There are a whole array of schools in the UK from state to private, and it is quite complicated! School experts who have extensive knowledge about each school entrance examination and their requirements are there to help. They will know which school is the best fit for your children and will advise you. So please ensure you get someone professional, ideally via word of mouth. If you need any guidance, we have trusted consultants we can recommend.
If you’re from a non-English speaking country or background, it’s highly recommended that your children’s current level of English is assessed. English as a Foreign Language (EFL), or English as an Additional Language (EAL) support is available to improve their language skills. This may also apply to you as parents, if you would like to gain more confidence in either business English, or for socialising. Strengthening your family’s level of English will smoothen your transition into UK life.
It may seem obvious, but it’s amazing the number of students who come to the UK and know very little about their new host country. The more you talk to your children about the UK (such as its monarchy, its food, the school system…), the more they’ll understand and feel a part of the culture. Perhaps show them videos from school websites that have children wearing their uniforms (that is often a big change for students coming from non-uniform schools). Or use Google Maps street view, so they see different parts of the country. Discuss British history, sports and sportspeople, actors, and musicians from the UK. The more they know, the more familiar everything becomes. If you find it difficult to do this, these topics are also covered in English as an Additional Language (EAL) lessons.
This is particularly important if your children are going to sit school entrance exams. They will really benefit from having assessments in English, maths and the sciences. Levels vary greatly from country to country, depending on the age group. Assessments in the core subjects help determine their current level of attainment in the British system, as well as which school might be best for them. These assessments also allow international students to experience how lessons are conducted in English. Preparation is key and exercises like this help alleviate any anxiety they might feel starting a new school.
It is no secret, socialising is what makes any move smoother. Whether for parents or children, joining in clubs such as sports clubs, a book club, or doing an after school or evening activity, enlarges your social circle and helps you integrate. Taster classes are often available so you can try something for free. So don’t hesitate in joining several and choosing what suits you/your children best.
It’s also a great idea to join local groups via Facebook or Nextdoor as you can ask pretty much anything and someone will reply. Often people message when they’re about to move, or have just moved. They introduce themselves/their family and ask if some people would like to meet up for a coffee, or go to a park – it’s proving hugely popular.
Good luck and happy planning!
Shirley Hesry – Director and EAL Specialist at Osborne Cawkwell Tuition