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14th century proverb

  • Choosing schools for siblings | Dickinson School Consulting

Choosing schools for siblings

In her 20+ years as an educational consultant, Gina has helped many families choose the right British boarding schools for more than one of their children, both sequentially and, on occasion, concurrently for twins. Should a family stay true to one school or keep an open mind? Here are her thoughts on the subject.

When siblings attend the same boarding school, it can be fun for them to have a shared experience – they can, and no doubt will, sound each other out on the quality of the facilities or the funny ways of certain teachers!

If there are family ties to a particular school, it can naturally follow that children would wish to go to the same school as their elder siblings, parents or even grandparents before them.

Logistically, it is helpful for siblings to attend the same schools, so there is only one set of term dates, hence one set of flights and one airport transfer to organise etc. Family holidays can be planned much more easily.

Financially, too, it can be advantageous, as most schools offer a discount on fees for subsequent children joining their school, when more than one attends at the same time.

However, what suits one child won’t necessarily suit their closest relation!

If siblings are particularly competitive and / or fairly close in age, it can be beneficial for them to choose separate schools, so they can each grow as individuals and reach their own, unique potential. If one child is stronger academically than the other, the child who requires a little more support in the classroom may feel less pressure to keep up with the other if kept apart. Likewise, if one sibling is particularly outgoing and the other more introverted, the quieter child may have more of an opportunity to thrive socially without feeling overshadowed by the slightly more dominating brother or sister if attending a different school.

If different schools are to be chosen, it is very important for the children to perceive the schools to be equal, so that neither feels “hard done by”. It is important to analyse both schools and compare their academics, class sizes, facilities, extra-curricular activities and location.

Which school-leaving qualification might best suit each child is another important consideration. Some children have very pronounced strengths and weaknesses, and may therefore be more suited towards the A Level system, whereby they have the freedom to concentrate on their three or sometimes four best subjects, leaving behind any they might struggle with, ultimately dragging their marks down.

Other children are “all-rounders”, finding nearly all their subjects equally manageable. They may also not have a clear idea of what they wish to study at university. In this case the IB Diploma could be a great qualification for them, as students take six subjects in total: two languages, Maths, at least one Science, at least one Social Science / Humanity, and then a sixth subject, which could be another language, Science or Humanity, or something more creative such as Art, Theatre Studies or Music, for example. Whilst a fair few UK boarding schools offer the IB Diploma alongside A Levels (or instead of them in a small number of cases), the choice of school will be more limited if a student knows they wish to go down the IB route.

Of course, the best way to decide where to send your children to school is to discuss the pros and cons with Gina. Please contact us to book a call – for free!