I’ve been asked by a mother to look at what independent private school offers for a primary age (pre-prep school) child to see if it’s worth it in relation to education offered, standards, and potential outcome.
An option would be to send the child to a very good or outstanding primary school locally, if a place is available, although independent school might be a much better option.
Normal private primary school hours are around 09.00 to 15.15 each day, 5 days a week with breaks and lunchtime in between lessons
Yes, private primary school is worth it paying annual fees for smaller class sizes, more individual attention, excellent academic & school facilities and they follow there own curriculum. Students also have a selection of sports & games, arranged extra music lessons, longer holidays and selected school trips nationally & abroad.
Age stages of primary independent schools
At age 4 to 7 year old our child can go to pre-preparatory school in the UK if the mother decides; this is the first age group after nursery school for primary age children.
I have looked at school websites, check asked more than one independent school and they stated you’re son or daughter would have an initial assessment. This soft testing of each child is to ascertain the level of ability at present and for future progress, includes speech, play & social interaction.
Seems ok to me for a school to check such things about a child from level of language ability, and how well they could fit in, also achieve academically at a certain school.
Age 8 to 13 preparatory school where our child would study before moving onto senior prep and possibly take the Common Entrance Exam which primary prep school prepare students for, although maybe not if at the school already.
The mother would make a choice in the best interests of her child if a single sex or co-educational student school would suit. You would require deciding for your own child if:
- All boys school
- All girls school
- Religious education faith school
Smaller class sizes with more student attention
Independent schools have around 11-18 students per primary prep class lesson fewer than state government school with 30 children per class. Coupled with this there are no student behaviour issues in class, high work ethic and great respect and courtesy towards fellow students in private school classrooms.
State comprehensive and grammar schools have classes up to 30 mixed ability students in one class where individual attention per student is less than the private sector.
A child doesn’t fell overwhelmed in a smaller class taking part in group exercises and is not competing for the teacher’s attention or less often getting personal feedback from class work or a question.
Boys and girls can get more involved in lessons with fewer students and receive additional feedback, guidance.
I have taught in both government and fee paying schools, and I can tell you as teacher students were more focused and received a better learning experience as pupils got more teacher student personal contact in private school lessons.
A teacher gets to know a class of students better in smaller class sizes, can adopt lesson planning & learning strategies to suit individual student needs better than larger groups of learners.
Each child is given the opportunity and has a much better chance to excel or do the best they can in a smaller well organized class lesson going onto achieving their potential if motivated, put the effort in, also completing work asked by teachers in private school.
Independent schools choose own curriculum to follow
All independent schools in UK & USA choose the curriculum and courses they wish to offer they don’t follow England or Scotland national curriculum or US schools district learning courses mandate.
Although independent sector schools in UK are formally inspected every few years by Ofsted they govern themselves and are affected only a little with educational changes, such as external national examinations at GCSE, A level.
Private school girls & boys are offered a wider choose of academic courses that are mandatory for students to study at primary school age. Schools will mix core subjects such as English, numeracy, science, physical education & humanities with other subjects they feel more important or beneficial to a child’s early learning.
Other subjects offered may include:
- Drama & dance
- Specialist sports
A private school could, and do choose to specialise in a certain area such as dance or sports in addition to core academic school subjects.
More languages offered from: Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Italian, French, German, although students will study one or two and receive extra tuition in other languages if a pupil chooses.
As a parent you have a choice the subjects a child requires to study, interested in and wishes to continue to secondary senior school.
A child that starts primary school at a private school can continue all through to 18-19 years old not requiring taking the entrance tests for admission into senior independent school.
Should you choose to move your daughter or son from state school to private or another independent school for senior years then all primary preps prepares students for entrance examinations to senior independent sector schools.
Advantage of prep school is a learner gets exposure to different languages at a crucial early stage of a child’s development when it is far easier for a boy or girl to understand, comprehend and ultimately learn a new language.
Subject testing could be less in private school compared to US or UK government school where they conduct regular student testing, and have yearly and final UK Sat tests. All independent primary schools choose what is tested, age level and method they wish to adopt for each subject.
