Category: Boarding schools

Boarding school and state school collaboration in the UK

“Private and state schools cater to different markets…so, if it is handled sensitively, long term relationships can be successful”

 

The UK boarding school sector, home to approximately 29,000 international pupils requiring a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK  is criticised in some quarters for the perceived lack of ‘sharing’ of resources & expertise with pupils attending state-run schools in the UK.

This builds domestic political pressure on the sector as only 7% of children in the UK attend private/boarding schools. But what is the reality?

One scheme worthy of note is the Boarding School Partnerships (BSP) programme that advises local authorities on how, when and where to place vulnerable young people in boarding schools. Some pupils are already in the care system, having been removed from their families, whilst others may be close to the edge of care.

According to Colin Morrison, founding Chair of the Department for Education’s three-year-old boarding School Partnerships (BSP), there are approximately 750 young people currently being supported in state and independent boarding schools by specialist charities and an additional 1,500 by local authorities.

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‘Honesty’ the key component for successful boarding school placements

“Trying to shoehorn a child into an unsuitable environment can be disastrous for both the child, family and the school itself”

When considering an overseas boarding school education, there are so many factors for parents to consider, writes Pat Moores of UK Education Guide. Meanwhile, schools and agents bombard families with information that may or may not be relevant to them.

We asked guardians and schools if they were only allowed to provide just one piece of advice to parents to help them make the best decision for their children, what would it be?

Interestingly, the answers received almost all followed a similar theme and we highlight three responses below:

Julia Evans, Director at Cambridge Guardian Angels, argues that the most important thing is to ask parents and agents to be honest about the information they provide schools & guardians.

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Coronavirus: separated families need greater focus

“Families are bearing the brunt of this disruption on both a psychological and practical level, and more must be done to meet their needs”

As the Coronavirus crisis widens geographically, the immediate focus for the boarding school sector is to provide up to date health advice to help keep schools virus-free. However, as Pat Moores of UK Education Guide writes, alongside this issue there is a massive human story. 

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, young people are being separated from their families unexpectedly, uncertain when the situation will improve and concerned about their own welfare and the welfare of their families.

We have heard of one Chinese pupil who has donated £750 of her own money to help Wuhan residents, as many of her friends live in the Hubei region and she is very worried about them.

So what about enhanced pastoral care provision during this crisis?

As Caroline Nixon, General Secretary of the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students (BAISIS) says, “anything a school can do to reassure the child and to put into place arrangements that support them emotionally as well as physically is welcome; the most obvious being keeping the school open so that children without good guardians have somewhere familiar to stay.”

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How ‘Safety’ is moving up the agenda for international students & their families

“The pressure is on UK schools to make their schools as attractive as possible when it comes to projecting a ‘safe’ image”

Maryland lawmakers have approved a bill that will allow Johns Hopkins University to form its own, private police force to enforce the law on campus. Meanwhile, in the UK, over the past three years, universities have paid more than £2 million to 17 police forces in exchange for support.

Spending is rapidly increasing and the University of Northampton now has six fulltime police officers seconded to the University for 3 years, at a cost of £775,000. Safety is increasingly front of mind when students are deciding about overseas study locations. In IDP’s annual survey of almost 3,000 students in the five main overseas study destinations (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) Canada leads the way in terms of ‘safety’ versus its international rivals, with the UK ranking 4th out of five.

Also, students from China are now reported to be as concerned by the safety of the destination country in which they intend to study as they are the relative academic position of their institution, according to the latest report from the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association.

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How different will a UK Boarding school be in 10 years time?

“Classrooms will certainly look different with mobile chatbots offering support to individual students and more personalised learning plans”

With the technological advances in the last 10 years, it is a challenge to predict future changes in another 10 years.  However, there is so much scope for existing tech to be developed further, it is a fair guess that many of the ideas outlined below will make a tangible impact on the UK Boarding school sector.

Chatbots are already an established part of academic and admissions support teams at some UK and U.S. Universities. At Georgia Tech one online support worker ‘Jill Watson’ helped students on Professor Ashok Goel’s Knowledge-Based Artificial intelligence class, for a whole year, without students knowing she was a chatbot.

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What do international parents really want from UK boarding schools?

“”School rankings still matter, but ‘safety’ has also started to be mentioned more often”

It is so often assumed that international parents are only focused on one thing when it comes to selecting a boarding school for their child-rankings. So, if a school or college has outstanding A level results, then that school will go to the top of the list of possible schools parents and their children are considering.

However, things seem to be changing…

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What is an appropriate level of English for International Boarding school pupils?

“How young people are integrated into Boarding school life is arguably as important as their IELTS score”

A recent study by University of York highlighted that while the threshold for English competency for degree study in the UK is IELTS 5.5 this is not necessarily the level that would allow a student to thrive in UK Higher Education.

It found that international students with an average IELTS of between 6.5 and 7.5 had an average English vocabulary just under half the size of that of the home students and their difficulties with reading and writing were far greater than those reported on the same tests for home students with dyslexia.
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International students & the power of imagery to address mental health

“Imagery and metaphor are powerful tools for enhancing understanding with international students”

 Pat Moores director and co-founder of UK Education Guide looks at how visual aids can help to enhance understanding when working with international students and their mental health.

Much is talked about the cultural challenges that international young people face when they first arrive in the UK, but the challenges are particularly acute for international students entering the UK education system at a young age. There is a minimum of 27,000 children under the age of 18* whose parents live outside the UK and are studying at UK schools and Boarding schools.

It is difficult to argue that the challenges facing these young people aren’t greater than the international students entering the UK education aged 18 and above.
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Why the Duke of Edinburgh Award is important for international students

“The DofE has progressed to become more than an outdoors leadership challenge… it now reflects a much more diverse and interconnected world”

In today’s highly competitive world, young people are under enormous pressure to succeed. However, success is rarely achieved without a helping hand or a positive, life-changing experience, writes Clare Lane, head of sport at Bellerbys College.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was set up in 1956 to help young people from all walks of life navigate the challenging path to adulthood; broadening their life skills and preparing them for their future work or studies.

While individual institutions around the world may offer similar programmes, as far as I’m aware there isn’t a program on a national level comparable to the DofE Award. Agents may not be aware of the benefits the program presents tor international students in particular, which is why we should be talking about it today.

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How can UK boarding schools help smooth the transition to university for international students?

“One excellent example of specific support for international students is putting final year students in touch with alumni who are currently at the universities the student might be considering”

As parents know, selecting a university is about more than accessing the latest subject and university rankings. The challenge is even harder for parents who may be several thousand miles away, writes Pat Moores, director and co-founder of UK Education Guide.

Therefore, the responsibility for helping international students find the right university often relies on the diligence of boarding schools.

Some schools offer the same support for international students as they do for UK students, but it is hard not to think that they need more, recognising the lack of direct parental input.

As Caroline Nixon, General Secretary of BAISIS comments: “International students need greater support than UK pupils, not the same…parents don’t understand the process and are remote.”

“University websites make it quite difficult to find basic information, as the focus is on a detailed examination of facilities themselves”

Some schools argue that if their pupils are prepared properly, it is right that they lead the process, not the school or parents.

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