Case: Nikita, 14 years old, Help and support in making the difficult decision of choosing the right subjects for GCSE

Already by the age of 11, Nikita knew exactly what he wanted. When I asked his parents why they had decided to send him to school in England, they replied at once “We had nothing to do with it! He decided by himself and merely told us how to go about it.” Nikita submitted his application to Brighton College, Caterham School and Malvern College. He really enjoyed the school he was eventually admitted to and was excited by his studies. However, after the first year the school sent his parents a letter stating that Nikita had done badly in his final English Literature exams and that they were unsure whether he would be able to pass his English Literature GCSE.

Instead of Literature, the school suggested that Nikita take the FCE Course, assuring that it was practically the same thing, only for foreign students. The parents contacted us for advice. We, of course, assured them that the school was being disingenuous, and that these two courses were not comparable. English is a compulsory GCSE qualification, whilst the FCE is just an English language test for foreigners.

Furthermore, universities are in principal not interested in FCE qualifications. For admission they require an IELTS qualification. Moreover, having done an English Literature GSCE, Nikitta would be spared from having to get an IELTS. As a result, the parents insisted that Nikitta studied English literature, not the FCE. He of course had to work very hard in order to improve his results, but it was obvious from the start that he would be able to do it.

Sometimes, having already made it to this amazing school, he would need to go to his guardian or councillor for advice. It occasionally happens that schools, striving for excellent results, prevent children from doing their favourite subject out of fear that their exams will ruin the statistics for the school.

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Ever since I have been working with families who have decided to send their children to study in England I have made the journey with each and every one of them from the choice of a school to the choice of university and then their career. Many of my students have their own families now. One of my greatest joys has been to see how the British school system changes these children, how they start to believe in themselves and become more responsible and mature.