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To Switch or Not to Switch - Ensuring Continuity when Transferring Between Schools

Transferring schools is a big decision that can have a major impact on a student's academic and social life.

Unfortunately, in Asia, some parents have the sense that another school is “better” for various reasons and move a child multiple times.

Of course, we support families to move schools all the time, yet we also encourage some to stay exactly where they are. Moving a child from one school to another is always a risk.

However, you may genuinely feel a need to consider transferring schools. Common reasons include:

1. Academic reasons: This is the most common reason where a student may be looking for a more challenging academic program or a school that offers a particular course or program that their current school does not. It may be a positive choice for an alternative curriculum ie from IBMYP to GCSE/A Levels or it may be a choice for a particular subject such as language subject or the necessity for a triple science course where only a double award is on offer.

The reverse is also true where a child is struggling to keep up and would prefer a more nurturing environment with children of varying abilities.

2. Social/safety reasons: The student may be having difficulty making friends or fitting in with their current peer group. Unfortunately, we see children who are bullied, depressed and some who are self harming.

3. Family reasons: The family may be relocating to a new area, or a change in the family's financial situation makes it necessary to switch schools.

When switching schools, the most important factor to consider is timing (less so for primary).

The best time to transfer schools is typically at the end of the academic year, as this allows the student to complete a full year of coursework, minimises disruption to their academic progress and ends neatly in an end of year report. However, understandably there may be situations where transferring mid-year is necessary, such as in cases of safety concerns or family relocation.

Regardless of the reason, common concerns include:

1. Changing academic program: Parents may worry that their child's academic progress may be affected by a change in curriculum and, if so, how to minimise the impact.

2. Adjusting to a new environment: Parents may worry that their child will have difficulty adjusting to a new school, making friends, and fitting in with their new peer group.

3. Quality of education: Parents may worry that the new school may not provide the same quality of education as their ch

ild's current school.

4. Distance and transportation: Parents may worry about the logistics of getting their child to and from the new school, especially if it is located far away and especially if they have multiple children and face the possibility of different schools.

So, bearing all this in mind, to ensure continuity and plan for as smooth a transition as possible, we recommend:

1. Research the new school thoroughly: Dig deep. Approach this with the same due diligence as you would to purchase a house or a company. See Advanced School Research for Smart Parents for more. []

2. See the school with your own eyes and meet school staff in person: Schedule a meeting with the admissions staff, principal or head of department, to discuss your child's needs. Be completely honest about your child and their learning needs and consider whether you are satisfied with their answers.

4. Trust your instincts: If, at any point during the application and assessment procedure, you feel uneasy it’s best to listen to your nagging doubts. Are you really moving schools for the right reasons? Is now the right time to move?

5. Don’t rush : Unless the push factor is impossible to ignore in that your child MUST leave their current school, it’s important to take your time with a decision to move. No point in jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. And, the grass is not always greener!!

6. Depending on the age of your child, involve him

/her as much or as little as you like. For a child aged at least 8/9, they should feel comfortable with the move and their views heard. For older children, they’ll likely have a lot to say about the type of school they want/don’t want. So, do discuss every step with them. It’s

not uncommon for children to deliberately fail entrance exams of schools they don’t want to go to!!

Overall, switching schools can be a difficult decision, but with careful research and planning, it can be a positive step towards ensuring a student's academic and social success. And, of course, we’re here to help you every step of the way.


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