Selecting and Applying to the Correct Schools

Simply Learning Tuition will be your guide to the British education system, helping you through the process of choosing the right school and successfully applying for a place for your child.

We look at a range of options based on your child’s educational needs and goals, along with their suitability for a school’s ethos and culture. By matching your requirements with those of the school, we help to ensure a happy, productive and successful education.

 

Providing You with the Right Tools

Our service extends far beyond simply finding and recommending a school for your child. Drawing upon our years of experience, we will help you move past merely finding a school and guide you through the applications process.

We take pride in preparation – if your child needs to learn English as a foreign language, requires tutoring for re-takes, or is applying to a school mid-year, we’ll ensure that your child’s application stands the best possible chance of success.

It’s likely that you will already have studied countless glossy brochures and the Good School Guide whilst undertaking some surface research, so we provide deeper advice on choosing a school and applying successfully:

  • Is the school’s personality a good fit? Will your child be happy at this school, and are the school’s values congruent with your own?
  • What should your child expect? From entrance exams and selection criteria to their first day, we will ensure you are fully prepared.
  • Do you require an introduction? Where appropriate, we will introduce you to the School’s Registrar to ensure the best possible chance of making a good impression.

We pride ourselves on honesty and independence, so you can trust us to provide you with the information you need to make a decision.

 

Schools Consultation

As a parent, you have access to a range of resources about the schools you are considering. But our consultations provide something more. Unlike a school’s literature or hearsay from other parents, our consultations are unbiased and based on visits and in depth meetings with students and head teachers.

We have forged firm links with the admissions departments of a range of private schools, and will be happy to advise you on applications to any UK or international school. After a face-to-face or telephone consultation which fully explains the application process, we provide you with a full written report that will outline your options. After you have made your choice, we are also happy to apply on your behalf.

Before your consultation, you may wish to read our Schools Guide or advice about how to prepare your child for school entry. Parents of children coming to a British school from overseas may also be interested in our Boarding Schools Plus programme. Our other guides, Choosing between Day School and Boarding School, and Choosing between State and Independent School, may also be useful. We also think that Kathryn Watson’s ‘Parent’s guide to choosing a Boarding School’ offers some invaluable insight.

One of Simply Learning Tuition's private tutors

INITIAL CONSULTATION

We get to know your child. By learning what they need from a school, we will be able to recommend the best possible fit.

Simply Learning Tuition's academic assessment

SHORTLIST AND EXAMS

After preparing a shortlist of schools, we can introduce tutors to help your child prepare for entrance exams. SLT will also assist with any application administration which can be particularly useful for families applying from overseas.

An Academic Mentor working with a private tuition student in london

VISITS AND INTERVIEWS 

Over-coaching can be detrimental to your child’s interview technique, but we believe that practice always makes perfect. We ensure that your child is fully prepared to demonstrate their best side during the entrance interview, and give you the opportunity to visit the school and meet key members of staff.

Simply Learning Tuition's private tutors engage with parents

ONGOING SUPPORT

Choosing the best school is only the beginning. We can help to foster the ongoing relationship between school and student; introducing mentors or subject tutors to ease the transition to the new school.

Boarding School Preparation 

The transition from family home to boarding school is a major change in anyone’s life. We provide mentors and tutors to help smooth the transition through English language preparation, academic coaching, and moral support.

Boarding School Plus Programme

A “boarding school plus” mentor will help your child to settle into and get the most out of their time at a UK boarding school by supporting them before and during their studies.

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A mentor will visit your child in your family home before school, typically for one to two weeks toward the end of the summer holidays. This provides an opportunity to prepare academically, develop English language skills and answer any question; no matter how big or small. What might a typical day will look like? How easy will it be to make friends? What will the food be like? What if I’m not sporty? What cultural differences should I know about before arrival?

The mentor also welcomes a child to their school; a friendly face that provides continuity with the home environment. They can help your child throughout their time at school and support both him/her and you with gap year, GCSE, A-level and University decisions. Mentors play a unique role for their students – much like a career coach in later life – that is very different to a teacher, guardian or parent. They are someone that your child can relate to but independent of their immediate school or domestic context.

We offer the following courses:

  • One to two week “before you start” programmes *
  • Termly mentoring packages **
  • Additional support on hourly basis

£1650 per year* £770 per term** on request

* At your family home. London study centre available on request. Any mentor travel or accommodation costs are additional.

