For a parent thinking of moving their child to a British Boarding school there are several transition points they may consider. One of the big trends that we are witnessing in the UAE is a looking for a British boarding school at sixth form, for the final two years of schooling. There are several reasons for this which involve a series of pull and push factors.
British Boarding School at Sixth Form: Pull Factors
Putting down some roots
For students planning on studying for a degree at university in the UK, going to school there for the sixth form gives them a chance to make a network of friends ahead of attending university.
For many 3rd culture children, who have lived abroad for most of their life, having two years in the UK means they can start to put some roots down and be near family again. It means they become more familiar with living in the UK, getting used to the quirks and differences on a daily basis as opposed to a quick trip in the summer. It is also an opportunity to develop some resilience to the weather and some resistance to local bugs!
Education the ‘English way’
Whilst British curriculum international schools offer a great local education alternative, total immersion into a British boarding school gives a real flavour of learning the English way. There is just so much on offer from the range of subjects available, the different exam syllabi, the amazing extra-curricular opportunities, the trips to art galleries and theatres, the high level of sport and the top quality teaching.
There is also much more choice and range in the UK education landscape. For students looking for the highly academic, there are competitively selective schools such as Westminster or Charterhouse, where Russell Group and Oxbridge success stories are a given.
Some students will fare better in an environment that will nurture them through the crucial final two years of school in which case a smaller, less competitive environment might be more appropriate, with a strong pastoral system such as the Quaker orientated Sibford School or Bloxham.
A chance to develop their talents further
For the talented musician a specialist school can offer them opportunities to develop their talents beyond the confines of school, somewhere like Wells Cathedral School or Chethams School of Music, similarly with Drama certain schools have great reputations for honing these gifts and inspiring pupils to do things like take productions to the Edinburgh Festival, St Edward’s in Oxford takes at least one show each year for example.
Sport is another key attraction, schools such as Millfield have elite sporting programmes with all the necessary support to train up young Olympians.
What about the child for whom academia is a challenge – there are plenty of schools that will offer alternative pathways – Milton Abbey has sixth form courses in Equine management, Hospitality and a BTEC in Creative Media Production.
What if the challenge is finding the right level of learning support for dyslexia or a child on the autistic spectrum, several British schools excel in this area and can provide the right learning environment to enable children to go onto to achieve great results.
For those who are frustrated by the rigour and discipline of the traditional school model, a tutorial college might be a better fit, D’Overbroeck’s in Oxford or MPW in London offers small classes, in a relaxed teaching environment, no fuss with uniform, first name terms and no compulsory extras.
The sheer variety and multiple opportunities across every aspect of education is hard to beat in the UK schools and is a significant pull factor for many parents making this decision.
Think a British Boarding School at Sixth Form could be for your child? Gabbitas can help you every step of the way, get in touch today.
British Boarding School at Sixth Form: Push Factors
Whilst living in Dubai can be a very safe and protected environment to grow up in, many parents feel that their children need to experience some level of independence before they head off to university.
Two years of studying in a British boarding school can help to teach them how to stand on their own two feet as well as life skills such as how to travel independently or how to use public transport. The joy of doing this in a boarding environment is that there is a big ‘safety net’ ready to support them and to catch them if things go wrong.
Heritage of sixth form success
Many parents are very happy with the education system in the UAE and recognise that several of the schools are providing a very high standard of teaching and learning. However, there are sometimes concerns about how robust the sixth form provision is and whether it is as good as the equivalent in the UK.
Much of the sixth form provision in the UAE is relatively recent and is still maturing in terms of recruiting the best staff and having the right facilities in place. The final two years are high risk stakes, with university places dependant on achieving the best grades. Many parents want the security of knowing that their child is in a tried and tested environment with a proven track record in delivering results and university destination data to prove it.
Greater curriculum choice
Sixth form curriculum options in the UAE are still relatively limited. Some schools offer A Levels or IB and many of the American schools offer AP’s or a High School Diploma but you cannot access the academically elite Pre U’s in the UAE or some of the more vocationally orientated BTECs. There are also limits on the subjects on offer in this part of the world, for example there is no opportunity to study the culturally enlightening History of Art A Level or Philosophy and Ethics.
Experiencing something new
For some students who have been educated in the UAE for their entire lives, it is just time for a change of scenery. Moving abroad for sixth form allows them to escape the confines of being typecast and an opportunity to reinvent themselves in a new environment.
Key things to remember
For families considering a post GCSE move then it is wise to start early – the application dates for selective schools come around quickly and it is vital to prepare for the competitive assessments.
However, it is interesting to note that at Gabbitas we receive regular updates on availability in schools and that we have recently been able to help families secure places at several of the many excellent British boarding schools for sixth form this September.