A Priceless Gift: Advice on Private Education in the UK

Education is a special gift parents give to their children and it is important to receive this gift at the right time. Here, at Newton Bright Educational Consultants, we know how to correctly prepare for entrance to schools in the UK and how to avoid any issues or worries that may arise.

Every parent dreams of the best future for their own child and one of the most important components of such a future is education. Who doesn’t want to see their child among the students of Oxbridge or Harvard? The modern world is dynamic and diverse, and to meet this, people need to have not only a great amount of knowledge, but also an inquisitive and creative mind.

When thinking about a successful career, a rich and full life, and a fascinating circle of friends, parents are more and more often inclined to send their children abroad. More often than not, they choose schools in the UK, where students receive a well-rounded education, an excellent knowledge base, the freedom to communicate in English, and the opportunity to unlock and augment their potential and enter a prestigious world-class university. It is no wonder why they choose the UK in particular. The country has retained its historical value placed on education. The UK has the highest number of prestigious educational institutions, including Eton, Harrow, Marlborough, Oundle, Shrewsbury, Oxford, Cambridge and others.

Working Together

It is very important that both parents agree before they announce the idea to the child, otherwise, it may be met with disappointment, doubt and worry.

With the decision has been made, and both parents in agreement, we need to remember that the child is also a person affected by this decision and their opinion also plays an important role. Not all children are ready to leave their mothers and fathers, while they are still in primary school; although, it is much better to begin studying the British curriculum at an early age, as this gives a better chance of entering the desired secondary school and then university.

Attention should be paid not only to the academic, but also to the emotional and psychological preparation of the child for studying away from home. For some children the path to success begins at the age of 8-10, for others at 13 or even 16, it is very individual.

We offer a comprehensive assessment of the knowledge and potential of each child before providing final recommendations regarding their future education (for more information click here). The main aim of our assessment programme is to find out a child’s strengths and weaknesses, so that we can provide the best support and guidance in reaching their goals. In our opinion, comprehensive assessment of all areas at the beginning is the only way to identify the steps that the child needs to make, to avoid costly mistakes in the future.

Club for the Elite

Each boarding school is a club that students have to work hard to join. Preparation is the key to successful entrance. You shouldn’t think that paying the school fees guarantees a place. Each school has its own requirements, which apply to each and every candidate hoping to become a part of its story. You should always visit the schools before making a final choice and it is important to take your child with you – so that you can gauge whether the child and the school are a good match.

The majority of private schools invite prospective students to open days. Here, children can spend time with potential classmates in lessons, take part in extra-curricular activities and possibly become a full boarder, staying at the school for the night. Such open days give prospective students, their parents, and the school itself an idea of how prepared a child is for such a system and the independence that living away from one’s family affords.

Many parents make the mistake of listening to the opinion of friends and acquaintances, whose children study in certain schools in England. This is not always the best thing to do. What is right for one child is not always right for another. Every child is unique in their own way; therefore, it is important to think about the child’s needs, and not the choices of other people. If a school is perfect for one child, it does not necessarily mean that your child will be happy there.

There are a vast number of schools in the UK and each has its own specific strengths and weaknesses. Each school differs in terms of its character and entrance requirements, but they all have high standards for their future and current students. It is important for a child to study in a school that is a fit for their ability, character and interests. One of our former students, who graduated from a British boarding school said “Here, I am surrounded by talented and extraordinary people, and sometimes I don’t feel that I’m good enough to be here. But this feeling just forces me to push myself harder”. She received 41 points (out of 45) in the IB diploma programme. There are not many English students who could boast of such a score. We are happy that the school recommended by us gave our student such an outstanding start in life.

Each boarding school is a club that students have to work hard to join. Preparation is the key to successful entrance. You shouldn’t think that paying the school fees guarantees a place.

Difficult Decisions

Parents often ask if it is better go to a co-educational school or a single-sex school.

