Picking the right school is one of the toughest decisions for any expat parent. Lesley Gibson is the Head of Admissions for The Winstedt School. Originally from the UK, she has lived in Singapore for 13 years, 5 of which she has spent at The Winstedt School. We spoke to Lesley about the admissions process and what parents should be looking for in a potential school.
What are parents looking for when they come to The Winstedt School?
Sometimes parents walk through the door and say that this is exactly what they’ve been looking for; smaller classes and personal attention. A school that understands and makes accommodations for children in all the subjects is quite a luxury these days. At other times, it’s a little harder. The parents have viewed so many other international schools with all types of curricula, it’s hard for them to see how our bespoke school might be the right fit for them. There is so much to decide on when moving to a new country. It’s hard to know if you’re making the right decision but if you understand your child’s needs and do the research, you get it right most of the time.
How do you try to explain that The Winstedt School is the right fit for their child?
I think it’s really important the parents and child visit TWS as I strongly feel the school speaks for itself. When you visit the school, you understand what we are all about. Here, students take ownership of their learning, are enthusiastic and confident. You sense the warmth, the care and this positive vibe among the staff and children. A school is more than merely facilities. It’s about the children, excellent teachers and the belief in its philosophy. Many of our students have had it rough in their previous schools be it academically or socially or even both. It’s really sad for any child to be bullied by the system.
What is The Winstedt School’s philosophy?
We understand our student’s strengths and challenges. We provide flexibility in the curriculum allowing for every student to gain a firm understanding of the fundamentals for the core subjects of Literacy and Math before committing to the expectations of their grade level. Extended classes mean deep engagement with learning necessary for genuine expertise. The lessons are personalised and our students are motivated to succeed. In the equation for success, we acknowledge the child, teacher, and parents.
Guide us through the Admissions Process:
My initial conversation with the parent is important. I try to learn as much as possible about their child – strengths and challenges to work out their learning requirements. We ask for school reports, and any other assessments or supporting documents which may have been done. An appointment is then made to take the family on a tour of the school. We want the child to come along too, so that they not only get a feel for the school but are comfortable if they were to come in for a trial later. To secure a place, every child completes a 3 day trial in a class based on their skills and readiness. The trial process involves in-house assessments, observations and also screenings by our Occupational and Speech and Language therapists. The admissions team comprises of the school counsellor, an OT, an SLT, teachers, Head of Admissions and the Associate Head of School. We meet to discuss every placement. We provide feedback to parents at the closing meeting.
Do you accept all applications?
It would be; “Not no, not never, just not now”. We have had children we could not support when they first applied, but after parents followed up on our specific suggestions, many have made it back here and thrived. We do whatever we can for the children. We never leave any parent in the dark about their child and we make every effort to guide parents about alternatives to TWS should the child not succeed in getting a place here. Sadly though some parents don’t follow-up on our suggestions so in some cases many months will have elapsed when they return and the child has made little or no progress. Children have a limited window of what I call “spongeability” and I am continually blown away by the progress children can make when they receive the correct collective input for their learning requirements. People that know me will know it brings tears to my eyes!
What kind of growth do you see in your students?
Quite often, parents of children with learning differences are not even considering anything beyond secondary school when their child enrolls. They struggled for so long that it is not always viewed as an option. What’s shockingly sad is meeting parents who are at a loss when their child who has been at a large international school for more than a year still unable to read and write! At TWS, parents are pleasantly surprised to realise their child is extremely capable of pursuing further education or a skilled vocation. TWS, being an inclusive school, and a strong advocate for learning differences is committed to seeing every student succeed.
Learn more about local and international education in our Schools section.