Sebastian Hepher looks at the basis of a good Prep School education.
For many parents and families, the school they choose for their child is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are many things to consider – from specialist subjects and the quality of learning resources, all the way through to classroom sizes and location. Having to then choose between a local state school and an independent Prep School can add another layer of deliberations in the mix.
So, how can parents make an informed decision and why should they opt for an independent education over a state one?
Firstly, independent schools are in an incredibly fortunate position that allows them to determine their own curriculum and learning style, based on what they believe will most benefit their pupils. For instance, at Eaton Square School, we always encourage children to develop a real hunger for knowledge and learning as much as possible. We work hard to create a diverse and stimulating timetable that motivates and engages our students on a daily basis. Our learning programme, which is centred on the national curriculum, is supported by a dedicated group of teachers, subject coordinators and subject specialists. We limit class sizes to approximately 15 pupils, meaning each child has the opportunity to work closely or even one-on-one with teachers. We also tailor lesson, revision plans and learning styles to suit each individual child, allowing them to progress at their own pace, with their own specific goals in mind.
Out and About
Beyond the traditional curriculum and core subjects, we ensure that pupils experience as much hands-on learning as possible. As such, Eaton Square School regularly hosts educational trips both in the UK and abroad, as well as week-long residential experiences and outdoor education courses, where pupils are exposed to a wide range of physical and mental challenges. Outside of the classroom, many Prep Schools are able to offer a rich and diverse range of extra- curricular activities and after-school clubs, too. At Eaton Square, we are especially proud to host an array of exciting activities- from fencing and gymnastics to ballet, coding classes and even skiing lessons.
“Visiting as many schools as possible is a good idea. Time-consuming though it may be, you will usually find you instantly connect with a school or its teachers”
Trusting your gut
However, while resources and facilities are undoubtedly very important, it is always worth remembering when choosing a school, that trusting your gut instinct Is a very good indicator. As parents, you have the biggest instinct is a very good indicator. As parents, you have the biggest insight into what kind of environment helps bring the best out of your child. Think about their likes and dislikes, or the spaces in which they usually thrive. Do they need alot of open, outdoor space in which they can run around and be creative? Do they respond well to being around lots of other children or would intimate class sizes be best? And are they motivated by academically-focused activities, or do they prefer a more holistic style?
Once you’ve answered those questions, visiting as many schools as possible – both state and independent – is a good idea. Time-consuming though it may be, you will usually find you instantly connect with a school and its teachers, so it’s absolutely worth the time investment. At Eaton Square School, we always offer prospective parents one-to-one tours, and we encourage them to return as many times as they like until they feel they’re ready to make a decision.
It’s easy to get caught up in local discussions and word of mouth reviews and recommendations – but if you don’t consider what will work best for your child and their learning, it may be a decision you come to regret. Whatever you decide, always remember to your child at the heart of your decision.
Article written for ‘The Guide to Independent Schools 17’