State High Schools
Choosing a school
We understand that you might want to know exactly which school you will attend. Therefore, we are happy to help you make that choice.
The schools named in our Options Book (available through the organisation in your country) don’t cost more than the classic programme with no choice. They are state schools we have chosen because they demonstrate excellence. Some of the schools have a particularly strong academic record, others specialise in sport or arts, some are in a special location, others we just like because they look after students very well and provide many opportunities. We can only give very basic information in the Options Book. Of course, you can go on the school website and download a brochure. Then you might have too much information and it becomes even more difficult to choose.
There are two possibilities:
-You can choose a school alone.
-You can ask us to name suggestions based on what is important to you.
The second option usually works better.
Here are some points you might want to consider:
The size of the school
In our experience, there are advantages to both large and small schools. Some schools have both upper and lower schools, but they are in completely different buildings. The students of the sixth form (years 12 and 13) often don’t have so much contact with the lower school, so make sure to look at the section of the school you will be in. The school may have 1000 students, but only 100 in sixth form. A school with a big lower school probably has access to facilities for theatre, sport and art. A small sixth form could mean more personal attention.
The name of the school
In the UK, the name of the school could include the words academy, grammar, college, sixth, Free School, upper or just school. Don’t try and compare these names to your country because there are no equivalents. Our system has been developed over many years and there have been several changes, resulting in various school names which don’t reflect the type of school. It is important not to imagine you need to go to the same type of school as you are in at home. The chances are very high that it just doesn’t exist here.
The school year
If you are 14 on 1st September in the year you arrive, you will almost certainly go to year 10.
If you are 15 on 1st September, you might go to year 10, 11 or 12. Many schools don’t accept students into year 11 because the UK students are preparing for leaving certificate exams (GCSE). We consider this the most academically changing year as you would have to take approximately 10 subjects and catch up on all the content you missed in the first half of this two year course in time for the external exams in May. Some subjects are not possible because there was course work in year 10. Schools often prefer not to place in 11 because they are concentrating on the UK students, whose exams play an important role in their future. Additionally, the school may believe that you couldn’t catch up and they wouldn’t want your results to be included in their statistics which are published. This means you might go to year 10 or 12. The choice depends on your birthday, academic record and the school’s experience with previous exchange students.
If you are 16, 17 or 18, you go to year 12.
Year 12 is a great year to go to because you can study subjects in depth. Of course, if you have a choice, you will probably take the subjects you like and are good at. You may additionally be able to/required to take English and Maths.
Try to relax about which school year you go to. It is usually not possible for you to choose your school year. If it is particularly important to you, please make sure to discuss it with your organisation before you apply as we can fulfil requests if you are booking early.
The school grade
You will notice that all the school pages have a box titled ‘What OFSTED says’. All state schools in England are regularly inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, a non-ministerial department of the UK government, reporting to Parliament. The team spend several days observing lessons and talking with staff, children and governors. When we choose a school, we take the grade into account and only pick chools with a rating of ‘good’, however, the atmosphere, the relationship with the school and the experience of previous students play an even larger role. The location of the school has a significant impact: SEE usually places in more affluent areas in the South of England as we believe the quality of education here is high.
The activities offered
This is relevant if you are going to year 10 or 11. Sixth formers often don’t take part in school activities as they join clubs in town for sports and music. Nearly all schools invite students of all years to take part in a theatre production. Always let us know if you have a hobby because we can find it in school, in town or in the host family.
In year 12, the number of students in a class depends on the subject rather than the school. Theoretically, more popular subjects such as Psychology are taught in bigger groups. However, this doesn’t always apply because a full course can be spilt into two groups. Less popular subjects such as languages may only have 4 or 5 students.
Please don’t worry about whether the school has a specialism such as science or art as this is usually not noticable. The specialism often as almost no affect on which subjects you can take or which clubs are available.
Schools are sometimes connected to a church, but this generally has little affect on every day life in school.
If you want to find out more, get in touch
We’d be happy to discuss any questions you may have or if you need any further information.