Samantha Greenwood, Senior Deputy Head at Pangbourne College in Berkshire explains why choosing a fee-paying education could be right for your child
Each year, around 50% of our Year 7 pupils join us from state schools. So why do so many parents choose a fee-paying school for their child’s senior education?
Help with the juggle
To begin with, there are many practical benefits for busy working families who are juggling school runs with meal times, then transporting their children to the next music lesson/sports club/DofE session. Independent schools generally offer a longer day which is filled with a range of co-curricular activities, alongside academic learning. Boarding schools with day pupils will offer even longer days with the option of having all meals provided and the opportunity to stay overnight on an occasional basis.
It’s generally acknowledged that independent schools offer a far greater range of non-academic activities than state secondary schools. At Pangbourne there are countless opportunities to try things such as rowing, horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and yoga to name a few. There are also opportunities to visit lots of interesting places from the V&A Museum in London to the Nabugabo Learning Centre in Uganda.
Support and stretch
If your child has a particular interest in areas such as sport, music, drama or art, they are far more likely to find the support and stretch they need to reach their full potential in an independent school. It can be challenging for state schools to find the staff or resources needed to nurture such talent, and so it’s down to the parents to seek support from outside of the school to make sure that such talent doesn’t go to waste.
Reaching full academic potential
Most importantly for some parents, an independent education is more likely to lead to better academic results than their child would achieve in a state school environment. Class sizes are usually much smaller, which means that children receive closer attention from teachers. For those children who have the potential to achieve top grades, they are more likely to receive the support they need in an independent school. For others who find that academic achievement does not come so easily, an independent school is more likely to identify where they need support and have the resources available to ensure that they achieve the best they possibly can.
Life beyond school
With a combination of academic results and opportunities to pursue lots of different interests, independently educated children are better able to develop the ‘soft skills’ such as confidence, resilience, adaptability, teamwork and leadership, which will put them in good stead for life after school.
In addition, independent schools tend to have a strong alumni network which they can call upon to offer support and guidance for pupils making career choices and deciding on their next steps. There are often opportunities to build up networks and connections which can be invaluable when building up a career.
Which leads me to another key benefit of an independent education for parents… There are usually plenty of opportunities to get to know other families and to become part of a school community. Strong social ties are built up over the 5-7 years that your child is at school, and these are valued by parents and teachers alike. At Pangbourne, our parents’ association organises a number of social events such as dog walks, an annual Ball and the Christmas Market, and our boarding house structure offers more opportunities for families to come together at dinners, BBQs and at our College Sundays.
At the end of the day, independent education is a significant investment into your child’s future. The key is to identify the school which is the right fit for your child and your family. If you can find a school which offers all of these benefits, it will be a very good investment indeed.
Samantha Greenwood, Senior Deputy Head, Pangbourne College
Pangbourne College is an independent, co-educational boarding and day schools for pupils aged 11-18 in West Berkshire.
We are a community where you can flourish. Providing a challenging academic curriculum, we also offer plenty of co-curricular opportunities for sport, art, music, drama and adventurous training, so that each individual fulfils their potential and develops confidence, values and skills to make a positive difference to the world.