The most difficult part of placing a Russian child into the English education system is not so much finding the “right” school, but rather finding the right timing and approach to the undertaking. A key part of our service is therefore working with your family – perhaps over a period of years – to achieve the optimal solution, i.e. the one that brings the greatest benefit to your child and, incidentally, the whole family.
To give you a feel for the importance of timing, consider the following.
As with most things, the earlier the better. Perhaps the “easiest” age to enter the system is at around age 8 into a Preparatory school. The child’s English language will be weak, but easily learnt and the transition to a good senior school will be straightforward. Furthermore, proven academic ability will not be important. Undoubtedly, that is very young to send a child overseas, but the special visa available for parents (enabling a parent to reside in the UK until the child reaches 12) may make this workable.
The older the child becomes, the better the standard of English language required. For example, at the age of 14, students start the first tier of state exams – GCSEs – which require a good standard of English, so in preparation for this, entry into school at least a year earlier may be advisable. The second tier of state exams – A-levels (or International Baccalaureate) – which are studied for two years from the age of 16 and which determine the quality of university you can enter – demand excellent English. While your child may well have these language skills from additional tutoring, entry at this age conflicts with the age for obtaining the Russian school graduation certificate.
This is just an example of the types of issue we will work through with you.
Generally, we have found the language issue can be resolved – see “Improving your child’s English” for ideas. What some schools are less flexible about is academic ability – the more “prestigious” the school, generally the higher the academic standard required. Connections or backhanders play no part in the admission process. Top schools will not admit weak students as they can damage the schools’ ratings and their reputation may suffer as a result.
Nevertheless, there are excellent schools which are focussed less on exam results and more on overall achievement.
Whatever the current age of your child, it is not too late to be thinking of an English education, but you do need to be talking to us NOW. In our experience, it can take up to a year to go through the process of understanding your child’s strengths and weaknesses, developing an education plan based on your family’s objectives and financial means, and then finding the school and achieving admission to the preferred school. For the top independent schools, registration well in advance is required – two, three, or even four years.
Our UK education consulting services consist of:
- Preparing an education plan for your child
- Organising language/academic assessment
- Identifying potential boarding schools
- Accompanying you on a visit to chosen school(s)
- Supporting the school admissions process
Language, guardianship and visa services are described on separate pages of this website.
We also provide services ancillary to UK visits, such as travel support, organising excursions and renting apartments.