The growing intricacy of the British Education System

Education Consultancy Janie Richardson School Search and Placement assesses the hurdles that parents have to negotiate when entering their children into the long-established and increasingly diverse and complex British school system.

Relocate Global Guide to Education and Schools in the UK 2019/20

Janie Richardson School Search

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 British Education: an established system characterised by tradition and driven by a quest to maintain high standards and excellence in academic results. Leading schools whose names and reputations are recognised worldwide have played a part in creating what is now an array of options confronting families looking to relocate to the UK.

Growing Diversity

In recent years, the system has been characterised by growing diversity and complexity. Inevitable perhaps for a long established infrastructure that has been forced to flex and evolve to meet the demands our forward thinking society requires for future generations. Entry processes, admission testing, varying points of entry – each unique to a growing list of UK schools thus leaving parents to navigate a maze of options at every turn.The days of selecting a preferred school and enrolling your child through from reception to 18 are undoubtedly becoming a thing of the past. Parents are now confronted with numerous possibilities and opportunities, with decisions being forced at each stage of the educational journey. This in itself has led to the rise of what is now termed ‘educational mapping’.

Educational mapping starts early

In many areas of the UK, careful educational mapping starts as early as nursery selection, with limited registration places and the rising awareness that key nursery schools feed popular, often oversubscribed, pre-schools.Pre-prep entry into prestigious independent schools requires children as young as three and four to demonstrate an eagerness to learn and a confidence to independently walk into an assessment situation. Even if a place is successfully secured, parents are often forced to quickly turn their attentions to preparing for the 7+ and 8+ assessments to achieve a place at selective schools.Others will find themselves confronting 11+ as an entry option. Whilst benefitting from more time at chosen prep schools, this stage is often perceived to be academically challenging, requiring time consuming preparation. Competition at this entry point throws up terrifying statistics of unrealistic demand for too few places.Finally for boys aiming at top London day schools and competitive boarding institutions it is vital to fully understand pre-testing and 13+ entry. Pre-testing allows an offer to be made but only on the condition of passing common entrance exams at a specified grade dictated by individual schools.

A vast array of options

The above outlines the vast array of options for joining oversubscribed schools. Each characterised by it’s own set of challenges which parents are required to consider for theirchild. To confuse matters further, multiple schooling options exist that parents have to consider in the context of their own family: day, boarding, single sex, co-educational. All options are available but one key feature characterises them all – challenging admission processes.The basic economic rule of ‘demand outstripping supply’ for limited places has left schools to pick and choose pupils at each point of entry and to adjust their admission assessment accordingly. It has been widely acknowledged that, with such fierce competition, the pressure placed on children sitting academically challenging exams is exceptional in the UK.In response to this, a decision was taken by a group of London girls’ schools to remove written examinations altogether from their admissions process. Instead, they are hoping to develop the creativity of the selection process, including cognitive ability testing alongside interviews. Whilst this decision has been welcomed, it does little to alleviate the complexity of the British education system, incorporating yet another new set of admission hoops for parents to both understand and navigate their way through.Whilst the British education system itself is undoubtedly growing, changing and evolving at a frightening speed, it is reassuring to see that it continues to attract families from all across the world. If parents are able to carefully navigate the maze of options, their children will reap the benefits and exceptional results that a long established system of education prides itself on.Janie Richardson School Search offers bespoke and informed advice to parents and families relocating to the UK on all aspects of the ever-changing British education system.Janie Richardson School Search and Placement
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This article is from Relocate Global's Guide to Education & Schools in the UK 2019/20 which is packed with expert tips and information for those relocating and the professionals supporting them. Access your free digital copy hereFor co-branded or bespoke editions for your employees, contact Fiona Murchie on +44 (0)1892 891334 or email

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