When it comes to being a parent, one of the most agonizing choices you face is the school system. What is the best path for your child: a long-term private/independent-school education, a state education or a combination of the two? Whatever the decision, if private education is involved in the mix—or even if you’re attempting to get your child into a good state school—what is certain is that you’ll have to navigate the school entrance system.
Here are our tips for making the school entrance system a little bit easier and improving the odds of entry for your child.
- Check out all options. Make sure you’re fully informed; don’t rely on league tables or fellow parents in the playground. There are lots of great sources of information. The Independent Schools Show, for example, offers a chance to speak to all the top schools under one roof and hear from education experts on a range of topics. Choosing a school that is suited to your child’s needs rather than based on academic success will instantly put you in better stead.
- Register early. Make sure you’re aware of all the entry deadlines. Having choice is key. Don’t narrow your options on such an important decision by missing school registration deadlines.
- Don’t push your child to do what they are not suited to. You are setting them up to fail and this will only have an adverse effect on their confidence. A 7+ or 8+ entry is the best option for very few children. It is a ruthless process for children that young and aimed at the exceptionally bright and early developers.
- Prepare. Regardless of whether parents say their children are not tutored and that the schools are not aware of their being tutored, the reality is that most pupils at London independent schools are tutored for entry exams, be it 7+, 8+, 11+ or 13+. Again, by starting ahead with gentle and continuous tuition, you should be able to save the last-minute panics and anxiety. Even if your child has strong numeracy and literacy skills, tuition to enhance their exam and interview technique will provide them with more confidence when going into their assessments. This may well be what gives them a competitive edge and acts as the differentiator.
- Encourage broad interests from a young age. Doing so gives them something interesting and original to talk about at interview and represents a strong social and soft-skills level.
- Nurture a natural curiosity and enjoyment for learning. The key is parental engagement—talk to them about current events, nature, whatever is going on. They will relish the time you give them and enjoy that you feel they are capable of understanding more adult topics.
The Independent Schools Show 2016 takes place on 12 and 13 November at Battersea Park. This year’s show is free for those who register online for tickets in advance. For more information and to book tickets, go to www.schoolsshow.co.uk.
This post in sponsored by The Independent Schools Show.