Chang­ing schools: could you do bet­ter?

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY JOHNATHAN LEE ROBERTS Col­leges treat their stu­dents as adults not as chil­dren

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

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