Independent School Guide

Independent Schools in the UK

Independent schools (also known as private schools) charge fees to attend instead of being funded by the government.  Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum.  The national curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools, so children learn the same things. It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject.

Independent schools are free to set their own curriculum, school hours and term dates, and to choose which exam qualifications students take.  However, Independent schools must be registered with the government and are inspected regularly.

All independent schools are free to select their pupils. The principal forms of selection are financial in that the student’s family must be able to pay the school fees. Many administer their own entrance exams and some also require that the prospective student undergo an interview. Depending on the school, credit may also be given for musical, sporting or other talent.

There are many different types of independent school, including schools that cater for children with a specific talent, such as music or dance, or with special educational needs.  They also vary in size. Schools may be single sex or co-educational, and accept day students, boarders or both.

Unlike in the state sector, where children are educated in Key Stages, independent schools have a different structure:

  • Pre-preparatory (pre-prep) schools cater for children aged four to seven
  • Preparatory (prep) schools admit children at the age of eight, and prepare them for senior school
  • Senior schools admit children at age 11 or 13 (in the case of boys’ public schools) and generally continue through to Year 13
  • All-through schools take children from the start of their education through to GCSEs or A levels

Independent school fees average day school fees are now around £13,000 per year but vary depending on the school and location.  For boarding students’ fees cost an average of £30,500 a year. There are additional costs for uniform, equipment, transport and extra-curricular facilities.

Why Choose an Independent School?

For most families, the main reason for choosing an independent school is the academic standards. Independent schools are consistently the best performing in the UK.

Other factors that make independent schools appeal include:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Better facilities
  • Children gain more one-to-one contact with the teacher
  • No requirement to live within a specific catchment area thus giving parents greater choice
  • Increased chances of getting a top university place

Independent schools are renowned for their extracurricular activities, including a wide range of sports, music, drama, debating and dance.

With over 2500 UK independent schools, many parents are confused by the choice.  Contact us to get impartial advice on the best independent school for your child/children

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