Middleton Advice paper: Planning Ahead – Education

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Plan your move. Plan your children’s education.

One of the questions Education Consultants regularly hear from families relocating to or within the UK is, ‘how do I choose the best school for my child’? Your children’s education is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make, and for many families schools are a key factor in their move. With education, the key is to look at the short-term and beyond, considering your children’s education pathways throughout 5, 10 and even 15 years.

Think beyond their current age.

Your son or daughter might be little now, but they won’t be forever! Think beyond their current age, and look ahead to their time at prep school, senior school and sixth form.

What kind of educational experience might suit them well? Are they independent and ambitious and a boarding school might suit them well once they’re older? Are they academically talented and would do well at a high-achieving independent school or grammar school? Do you already have target schools in mind and need to develop a strong foundation to achieve these goals?

Logistics are fundamental.

With more than one child, the school-run options become ever more complicated so it’s important to think about how your family life will work practically day to day. When choosing where to move, it’s always best to keep your options open – an area with several options for schools with different facilities and academic strengths is a good strategy.

What are your child’s talents and goals?

What does your child enjoy? Are they artistic? Sporty? If they’re old enough to have clear hobbies and goals, it’s worth exploring which schools will foster these specific interests.

Research schools’ facilities, extra-curricular options and what they’re well-known for. A school with fantastic sports grounds might help a keen hockey player get to the next level, while a school that’s well-known for their drama department might propel students into the world of acting.

Does your child have learning differences?

An important element to consider is additional learning needs your child may have and how well-placed the schools in your area are to support this.

It’s well worth visiting schools and speaking to their SENCO, because schools can have vastly different levels of SEN (Special Educational Needs) support.

Which exams will your child need to sit?

Many independent schools require prospective students to sit entrance exams, with the 7+ (for Year 3 Prep School entry) and the 11 or 13+ (for Year 7 or Year 9 Senior School entry) the most common entry points.

At popular schools, these can be highly competitive, and it’s essential that children are sufficiently prepared to take on these exams with confidence. You’ll also need to check whether there are any places available at your target schools. Generally, the further out of London you move, the more likely there will be school places available.

Have a look at your local or target schools’ websites to understand what the entry process will be and at admissions statistics.

For private schools, always check the Charity Commission website to check on the financial viability, particularly for smaller prep schools in the countryside.

Consider the reasoning behind your move.

Think about why you’ve chosen to move to your area of choice. If you’ve chosen to move to the countryside to give your children more space and freedom, a school with fantastic grounds and the opportunity for exciting extra-curriculars might be what you’re looking for.

Equally, if you’ve come to London to benefit from the opportunities of the capital, find out how each school uses the rich culture of London and how they manage the sport requirements.

Thanks, Kate Shand, Enjoy Education. For more information head to her website here.

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© 2023 Middleton Advisors Our advice papers address top-level questions that are often raised over the course of our client relationships. This paper is not intended to offer specific advice and you should not proceed with any investment decision on the basis of the advice contained herein; we recommend that you undertake personalised consultation with Middleton or another professional advisor.