Maybe your child excels in tests or examinations or possibly doesn’t do so well under time constraints. You have a choice of which school that you’re child would be best suited according to learning style and personality if choosing a private education environment.
Option of boarding school
Many independent schools offer the option of student boarding full time yearly, term, occasional or more popular flexible boarding where a student lives and studies at the school, not offered at state government school.
Benefits of student boarding at school
|More involved in the school and subject or play. For example a drama class you’re child could have additional extracurricular lessons at night staying late at school. They could stay and sleep in a bedroom at the school Monday to Friday, flexible boarding, and return home at weekends. This arrangement would cut traveling time, especially if the school is more rural.|
Take part in extra lesson or activity that they’ll miss. Sometimes private schools take students on field trips that require an early/late start and sleeping or staying at school is better for parents and child travel arrangements. Occasional boarding at school would be useful where a student stays for a day or few days every so often.
More extracurricular opportunities. Living at the school a student has a full range of choice to take part in sports & games, clubs and other activities than returning home at the end of the day.
Less travel between home and school. Some parents send they’re children to school over an hours travel each way every day. You could cut out most travel choosing boarding or a primary prep student could stay for some weeks of the year for certain activities.
Busy parents or son or daughter benefits. For generations primary school age children age under 11 have been sent to full boarding school as a tradition or the parents have busy lives.
Many girls and boys enjoy being around other children they’re own age and background, but not all. Of course a parent would require deciding if full or term boarding is suitable for they’re child in relation to parent child attention, psychology and personality if introvert or extravert.
A child would spend all academic weeks sleeping & living at the school and only return home on holidays and summer break.
Strict behaviour policy in class and with students
Rarely do you get issues with student behaviour at independent school around the school and especially not in lessons. UK & US fee paying schools have much more strict polices when it comes to the standard of behaviour expected from each individual student when in lessons or in groups.
Each student at independent primary schools requires signing up and not only follow school rules & policies, but follow them. All children are treated equally and there are clear sanctions and remedies for bad behaviour should a student fall below what is expected.
Private schools encourage and develop children installing young lady or gentleman matter & traits such as:
- Mutual recognition of others
- Respect for other people and property
- Tolerance for less able or other peoples likes and dislikes
- Way a student should act as an individual or around others
Doesn’t mean boys will not be boys or girls will not bend school rules, some students do and there are teachers, house parents around the school to remind a student of acceptable behaviour.
Benefits of good behaviour of school students
|Teachers can conduct class lessons, thus completing all lesson objectives free from students disturbing lessons, such as shouting out or trying to intimidate another student.|
School students are more relaxed as individuals and in groups.
Children feel that they can approach other boys or girls to ask questions, chat or make friends.
Atmosphere in class, boarding accommodation and around school is good and friendly.
Students are not frightened and are less intimidated by other students in school.
Selection of sports & extracurricular activities
All in one place private schools offer a whole range of individual or team sports and activities students can participate in during the week day and day & boarding school weekends.
Some sports will be regular as part of physical education lessons, others offered during extracurricular activities and others arranged by the school for individual students to participate.
Schools have some facilities to conduct physical education lessons for students to participate in regular sports lessons throughout the year. Other sports are arranged off school grounds at dedicated sports grounds, facilities or arranged for students to attend commercial sports clubs or indeed riding school or a sailing club.
Sports that schools could offer
|Baseball or soft ball||Lacrosse||Fencing|
|Martial arts||Squash||Lawn Tennis|
|Clay pigeon shooting||Riding||Sailing|
|Swimming & diving||Hockey||Football|
Competitive sports competitions are arranged locally and nationally for primary independent school students to participate if they wish. Indeed a few students could miss regular lessons to participate in competitions, especially if they are at a specialist sports school for future professional athletes.
Not all students will make the team for certain a sport as it may be competitive and will be selective on a student’s ability level.
One afternoon per school week is arranged as a sports and extracurricular activities afternoon whereby primary students take part in an individual or team sport or activity of they’re choosing.
Lots of after school extracurricular activities from organized clubs and sports are on offer, thus this is a time when students can pursue they’re passion for a certain sport at school or attend a local club, if not offered on school grounds.
