Changing schools: could you do better?
RE YOU considering changing schools? Moving does not automatically lead to better outcomes. The rationale for the change should be clear. For example, are you looking for more support; closer monitoring; a wider range of subjects or extracurricular activities; a fresh start; better assistance with special educational needs or disability, the option of boarding or a different geographical area?
Make a list of your aims and refine this as you consider various institutions. Keep notes but don’t expect your notes to decide for you. Talk to as many people as possible and assess the value of their comments. A good overriding question to ask is: “Where will the student flourish and why?”
Colleges generally offer a broader range of subjects and greater flexibility in subject combinations than schools. One can often join a college for the second year of a two-year A-level course, or even take an A-level in just one year. Colleges run equally flexible GCSE courses, typically offering more creative subjects such as photography alongside traditional ones. Again, the range of subjects is usually wider than that offered by most schools. One-year GCSE courses are available, which are attractive to many students.
The college environment is more relaxed than school and the philosophy is that students should be treated as adults rather than children. However, welfare and academic support are of a very high standard, with close monitoring and support systems in place. Colleges tend to do well in balancing personal responsibility with support, by guiding students without preaching to them. This allows students to grow in confidence and flourish both academically and personally.
Boarding helps students to develop confidence, independence and resilience and to gain an adaptable mindset. Boarders have access to an immediate friendship network in their boarding house and the opportunity to engage with a wide range of students from all over the world.
Boarding provides continuity and stability, for example for students whose parents’ work involves many changes of location, a high degree of international travel or long hours. It also offers diverse worthwhile activities for evenings and weekends. Johnathan Lee Roberts is vice principal of DLD College, London