For many parents, selecting a school for their child can be a minefield – international or not? Academically-led, or vocational? Boarding or day school? One of these choices is selective versus non-selective schools. But what is the difference, and which one is better for your child?
What is a selective school?
Selective schools are schools that offer their places based on a specific selection criteria – this is usually a child’s academic ability, but can also be if they have an aptitude for music, arts or sports too. There is usually a range of schools like this that are highly selective, and a range that are slightly less selective.
Some may say that the benefits to selective schools are that students are learning amongst other students of similar ability. Other benefits may include a faster paced environment, more challenging work that leads to students challenging each other to succeed.
However, this kind of environment doesn’t suit all children; children develop at different paces and being in a competitive environment may be too difficult or overwhelming for them. They may seem ahead, but then reach a plateau period in their development.
What is a non-selective school?
A non-selective school is where there are no specific performance-based entry requirements – students are mixed ability. These schools are still able to challenge even the brightest children, with students able to gain entry to top universities and colleges.
These schools pride themselves on giving children a realistic life experience of working with others of all different abilities. Non-selective schools accommodate a mixture of learning styles which are less acknowledged in highly selective schools. They often have good learning support departments and excellent facilities in the arts and sports.
Accessible and flexible education and qualifications
At Alice Smith School, we offer equal support to all our students, and we tailor that support based on each child’s individual strengths and interests.
For many students and parents, A Levels can appear to be something of a daunting prospect, yet the truth is they can be a far more flexible and accessible qualification than they may first appear. On our A Level programme, many of our biggest success stories have been students who have taken a less conventional route through their syllabus, going onto a diverse range of specialised, well chosen, and interesting university and training courses.
Student profile: Alan
Alan started off with three A Levels that would lead him onto an Engineering pathway in the UK. During Year 12, his grades were not quite on track for his original university plan, so our HE (Higher Education) Counselling Team worked with him to help look at alternative future pathways.
Alan was also starting to develop and explore his extracurricular interests: as an excellent climber, he was interested in outdoor pursuits, so the HE team reached out to their American contacts and found the brilliant Paul Smith College in Vermont. They are based in a national park and take a very holistic view of admissions, selecting students based on their interests and passion more than academics.
Another of his extracurricular interests was cooking, so they looked at culinary arts courses. The HE team arranged an online meeting for Alan, with a Chef who works for Google in London. This really solidified this exciting and less obvious career path within catering as the right pathway for him.
Neither option required three A Levels, so in close collaboration with teachers and the HE team, Alan stopped one of his A level courses, to focus more fully on the other two. He was also able to access our superb academic coaching team, who gave Alan the skills and confidence to get the A Level grades he needed to progress onto his chosen College.
We were delighted when he started his studies on a Culinary Arts course in the UK!
Working together for our student’s future
This is just one of many students we help every year complete their A Level course, outside of the standard pathway, in a way that allows the student to go on to higher education that is the right fit for them. By following this flexible approach, we enable students to succeed in their own right and progress to a career that is right for their skillset and passions.
Alan’s story isn’t just about finding the right pathway for the student, but it’s an excellent example of the school, student, and parents working together to find the most strategic and suitable approach to A Level study.
We are proud to be a non-selective school
Every student who attends Alice Smith can enjoy the fantastic facilities, high quality teaching, superb pastoral care and the numerous other benefits that come from studying at the best international school in Malaysia.
We have a long history of supporting our students to their chosen pathways, and are passionate about taking a flexible, tailored approach to learning and progression that makes it an appropriate, rewarding academic experience.