Barnaby Lenon, former director of Harrow school (a leading boys’ boarding school), states the following on the topic:

Boys and girls learn in different ways, and therefore, they need to be taught differently. The female brain develops much more rapidly than that of males. Girls reach full intellectual maturity at the age of 22, whereas boys do not until the age of 30. The gap between girls and boys is rather wide when they are 15 years old. Boys enjoy competition, they need to compete, as this motivates them, even when they lose, and they are not against competing with their friends. Whereas girls to do not like to compete with their friends. They express their feelings, whereas boys do not. Boys systematically overestimate their ability and girls, on the contrary, underestimate theirs.

Co-educational schools, as a rule, intensify gender stereotypes because in such schools girls behave as they think they should behave and boys behave as they assume they need to. In such schools girls less often prefer studying physics and boys are less inclined to choose to study languages and literature.

Chris Greenhalgh, former deputy head at Sevenoaks School, dispelled the myths that academic results are higher in single-sex schools, that girls and boys prefer different styles of learning, and that cultural factors make the learning environment in single-sex schools more productive.

In his opinion the reason that many think that single-sex education is better is due to the position of these schools in the league tables. But in actual fact, these schools show high results due to the ability of their students and factors which have the greatest influence on studies, including quality of instruction, feedback, reasoning skills, but not separation based on gender. It is thought that single-sex schools provide a more relaxed environment where students can develop at their own pace and “find themselves”. However, this environment can also be relentlessly vitriolic or cruel in comparison with the civilising influence of co-educational schools. Young people find themselves when they interact with others, and it is difficult to understand how they can possibly do this if half of humanity is not represented in their daily lives. Some assert that students will be distracted by members of the opposite sex, but this is just an important part that shapes a person when they are growing up.

Chris Greenhalgh is convinced that in co-educational schools, girls and boys learn how to be friends, and how to work and play together. As a result, they feel more comfortable with each other. Contrary to common belief, they are also less fixated on their own selves, than is possible in the enclosed environment of single-sex schools. 40% of people, who studied at single-sex schools, want their children to study in co-educational schools. It is important to remember that the most important aspect of education is preparation for entrance to university, work and life. Working in a team, emotional intelligence, mutual understanding and the ability to interact with others are of crucial importance. These schools are better developed in a co-educational school, which reflects to a better extent real life.

Single-sex education is traditional, but it is inherited from a time when men and women had completely different rights and expectations for their lives. For students to become leaders in an interconnected world, they should learn to work together to achieve success and be happy in life.

These schools show high results due to the ability of their students and factors which have the greatest influence on studies, including quality of instruction, feedback, reasoning skills, but not separation based on gender

Entrance preparation

When the choice is made, the stage of preparation and exam taking begins, which can be a long and painstaking process. Based on the age of the child, their timetable at school, extra-curricular commitments, and the future course of study, it is necessary to develop a tailored programme to move forward to their set goal. Choose tutors who work in the system, have a wealth of experience, and an excellent knowledge base. Don’t forget that frequent cancellations or rescheduling of lessons will hinder progress in a subject and will aid the formation of an “I don’t care” attitude when it comes to studying. The process of preparing for exams should not be exhausting, on the other hand it should be enlightening and productive. Our tutors, at Newton Bright Educational Consultants, are among those who with great fervour and responsibility prepare children for entrance exams and support students who already study in schools in the UK (For more information click here).

Advice for successful school-entrance interview preparation:

  1. Study the school’s curriculum
  2. Read about the school (where it is situated, how many students study and live there, which subjects the school offers, etc.)
  3. Carry out your own research and read news or blog posts on the school’s website
  4. Think about your reasons for wanting to go to the school
  5. Answer questions honestly and with confidence
  6. Avoid simple answers, such as “Yes” or “No”
  7. During the interview be polite and cordial
  8. Don’t interject when the interviewer is speaking. Answer only when asked
  9. Keep eye contact with the interviewer. Don’t make unnecessary gestures, become distracted or chew chewing gum
  10. Take practice interviews to perfect your technique

Our British colleagues, graduates of well-known schools and universities in the UK, are always happy to meet with families who are interested in an education in Britain. We are ready to share our experience of private boarding schools and talk about the advantages of educational programmes.

(This article was written by Olesya Malikova, Senior Consultant for Newton Bright Educational Consultants, and published in the journal One2One No.15(23), 2019)