Extracurricular sports lessons are sometimes coached by professional coaches additionally contracted by private schools, or parents could arrange individual coaches for they’re daughter or sons instruction.
All outside visitors, especially teachers or sports coaches would need to be vetted and approved by the school first.
Academic progress and independent school performance
Private primary prep schools test pupils before entrance and tend to get a better student school role enabling them to achieve good academic progress with each student.
Independent schools in general for primary school age children 5-12 years old outperform local state schools as they have access to better facilities, teachers, smaller class sizes and can adapt the curriculum to suit school and student requirements.
Good equipped classrooms & facilities
Students will find a well stocked learning resources library with many academic and fictional reading books to computer rooms.
Classrooms have the latest educational technology with audio and visual equipment from laptop/desktop computers to smart boards and projectors for more visual teacher led lessons.
No sharing a computer or fighting over a few books, each student gets they’re own resources required for all lessons and other school activities.
- Science labs
- Art classes
- Tennis courts
- Indoor games area
- Common rooms
- Swimming pool in many schools
- Student boarding offering single & shared rooms
- Sports field, although not in large inner cities schools
- School grounds and gardens to relax and sit outside or barbeques
Holidays are longer at private school
18 weeks holiday at independent school compared to 13 weeks a year at state school.
Parents can arrange trips on short visit week or 2 or extended stay in summer time of around 9 weeks. Fee paying schools tend to condense lessons into blocks and have longer school days resulting in the ability of longer time off school for students.
Easter, festive season and summer school time off is more favourable for busy working parents to plan time off work or away from they’re company to coincide with independent school holiday time.
Each private school decides on the length of holidays and time of year allocated, usually Easter and festive breaks are the same for all schools.
Independent school fees & additional costs
Each child attending private day prep school in 2022 fees range from £10,000 to £20,000 or more in London & UK plus other enrolment entrance costs, plus uniforms, equipment and activities and trips expenditure. Most schools take 5% off if you’re paying for 2 or more children attending the school.
Fees are different for each school and depends on age of student, location, and if a scholarship is payable to the child.
Independent boarding & school fees could be double if opting for full boarding for a student at around £10,000 plus per child would be payable plus other living costs each year.
- School uniform and PE kit will cost £300-£600 plus purchased at the school shop, although there are some UK schools with no uniform policy.
- Clothing and equipment for sports & activities.
- Music and sports additional private lessons £30 to £100 + per lesson depending on time and instructor.
- Meals at school possibly £600 plus annually.
- Child’s spending money.
- School educational trips
- Multiple social trips and holidays or events costing £100-£1,000 + per trip.
Day or extended educational or social school trips are numerous at private school for boy and girls from 4 to 13 years old from local day excursions to 3-4 weeks away to international destinations in all continents.
At a young age travel distance would be local school trips for geography field lessons, or social events to theme parks, seaside, sports events or possibly some sport & leisure holiday involving skiing, sailing or horse riding.
All trips for school students depends where the school is located, facilities & amenities nearby and age of students.
Of course our child can’t go on all field or social trips organized by the school; although we’ll make sure they’ll be able to go on a good selection of academic and social excursions.
To me a child should feel and know they can participate in school life and mix socially with school friend’s not missing out or left behind when other students are away on outside trips.
Private primary school offers a child from 4 to 13 years old to receive an excellent education at each age and stage of they’re school life for them to take part if they make an effort that goes towards better life chances.
As a paying customer the mother could choose which school they’re son or daughter attends and have the option to move also in latter years if the child would benefit from another schools academic learning or sports offering.
Classes are smaller with teachers able to offer more individual attention in lesson for question & answers and student feedback.
Students are in a school environment with well resourced classrooms, range of sports & leisure facilities and common lounge areas to relax outside of lesson time.
For independent prep school it’s worth it paying the school fees and extra costs so long if the child gets good benefit from the school experience.
They’ll receive more individual attention from teachers, house parents and are in a more relax school environment.
Each child is more respected by other piers and any negative behaviour is swiftly dealt with and consequences issued to the offending rule breaking student.