independent schools

How would you spend £5550 per pupil per year - we ponder the 10,000 independent school places proposal?

quetions HMC 10,000 school places proposal

Never shy to put our hands up in class...

...today's proposals by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) gave us, and the government, some food for thought. 

From Eton’s foundation to “to provide free education to 70 poor boys” to Lawrence Sheriff, purveyor of spices to Queen Elizabeth I (Lord Sainsbury, please note) opening “a Free Grammar School for the boys of Rugby and Brownsover”, there has always been a strong connection between independent schools and the education of the poor. 

But somewhere along the way, the government undertook the education of the nation and the private schools became just that, private. Their charitable status however, and the tax benefits that go alongside this bring their broader responsibilities into focus. 

The first of the ISC’s three proposals today is pretty simple.  The government spends £5550 per pupil on education and if that money goes directly to the school where the child is being educated (a bit like the Free School Meals funding) then they, the independent schools, would be happy to educate many more children from low-income families who would not have to pay fees which in normal circumstances cost parents anywhere from £10,000 to £30,000+ per year. 

We’re interested in the idea, but we have a few questions:

What is the impact on the state sector of losing £55m from its budget?

That sounds like a lot of money to us.  But let’s look at it the other way.  If all of those families currently educating their children privately suddenly decided to avail themselves of the state sector, the cost to the state would be almost £3 billion.  It’s certainly in the state’s interest to work with the private sector, not against it.

What is the impact on the state sector of losing 10,000 pupils from its roll-call?

According to the headlines, we face a shortfall of primary school places over the next four years.  Money is one problem, but physical places are another. The ISC’s proposition might be considered by some as a bit of a lifeline.

Where are the places to be offered?

Independent secondary schools have been offering places to low-income pupils since their inception, but what of primary education?  We’d like to see places offered to pupils early in their education when smaller class sizes and more tailored education can ensure pupils are prepared to make the best of their secondary education, wherever that may be.

How will low-income pupils learn about this option?

Today is a fantastic headline grabbing start, which we applaud. We hope that parents may put the scheme on their radars, even at this potential stage. From visiting independent schools quietly expanding their bursary provision already, we feel communication about these opportunities should not be so "hush, hush" or equality of opportunity is lost again...it becomes confined to those who are in a position to hear about such things. If we had not been persistently researching and visiting schools as consultants, we would not have known about opportunities under our own noses. 

Who will be offered places?

At present, understandably, independent schools’ want to make sure those in receipt of bursary places are “worthy” of the bursary.  It’s a great deal of money!  Bursaries are not scholarships, but they are the golden ticket and much sought after.  It won’t benefit pupil or school for less academic pupils to be awarded unconditional places in highly academic schools, but will this allow schools to cherry pick from the state sector? 

What will happen to low-income SEN pupils?

This is something we feel passionately about. Children who have great potential, who would benefit from the specialist teaching, excellent SEN support and smaller class sizes that can often be found more plentifully in the private sector, will often not perform well in entrance testing, despite having much to offer. 

And what of the squeezed middle?

Scholarships at most schools are now nominal so for some it feels that independent education is increasingly accessible only to the poor or the wealthy.  We see court cases on the horizon from parents for whom private education is currently out of reach, but would be accessible with an annual top up of £5550. 

The rights and wrongs of this are to debate elsewhere, but politically this may be too much of a hot potato for any government.

We hope you enjoy our musings on the blog, but if you'd like to join in the conversation DAILY, you'll find us over @schoolhuntersuk. We look forward to seeing you there. 

Is the ICS proposal just a chance for the independent sector to cherry pick pupils?

The 7 traits of an A*student - it's not all about natural ability

What makes the difference when it comes to getting A*? 

Friday saw the publication of a hotly anticipated research project, 3 years in the making, which set out to distil which factors can be isolated from the way that the best independent schools teach that contribute to an able child attaining the best possible grades, i.e. an A or A*.  What makes the difference?

