What to Look For in a School Placement Consultancy
These days, getting your child into the right school ranks right up there with divorce, bereavement and moving home on the stress scale. There is so much to think about, and so much potential for things to go wrong – and the stress is spread over many years, given the long drawn out application processes of the best independent schools.
Parents working their way through this minefield are only too aware of the possibility of nasty surprises, or costly mistakes, all of which come not only with a high price tag but with the added guilt factor of having possibly ruined things for your child. Small wonder, then, that the education consultancy market is booming, with the number of school placement consultancy specialists increasing all the time.
The best school placements consultancy will walk you and your child step by step through the whole process, from finding the right school in the first place to the application procedure, tests and interviews. However, this is an unregulated market, and not all school placement consultants are equal. Heads of some prestigious schools have voiced disquiet about misleading claims made by some consultants, and about poor standards of advice being given to families.
False Promises and the Old Boy Network
There are big risks in choosing an unscrupulous schools placement consultant. While some may claim that – for a price – they can definitely get little Frederick into Eton, it’s very much a case of buyer beware. Among Britain’s establishment of old boy networks, there may well be isolated cases of strings being pulled and where it’s not what you know, but who you know – but these are few and far between, and most independent school application processes cannot be rigged, no matter how much you can afford to pay.
Putting all of your eggs in one basket by relying on a consultancy making such claims is foolhardy. In a highly competitive year, your child may not get in, regardless of the promises made, leaving you without a back up plan. And even if they do get in – without careful forethought, your child could spend the rest of their childhood at a school which really doesn’t suit him or her.
Established, respected and trusted educational consultancies such as William Clarence Education have a thorough and all-encompassing schools placement service. Parents would be well advised to research their choice of consultancy carefully. Ask yourself the following questions before making this important choice:
1. Will They Get to Know My Child?
It’s vital that the consultant spends time listening to your child’s goals and aspirations, and gets to know their personality. Different types of children thrive at different schools, and a good consultant will match the child’s personality to the school’s ethos before drawing up a shortlist of potential school choices.
2. Will They Accompany Us on Visits?
Having the consultant accompany you when you visit a school is a major plus. A good consultant knows the right questions to ask, and can also often facilitate extra access for you, so that you can observe teaching and get more of a flavour of the school.
3. What Support is there for the Entrance Exams?
Choose a consultancy which has experience in the entrance exams for your target schools. Application procedures and entrance exams are changing rapidly, and you need the peace of mind of knowing that there will be no nasty surprises coming up for your child.
4. What Support Do They Offer for Interviews?
A good consultancy will offer your child plenty of opportunity to practice their interview skills, and will be experienced in and knowledgeable about the quirks and styles of different interviews at different schools.
5. What About Tutoring?
The best schools placement consultancy is one which also offers high end tutoring. Once a consultant has understood your child’s current academic position and skills, they are ideally placed to provide tutoring to cover any shortfalls or gaps, and to advise on how to strengthen an application.
Ultimately your choice of schools placement consultant is a personal one, but it is vital to be sure that you are dealing with a reputable and respected company. Steer well clear of those which promise the moon without stopping to consider whether your child really wants to be Neil Armstrong.
As Steve Spriggs, MD of William Clarence Education puts it: “It’s not about ‘I can get your child in.’ It’s about finding the one best school where your child can thrive, and giving them the very best possible chance of attending that school. If you don’t put the child’s interests first, all the connections and contacts in the world are worthless.”
William Clarence Education is the leading education consultancy service in the UK. With an unrivalled reach into the UK Schooling and University network, we help and advise families from around the world to reach their maximum potential and gain access to the very best of British education.
William Clarence put the student’s needs and welfare at the centre of every programme of study we deliver with a focus on integrity and discretion. Services include UK School Placement, University Placement, Residential Tutoring, Oxbridge Applications, US College Admissions and Homeschooling.
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