Choosing the right independent school
Selecting the right school for your child's education is a very subjective process.
It cannot be over-emphasised that the key is the right school for the particular child.
Some parents are irresistibly drawn to the schools which show well in the league tables, and it cannot be denied that tables are a powerful, emotive influence - even subconsciously.
But the ethos of the independent sector is to do the best by each child. With smaller classes and traditional values, children are not left to flounder. This is simply a natural consequence of the fee paying system. Schools wouldn't get away with it; parents would simply exercise their freedom of choice.
League tables, in measuring the output, probably reflect the quality and selection of intake as much as anything else. Until there is an agreed and published method of measuring the improvement of the output in relation to the intake, tables should not be taken as evidence of teaching excellence. Indeed, there are many schools providing such excellence throughout the tables, and it is probably true to say that, with few exceptions, independent schools will meet parents' expectations in terms of achieving the full academic potential of each child.
However, it cannot be denied that league tables do exert a very compelling influence over some parents, so it is as well to be aware of their place in the overall scheme of things and to see them in their proper context. Their present value undoubtably lies in raising overall standards by the pressure they exert on schools to strive for better results, but their value is questionable as a basis for choosing individual schools.
So, given that the independent sector will meet academic aspirations, what else does it do? Well, it provides choice. And this is where a directory of criteria other than academic results is so important and useful. The information listed here is essential for quickly narrowing down that choice by reference to the basic but important factors. For example, is it to be single sex or co-ed? Boarding or day? Rural or urban? How far away? What fee and age range? How big? But there are still questions that you need to ask. For example, what if the child is to be a full boarder? Do most of the other 'full' boarders go home at weekends leaving the school in general an empty place?
Having made an initial selection according to your own criteria, you can then communicate with many of the schools and find out much more from information provided by the schools themselves. If a school has its own website, you may be able to link to that directly. Or you can enquire directly using our response form via the contact button on the school's listing page.
The publishers would like to thank the schools themselves for providing data for this site. Whilst the publishers make every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information, they cannot be held responsible for any errors.