Independent and Private School 11 Plus Exams
For very many parents, their choice of schooling for their children at secondary level will include looking at Independent Schools, Grammar Schools (if present in their area) and Comprehensive Schools as a fall-back.
In our experience it is quite common for parents to seek a Grammar place as a first choice and then perhaps hope for an Independent School scholarship place or bursary. Many parents will though seek out an Independent School place as their first choice even when there are very good Grammar Schools in their area.
Why some parents choose an Independent School over a Grammar School
Many of the most famous Independent Schools in the country do not accept entry until 13, but most Independent Day schools will have an 11+ entry as their main admissions point or provide for entry into a linked prep school before then proceeding to the main school after 13.
Independent Schools are sometimes difficult to understand for parents who have not been associated with them before. The idea that many parents might choose an Independent School over say a Grammar School even though they have to work really hard to afford the fees seems odd to some, but natural to others.
Why for some parents an Independent School is first choice
The reasons are not solely academic (although most Independent Schools offer excellent teaching and academic facilities). For most parents the reason they select an Independent School is for the completeness of the education it provides. In a recent survey these were the top five reasons parents chose to send their children to an Independent School over and above the academic side:
1/ Completeness of the education – Good work habits for life, manners, confidence.
2/ Ambition – The belief that the schools help foster high ambitions (through what they deliver educationally, what they expose children to and the mix of families present at the school).
3/ Excellent sporting possibilities – Important for some children. Many schools have enviable facilities and place emphasis on the life lessons that team sports can teach children. Many schools will have very highly qualified specialist coaches.
4/ Excellent music facilities – Many will offer a huge variety of instruments and the opportunity to play in orchestras or sing in choirs. It is not unusual for interesting life experiences like singing in St Paul’s cathedral to be offered.
5/ Some parents said the breadth of subject offering was crucial with many schools offering more languages (German, Italian, Russian, Chinese – are not uncommon). This was equally true with non-academic subjects with some schools having very strong offerings in art, drama or photography backed up by excellent facilities.
Some parents are clearly passionate about the benefits of Independent School education and perhaps that is most common where they are looking for something which might offer their children something more than just a good academic performance. Most Independent Schools take children with a wide range of abilities. We have put together some advice for parents preparing their children for Independent School entry so please do feel free to look through it.