** Based on one hour per week over an eleven week term.

English Language Preparation

Even the brightest child can face challenges adapting to a different academic curriculum and approach to learning, and getting used to spoken English at a UK boarding school. Receiving help with their English will help them excel in their academic studies.

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The curricula of different countries vary, so some countries teach – for example – trigonometry earlier than others. These differences can be identified early and addressed before arrival to ease a child’s academic transition. UK boarding schools teach in a very different way to many other schools. They are far less structured and formulaic than your child may be used to and emphasise skills like independent thinking.  In addition, even students at top of their English language class struggle with the English spoken in boarding schools. Slang, the speed of speech, and presentation skills prove particular challenges.

 

A “boarding school plus” mentor will create a personalised programme for the one or two weeks they spend with your child, to prepare him/ her for their boarding school. Your mentor can also provide academic and English language support on an ongoing basis.

We can put you in touch with Simply Learning Tuition’s network of specialist tutors, if your child requires subject-specific support or has special educational needs.

Case Studies 

Jack

Sometimes a school’s relatively rigid timetables can disengage certain children, and a period of more flexible home schooling can get them back in the groove. Jack, 15, is an example. He had previously been expelled from...

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Sometimes a school’s relatively rigid timetables can disengage certain children, and a period of more flexible home schooling can get them back in the groove.

Jack, 15, is an example. He had previously been expelled from a school and was struggling with the routine and boundaries at his new school. One of his challenges was that he had been diagnosed with ADHD, and it was affecting him quite considerably. He needed more support than the school was able to offer. And to provide that support he started a part-time home schooling program.

This programme was delivered by three tutors, who each specialised in different subjects. This team was able to support Jack in his academics and act as mentors encouraging him to stay on track. However, one of the key things they also did was cut the length of Jack’s lessons – making it easier for him to concentrate throughout and avoiding the temptation to lose track.

His academic results improved a great deal (he achieved As and Bs in his GCSEs). He’s since transitioned back into school well, and remains focused on his studies with no reports of bad behaviour.

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Sergei

Some students can struggle in the English schooling system if they are at the wrong school, particularly if English is not their first language. Sergei is a prime example.

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Some students can struggle in the English schooling system if they are at the wrong school, particularly if English is not their first language. Sergei is a prime example.

Sergei was a Ukranian student who was not happy at the boarding school that he was attending in London. His family came to us in the summer term of year 11 searching for a school for Sergei to start at in September. He was a very bright student who had not been supported enough by his previous school. English was not his first language and he was struggling with his confidence.

We searched extensively over the summer for a new school for Sergei. As well as this, we had regular contact with the student, finding out exactly what kind of school he himself wanted. We counselled Sergei to aim high and not be put off by his experience at his previous school. We arranged visits to a wide variety of the UK’s best sixth form colleges. After extensive consultation with Sergei and his parents, in September he enrolled in a London Sixth Form College with a superb reputation. He is thriving in his new school and performing superbly in his exams.

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David, Katy and Emma

Transitioning from one school system to another can be tricky, but these three children exemplify how smooth the transition can be when it is properly managed.

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Transitioning from one school system to another can be tricky, but these three children exemplify how smooth the transition can be when it is properly managed.

All three children were in the Welsh schooling system and the family wanted to move to the British system. It was not an easy assignment as all three children were at different ages and required three different schools. They came to us towards the end of the summer holidays and needed places at school as soon as possible in the London area.

There was not enough time to immediately find schools for the new school year, so we provided homeschooling for a term in order that the children should not fall behind and would be in the best position for the entrance exams that they would have to sit. We then helped them liaise with a variety of schools, making sure that each school matched the specific needs of the child. All three children succeeded in getting into the school of their choice and are doing extremely well.

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Asmah

It can be difficult to move from one country to another, often help is required with negotiating the vagaries of the British school system.

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It can be difficult to move from one country to another, often help is required with negotiating the vagaries of the British school system.

Asmah was attending a well known and prestigious London pre-prep school. However, English was not her first language so she was placed in a lower year group than would be normal for her age. The family did not want this situation to continue. Therefore the client came to us in September, with the school year already having started, urgently looking for a new school.

We immediately started short listing and visiting schools, as well as providing remedial homeschooling to bring Asmah’s English up to the level required for the assessments that she would have to sit. We visited a broad variety of different schools, prioritising those who could offer Visa support. We managed to secure Asmah a place in a very well regarded prep school in the correct year group for her. She is flourishing in the new environment and recently told us that she is enjoying school for the first time.

