According to The British Association of International Schools and Colleges (BAISC), a sizeable 35% of boarders at UK independent schools are from abroad. It says many could have benefited from a year in a feeder school as they arrived with limited education or, even if strong academically at home, have found parts of the curriculum difficult.
“We know that students who have done the feeder year do better in A-levels or IB than students who haven’t”
“It’s a good idea for international students to spend some time in a small centre to prepare them academically and socially as well as linguistically to give them the confidence to join in with the whole of school life,” Caroline Nixon, chairman of BAISC, said.
“The style of teaching and learning is different in different countries. They may also find it hard to integrate socially as they are unlikely to understand the ethos of a British boarding school.”
Nixon is the principal of Taunton School International, where 84 students from 25 different countries are on a one-year GCSE programme before starting A-levels or International Baccalaureates (IB) – qualifications required to enter university in the UK.
She said that at mainstream schools, her cohort would be expected to know many things which in fact they don’t, “such as how to behave, where to go, acceptable behaviour in the house as well as the class, and specialist school vocabulary”.
“We know that students who have done the feeder year do better in A-levels or IB than students who haven’t,” she told The PIE News.
Kenta Oshima (17) from Osaka, Japan, who spent a year at Taunton and has now moved on to the school’s sixth form, says the experience helped ease the transition.
“Before coming here my English was weak and I didn’t study very hard,” said Oshima. “The school really helped motivate me and the time I spent there helped me to achieve a great deal, both academically and personally.”