Deciding to send your child to a UK summer school is a very big decision, whether you are sending them from within the UK or from overseas there are many considerations to make. However, summer schools provide valuable experiences, broadening of horizons and a chance to make life long friends so it is important to research schools, check if they offer what you are looking for and make sure you find your perfect match! Here are some considerations when booking a summer school:
– How close is the Summer school/camp to your preferred location? Is it near to your home? Is it near to cities that you are interested in such as London, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester. Are you looking for a countryside location or a city location? A traditional village or a vibrant city? Ask schools where they are located if you aren’t sure.
– Check with the school about their fee structure, any early booking rates or discounts available. Check with them about optional costs or additional fees. Are the fees all payable up front or do you need to pay a deposit first?
– Do you need to pay for transport on top of the advertised fees? Are airport transfers available? Is arrival on certain days of the week? Which airports can your child arrive in to?
Types of activities/tuition
– Check with schools if you are looking for certain tuition or activities, does your child want specific exam preparation, do they want an academic programme or a sports programme? Are you looking for horse riding lessons, swimming activities, outdoor education or football coaching? Check with each summer school about what they offer.
-What age range does the school accept? Are the children grouped by age? Are the activities age-appropriate? Will young children mix with older children during social activities?
How are the children supervised?
– What is the ratio of staff to children? For residential camps, what supervision will there be in the accommodation and over night?
– Check with schools about their accreditation and whether they have had any inspections. Examples of accreditation might include British Council, Ofsted or BAC.
Day vs Residential
– Which option would suit your child best? Have they ever been away from home before? Do day camps offer flexible hours for working parents?
What does a normal day look like?
– Ask to see a sample timetable, does it look as you would expect and hope? Is there a good mix of activities and social time? Are the days very full or does your child get some time to relax too?
– Ask to see their behaviour policy, what happens if your child does something they shouldn’t? What happens if there is a problem or a disagreement between students?
– How many students return each year? Is there a list of parents who you can contact for feedback?
– If food is provided ask for sample menus. Are snacks available throughout the day and after evening meal (for residential camps)? Are special diets catered for such as vegan, halal or food allergies?
– Are children allowed phone calls? Are Ipads, mobile phones or other electrical equipment permitted at the school?
– Is there a safety deposit box where children can store passport, money, other valuables? How can children access money for their trips? Do younger children have their spending supervised on trips?
– Ask to see a copy of the company’s insurance certificate and check if you need to buy insurance for your child such as medical insurance.
– Are all employees DBS checked? This means have they had a police check to ensure they are suitable to work with children.
– What is the weather likely to be like? Check monthly average forecasts to see what you should expect from weather in the UK. It is often quite unpredictable.
Clothing and Equipment
– What does your child need to bring, is there a kit list?
– Check what the refund policy is. Some schools offer a payment protection plan. You may need insurance to protect yourself against cancellation otherwise. What happens if your child wants to leave or is expelled, do you get any refund of fees?
Why should you choose this summer school?
– with so many options out there, it is sometimes just good to ask a school to really sell their good points to you. Why do they think they are the best choice for you and your child?