English Language Ability to enter UK Boarding Schools
There is a huge difference between boarding schools on the level of English Language ability necessary for entrance. It varies by age, type of school and curriculum to be studied.
At the top academic level in elite public schools all applicants are required to be totally fluent in English and there is no support for pupils who need to improve their English.
As you come down the academic league tables, each school has their own policy depending on how much they wish to attract international pupils. They are likely to require applicants to supply a certification of English ability measured by one of the two commonly accepted system – IELTS and TOEFL. In addition they will wish to interview the applicant either face to face or by video skype.
Each school sets its own minimum entry level usually variable by age. For example at GCSE entry age (14 or 15) they might require a minimum of 4.0 IELTS and for A Levels they might require 6.5 IELTS. Even at these scores the pupil will not be fluent and may suffer some difficulties in keeping pace with lessons taught in English and so they will normally be given additional lessons in English support, often known as EFL or EAL.
So what happens if a student cannot meet these minimum ability levels?
First option would be to attend an English Language College, until such time as they are capable of undertaking academic studies. There are numerous such colleges in the UK but we do not generally advise on them.
A more practical option for ages 14+ is to join an International Study Centre, which teaches a combination of English and GCSEs. The objective is often to get the student to an acceptable level of English AND pass 5 or 6 GCSEs at the same time, to enable them to join a mainstream school and start A Levels. Most ISCs are run as separate departments within mainstream boarding schools. They can be quite expensive and there are only a small number in the UK, say 15.
Thirdly for older international students of 17+, a student might be able to join a private sixth form college to study a Foundation Programme, where the English ability requirements may be lower.
Whatever your child’s circumstances, we suggest a free consultation to discuss which route might be right for them. Phone us on +44 1622 813870
19th September 2018
18th September 2018
17th September 2018