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Bright future

Representatives of the schools and consulting companies share their observations on the market of foreign educational services and the requirements that parents impose on them.

Is there an increasing demand from parents who send their children to schools or universities abroad, and how do you explain it?


The statistics of the UK Migration service does not show significant changes in the number of student visas issued to the Russian students, and this is the best indicator of the overall trend. On the other hand, according to the UCAS system, the number of applications submitted to universities by students from Russia shows a steady growth of 5-10% each year. The Association of 24 universities of the Russel Group and the University of Edinburgh are the most popular among the Russian students. Popular programs include business and management, engineering and mathematical sciences, computer technology. It is impossible to say that the annual increase in the number of students interested in studying abroad is expressed in significant figures, but the growth is consistent. The growing number of grants, scholarships, and subsidies contribute to the popularization of foreign education.

As for British schools (children aged 7-18), the number of students enrolled from Russia grows by 5-10% each year. Previously, the parents have only considered the schools with the highest rating, but now they acknowledge additional criteria: the international baccalaureate program, acting skills, a high percentage of admission to specific universities.

According to Haver Analytics and Oxford Economics, by 2011, there was a decrease in demand for foreign education in Russia. Now we can say that the market has recovered and even demonstrates an upward trend. Previously, four countries — China, India, USA, and Russia — represented 45% of the total number of foreign students in universities around the world. However, international experts agree that Brazil will take Russia's place by 2020.


Unfortunately, the ratings of the foreign schools, and especially universities, are still ahead of the Russian ones, so it is not surprising that parents — if they have the financial resources — are trying to invest in education abroad. However, the majority prefer raising a child at home until a certain age to form family ties, and mostly send children to study abroad in high school, which increases the chances of entering university.


Studying abroad became popular in our country recently, in the 2000-s, firstly as a fashion and a symbol of prestige. Over the years, the situation has changed — a decent education was in demand by parents who were able to succeed in life. Over the last few years, we have seen a reasonably low demand for education in the UK, without sharp rises.


Our statistics show that fewer and fewer parents are willing to send their children to British schools at an early age. Many families prefer to hire professional governesses or nannies from the UK, who will teach the baby to speak English, give him the basics of etiquette, discipline, connect with universal cultural values. Such children are often sent to British kindergartens and international schools in Moscow.

Often, the work of the governor includes the development of a child as well as the teaching basic school disciplines — it is practiced with children of 6 years and older. Parents of elder children, from 13 years old, find it easier to let the child go to another country, and they are more likely to seek targeted training for admission to foreign boarding schools. Most of the children that we prepare for studying are young people at the age of 14-16 years.


The increased interest of parents in early learning English is due to fashion and their own long-term experience, which often was unsuccessful. Nowadays, Russia experiences a real Baby English boom: from courses for babies to private English governesses — for any budget. Hardworking Filipinos are in the lead: they are cheap, and they can teach English, even despite a strong accent and a poor vocabulary. Despite the financial crisis, the flow of parents willing to invest up to 1.5 million roubles a year in the future of children is growing.

Most of our graduates continue their education in Russian schools, 40% enter international schools with teaching in English, 20% of them are going to continue their education abroad.


We see a noticeable increase in the number of Russian students enrolled in various programs of the EHL business school. Last year alone, the number of Russian-speaking students tripled. There was an increase in students flow from Russian and private European schools, where wealthy Russians send their children to. This is partly because many are tired of the standard career scenarios. Wealthy families want their children to do what they are interested in, for example, develop hotels or open restaurants.

Which criteria do parents consider when choosing a school, which criteria do you recommend additionally?


Parents look at a set of criteria: student performance, the level of teaching staff, school infrastructure, percentage of graduates of the school in the top universities, helping children to integrate into the school community. Many find it valuable if a school offers an international baccalaureate (IB), A-level, or American system. Of course, the specialization and reputation of the school, its location, the availability of the extracurricular activities, such as sports clubs, public initiatives are also important.


Alongside global trends, in the last 20 years, the British education system has started introducing the international baccalaureate program as an alternative to the traditional A-level (high school graduate assessment system). Now, nearly 10% of the students pass the IB program, and this figure is growing. In the past five years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of requests for schools offering both programs.