It’s fair to say that the project seems to have taken the ‘highly able’ as the starting point, but it is evident that there is a great deal that needs to come together to take even the able to the pinnacle of the A*.

The aim of the research was to plough the findings back into state school practices. The lead state school was Christ the King Sixth Form College and some of the partner schools involved included Eton College, St Paul’s Boys’ School and North London Collegiate School.

The whole report makes very interesting reading – plenty to consolidate what one might look for when hunting for a school to support an academic child – but here we’ve summarised what we thought was of most immediate use for parents – which is, what is it that will particularly help your bright child get an A* - these are things that of course are going to be assisted by the right school, but many of them are more an attitude to studying or way of working that the determined and resourceful at any school could aim for? Here they are. 

The 7 approaches to learning and character traits that help students achieve their A*/A potential

  1. An exceptionally strong work ethic coupled with a commitment to developing a sound understanding of taught and independently learnt subject knowledge
  2. Investing the time to ‘keep up’ and achieve clarity of understanding of lessons taught in class
  3. Determination to succeed when faced with learning challenges
  4. Willingness to take risks, despite fear of failure. Willingness to learn from mistakes.
  5. High intrinsic motivation: engage all of the time, whatever the task and enjoy learning for its own sake.
  6. Intellectual curiosity: keenness to know irrespective of whether the exam requires it, proactively asking questions, willingness to apply knowledge flexibly
  7. Taking ownership of learning, developing independent study habits and admitting confusions, misunderstandings.

Extracted from “What Makes the Difference” © 2016 Christ the King Sixth Form College

To join in the conversation on the educational hot topics of the day do join us @schoolhuntersuk, we'd love to see you there. 

15 IB schools to kick-start your short-list and when to visit - it's sooner than you think

Autumn inspiration. Image credit (Unsplash)

Autumn inspiration. Image credit (Unsplash)

To IB or not to IB? 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) first appeared in UK schools in 1971 and is now offered by 130 schools. Whether you are committed to the idea of IB for your child, simply curious to find out whether he or she might be missing out with A Levels - is it really a passport to joining the global elite as some say - or confused, there's no better way to find out than visiting an IB school. And the time is now. Places for the most popular Autumn open days were disappearing almost faster than we could type today! We hope this handy list might get you started. 

Do let us know how you get on and share your findings @schoolhuntersuk. 

Ardingly College, Haywards Heath: Senior School and sixth form: Saturday 8th October 2016 Sixth form: Saturday 24th November 2016

Charterhouse, Surrey: Open mornings for sixth form girls, otherwise afternoon visits instead. Email: visits@charterhouse.org.uk for more details

Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Gloucestershire: Friday 2nd December 2016, book now for 2017

King’s College School, Wimbledon: Thursday 6th October 2016, 6pm

King Edward’s School, Birmingham: 16+ information evening: Tuesday 18th October 2016

Haileybury, Hertfordshire: Wednesday 16th November 2016. Book now, October dates are full.

Headington School, Oxford: Open day has passed

Hurstpierpoint College, West Sussex: Sixth form: Saturday 8th October 2016 Year 7: Tuesday 11th October 2016

Marymount International School, Kingston: Open day has passed

Sevenoaks School, Kent: Saturday 26th November 2016, 9.30am

Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School, Buckinghamshire: Thursday 13th October 2016 Monday 17th to Thursday 20th October 2016

The Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge: Sixth form open evening: Tuesday 18th October 2016, 6.30pm

Wellington College, Berkshire: All Autumn dates full, book now for January 2017

Westminster Academy, London: Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Whitgift School, Croydon: Saturday 24th October 2016, 9am Tuesday 11th October 2016, 4pm

Coming in to land: boarding schools within an hour of Heathrow

We scope out UK boarding schools accessible from overseas  (image credit: Unsplash)

We scope out UK boarding schools accessible from overseas  (image credit: Unsplash)

Whether you are looking for a UK boarding school for your children, whilst the family remains overseas or simply need to be within easy striking distance of Heathrow, this list might be just the ticket - a handy round up of just a few of our suggestions within the magic 60 minutes, traffic prevailing, with details of when to visit this Autumn and beyond. 

