’s also the primary concern of how you support your child through the sense of rejection they may feel at a young and sensitive age. This can be a knock to both confidence and self-esteem for some and needs careful handling.

Always talk about your list of potential school choices in a positive way. Until you have a confirmed outcome, it is important for your child to believe they will succeed and you will be proud of them, whatever school they join. Your child will thrive better if they attend a school which challenges at the right level, rather than scraping in by their finger nails and battling their way through the next 5 years, just to keep their head above water.

Phil Hallworth adds a few key points on supporting your child at this tricky time below:

Don't confuse your own feelings of disappointment with those your child - they are very different things. However you feel about it remember that he or she will be feeling wretched about letting you down and will feel a 'failure' - however hard they tried and however bright they are. Don't allow your own crushed aspirations to prevent you from doing the right thing for your child by way of love and support at this difficult time. He or she needs to know that there is a right school for them where they will be happy and where they will succeed (and remember, TIEC can help you find it!)

Finally, Phil suggests accepting that maybe you chose the wrong school in the first place and now need to re-think school choice more realistically in the light of this rejection.

To start this process, the first port of call should be your prep school Head or senior schools adviser. If the results are unexpected or there are unusual circumstances which may have affected your child’s performance, these are better presented to the senior school admissions team as an objective opinion from your current school, rather than the emotional pleas of a worried parent. Prep schools are called this for a reason, so ask them to use their relationship to support your appeal, if they confirm that one is appropriate. Hence, as soon as possible, seek guidance on the next steps from your current school and follow their advice.

If they advise revisiting your school choices, try to disregard confusing dinner party banter and school gate chatter. Torturing yourself with the success stories of others while you are handling disappointment will not help your mood. Your child will have different strengths, interests, personality and learning needs compared with many of their peers. Remain positive, think through pros and cons of alternative schools via evidence from your own experience of visits to the schools and you will more quickly find a way to resolve things.

For those yet to face the gauntlet of 11+ or senior school pre-test, interview or assessment results, the most important advice of all is to be realistic from the outset and plan your senior school applications accordingly. Listen to advice from their current Head and other senior staff and make every effort to match up their academic level or other talents and interests, to the right senior school choices. Aiming high is important as children will often respond to a challenge by performing better. However, make the goals and challenge realistic, not pie in the sky.

We are blessed with a whole range of senior school choices across both the state and independent sectors. Whatever your child’s strengths, interests and learning needs there is a right school for them, if you remain open-minded and realistic.

Do you need some advice on planning your senior school choices after a recent rejection letter? Our friendly team of consultants are here, waiting for your call.

Call Claire on +44 (0)1865 522066

Email consultants@inependenteducationconsultants.co.uk

Visit our website via the link http://independenteducationconsultants.co.uk/prep-to-senior-school-choices-at-11-or-13/

Friday, 16 October 2015

Choosing the best #school for your child's #education

Gathered from his own experiences as both a teacher and parent, here are some thoughts on State vs. Independent schools from Brian McGee, our Director of Consultancy Services.

With many parents in the middle of the annual round of open days and school visits, the issue of how to choose the best school for your child is at the forefront of our minds.

With so many leading figures in our society coming from independent schools, it seems that the 7% of pupils attending these schools gain an enormous advantage later on. This would lead us to think that paying for an independent education is an obvious step up for our child – if we can afford it. Independent schools offer academic excellence, confidence and a well-rounded approach to sport, the arts and culture. The recent TV programme ‘School Swap – the Class Divide’ could not have highlighted more effectively the difference in opportunity between the young people from the good state school and the obviously successful independent school.

My own experience as a parent, having sent my children to both state and independent schools, is somewhat mixed, however, and as a head of Sixth Form in an excellent state school, I frequently came across pupils who needed to be rescued from a damaged experience at an independent school. This was not a fault of the schools, but simply that a particular school may quite simply be wrong for the child. All schools, state or independent, have their own character and this gives them their ability to offer a child a nurturing environment. But sometimes the style of the school creates an environment which is just not right for the child, perhaps because they react badly to academic hothousing or the pressure to achieve on the sports field.

Of course, money is also a huge factor. I recently spoke to a family who had decided that, rather than spend the considerable cost of school fees at an independent school, they were choosing good state schools and topping up their child’s education with private lessons and clubs, and high quality family holidays. Others who have decided that a boarding education will offer their child the all-round education they will thrive on have chosen one of the many excellent state boarding schools (see www.sbsa.org) which offer outstanding opportunities at a third of the price of an independent school.

The key is to make good use of the visit or open day opportunities and gauge your child’s feelings carefully. The fixed open days are often a showcase event which gives some insight and information, but to truly get the feel for the school it is important to visit on a normal day and walk around while classes are on. Meet some teachers and talk to pupils – they are very honest! Of course, talking to other parents is also valuable, but do remember that your child is an individual and what is right for someone else’s child may not be right for them. We ended up sending our children to different schools because their needs were different. Start with your child and who they are and what they enjoy and you will not go far wrong.

For details of how our team of friendly, experienced consultants give advice on choosing the right school for your child, please give us a call on +44 (0)1865 522066

Or you can email Claire Coker on consultants@indepedenteducationconsultants.co.uk