Here are a few tips from our education consultants.
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- Think 2 years ahead. Family circumstances change unpredictably and last-minute places are always feasible. However, whatever your family situation now, it’s far less traumatic and stressful to think and plan ahead for schools at age 11+, 13+ and 16+ where possible.
- Gain a better understanding of UK school curricula such as Common Entrance, IGCSE, A Level and IB. The traditional rigour and skills-based approach of some British schools may vary from your current international school. Be sure to find the right fit for your child to succeed.
- Focus on all-round education. Academics are crucial. However, British schools also like children who offer a great deal to the community as whole. Whether that’s in sports, the Arts, Music or chess, a can-do attitude and a willingness to have a go are what schools are looking for.
- Consider location and future proof your school choice by keeping options open. Even if your current preference is day, having boarding as an option may prove useful later on.
- Prepare your child for interview. Body language, posture, selling yourself, thinking on your feet, giving an opinion and why. These are not things that come naturally to all children, so a little coaching and practice might be required.
- Current school reference and reports are important. Prepare now and set goals for your child at their current school when it comes to reports for effort, contribution and assessment grades.
- Pre-assessment tests can be tricky. Keep calm. Giving your child some help with exam skills and question formats that may be new to them, such as non-verbal or verbal reasoning, will help them to perform at their best. Tutoring too much can be counter-productive so be cautious. However, you need to give them the confidence to understand the test formats and hence tackle the tests confidently.
- Be ambitious but also realistic about your child’s potential. Finding a school with the right balance of academic challenge, alongside relevant broader opportunities and strong pastoral care will lead to the most successful outcome.
- Build a rapport with the school registrars. Put all key dates in your diary well ahead. Return communications and paperwork promptly. First choice and back-up schools are important for peace of mind. However, if schools are no longer of interest, let them know as soon as possible, so another family can have your place.
- Use an independent consultant. They can be a good sounding board to discuss thoughts on schools as well as add options you may not have thought of. Find a consultant who does not claim commission from schools for referrals so the advice is truly independent. Fees vary hugely so shop around for quality at the right price.
This post by Catherine Stoker.