What are Private Schools Like for Students

Choosing to teach or enroll as a student at a private school means you’re looking for a different experience away from state education.

Children that attend a private school are from a mix of backgrounds including wealthy, financially comfortable and children from working families that have saved each year to send a child for private school education.

Some parents have tuition fees paid by the company or organization where they work.  For a minority tuition scholarship funding provides a student from a low income household or a high school athletics scholarship to receive the same private education as wealthy students.

Expectations at private day & boarding school

My past experience teaching at a private school was that many parents have fairly high expectations of the standard of academic education, personal development and good school facilities on offer.

Each private school strives to offer the best education experience equally for every student with the resources they have, although schools differ in finances and facilities available.

Looking at sending you’re child as day or boarding student both parent & student will get a flavor of what an individual school can offer while looking around, and during the interview/admission process.

A successful outcome of enrolling a student at private school is by making sure the right type of school, location, facilities, subjects offered and choice of day time only or school boarder is chosen. 

The feed back I received from parents as a teacher at school was always more positive when a child is matched with the right education and school for they’re educational requirements.

Students making an effort to learn

My observations teaching at an independent school was successful students were interested & made an effort to learn in class academic lessons and personal development to achieve they’re educational goals at school.

A private fee paying school looks to educate the whole child including:

Academic education: Compulsory core subjects and a selection of optional subjects at college prep & high school age to study for final examinations.
Life skills: All students are taught useful skills in life including debates & presenting,
Personal skills & knowledge: As well as being taught academic learning students acquire knowledge & skills by taking part in sports & activities individually and as teams at school.
Social & interpersonal skills: Social interaction skills learning knowledge on trips or around the school campus.
Timekeeping: Students are expected to be at certain places during the school day. Arriving on time for lessons, dining hall lunch or evening snacks is important for smooth running of the school or avoiding disappointment. 
Self reliance & independence: Students take ownership of they’re daily schedule & task completion in and outside of lessons, especially boarding students who live at the school.

Parents are more involved

As a private school is tuition fee paying for a child’s education parents are more involved and have more direct & indirect contact than public schools in both USA and UK.

As a class teacher every week I would have face to face chats with a number of parents about the school curriculum and they’re child’s education. With events or activities every 2 weeks from sports, plays or other entertainment students take part in can mean parents are invited as spectators.

All schools are in regular contact with parents of boarding students that could include giving progress reports, parental permission for a student to leave school campus, or discussion when a child has an issue at school.

International students

Students from other countries will be enrolled & attend classes at school as they want to study in USA or UK, experience the culture and learn English, although they make up the minority of students.

Day & boarding schools in United States and United Kingdom do have some international students from Europe, South America and Asian countries attracted to a US or UK overseas education.

Location of an independent school

When searching for a suitable private school parents will notice significant differences between schools as they can be in rural areas, outside of a town or inner city location.

A rural located school can have far larger grounds for:

  • Larger range & variety of extracurricular activities offered for students.
  • Horse riding facilities.
  • Mountain biking trails.
  • Fishing lake or river bank.
  • Fields & woods for activities, such as orienteering.
  • Large school grounds & fields for students to walk in or relax in evenings or weekends.

One distinct disadvantage of a rural located school miles away from a town or city is access to transport and travel time. Boarding students leaving the school campus require using limited public transport or the school bus to visit the nearest town on weekends.

The private school I taught at was located on the outskirts of a city, although this comes with both advantages & disadvantages:

 Advantages City Private SchoolDisadvantages City Private School
Boarding students have close access to public transport with a short journey time when leaving the school campus.City location school has less space available for sports fields and buildings.
Less travel time & convince traveling to and from the school each day if located in a larger build up area.Students have limited access to outdoor activities & sports than in a rural area, such as mountain biking or horse riding.
Some students don’t feel isolated when boarding at a school in a city compared to a rural location.The school can’t offer varied outdoor activities that a rural located school can offer.
Close proximity to a city for shopping, trips and social events.Can’t offer camping, picnics or or variable locations for barbeques on the school campus.

Fee paying school classroom lessons

Academic lessons can be from 08.30-16.00 Monday to Friday and for some schools Saturday mornings until 12.30.

There’s a wider choose of subjects to choose from at high school & college prep age on top of compulsory maths, sciences and English.

All classes have fewer students giving the teacher more chance to interact with groups or individual learners in lessons.

School resources & materials available to teachers for each subject are more plentiful than public schools resulting in a better teaching & learning experience for students.

