A family's recent visit to my office reminded me that not all Hong Kong families are looking for boarding schools for their children.
Often they are expats returning home, or they are relocating in an exciting career move.
Naturally, being one of the global centers of finance, London is usually the destination, which means that parents have to begin treading the metaphorical minefield that is its day school market.
The "game" of getting your child into one of the (top) London independent day schools is not dissimilar to finding a place at an international school in Hong Kong, although think less of debentures and more of academic selection and you'll be moving along the right lines.
London is home to some of the most successful schools (both academically and things extra-curricular) in the world: St Paul's, Westminster, City of London seldom appear below the very top of academic league tables, and their former pupils achieve professional success and sporting glory.
This in itself means that academic selection begins from the top down.
The first thing to remember when navigating the London day school scene is that there are simply not enough places for the number of children applying: the result of this is, of course, that schools have become increasingly (academically) selective and almost all of them operate large waiting lists.
The second point of note is that London is a little out of kilter with the rest of the UK in having a very large number of single-sex schools.
Thirdly, London's independent schools are also a little different in that there is a large transfer to senior schools at 11+ (rather than 13+) - especially for girls as almost all London girls' senior schools begin at Year 7 (11+).
So, do I have any tips for parents who will be considering London day schools for their sons or daughters? I have many!
However, for brevity's sake, I offer the three T's: time, tuition and tenacity.
Because most schools are oversubscribed their admissions processes start at least a year in advance, so make sure you have selected and visited schools and are ready to go.
Secondly, the entrance assessments for schools are rigorous and competitive so, no matter how well your child is doing in Hong Kong, they will almost definitely need to be tutored if they are to come out the right side of the entrance exams.
Finally, the process will be long and arduous, with many exams to be taken and, perhaps some disappointment along the way - but don't give up as the right school always comes along. Help and guidance is always available as well.
Original post: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news.php?id=194353&fc=4