Don't forget to check details with individual schools - some need booking, all will arrange a tour to suit you if you are coming from overseas.

Those residing overseas will have a variety of additional hoops to jump through all of which require careful planning in advance. Some schools offer limited 'overseas' places and testing is likely to be rigorous. 

To find out more or find a speedy solution, do get in touch: jessica@schoolhunters.co.uk

Co-ed Prep Schools

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford:
next dates in the Spring

Dragon School, Oxford:
Saturday, 8th October 2016 (day or boarding)
Saturday, 25th February 2017 (TBC)
Saturday, 13th May 2017 (day or boarding)

Eagle House School, Sandhurst (in the grounds of Wellington College):
Saturday 1st October 2016, 10am

Lambrook School, Ascot:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Beachborough School, Brackley:
Friday 7th October 2016, 9.30am

St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne:
Friday 7th October 2016, 9.15am

The Oratory Preparatory School, Reading (boarding from year 6):
Saturday 8th October 2016

Winchester House School, Brackley:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10.30am

Hurst Lodge School, Ascot (from year 5):
Open day passed, contact school for tour

Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools – see single sex preps

St George’s School, Windsor:
Contact the school to arrange a visit

Co-ed Prep to 18

LVS Ascot, Berkshire (boarding from 7):
Wednesday 12th October 2016
Wednesday 8th February 2017
Tuesday 9th May 2017

Co-ed Senior Schools

Pangbourne College, Reading:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am (sixth form)
Saturday 5th November 2016, 9.30am (junior house, years 7 & 8)

St Edward's School, Oxford:
Saturday 13th May 2016 (13+ entry)

Leighton Park School, Reading:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

d'Overbroeck's, Oxford:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10am

Reddam House, Wokingham:
Saturday 8th October 2016

Luckley House School, Wokingham:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am

Padworth College, Berkshire:
Tuesday 18th October 2016, 1pm

Wellington College, Sandhurst:
Autumn dates fully booked, contact school to book for the spring.
Saturday 14th January 2017, 10.30am
Saturday 25th February 2017, 10.30am

Bradfield College, Berkshire:
Contact the school to arrange a visit

Boys’ Prep Schools

Summer Fields School, Oxford:
Saturday 8th October 2016

Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Brockhurst School, Newbury (boarding from 9 years):
Saturday 15th October, 10.30am

Elstree School, Reading:
Saturday 15th October 2016, 10am
Saturday 4th March 2017, 10am
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10am

Papplewick School, Ascot:
Saturday 5th November 2016, 9am

Caldicot Preparatory School, Buckinghamshire:
Not yet announced

Cothill House, Abingdon:
Spring open day

Ludgrove School, Wokingham:
Register your interest to be invited to an open event.

Sunningdale School, Berkshire:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit

Boys’ Senior Schools

Abingdon School:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Shiplake College, Henley-on-Thames (girls in VIth form):
Saturday 8th October 2016 2016, 9.30am
Saturday 18th March 2017, 9.30am

Eton College, Windsor:
No open days, contact the school to arrange a visit.

The Oratory School, Reading:
The autumn open day has passed, but there will be another in the spring. A show round can be booked with the Head’s PA.

Radley College, Abingdon:
No open days, but get in touch to arrange a visit.

Charterhouse, Godalming: (with co-ed sixth form)
Open mornings for sixth form girls, otherwise afternoon visits instead. Email: visits@charterhouse.org.uk for more details

Harrow School, London:
next opening morning: Saturday 21st January 2017, 9.30am

Girls’ Prep Schools

Godstowe School, High Wycombe:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10am

Marlston House School, Newbury (boarding from 9 years):
Saturday 15th October, 10.30am

Girls’ Schools 8 to 18

Rye St Antony, Oxford:
Autumn open day has passed but the school welcomes visitors on any day.