School day at private school

No matter if a student is living at school as a boarder or day students long school days that includes academic lessons, extra curricula activates 5-6 days a week is normal.

Kindergartens to college prep age level students have different lengths of school day.

From around 08.30 classes begin or a school house meeting or whole school assembly could be from 08.30 – 09.00.

Expect 4 lessons in the morning with a short break, lunch time around 12.15 – 1.15pm and 2 class lessons in the afternoon until the 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Time for after school extra curricula activities runs from 4pm until 6.30pm where both teachers and students participate in the sport or activity of a students own choice.  Evening meals could be served from 5.30pm to 6.45pm in the dinning hall for residential students living on the school campus.

Boarding students have at least 2 days a week directed homework study time (Around 7pm-8pm) where they sit in the study hall/room supervised by a teacher and complete school homework assigned for each subject.

Religious faith schools have certain school assembly times for prayer & rejoicing events during the school day and occasional evenings when parents are also invited.

Holiday time away from school

Students & teachers receive around 13-15 weeks holidays during festive time, Easter, summer and autumn, although this depends on each individual school.

Events & school trips for boarding & day students

During the school year different events and activities are arranged on the school campus, locally or internationally.

Plays & consorts: Festive season, Easter and end of the school year involves performances from student’s, teachers or a combination of both.

Local social trips: A visit to the beach, hill walk or theme park is sometimes arranged by schools depending what is available locally.

Live acts:  External bands or actors are occasionally hired by schools to entertain students during weekends or evenings.

Organized holidays: Ski trip abroad, sightseeing trip to Europe or North America is organized for a few students that wish to go, although extra costs are payable for flights, accommodation, spending money and food.

Outdoor pursuits: Trips where students in a certain year group go to an outdoor activity centre for leisure pursuits for a weekend or 1 week of fun.

Different experience between day & boarding students

The student experience at an independent school differs if a child is a day or boarding school student. Residential students living at school are taught in the same lessons as day students, and take part in all other school activities together.

Number of students in school ranges from 15-20 at a therapeutic school to large boarding & day schools with 2,300 + enrolled.

K12 residential boarders that live, sleep and attend classes at the school have more independence from parents & family members, although require self reliance to complete daily tasks.

All boarding students receive buddy help to settle in learning the routine, where to go for laundry and meal times.  There’s always help if required anytime of the day from a teacher or house parent that also lives at the school.

More often than not you’ll require sharing a boarding room with a roommate the same age if under 16 years old, although single rooms should be available for people with disabilities or college prep 16-18 year old students.

At certain times, normally early evening or weekends you can get permission to leave the school campus, although you can only travel locally and must be back by a certain time.

Students are normally allowed a laptop computer to contact home/friend or a mobile phone for use outside of school hours.

Discipline & strict procedures & rules to follow

Independent fee paying schools have very little issues with students causing trouble in my personal experience as a teacher as they have a strict code of conduct students must agree & follow.

Additionally, each school has an admission process & student criteria, and during this process a school that’s private can reject any student that has previously caused trouble at another k12 school.

As a teacher I was occasionally involved as a peace maker as school students do fall out or get in a disagreement with each others at times, although its only a shout match at the top of they’re lungs.

Extra curricula school activities

Wednesday afternoon, weekends and early evenings after school lessons extra curricula activates are arranged for all students to take part and have fun. Depending on the school facilities expect:

Sports & games for individual or in teams from football, tennis, trampoline, swimming, track & field, sailing, riding, cycling, basketball and baseball.

Clubs including debating, chess, computing, reading, acting & performance, business or robotics.

External instructors are also employed to give specialist sports tuition & training in groups or to individuals, especially at sport academics and music schools with students that have a musical or athletics talent.

All school teachers are required to take part or run an activity depending on knowledge, skills and health & safety requirements.  Students are compulsory required to take part in 2-3 hours of physical activates each week and the rest of the week is optional at many independent schools in UK or USA.

School house system

Each pupil is placed in a school house with a mixed age range of students where you can go on social trips, compete against other school houses in teams and get help from other students.

House system at a k12 school has lots of interaction with teachers and other students, especially during extra curricula activities and annual sports day.

Certain traditions are followed by individual schools that could range from student dining hall seating arrangements, sport & games, wearing certain clothing to competitions between students and teachers.

Sports day and competitions involving games & sports activities is a feature at private schools to encourage competition, team work, competitive sprit and for students to have a fun time.

Education Tay
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