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I heard a story recently about a man who had been working in Bahrain for a while, living by himself but desperately wanted his wife and children to join him. The only thing preventing him from achieving his dream were the many private schools on the island with whom he wanted to enrol his children.
Unaware of the standard rules of admission, the man set about ringing around to place his children in some of the ‘better’ schools but was faced with the standard problem of the admissions test.
The conundrum it would seem was that the schools wouldn’t admit the children without an admissions test which would mean that he would have to pay the air fares to fly them out to take the tests without knowing if they would pass or fail.
Assuming they didn’t meet the standards of these schools or, should the worse happen, they are deemed to need learning support for special needs, then the family would be stuck without a school place in Bahrain and then, should they return home, they would face the very real chance of losing their school place in the UK.
Now here’s the interesting thing. I asked around some of the international providers of the standard CAT (Cognitive Assessment Test) tests that most of these schools use, such as Edexcel, GL Assessment and Cambridge, and they all told me that the assessment tests are standardised, meaning that it doesn’t matter where they are done, be it England, Spain or South Africa, because no matter where there tests are taken, the results will be the same because they have been set to measure average intelligence.
So, armed with this information, it would be logical that if a child takes a CAT test in one country, achieves an appropriate score deemed suitable to gain access to one of the ‘better’ schools on the island then they should be able to bring those scores with them and gain entry.
You would think that this would be an acceptable way forward since as we have already stated, the exams are the same no matter where you do them? However, this, of course, is not the case when it comes to some schools, as the story of the man who was faced with such a conundrum tells us.
So the question is, why don’t schools in Bahrain offer this facility to overseas families?
My assumption is that, since there is always an entrance exam fee ranging from BD50 to BD200, such schools do not want to miss out on cash flow from perspective parents. Or, maybe it is because these schools feel that their tests are more challenging or tell them more than tests done in other countries, which as we know is impossible given that the only companies that provide these types of tests tell us that they are standardised.
My final assumption, therefore, is that some schools in Bahrain aren’t as welcoming to new families as perhaps they could be, simply because they don’t have to be because they can reach their quotas on the island without breaking a sweat and as such just don’t need the hassle.