One of the critical criteria for choosing a school is proximity to major airports and transport accessibility in general. A significant role is assigned to a personal recommendation from a family member or friends. However, this way, the parents may choose a school that does not meet the needs of their child, so we recommend visiting the selected schools, meeting the students and tutors. Another issue — separate training. Most of the parents whom we work with prefer single-sex education for primary school (up to 13 years) and coeducation in high school (13-18 years). However, those who seek to send their children to the best boarding schools (such as Eton, Harrow, and Wycombe Abbey) have no choice but to agree to single-sex education.

Parents are also guided by the ratings of educational institutions, which provide the fastest return on investment in education. The cost of studying at prestigious private schools and universities is very high: a year at the best private school can cost £40,000, and the cost of education at a well-deserved University together with accommodation exceeds £30,000 per year. Parents and students want a guarantee that the diploma will be converted into a job that will cover the costs.


The criteria for choosing a school have changed — or should change if parents want to raise a physically and mentally healthy child. The race for the maximum set of subjects and extra-activities that the school can load the children with has to stop. It is essential that the child is ready to perceive information and navigate in a rapidly changing world, so you need to develop communication skills, flexibility, self-confidence. This can be done by sensitive and attentive teachers, not burdened with the weight of prejudice.

Children should enjoy learning about the world and communicating with their peers. We strive to introduce them to art, foreign languages, to develop their thinking with the help of information and other technologies. We are looking for parents who want to allow their children to find their way in life, and do not pre-plan a career as a lawyer or banker for their child.


My main advice to parents is to focus on the talents of their children, not on the ratings and prestige of the school. It is essential to reveal the innate abilities of the child. Rare children possess the deepest academic knowledge as if created to study in Oxford or Cambridge. It is no less of a pleasure to work with creative children who sometimes do not fit into a strict system of academic training. They often face problems in Russian schools but flourish in the UK due to a differentiated approach to education.


As a rule, parents choose to send their child to study in another country, after facing the fact that it is not so easy to find a decent school in Russia. 30 years have passed since the beginning of the reformations, but so far, unfortunately, the level of our education is declining. This is what we hear from the representatives of British schools that test our children. Especially noticeable drop is in the level of knowledge in the exact sciences, where we have traditionally been very strong. Over the same 30 years, the British secondary education system has undergone some successful reforms, and the requirements for students have increased. Parents often come with a list of schools that they have seen in the rankings or that they were advised. Our British employees work with leading schools, they are aware of the latest personnel changes, successes, and scandals, so our recommendations rely on reputation, not ratings. Only 6% of British children study in private schools. There are about 3000 of private schools in the UK, and approximately 100 of them are really prestigious.

The Russians often believe that, since schools accept children for payment, they have no special requirements. Certainly, this is not the case. In addition to solid knowledge, most schools want to see candidates with sports and creative talents. During the preparation for entrance, we introduce the child to the traditions of British high society, teach him traditional sports games, so that they did not feel like outsiders in the new school.

The chances of successful enrolment in a strong school are falling with each year of the postponed decision. It is best to apply to prestigious schools in England at the age of 7-8 years. Eton, Winchester, and Harrow hold qualifying exams at the age of 9-11 years.

The Post Kids Club with Maria Nikolaeva: is the postulate of the book by Masaru Ibuka "Kindergarten is too late" correct?

MARIYA NIKOLAEVA — Director of English Nursery & Primary School

Masaru Ibuka's book "Kindergarten is too late", telling about the need for early development, was a subject of much debate. We asked Maria Nikolaeva, our regular contributor to talk about the basic postulates outlined by the Japanese author, and to answer the main question — is the highest potential for learning inherent in a child aged from zero to three years?

I would rephrase the title of the book by Masaru Ibuka this way: "After three years it gets much more difficult."

The so-called "window of development" does not close at three years — our brain can learn until death, but perceiving and retaining new information becomes much more complicated over the years. According to my observations, and here I agree with the author of the bestseller totally, up to three years the child's brain is incredibly plastic, curiosity is at its highest, articulation apparatus is only developing and can utter any sound, physical capabilities are virtually limitless. That is why the famous Japanese does not advise to limit the activity of the child to watching cartoons and walking on the playground and suggests starting developing his unique ability to perceive everything new as soon as possible.

