When is the best time to start at a private school?
One of the most difficult questions parents tackle when considering placing their child in an independent school in the UK, is whether they are ‘ready’.
This is particularly true when your son or daughter may be boarding at their new school.
It’s not just about the best age to go to boarding school either. There could be other factors that determine whether your child is going to settle well, and quickly, into private education.
To help you in your decision making, this article explores the topic of independent boarding schools and the best time to start a private education.
State v private education
First, it's helpful to look at the differences between a private and state-funded school.
There are many good schools in the UK which are free to attend and controlled by local authorities.
However, opting for a fee-based education offers you a greater assurance across a wide range of important factors. For example, private schools can provide excellent remuneration in return for high-quality teaching, and therefore attract high calibre staff. This, coupled with smaller class sizes, can ensure that your child receives superb individualised attention and support.
Private schools also have the resources to offer benefits that extend beyond the classroom learning environment. The extracurricular activities they provide will be diverse, not least as independent schools must maintain high standards to protect their reputations.
Boarding at private schools opens up a huge amount of potential for additional learning support, friendships, sports, hobbies and development opportunities of course. Rendcomb College’s list of activities for boarders and day pupils is particularly extensive and appealing.
If you opt for a top private school that offers a residential education like Rendcomb College, this comes with ‘professional parents’ too. These are staff recruited to be nurturing and caring around the clock, who also use their professional status to help young people find their full potential.
How do you get into private school?
One of the most common questions about independent education – including boarding at Rendcomb College – is do you need specific grades for private schools?
It is true that some private schools have strict criteria for applicants, and they take the highest achievers.
Other independent schools practice greater equality in their admission. Any students can apply, and their education and care will match their specific needs and abilities.
Rendcomb College opens its doors and its superb educational support to any student. The only entry criteria for a private school where we are concerned is the willingness to be thoughtful, adventurous and academically ambitious. (Things we draw out of students anyway.)
Age and private education
When admitting a child to boarding school, there is much debate about the best age to start a private education. Some parents feel the younger the better, to develop resilience, strength of character and social skills. Others prefer to wait and admit their sons or daughters as senior boarders.
There’s something important to keep in mind here. The concept of ‘going away’ to boarding school still carries many misconceptions. This option for a private education can still involve being home at weekends as well as school holidays for example. Also, the atmosphere at Rendcomb College is centred on fun, friendship and ‘family’. It's not about discipline and building character in a harsh sense!
For many students, boarding at private school offers excellent occupation, support and enjoyment that’s preferable to attending a state school and feeling more isolated. Or, having complex childcare arrangements when both parents work of course!
Knowing when your child is ready
The emphasis at Rendcomb College is supporting students to develop their ‘best selves’ including their ability to make wise choices and self manage their own positive futures.
That must start by involving them in the decision when to start at a private school. Knowing what to expect at boarding school is especially vital, but having the facts and a positive sampler experience also helps day students.
Whatever the potential student’s age or circumstances, we show them around and present an authentic picture of life at an independent school.
As parents, this provides you with an opportunity to assess your child’s readiness for a move to private education. It is information that can be viewed alongside any practical considerations, such as whether their state education is falling short of the standards you require, or your child is unhappy at their current school.
Having a complete picture of your child's individual needs and preferences - and how we can match those - will guide you on the best time to start a private school education at Rendcomb College.