Posted: 12th October, 2015. Topics:
Abbotsholme welcomes a former Headmaster of the School today who is a Governor of an independent school in Nottinghamshire. Mr Farrant is visiting to find out more about the Admissions journey at Abbotsholme to help with his the School he is Governor at.
On the back of choosing the right School for your child, I thought that a blog on how to navigate the admissions process would be a useful read as a follow on from the Open Day blog and in honour of our former Headmaster’s visit.
So, some background to start with before we go into the key parts of the process:
Independent Schools have gone through a lot of change over the last twenty years, and none so than within the admissions process. Gone are the days when a parent just drove up the school drive, had a brief tour of the school and spoke with the Head. In the age of customer service, there is a lot more to it now. But then as a parent about to shell out the equivalent of the average house price in the UK, that is what you would and should expect!
Parents today want more than a cold visit and a quick talk with the Head. They as customers don’t want just to be talked at, they want to be engaged with the School, its ethos, the environment, the feel and with the staff. It has gone from a relationship between parents and educators to a 21st century relationship between buyers and sellers.
Schools need to recognize that there are two key sets of parents to look after: first time buyers and buyers who bought into it themselves. Both are very different. focusing on the latter, how daunting is it when you visit a brand new place, country or culture where you do not speak the language, and have to get by without looking out of place? Admissions teams need to treat first time buyer families with this exact situation in mind.
So the admissions process – here it is ….. and here’s how to navigate it.
1) Enquiry – you make the enquiry about the School for your child by phoning or emailing or requesting a prospectus over the website from the school. First impressions are very important, and a quick response makes you feel the school cares about you and your interest. In fact just like with any business, you will soon switch custom if you do not get a response.
2) Visit – Following reading all the literature, and having some key questions answered, the school should offer you a visit. This is the chance to see whether the literature, website and information from staff match the offering within the school.
You can come with or without your child – its does not matter because it is up to you. You may want to scope out the school first before putting your child through what can be a stressful experience having to come face to face with dealing with moving school and making new friends.You may prefer to bring your child along and engage him or her with this new and daunting experience as a family from the beginning.
The school should normally offer you a chance to chat with the admissions team, have a tour of the school – usually with a pupil in your child’s year group who can give you an honest opinion of the school – and finish with meeting the Head. The admissions team should send you on your way with a clear idea of the next steps and you should have had warm and welcoming experience.
3) Tasters – By now you should have had a visit or been offered more visits depending on your needs. You should now be offered a taster day or days.
The taster is an important part of the process. ‘Try before you buy’ is never more important than here, especially if you are considering putting your child in for scholarship exams. Your child needs to know that the school is for them, and the school needs to see whether your child can fit into the ethos and environment of the school.
Your child should be offered a buddy within the year group they will be joining as well as offered a day during which they can do lessons and subjects they enjoy to make them feel more at ease.
You should be offered overnight tasters if your child is going to board.
You should be offered as many tasters as you want.
On some of these tasters, assessment tests may be included, unless the school does a combined entrance test on a certain date.
Throughout these two key stages, you should feel welcomed into the school at every point, made to feel that everyone cares about you and your child’s needs at every stage and that nothing should be too much trouble – whatever you ask – after all you are going to be investing a lot of money in the school to educate your child.
4) Offer – your chosen school should by now have told you that your child has a place at the school should you wish to accept it, and you should – following a telephone call with the admissions team – receive a letter with an offer of a place. All you need to do is accept this, and celebrate!
5) Joining the School – you are here… finally!
After a year or so of searching for the right school, having lots of visits and tasters even after accepting a place just to doubly make sure your child is happy and settled as can be and that he or she feels able to join without feeling lost or swallowed up in their new school.
You have received a small tree in the form of a joining pack with more forms to fill in than you will have to fill out throughout the whole rest of your life, and you have got through it. You have bought the uniform, and your child is raring to go. Tick! Education sorted, now you can relax….. until the next key stage in your child’s life!
The attached picture shows Abbotsholme on our recent Open Day!