Mind the trap | Don't languish in a school that feels unsuitable

Mind the trap

Students realising that they are studying in the wrong place at the halfway point in their GCSE and A level courses often feel trapped, believing they are obliged to stay at their current school to complete the second half of their qualifications. In fact, mid-course transfers are far more common than most people think and are usually very straightforward.

There are a number of reasons why students and their families would consider a mid-course transfer. Some outgrow boarding and prefer to gain a little more independence and control in their final years of schooling. Others might have been streamed into a group with a ‘glass ceiling’ preparing them for foundation papers and thus preventing them from aiming for top grades. A desire to learn study skills is another key motivator. It is not uncommon for a student to work hard but achieve low grades; a possible solution to this is to move to a school where examination technique and revision tips are integrated within the scheme of work.

Many independent schools and colleges have years of experience in accommodating students midway through a course and staff in these establishments will work hard to minimise disruption and facilitate a smooth transfer. Students are often surprised to learn that the work they have already completed is a relevant grounding for a second year elsewhere and they will not be required to start again from scratch. Another revelation is how common such a transfer is and how many of their peers are in the same situation.

Taking a proactive approach to education is encouraged. If they are feeling disillusioned at the halfway point then students would be well-advised to investigate alternatives and make an informed decision about where to continue their studies, rather than languishing for a further three terms somewhere that feels unsuitable.

>> This article is also featured in the Absolutely Education Magazine AW 2016

Savannah Adler transferred schools halfway through her GCSEs and describes her experience as follows:

I was at a drama school when I started my GCSEs but by the end of the first year my mother and I decided that it would be better for me to go somewhere more academically focussed and so in year 11 I moved to MPW. It was a safe choice because it came recommended from two of my cousins and two of my godbrothers who had all studied here and spoke highly of it. I was also reassured by the long meeting I had with the Principal before I came. He took a lot of time to explain to me and my mother what to expect and how a transfer would work.

I needn’t have worried anyway, moving was much easier than I imagined and I settled in straight away. I had a Director of Studies mentoring me who helped me a lot, it felt like there was someone looking out for me and making sure I was okay, and there was always someone to approach if I had any questions.

The class sizes were much smaller than I was used to which meant that I got a lot of attention and the teaching was fantastic. I used to really struggle with GCSE Chemistry and was getting E and U grades… then I took my first revision test after a month at MPW and got a high B! I couldn’t believe it. We were taught study skills like exam technique and how to revise well which made a huge difference to me.

Another thing that was great was how easy it was to make friends. I met other students at registration, in my classes and in the common rooms. MPW has the best atmosphere; it’s such a friendly and inclusive place. I stayed on after GCSE and am just coming to the end of year 13. I can’t bear the thought of leaving, it’s going to be so sad when I go. MPW feels like home.