Categories
2024 All Years Blogs

A Parents’ Guide to Choosing an Independent School

As parents and guardians, there is no definitive answer to choosing an independent school for our children. It is more a combination of methodical deduction and intuition than a simple right-and-wrong.

A Parents’ Guide to Choosing an Independent School

As parents and guardians, there is no definitive answer to choosing an independent school for our children. It is more a combination of methodical deduction and intuition than a simple right-and-wrong.

As parents and guardians, there is no definitive answer to choosing an independent school for our children. It is more a combination of methodical deduction and intuition than a simple right-and-wrong.

Part of the complication is that it’s not just about choosing a private school based purely on academic achievements; it’s also got to be an establishment well suited to your child. Looking at a school’s culture and traditions will tell you a lot about the kind of environment your child will be part of; in our experience, a settled student tends to be a productive and successful one.

It is said that success is just a series of good decisions – and in that regard, there won’t be many choices made more significant in a child’s ability to realise their potential than the site of their education.

If you, like many others, aren’t too sure where to start in answering this question, here’s the QEH run-down on how to choose a private school…

Highlight Educational Priorities

Choosing a private school should always begin by making a list of the things you and your child find to be most important. Once you have a clear understanding of what to look out for in your search, narrowing the list down should be a lot less daunting. These priorities might be about something specific such as the  facilities on offer, but they could just as easily be around more abstract notions like the school’s culture or their educational ethos.

Thinking about your child’s development so far can be a big indicator as to the type of school they might most benefit from in the future. Institutions with state-of-the-art equipment could be just as beneficial to those struggling in an area of academic experience as it is for those who excel in it.

With your priorities known and firmly set, the process of choosing an independent school becomes that little bit easier.

Points of Consideration

As well as having a clear set of priorities, it’s also useful to have a checklist of things that would apply to how you would judge a school more generally. Again, this list might change from person to person, depending on preferences, but these are the things we think every parent or guardian should bear in mind when choosing a private school:

Academic development – If exams and grades are the products of education, progress is its process. Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same rate; what’s important is that every student is heading in the right direction.

Grades and results – As vital as culture and teaching styles are to the success of a school; its legacy will never be judged without a look at how good they are at nurturing educational achievement.
Faculty feedback – Being a teacher is all about communication. The best of them create a dialogue inclusive of parents and guardians, beyond parent-teacher evenings.
Pastoral care – One of the biggest factors when considering how to choose a private school as far as QEH is concerned is the system of pastoral care on offer. Any provider of education should have robust, accessible and proactive systems of support in place for those who need them.
Facilities and equipment – No school has unlimited funds at their disposal. Abundance in one area will likely mean a scarcity elsewhere. If your child shows a natural flare in certain academic pursuits, it would make sense to look for the campuses with the most well developed facilities in the relevant areas.

The Shortlist

Once you have your priorities clear and your checklist covers all the main areas of interest, now it’s time to do some research. Cross reference any schools that catch your eye against your criteria and make a note of every school that ticks all of the boxes. If you’re thorough enough with your vetting, there shouldn’t be more than half a dozen names on your final list, at most.

Finances

Financial considerations are among the most decisive when it comes to choosing an independent school. An honest review of the associated monetary commitment of attending a school – complete with a breakdown of secondary costs like uniforms and textbooks – is a must before any final decision can be made.

School Visits and Open Days

By now, you should be getting a clearer picture of the schools that match your priorities. After all that theory and research, it’s time to get a first-hand experience of the campus. Attend any open days that are available to you and for those whose events don’t align with your calendar, ask if it would be possible to visit on a different occasion. Not every school will say yes to this, but there’s no harm in asking.

Discuss Preferences

It’s vital for you and your child to be as open and honest about your feelings as possible. Anything left unsaid at this stage could have a lasting and detrimental impact on a child’s experience of education, so it’s best to get it all out in the open, however insignificant an observation or question may seem.

A Parent’s Instincts

If, after all of that, there’s still not a clear answer, it’s time to defer to your gut instincts. Nobody knows your child better than you and no two children are alike; this knowledge places you in the ideal position to feel what’s right for them. Every individual has their own needs and skills and weaknesses; each educational journey has its unique set of goals and aspirations. As a parent or guardian, you’ll know these better than anyone else. Trust this insight.

A Choice Well Made

When we think about how to choose a private school, the question is so complicated and the implications so large that the whole thing can sometimes feel a bit intimidating. The trick is to rid your mind of the notion of one big task and to introduce the idea of a series of smaller ones.

 

If you have any questions on admission to QEH, please do not hesitate to contact our admissions team on admissions@qehbristol.co.uk

Ollie is a QEH 'lifer', as he joined QEH Juniors in Year 3, eleven years ago.  It's been great to watch his development through the years, both on and off the pitch.

Ollie signs for the Bears!

Ollie is a QEH 'lifer', as he joined QEH Juniors in Year 3, eleven years ago.  It's been great to watch his development through the years, both on and off the pitch.

Meet The QEH Kickboxing British Champion!

As well as being Head of Religion and Philosophy, Zak leads our digital vision. He was instrumental in developing our excellent online learning offering during lockdown, much to the relief of our parents, and is now leading the roll out of our school device programme.

On stage!

Year 11, 12 and 13 Art students went to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for a tour by Clare Cory, the Learning Officer for Secondary and Young People. It was her first tour since lockdown so she was particularly energised and enthusiastic with the group!

Art Trip to Oxford

Pupils display genuine respect and tolerance towards each other, creating a caring and supportive community.
ISI Report, 2022
WordPress PopUp