The Deputy Head of Brighton College Singapore explains what ‘academically selective schools’ are, and why some international schools in Singapore do assessments for young learners to ensure a good fit
A number of new international schools are opening in Singapore who class themselves as academically selective schools. This might make sense towards the end of the schooling years, when the pressure is on to prepare for university, but how does it apply to younger learners in the early years? And what should parents look out for if they’re considering an academically selective school?
Lois Pugh, Deputy Head at Brighton College Singapore explains what ‘academically selective’ means in the context of younger learners and how to prepare yourselves (and your children) if they are applying for a selective school. Lois comes to Singapore following four years as Head of an international school in Jeju, South Korea, where she oversaw the growth from 150 pupils to almost 400 while also integrating a popular dual-language programme in the Infant and Junior School. She holds a BSc (Hons) from the University of St Andrews.
What does ‘selective’ actually mean in an international school setting?
In general ‘selective’ means there is some kind of assessment process, in all year groups, in order for a child to be admitted into the school. The specifics of ‘selective’ will be different for each school. Some may only be interested in a certain academic level, others may look at other aspects alongside academic results. So, my advice to parents looking at a selective school for their child is to be sure you are clear about what the school’s process is, as this will help you understand the ethos of the school and what they are looking for.
Why does Brighton College (Singapore) approach its admissions in this way?
The Brighton College Curriculum is particularly unique. Although it is underpinned by the English National Curriculum and satisfies these requirements, it is significantly enhanced and is ambitious and challenging. This doesn’t just refer to the traditional academic subjects. We teach and offer opportunities to promote leadership, outdoor learning throughout all subjects, performance arts, languages, design and innovation. Alongside this, we explicitly teach character education and social responsibility in order to prepare children for the future world.
In our selection at admissions, we aim to ensure that children will thrive in our environment and will be happy and content here. So in fact, it would be fair to say that we are not looking for the right child for us, we are instead making sure we are the right school to ensure your child’s happiness.
What does an an average assessment look like at Brighton College? How intense is it for the child, how long does it take? What if I’m not already in the country?
Assessments will vary with age. For our applicants, we actually hope our assessments are great fun! Children come along to our special assessment classrooms and either individually or in small groups spend some time taking part in fun activities with me. Although the children will just perceive this as ‘playing’, it actually gives me the opportunity to see their interests first-hand, observe how they approach unfamiliar tasks, and gives me time to talk to each child about themselves and their world.
Older children (Year 2 and above) will sit more independent tasks on paper or online; however, all of these are carried out in a very supportive environment, similar to what they would experience in their everyday classrooms.
If you are not in the country we can still go through the assessment process, just get in touch and we are happy to work closely with each family and their individual circumstances to support a remote assessment.
If I am applying for a selective school, how should I prepare my child?
From our perspective, the best way you can prepare your child is to discuss with them where they will be going and why and who they will meet when they get there. This eliminates any shocks for the child who is walking into a new environment. It might also be helpful to have conversations with your child where you ask them questions about what they like at school, what books they like, any favourite characters etc. This will get them used to answering questions about themselves.
Other than that, we would prefer that you didn’t try to prepare your child. We are really just wanting to see them in as natural a situation as possible to find out what they know, what they love and to see a glimpse of their personalities.
Of course, we also want to know what they have been taught already in subjects, particularly Maths and English but it is not necessary to ‘tutor’ them in these areas. Selective schools will also ask for previous school reports so will already have an understanding of your child as a learner.
What should I do if my child fails the assessment?
Don’t worry. If your child is not accepted by a school, it could be for any number of reasons. As a parent, this may be of course disappointing, particularly if your child is very young and you might not understand how a judgement could be made. If you are able to, ask the admissions department if they can give any information for future years. Some schools will give more information on the decision made, others won’t. Either way, try to look at the decision as one that means the school wasn’t the best fit for your child and move on to find them the perfect environment.
Does having my child in a selective school mean they will have a better chance of attending a top university in the future?
The number one factor in a child doing well at school is the calibre of teachers that are put in front of them. When you pair this with children who have been selected to thrive in the particular environment then you definitely have a winning combination which can only increase their chances of achieving at the highest possible level.
But do remember, top universities are not just looking for academics. They also want to see a well-rounded young person with strength of character. My advice is to pick a school that can articulate how they form your child as a whole person, not just what exam results they might achieve.
To find out more about Brighton College Singapore and whether it’s the perfect school for your child, schedule your tour today by emailing [email protected] or calling (+65) 6505 9790!
Brighton College Singapore, 1 Chuan Lane, Singapore 554299, www.brightoncollege.sg