Choosing a summer school for your child
Choosing a summer school can seem like a difficult task with so many on offer that appear similar upon first glance.
A good first step is to sit down with your child and work out between you what they want, and what you want for them, from their summer.
Below are some questions that, once you have answered, will hopefully lead to a much easier decision-making process in picking a summer school that suits best!
1. What balance of activities does your child want?
Are you looking for a sporty or outdoor based summer school? Perhaps the most important factor is how culturally enriching it is as an experience? Or maybe you want your child to be intellectually stretched over the summer, taking their studying outside of the classroom? Most will provide a mix of these different aspects, but it is important to get the right balance for you child.
You will be able to find the general day-to-day activities for each summer school on their website, or even a detailed timetable of what you child will be doing.
2. What size summer school do you want?
A cohort size for a summer school can make a big difference to the experience. This is particularly true in the case of academic summer schools. A larger cohort may give an accurate representation of the move to university, as your child will be surrounded by many different students from around the world, and will experience large lecture-style teaching.
However, a smaller academic summer school has the benefit of allowing more individualised learning in seminar groups, meaning that the particular interests of your child will have more focus, and they will have the chance to explore their subject in more detail. Also, perhaps contrary to what might be expected, children often make a broader range of friends on a smaller summer school, as they do not split off into friendship groups early on but instead will interact with everybody on the course.
3. The other people on the summer school
Different summer schools appeal to different children, whether this be age range, gender, or country that children will be travelling from. Particularly with an academic course there can be a big difference in ability between ages, and so this can be an important consideration.
This refers to the staff as well as the other children. Speaking on the phone to staff as opposed to only booking online, as discussed below, is a very good way of judging the overall tone of the programme and whether it is something that will suit your child.
In order to get the answers to the questions above, you will have to do some research into the different options. Here are some tips on how to make this research as efficient as possible, and how to best get the answers you need.
- Give them a call - having a chat over the phone can be the best way to judge whether it is a summer school you are comfortable and confident sending your children to. Are the people on the phone involved in the delivery of the programme at all? How much do they know about the programme they are providing? It is important that you feel reassured that your children are in safe hands. It is a good sign if they also want to speak with your child, as it shows they are genuinely interested in what your child wants to get out of their summer.
- Reviews - it is always good to hear from parents who have sent their children on the summer school in previous years, and of course, the children themselves. Most summer schools will be very happy to provide reviews from previous students, however it is much better to have access to independent, and therefore unbiased, reviews. Checking a website such as Trustpilot is a great place to start for this, as
- Accreditation - you can check whether the course you are interested in has an official accreditation. For example, The British Accreditation Council provides the leading mark of educational quality for the independent further and higher education sector. To be accredited by the BAC, educational providers are rigorously inspected, including full audits and site visits, with the latest reports available on this website. Institutions that carry this endorsement and the BAC mark therefore represent some of the leading and most reliable private colleges and training providers in the UK.
You should be able to find this on the website of the summer schools easily, for example on a specific Accreditation page, as the Oxbridge International Summer School does.
The most important factor is that your child will have an enjoyable summer, so it is worth putting aside the time to research each summer school and finding the best fit.
About the Education Consultant
Zoe Tyndall runs Oxbridge International Summer School, a company which specialises in providing a full live in experience for a portion of the summer holidays for students around the world.
William Clarence Education offers unbiased advice on UK School and University Placement, Oxbridge Admissions, US College Applications, UCAS application and extensive support for parents and students in all aspects of preparing for entry to the UK.
Please contact us on 02074128988 to discuss your particular needs, or email firstname.lastname@example.org