Why Independent Education?
The advantages of independent education are many and wide reaching.
British education, at both the school and university level, has achieved a worldwide reputation for quality. This is reflected in a report published by the British Council in 2007 that showed education to be worth more to British exports than the financial services or the automotive industry (Global Value: The Value of UK Education and Training Exports).
The class-sizes and exam successes of pupils are well documented, as are the impressive university destinations of many graduates.
Perhaps less widely known, however, are the benefits of ethos, tradition, culture and pastoral care enjoyed from pre-prep onwards, which help to turn out well-rounded young individuals prepared for life in our dynamic, and evolving society.
A contradiction to the inevitable generalisations about independent schools is the fact that each is unique, often with a highly individual character born from a particular history and ethos; something that makes choosing independent schools an especially personal matter.
Most independent school graduates move on to top universities and colleges. Academic standards are often very high. Independent school examination results represent some of the very best in the country. An amazing achievement given that independent schools educate only 7% of pupils.
Teachers are often selected from among the best in the country. Many are very well qualified academically with a passion for their subject and the strength of character to nurture intellectual curiosity and critical thinking.
Pastoral care and individual attention are a speciality, including the support of special needs if required. A broad curriculum is offered and a range of modern languages. Facilities and specialities complement and extend the curriculum. The needs of all students is prioritized, including the gifted and talented who need that additional challenge to keep them highly engaged.
British education is focussed on processes and outcomes - what should a child know and be able to do at any given age - as opposed to emphasising the acquisition of specific knowledge.
The National Curriculum for England and Wales takes a progressive approach: from 0 to 18-plus, each stage builds upon what has come before. Certain key principles, starting from the early years, run through the whole of the education system: the notion that each child is unique and that this is important; an emphasis on developing positive relationships (with teachers, parents, peers); a focus on enabling environments (learning does not happen exclusively in the classroom); and finally, learning and development - looking at outcomes and results, but only as one facet of a child's education.
An independent education emphasizes the development of the whole student, and particularly at the primary level there is a great deal of scope for creativity and individuality in the classroom.