Here’s How to Tell if Your School Has ‘School Hopping Syndrome’

An interesting article appeared in my inbox recently, regarding the infrequently discussed issue of ‘school hopping’.

According to the article in the HK Standard by Samuel Chan this is something which appears to be more of an issue with students from China or Hong Kong rather than from other countries.

It may be driven in part by Chinese students wishing to attend good UK schools, and also by the families of those students being very strongly focused upon league table results.

The article suggests that this school hopping, or churn, may be due to:

  • Lack of clear information about the schools that might be available for students
  • Parents being too easily swayed by ranking tables, especially since they may not readily understand some of the other ‘soft’ benefits of each school
  • Educational agents perhaps tending to rely too much upon ranking tables rather than carrying out their own due diligence exercises
  • Educational agents who were previously specialised in university or college placements expanding into assisting with school placements, but not fully understanding the private school system
  • Education agents possibly not giving strong enough consideration to other ‘value added’ benefits of different UK private schools when making recommendations to parents

It also appears that some parents might be ‘school hopping’ and agree to move their child up to a higher ranked school once they’ve been in the UK independent schooling system for a while.

Funding issues

The problem of school hopping is further compounded by the issue of how educational agents receive payments.

In a similar fashion to investment brokers, who may suggest annual investment changes to their clients, some educational agents may be swayed by financial inducements to suggest to parents that they move their child to a new school for their next year’s education.

Perhaps commercial considerations may have been ranked higher than what was best for their client’s children?

Changes other than at the expected ages

Whilst it’s normal for privately educated children to move schools at certain key ages such as 11 or 13, for example, few change schools outside of those ages.

In addition, whilst many the parents of foreign students will often seek to place their child in a junior or prep school as a prelude to moving up to a senior school, that’s usually so they can gain a better understanding of the UK schooling process and allow them to feel more at home in their senior years.

Interestingly, UK private schools too, may be in part to blame.

This is because, if, for the purpose of their international marketing activities, that they place too great an emphasis upon where they appear in any ranking tables then it’s only reasonable to assume that other more highly ranked schools may be held up by educational consultants for parents as a more suitable school for them to transfer their children onto.

Possible loss of charitable status

This is something which may happen more often, especially if the bill tabled in the Scottish Parliament is passed.

The bill aims to remove the tax-exempt status of Scottish private schools, which may in turn mean they may be more focused upon securing pupils out of the UK.

Britannia Study, who produced the article which appeared in the HK Standard, will be expanding further upon this issue and we’ll be following it with interest.

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