London school guide by Gabbitas
Introduction to the British education system
Boasting some of the oldest and most prestigious education institutions in the world, the UK remains a key destination for parents and students looking for the best global education on offer. The British Education System is renowned for developing well-rounded individuals, nurturing each child and their own unique talents, as well as engaging and challenging them academically. Whilst there are some other fantastic education systems in the world today, many rely on rote learning or lack important parts of extra-curricular life such as drama and music, and families continue to move to the UK in search of a more rounded and promising education for their children. With over 2,500 independent schools around the country, parents are sure to find one that matches exactly what they are looking for.
On school selection
Parents must always remember that there is no ‘best school’, only the ‘best school for their child’ and they should bear this in mind throughout the school search process. There are many factors to consider such as location, co-ed or single sex, boarding or day, as well as considering the size of school that would suit their child, the focus on academic success and the co-curricular activities on offer, to name just a few. Alternatively, parents can remain completely open-minded, and visit a variety of schools to explore all possible options. Either way, visiting schools is invaluable and the parent and child’s gut reaction should not be under-estimated. Websites, inspection reports, league tables and reviews are all useful tools but to get a true sense of a typical day at school, visits are highly recommended and ideally should include a meeting with the Head and/or members of the Senior Leadership Team. With hundreds of schools on offer in London, it is difficult to know where to begin and a starting point could be asking friends or relatives who know London, looking at educational magazines such as ‘School Report’ or seeking the advice of an Educational Consultant, who will have detailed and unbiased knowledge of schools. One final factor to consider, and arguably the most important, is be realistic with choices. Sitting and failing numerous competitive entrance tests can be very damaging for a child and it is wise to have a spectrum of choices from the most competitive possibility to a ‘safe’ option.
This would really depend on the child’s age and which year group they will be joining in the UK as the older the child is, the more important it is they are at as similar level as possible to UK children of the same age. The child’s English will ideally be at a level where they can slot into the lessons and school activities without too much struggle; reading and socialising in English over the summer could enhance this. If the child is worried however, many schools provide additional EAL support and this should be discussed with the school beforehand. Parents should also ensure their children are well-prepared for their various subjects. Ways of doing this could include going over sample test papers of their respective year group, and attempting to fill in any glaring gaps in subject knowledge. Private tutoring or group study sessions are options. It would also be wise for the children to spend some time in the UK, and ideally in the intended school, prior to relocating so they can get to know their new surroundings and ease any worries they may have about life in their new country. One way of doing this is through a school immersion programme whereby students spend a term at a UK school as a ‘taster’; educational consultancies, such as Gabbitas, can arrange this.