For example, everyone knows that it is easy to teach a child to speak several languages in early childhood. However, in our country, it is customary to start foreign language classes from the age of seven, as advised by neurologists and speech therapists. According to them, it should not be done earlier since it can hinder the correct development of speech in the native language. I was not lazy and asked doctors in Canada and Switzerland if it was harmful to a child to start speaking another language before the age of seven. They were amazed by this statement, since in these countries everyone speaks two or more languages from early childhood, depending on the place of residence and nationality of parents.

Two of the six branches of English Nursery & Primary School offer programs for the children from 2-2.5 years old (in the rest — from three years old). The results of teaching English to the two-year-olds exceeded all our expectations! However, we do not teach anything in the traditional sense of the word — we just immerse children in the language environment and spend all day doing various useful things: building, drawing, dancing, playing, all strictly in English. Children copy the speech of the adults and in a few months start speaking, which sometimes coincides with beginning to speak their native language. Conclusion: do not wait until the time of unique linguistic abilities will pass and then start torturing the child with irregular verbs and alien articulation.

The same thing happens with the natural flexibility and plasticity of a child's body — try stretching a 10-year-old lady on the twine! And at two years, a child performs complex gymnastic elements easily, because trying new things is exciting, and there is no sense of fear.

As far as the aesthetic education of young children is concerned, the famous learning to play the violin at the age of three — without violence, based purely on natural curiosity — is a delightful experience worthy of imitation.

I would advise all parents to introduce children to classical music as early as possible, especially Baroque music, which is considered the most harmonious. By developing the musical range of the child at an early stage, you will do him a valuable service in the future and show the wonderful world of classical music. Although, if a child will only listen to the children's songs and hip-hop, it is unlikely that he will be able to enjoy the Opera at an adult stage.

A few words about upbringing. Many parents, who come to our kindergartens, say that they brought up a child according to the "Japanese system" up to three years —allowed him everything and did not limit him in anything — and refer to the book of Mr. Ibuka. I visited Japan twice and can state responsibility that I did not see any overindulgence for the young Japanese people. But I did notice the fact that children rarely shout and act up and parents talk to them quietly, patiently, and politely.

125 million Japanese live in the territory, which is 45 times less than the area of Russia with its 145 million population! Their amazing system of education — developing respect for the interests of another person from early childhood, a cult of the Japanese politeness — is due to the living conditions and age-old traditions of a densely populated island nation, which only opened the door to the outside world in the XIX century.

By the way, did you know that the symbol of boys' day in Japan is... a carp? According to a legend, a carp has long sailed against the strong current of the river and, got across the waterfall, turned into a dragon and rose into the sky. A carp symbolizes resilience, perseverance, and courage — a real man should have these qualities, and in my opinion — this is true not only for Japanese.

English for a child: individually or in a group?

The parent who sends the child to learn aforeign language always faces this choice. To determine which classes are moresuitable for you, we will consider the features of learning in a group andprivately with a teacher.


Features of the group study


The most common option. Attractive mostlydue to the more affordable cost of tuition. There are many advantages to thisformat of classes:


• communication with peers in English,

• modelling everyday situations,

• learning and consolidating verbalstructures and speech patterns in the dialogues.


A serious disadvantage of the group classesis the inability of the teacher to pay equal attention to each student.Besides, language training in the group has a strict schedule, which you haveto adjust to. It is often very inconvenient: it is not always possible tocomply with it or correct it.


Features of individual training with ateacher


Individual classes are in high demandbecause they have a lot of advantages over group training:

• direct teacher-student contact, withoutdistractions,

• individual correction and adjustment ofthe program,

• freer schedule,

• the teacher's attention is entirely on asingle student.


This approach allows you to achieve maximumresults in training. However, these classes also have several nuances anddisadvantages — the benefits of the group classes are lost. Also, anexcessively free attendance schedule may cause problems with theself-discipline of a child.


Which option is the most suitable?


Answering this question is not easy. Foreach individual child, it is necessary to choose the appropriate option, basedon his unique talents, psychological characteristics, and capabilities.


If you find it difficult to choose, consultwith experienced teachers from the ENS school — they will help you make theright choice in favour of certain activities. Let English be a joy for yourchild!