Alastair Montgomery is an assessment expert. He has developed entrance examinations for the world’s top schools and is an independent consultant on academic testing.
Early planning and robust support are essential in shaping your child’s academic journey. Parents are best equipped to guide their children towards top-tier institutions through gaining access to high-quality data, understanding global academic expectations, and seeking the advice of expert consultants.
One of the most important aspects of helping your child achieve their potential in education is careful planning. This is often easier said than done, with the stresses and strains of school life, but it is important to be able to zoom out and review the trajectory and pathway from time to time. If your hopes are to support your child in applying to top ranked universities or world-class courses in the future, you can only do this if you have access to impartial and high-quality information early enough to make a difference. It is important for internationally minded parents to have a good understanding of their child’s academic potential in an international context to find the pathways to the best institutions.
Generally, children’s brains develop relatively slowly, particularly in refining academic skills. By the time they are 15 or 16, students are developing their own ways of thinking and solving problems, and interventions are harder to make. The earlier we start understanding our children’s strengths and development areas, the bigger the impact we can have on their approaches to learning and thereby help them achieve the grades required to enhance their applications to schools and/or universities. This all begins with having unbiased, high-caliber data on your child’s academic progress.
Assessing your child’s academic potential using a tool such as the Henley Academic Profiling Assessment (HAPA) can provide an appropriately high level of insight. The HAPA provides standardized scores in skills such as English, mathematics, and reasoning, which underpin academic achievement and can help predict future grades. It is important to ensure such information comes with support and explanation from a suitable expert as it is easy to misinterpret the data in the context of international expectations and be confused regarding which steps to take. Consultation with an international education consultant will help guide you through the results in the context of your child’s educational experience to date and help you set realistic goals. The data, coupled with getting to know the student and what inspires and motivates them, helps create a clear picture of the opportunities that lie ahead and together with the guidance of an experienced consultant can help develop pathways to the best possible outcomes for your child. Generally, your child can complete the HAPA at home in a couple of hours and the results and feedback are made available after a few days.
It is advisable to obtain academic performance data that can be interpreted in the context of international expectations. For example, the HAPA’s standardized scores are normed against UK standards, which is a strong basis as the UK performs very well in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessments of educational progress and hosts four of the top ten universities in the world according to the QS World University Rankings. (The USA also holds four top ten spots but performs slightly lower than the UK in PISA scores.) With support from Henley & Partners Education’s expert consultants, the HAPA provides great insight into international comparisons and expectations.
University rankings, though useful, can be confusing when trying to choose the right qualifications and courses for your child. Rankings are often based on specific criteria and may not fully capture the unique strengths and offerings of each institution. It is important to supplement ranking data with other sources of information, such as faculty expertise, research opportunities, campus culture, and other available resources. It is also difficult to align your own child’s aspirations and preferences with the criteria and context used to rank these establishments — finding the ‘right fit’ for the individual is essential. Speaking with people who have supported many students into a wide range of institutions is a real help as they will have unique insights into what sort of students fit into specific universities. This is particularly true when crossing international boundaries into other cultures and academic expectations. The best education consultants have plenty of experience in looking at academic data and applying this to different institutions and courses across the world.
When it comes to starting early, it is recommended to work with kindergarten to Grade 12 (K12)1 experts who can advise on the best schools to attend en route to the best university courses. The largest impact on your child’s learning trajectory takes place between the ages of eight and thirteen — this is when the development of academic skills begins to transform into the acquisition of knowledge. Top K12 schools will support academic skills where necessary, while preparing students for the rigors of top university courses. These schools often provide an appropriately holistic environment, focusing not only on academics but also on all the necessary experiences during this crucial developmental period. They encourage children academically, shape a positive approach to learning at the highest standards, and provide the best extra-curricular experiences to support future applications.
Base your aspirations for your child’s future on robust data and the guidance of education experts. Academic assessments such as the HAPA provide the ideal starting point, giving an insightful overview of a child’s innate academic potential and the opportunity to engage purposefully with professionals who can assist. It’s important to make interventions as early as possible as this will impact longer term outcomes. Be sure to work with advisors who understand education in an international context, who can interpret the information according to wider expectations, and who are familiar with the different routes to top-tier institutions. Considering international comparisons to select a university requires a nuanced approach beyond rankings and this is where the experience of top education consultants can really make a difference. Obtaining impartial data and advice allows parents to actively shape their child’s unique educational path, laying a strong foundation for success in the future.