Senior school transition part 1 – our philosophy and process

13th December 2019

‘The most important thing is to find the right senior school for your daughter’. Our Deputy Headmistress Mrs Walsh states this to parents at the very start of BPS’ senior school transition process in Year 3. The philosophy underpins all the advice and support that BPS offers to its girls. There are a wide range of senior schools available and BPS will work closely with parents to select the one that is the right fit for their daughter.

How can Mrs Walsh and the team be so confident? The answer is, their many years of experience and deep knowledge. They know girls. They know their strengths, they know their challenges and they know all the opportunities available to them – locally and beyond.

BPS back up this knowledge with extensive research, tracking of pupil data and liaison with senior school leaders. This means that they can offer insightful and realistic advice on whether a girl will be suited for the highly selective examination for Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (recently rated as the 8th best state school in the country by The Sunday Times and the destination for almost half of BPS girls in 2019). Advice is given about how they might manage the interview process for leading independent schools such as Manchester High School for Girls,  how they might benefit from the supportive ethos and innovative learning at Alderley Edge School for Girls, or how they might achieve a sports or art scholarship at a leading boarding school.

Headmistress Mrs Gee, Mrs Walsh and the team visit many senior schools each year as well as arranging for senior leaders and Year 7 tutors to visit BPS staff and pupils (the photograph at the top of this article shows Mrs Hewitt, Headmistress of Manchester High School for Girls visiting to meet the girls who had chosen her school for 2019 entry). This means that they can help parents to look wider than academic results. Parents are encouraged to go to Open Days to find out what school life is really like there for pupils. As Mrs Walsh told Cheshire Life magazine recently, “When choosing a school you must ‘talk to a range of people who have experienced different aspects of the school – current and former pupils, staff and parents.” Parents are encouraged to highlight their daughter’s talents and any challenges they have, as well as ask about specific support in maths or English if required, and any wider opportunities that might be available e.g. sporting, drama, art

This support means that BPS finds the right schools for its pupils. Last year 83% went to selective schools while others chose and secured places within the non-selective sector. Read some of their stories in this article.

Mrs Walsh sums up the process. ‘We say to parents – trust us, support us, share any worries and let us manage the process.’ And this clearly works.

 

Finding the right senior school – what BPS offers

Introductory meeting for all Junior parents – the transition process formally begins with a meeting open to all Junior parents each November. Parents are given an overview of the different senior school options available. They are also advised how to support their daughters through the process by researching the academic and learning styles and ‘personalities’ of each option.

Meetings with Phase Leaders – in Y5, the process becomes more detailed and personal. Each parent continues their regular meetings with their daughter’s Phase Leader but now uses them to create specific plans for each girl, ensuring that there are a range of options.

Meetings with alumnae – Around this time, BPS also arranges for pupils who’ve moved onto senior schools to come back and talk to current pupils. Many questions are about practical things such as the quality of food, the volume of homework and travelling time, but in addition the girls also get an important feel for the general ethos and approach of the senior school. Tia, for example, is now at The Queen’s School in Chester, and recently came back to talk to the girls about the school’s ethos – and how it is very similar to that of BPS.

Scholarship and bursary support – BPS also offers help in other areas at this stage. For example, helping those families looking for scholarships and bursaries at independent schools to build up portfolios in art, music or sport as well as preparing girls for 11+ entrance into boarding schools such as Sedbergh or The Hammond School.

Creating links with Y7 girls and their parents – support doesn’t stop once the right school place is secured. In the summer term of Year 6, BPS links the parents and pupils who are going to each school and organises an event where they can all meet Year 7 girls and their parents from these schools. This means that new girls have an additional ‘BPS buddy’ and parents and girls can ask more practical questions.

(Read on – Part two of this article covers how we prepare our girls and help them through the transition to senior school)

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