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Preparing your Child for School Admission

Step One: Shortlisting Schools

The UK education system is fiercely competitive and not everyone plays by the same rules. With people moving into school catchment areas before the birth of their child and some parents attempting to register unconceived children for prep-schools, it’s really important to think about your child’s education early.

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The first step is to identify your options: These are most likely to come down to your decision on the Private or State system, your location and financial means. It’s essential to start early as there are tight deadlines –particularly for independent schools. Talking to friends who have children already at school can be helpful. However, remember that your child’s specific needs will likely differ to those of your friends’ children.

Useful research tools include the school website, The SLT Schools Guide, and recent Ofsted reports. It is important not to get fixated on league tables as they can be misleading (bright children in = bright children out). Instead try to look for ‘Value Added’ by the school. The Telegraph measures this in their league table. Try to narrow down your search to around five schools or less – any more is logistically challenging and suggests you aren’t being realistic.

Step Two: Evaluating each School

Very few parents actually visit their shortlist of schools. This is surprising, considering the invaluable insights a visit can provide. Our Director of Education and Managing Director weigh in on how to evaluate each school.

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Katie Haigh, Director of Education at Simply Learning Tuition says “meeting the head teachers, experiencing the learning and play environments first hand is much more revealing beyond hearsay and a school’s website.” We strongly recommend visiting all the schools on your shortlist before registration. Most independent schools are selective so you must consider if your child is capable of passing the schools’ assessment. The most popular schools are not always the best schools and definitely may not be the best school for your particular child.

You need to evaluate the financial commitment. Not only is it financially viable but are the fees worth it? “We’ve found the level of financial investment doesn’t actually have that much of a difference in early years of education. In most cases it is better to save in order to make greater investments in the later stages of your child’s education” Nathaniel McCullagh, Managing Director at Simply Learning Tuition.

Step Three: The Registration Process

The state and independent systems present different sets of challenges. By being aware of the requirements of each early on, you can maximise your child's potential of gaining a place at the right school for them.

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The state system is relatively simple. Register your son or daughter through your local council and that’s it. You can apply for schools outside of your catchment area but if you want to guarantee a place, the Good Schools Guide recommend ‘you have about three or four years to move into a catchment area’.

The independent system presents more complex challenges.

Admissions processes, waiting lists and application dates vary so it’s very important to explore your options early to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines. Reassuringly few schools have formal academic assessments at 4+. Some hold group interviews to evaluate social, communication and language skills. They are also looking at childrens’ levels of confidence, cooperation and concentration.

Step Four: Preparing for Entry

Whether you’re preparing your child to embark on the independent or state school route, there are fundamentals to consider.

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Pre-school tutor Amy Hydes says;

“Don’t compare your son or daughter to those of your friends because it’s important to remember that every child learns and develops at different stages.”

Resist the temptation to control all of your children’s learning. Allowing for unstructured play, encouraging role-play and introducing your child to new faces all lead to natural development of confidence and imagination. Playing outside, investigating in the garden and splashing in puddles, paves the way for building the grit and resilience they will need to succeed in later-life. Discovering and exploring new materials and textures like mud, water and sand helps children to develop their motor skills; which will help them learn to write. Creativity is natural in children so avoid supressing it with prescribed learning.

The jury is very much out when it comes to “professional” support for pre-schoolers. We suggest a careful, pragmatic and blended approach. Nurseries are generally local, affordable and provide a great environment for children to progress. Interacting with older and younger peer groups improves social skills and valuable language development.

 

Deciding between full or half day nursery comes down to your own family’s needs. Attending nursery in the morning combined with one-to-one learning in the afternoon is a good balance. However, morning-only places are more competitive. If English is not your child’s first language, we would highly recommend full day nursery.  Exposure to English is one of the most important phases of preparing them for them for the British Education system.

Employing a nanny or joining a play group are alternatives to nursery. Although both are good childcare options, neither is likely to provide specialist educators. If you are preparing your son or daughter for school entrance assessments or if your child is particularly bright and you feel they need some stimulation beyond what their play school can offer, then a professional tutor may be useful. Pre-school tuition is fun and informal. It focuses on unlocking children’s potential. Tutors can help parents and nannies by providing an expert approach to learning and development focused on the best methods for the age and development of the child.

“Tutoring young children is about unlocking a child’s potential and building their confidence. Whether with Play-Doh or toy trains, I use play to unleash creativity but also make sure I am constantly talking and engaging with a child in a productive and positive way,” says Amy Hydes.

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