There is a lot to think about when considering a school for your child as the choice of school will have a lasting impression upon your child’s life.
Don’t worry we are here to help you through all of these questions so that you can find your ideal school.
Be realistic, about how academic your child is: there is no point in choosing a highly academic school if it is going to mean he/she struggles to keep up with the academic demands. This would result in an unhappy child. Look for a school where you feel your child will be stretched but not overwhelmed.
Many boarding schools achieve excellent academic success; there is, after all, ready access to help and resources as well as high expectations from the staff. Don’t be tempted to only look at schools which have the best results – they might have a more rigorous selection policy rather than better teachers! We can advise you.
Outside the classroom?
Boarding schools normally offer a wealth of extra-curricular opportunities. In our opinion these are highly important as they help to provide the all-round education which is the hallmark of a top UK boarding school education. They often spark a lifelong interest in a particular field or even lead to a future vocation. We have good knowledge of what is available, at which schools, and can advise you.
Large or small?
If your child is self-confident a larger school may be better especially if it has better facilities. If, however, your child would be happier in a more close knit environment then, almost certainly, a smaller school would be the best option. We know the schools and will advise you.
Boarding places are available from the age of 7. However, most boarders are of senior school age – traditionally, girls from the age of 11 and boys from 13. Increasingly common is boarding during A levels or International Baccalaureate (IB) study (known as 6th form), from the age of 16.
Boarding or not?
Top boarding schools have changed considerably in the last 20 years and today they are a very comfortable, home-from-home. Some schools also offer a great deal of flexibility with weekly boarding (staying at school during the week and returning home at weekends) and flexi-boarding (flexible boarding on the nights required) now widely available.
However, boarding doesn’t suit every child and there are many excellent day schools available. Despite our business name we can also advise upon day school options.
Coeducation or single sex?
This is primarily down to personal preference. Those who favour single-sex education often argue that academic results tend to be better without the distractions of the opposite sex; those who favour co-education would not only dispute that assertion, but also argue that their system was a more natural environment in which to be educated for life in the outside world.
There are some schools which accept both boys and girls, but teach them separately – at least until the age of 16. As ever we can advise you on what is available.
A levels or IB?
At age 16 there is the choice of examination routes – traditional A levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB). An A level curriculum allows pupils to specialise in 3 or 4 subject areas, whereas the IB is a broader curriculum with 6 subjects being studied, 3 at a standard level and 3 at a higher level. IB students must also write an extended essay.
You may already have a preference or we can advise you about the differences.
It is possible to find choir schools, music schools, dance schools, arts schools, schools which offer general sporting excellence as well as those which offer specialist coaching in certain sports. These schools will, of course, offer a good academic education too. There are also specialist schools which help children who have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. We know the specialist schools and can advise you if this is of interest.
Sixth form college?
Whether it is for A levels, IB or retaking GCSE examinations, a sixth form college might be an option. Some sixth form colleges have integral boarding facilities whilst others use externally administered accommodation nearby. Courses tend to be quite intense and the environment that many create is akin to university with a good degree of personal independence. We know the sixth form colleges and will be pleased to advise you.
Maybe your child has a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or ADHD? Some schools specialise in this area entirely while others have specialist departments within them.
One of our consultants is a trained special needs teacher and will therefore be able to understand fully the needs of your child and will offer personal advice every step of the way.