Rebecca Hutley, Principal and Proprietor at Whitehall School in Somersham, separates fact from fiction and debunks the most common myths about independent schools.
Myth #1: Only rich children go to independent schools
“You don’t have to be incredibly wealthy to send your child to an independent school – many can afford private education because of the lifestyle choices they make,” Rebecca explains.
“Many of the parents of independent school children put money aside for education, rather than spending it on other items.”
Although it’s true that independent education comes at a price, some schools are more affordable than others - it’s worth researching your options before you make a final decision.
Myth #2: There’s no help available to pay for tuition fees
The financial assistance available depends on the school, but it’s certainly not out of reach.
“At Whitehall School, for example, bursaries are available. It’s worth enquiring about bursarial help, or other financial aid at any school that you’re considering,” says Rebecca.
Myth #3: Children who go to independent schools won’t build social skills
Many people believe that independent schools are so exclusive that pupils won’t learn the communication and social skills they need to get by in the ‘outside’ world.
Rebecca says: “Some independent schools may have fewer children and smaller class sizes, but this doesn’t mean they are not diverse. In many cases, due to their size, they can offer a high quality of education and further opportunities for progression.”
Myth #4: You have to be a genius to get into an independent school
“While it’s true that some private and independent schools require children to take entry-level exams to determine whether they will be accepted, there are many that don’t,” says Rebecca.
Some schools, like Whitehall, don’t assess pupils on entry.
Myth #5: Pupils at independent schools are stressed out
Isn’t it true that independent schools are a breeding ground for unhealthy competition and that they push pupils too hard to achieve? In fact, often it’s the other way around.
“Independent schools are able to give individuals much more attention, helping them to manage stress, and ensuring that any altercations between children are used as opportunities to learn about themselves and others,” Rebecca explains.
“Small, independent schools rarely experience any bullying. If there is a misunderstanding between pupils at Whitehall School, for example, they are encouraged by teachers to talk it through and patch things up to work out their differences.”
They currently have a maximum of fifteen pupils to a year group at Whitehall School, which has meant that all children have been back in school before the summer following its closure due to the pandemic.
Myth #6: Independent schools aren’t worth it
Some people question whether there’s much of a difference between independent and state school, and if it’s worth paying for education.
“Children that have attended independent schools finish their education as confident, capable, happy individuals, ready to take on the world ahead – let alone the exam results, which speak for themselves.”
Rebecca adds: “Whitehall School is listed as one of the Sunday Times top 100 schools because of its incredible SATs results. The children here are learning more and progressing quicker than they might at other schools, without even knowing it. It’s such a caring, nurturing environment – the children really do love it!”
You can find Whitehall School at 117 High Street, Somersham, Cambridgeshire PE28 3EH