Independent Schools Show - How to choose

Your child is unique, as is each school. Establishing the right match for your child is one of the most challenging decisions a parent can make. Simply making the decision of private or state is a conundrum in itself, so selecting what type of independent school can cause many a sleepless night. Below are 5 tips to help you gather the information you need to make a decision:

1. Bursaries

With finances often a major consideration, make sure you look at all the options for bursaries and scholarships.

The Independent Schools Council, the association that represents all the leading senior schools, recently published the following details about bursaries at its member schools:

  • ISC schools increased the value of means tested bursaries by 5.7% this year.
  • Bursaries are valued at £340 million.
  • There are 41,400 pupils on means tested bursaries.
  • 42.2% of these pupils have more than half their fees remitted.
  • There are 5,406 pupils at ISC schools who pay no fees at all.

However what's on offer varies enormously. Many parents use the Independent Schools Show to research what is available.

2. Early Registration

Do your research early:

  • All London independent schools and nurseries are over-subscribed and most require children to be registered several years in advance.
  • Boarding schools are usually more flexible, but entry requirements and registration procedures vary enormously.

While you don’t want to be panicked or rushed into a decision, make sure you don’t miss out on your preferred choice.

The Education Theatre, which hosts the programme of talks and debates at the Show, features Heads of London prep schools and nurseries discussing how and when you need to register for the best schools.

3. Academic or Extra Curricular

A great advantage of independent schools is the breadth of curriculum they offer as well as the out of classroom activities. Be clear on what is going to suit your child's aptitudes. If academic will the school be able to stretch your child, if they are less academic can the school provide the necessary support?

4. Future Proofing

The type of curriculum a school offers can have a major impact on future higher education and career opportunities for children. Be clear on what curriculum you are most comfortable with for your child’s future.

5. Single-sex v co-education

This is a perennial debate for parents planning their child’s education. In London most independent schools are single-sex, as they always have been. Outside the capital many schools have become co-educational, though there are still plenty of single-sex girls’ schools. Make sure you know the gender split, as surprisingly few co-educational schools are genuinely 50:50.

The debate around each of these points can be complex. However, you can find out all the answers to your questions at the Independent Schools Show.

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