Timing Is Everything When Switching School Boards
In India, with state, national and international school boards available, parents have always had a lot of thinking to do before enrolling children in school. But sometimes life throws a googly and you have to consider shifting boards because a child is unhappy, or a move to a new neighborhood or city has been made. In these cases, even if it feels necessary — is changing a school board advisable?
Co-founder of KA Associates, a Mumbai-based education counselling firm, Fatima Agarkar, says shifting boards is not a problem, but that some stages in education are better than others for kids to make the move. She advises looking at changing boards, “either in Grade 6, Grade 8 or after Grade 10. Studying in the same school for these chunks of time, i.e., between Grade 1 and 5, up to Grade 8 or Grade 10, gives both the child and school to understand each other, show each other what they are capable of, build understanding, and enough time to answer the question — do we really need the change?”
For instance, changing school boards between nursery school and Grade 1 doesn’t allow the child or the school time to discover what both are really capable of, Agarkar says.
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Kim Dixit, CEO and co-founder of an education consultancy The Red Pen, has a slightly different take. “Changing boards before Grade 8 doesn’t matter too much. It is Grade 8 onward that children need to start preparing for their board exams, and changing curricula and syllabi may affect their preparation and impact results,” Dixit says.
Some families may want to consider the likelihood of shifting locations — and therefore schools and boards — at the beginning of a child’s enrollment in formal schooling. For instance, “If the parent(s) have a transferable job and the child has to change schools frequently, they should ensure that they are opting for ICSE and CBSE schools, because not all towns and cities have international schools,” advises Rina Dahiya, of Study Along, a Mumbai-based education counseling company. “Even those in government jobs that may involve transfer to tier-II cities should ideally opt only for CBSE schools, since they are present across India.”
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But even with the most careful timing and planning, children will face disruption. Within the same school board, schools’ quality may vary, or “the syllabi may move at different paces, so a student may come in ahead of or behind the school’s schedule, causing them much distress,” Agarkar says. Plus, shifting from an environment where they know most of their peers and may have strong relationships, to a new school where they may not know anyone, may also leave children feeling isolated, regardless of whether the board is the same. “So, talk to children about it, keep them in the loop and informed about to expect or what not to,” she advises.
Ultimately, these are small hurdles and shouldn’t deter parents from switching boards if they need or want to, Agarkar says.
“Change is not bad,” Dixit agrees. “It will make [children] resilient for bigger changes to come in the future.”