Girls’ Senior Schools

Headington School, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

St George’s Ascot, Berkshire:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10.30am

Heathfield School, Ascot:
Saturday 15th October 2016, 10am
Saturday 4th March 2017, 10am
Saturday 20th May 2017, 10am

Wycombe Abbey School, Buckinghamshire:
Saturday 15th October
Saturday 4th March
Saturday 10th June

Queen Anne’s, Caversham:
Friday 18 November 2016 at 9.30am
Friday 10 March 2017 at 9.30am
Saturday 6 May 2017 at 9.30am

St Mary’s School Ascot, Berkshire:
Saturday 19th November 2016
Saturday 18th March 2017
Saturday 13th May 2017

Downe House, Thatcham, Berkshire:
Contact the registrar for invitation to open morning. Michaelmas dates are full – register now for the new year.
Saturday 21 January 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 18 March 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 22 April 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 17 June 2017, 9.30am

Wychwood School, Oxford:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit.

Schools to seek out in the shires this September (Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire)

(image credit: Unsplash)

(image credit: Unsplash)

On your marks...for open day season

It's time to set the alarm, get out the maps, plug in the Sat Nav, dust off your most penetrating questions (trying not to be too distracted by angelic children, home-made cookies, string quartets etc) and plot your route from school to school across the shires - it’s open season in the independent sector. 

To lend a hand, we've pulled together September's dates for schools that could be on your list. You may need to drop everything! Watch out for Saturday 24th of September THE most popular date of the year. We're going to be making suggestions to Heads that perhaps a few Sundays wouldn't go amiss in future. Keep checking back on the blog as we’ll be listing October’s dates in the next few days.

Do let us know what you find: how inspired are the speeches, convincing the pitches, or exotic the biology lab creatures and share any photos @schoolhuntersuk. No, we don't think there are explosions in the science labs every day either. 

BOYS’ INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford:
Friday 23rd September 2016, 10am and 1pm
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

GIRLS’ INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

Headington School, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am
Wednesday 16th November 2016, 10am

Carrdus School, Banbury:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am

Heatherton House School, Amersham:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am
Saturday 1st October 2016, 10am
Further dates in the new year.

Crown House School, High Wycombe:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit.

CO-ED INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

St Teresa's School, Prince’s Risborough:
Thursday 22nd September 2016, 9am
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am

Rupert House School, Henley upon Thames:
Friday 23rd September 2016, 10am

Dragon School, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016 (boarding)
Further dates available for day places and boarding open days.

St Edward's Preparatory School, Cheltenham:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Stratford Preparatory School, Warwickshire:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am

Warwick Junior School:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am
Saturday 14th January, 2017, 10am

Sibford School, Banbury:
Wednesday 28th September 2016, 2pm

Chandlings, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 9am

St John's Priory School, Banbury:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am

St Mary’s, Henley:
Contact to arrange a tour

BOYS’ SENIOR SCHOOLS

Warwick School:
Saturday 24th September, 2016, 9.30am

The Oratory School, Reading:
The autumn open day has passed, but there will be another in the spring. A show round can be booked with the Head’s PA.

GIRLS’ SENIOR SCHOOLS

King’s High, Warwick:
Saturday 24th September, 2016, 9.30am

Headington School, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Gloucestershire:
Autumn open days are fully booked, book now for December and the new year.

Rye St Antony, Oxford:
Autumn open day has passed but the school welcomes visitors on any day.

CO-ED SENIOR SCHOOLS

Akeley Wood Senior School, Milton Keynes:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am
Further dates throughout the school year.

St Edward's School, Cheltenham:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Cokethorpe School, West Oxfordshire:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am

Stowe School, Buckinghamshire:
Autumn open day fully booked, book now for the new year.

SIXTH FORMS

Most sixth form open evenings are later in the autumn, but there are a few in September.

Rugby School, Warwickshire:
Saturday 17th September 2016

St Edward’s, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Magdalen College School, Oxford:
Open afternoon: Thursday 29th September 2016

Headington School, Oxford (girls only):
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am