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The British Independent System

Pupils Seeking Entry at Fifteen

In the UK, whether a pupil is in the State or the Independent Sector for Education, the General Certificate of Education (GCSE) examination is taken after a two year structured course that generally commences in "Year 10" at the age of 14.

This structure does not allow, by its very nature, a child to start in the system unless they enter at the beginning of the GCSE programme.

It is not unknown for a 15-year-old pupil to join at the beginning of a programme by placing them 'out of year' with the 14-year-old candidates. This obviously has a cumulative effect and although in some cases works well, it can be both academically and socially disruptive for others.

Perhaps a school, which offers the International Baccalaureate (IB), may be the answer and, as with all other aspects of education, it is advisable to seek proper help and guidance. Please also be aware that even if a pupil is already in a British School abroad, the process is not necessarily simplified. It will depend on the syllabus and examination board and also when the academic year commences, whether or not a smooth transfer may be effected. Occasionally some leeway is offered, but no school concerned about standards and quality of pupil preparation will allow any student to start the GCSE programme after the first half of the Christmas term of the first year of the course.


Starting the Process

It is important to register a pupil as soon as possible and that includes payment of the registration fee, which is non-refundable.

Parents coming to the UK need to bear in mind that some schools have hundreds of applicants for few places and many British parents will automatically register with a number of schools and therefore allow themselves a higher chance of securing a place of their choice.

You are respectfully advised that queue jumping, favours or monetary offerings are never acceptable. No matter from which school your child comes, they will be fairly considered and assessed, upon their ability amongst their peers within the school and nothing else.

The British are renowned for their patience in queuing and that is true of our schools. Although no one would wish to appear flippant in any dealings concerning education, it is always sensible to remember one senior Head who always informs over-zealous parents, "It would not make any difference if you were the Queen of England, your child would not jump our list". One is at least assured of fairness for all.


The Final Stages

Once registered and a place offered, a deposit is required upon acceptance and is a legally binding contract which commits you to the school. If deposits are paid at more than one school you will be committed to paying the first term's fees at those schools, regardless of whether your child eventually attends.

Please do not assume that one may be able to flout this rigidly enforced system, those who have attempted to do so have found that it is to their detriment and cost.

Likewise ONE TERM'S clear notice of your intention to withdraw is strictly enforced, or the next term's fees are liable.


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