What type of school for my child?
Boarding school experience
20 May 2016
Your child’s education is of vital importance and what school they should attend can be one of the most difficult decisions you will make. People newly moving to the UK must first choose between a state (government run) school, or a private (independently run) school. Although there are some very good state schools, many will choose a private school.
At this point you are faced with a choice between a ‘traditional’ school and an ‘international’ school. Although there are variations in these categories, with most traditional schools now having some foreign students, the distinction is still valid.
You must choose what you perceive to be the best school for your child. Where will they make the most progress? Where will they best fit in and make friends? Where will they get the type of help that they need? Where will they be able to get the opportunities to do the things that they are interested in, both inside and outside the classroom? Where will they best be supported pastorally, as well as academically?
What are the differences and how can you make your decision
The choice which you are making is between schools with different outlooks.
Internationalism tends to flow through everything which international schools do from activities promoting integration and celebration of different cultures, to how the teachers draw on the wide variety of backgrounds which they have in front of them in the classroom.
English as an additional language is normal, meaning that teachers naturally adapt their teaching to make English development part of every lesson. Usually there will be a well-staffed department focusing on English from an additional language perspective.For older students these schools also understand UK university application for foreign students.
They will tend to run activities which appeal to their students, cricket is a rarity and basketball common. And remember that the people who work there will have chosen to because they like working with international students.
Instead you might choose to send your child to a traditional school so that they are surrounded by English students in an English setting, with English activities. More traditional schools are in rural locations and, since many of them are long established, they often have larger grounds and more developed sports facilities on site. You will find the traditional sports of cricket, rugby, lacrosse, cross-country running and rowing. You are also more likely to find prefects, cadet forces and music and drama.
Do remember, though, that there will be other foreign students there too. Your child is likely to make friends with someone from their own country, or who at least speaks their own language. This can mean that they don’t integrate as well as you hoped, which can affect their progress in all of their subjects, not just English. However, if you are sure that your child will thrive in a traditional school, possibly because they already have a very strong command of English, then these schools may be the correct choice.
Making your choice
Whatever you do, make sure that you and your child visit the school, meet some of the staff and ask lots of questions. This will be one of the most important choices that you make as you move to the UK.
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