Bernard Canetti, the Principal at Brampton College, on moving your teenager to a new school

For those who haven’t yet settled at school, the New Year can be a tough time. Whether it’s down to academic difficulties, struggling to make friends or simply not feeling challenged, being unsettled at school will often spill out into a teenager’s personal life. It leads to changes in behaviour such as underachieving academically, not wanting to go to school, a drop in motivation or even apathy. 

For parents it can be difficult to know when a problem is normal teenage behaviour or something more. Changing school is a big decision. If your child is unhappy or unmotivated, however, moving school for their final year or their entire sixth form can be the best boost to getting a young person back on track. Preparing early and looking at schools in the New Year will help ensure you’re adequately prepared for a move come September. To help you make the right decision you may want to consider the following:

Is your child being stretched academically?

Some schools have more rigorous academic standards than others, while some put greater emphasis on helping struggling students achieve their personal academic aspirations. Focusing on just the highest and lowest achievers can be a problem for many children who fall in the middle bracket and can get lost amid a class of 20 or more. Those who could have been pushed to attain A or even A* grades may not gain the grades they are capable of achieving.  

Social difficulties

For teenagers, the pressure to fit in can strongly affect them academically and emotionally. A new school which places an emphasis on wellbeing can provide a fresh start. A sixth-form college also offers a great opportunity to make new friends as everybody is new and there are no existing and long-established friendship groups.

School ethos

Sometimes the overall ethos of a student’s current school may just not be right. At Brampton we often meet students who feel their current school is at odds with their own targets. These same students often comment that they feel a lack of individual attention and care, one student told us he felt like ‘just another number’. If your child is experiencing similar feelings it’s possibly time to consider a move. 

Academic struggles

We also meet students who have experienced too much academic pressure to succeed, which becomes detrimental to their confidence. It is often the case that a student has the ability and intelligence to do well but just hasn’t been adequately supported. Students may lack confidence in their current school’s academic provision or the quality of teaching may be inconsistent – for example too many changes of teachers or the absence of rapport and trust. Often teachers are simply not accessible enough. 

Ultimately, Sixth Form is a crucial time in a student’s life – a time of significant development which should be marked by subject specialism, increased responsibility and leadership opportunities with a view to life beyond school. If these opportunities aren’t being offered, another school may be a better fit. Ensuring that your teenager gains their A-Levels at a school which adequately supports them emotionally and academically is the best route to ensuring they succeed with the next step on their academic path.