2020 and 2021 have been strange years for schoolchildren in the UK, with many pupils thrown into home schooling for the first time, and parents struggling to balance the demands of education alongside work and family commitments. It isn’t just parents and pupils who have struggled. Most state schools were taken by surprise by the 2020 spring lockdown, with home school provision throughout that summer being patchy and inconsistent. The debacle surrounding the 2020 GCSE and A-level exam results compounded the feeling of chaos and drift in education during the pandemic.
For many reasons, including the above, independent education has seen an increase in interest among parents, with demand for independent school places running high for the 2021/22 academic year. What are the main factors driving this increase in demand?
The appeal of independent schools in the current climate is that many of them entered the pandemic with digital resources already in place, making the transition to home schooling smoother and more efficient. With smaller class sizes compared to state schools, independent schoolteachers have been better equipped to conduct live online lessons for their pupils during lockdown, providing greater levels of support and continuity.
A survey by Teacher Tapp reported that 59% of independent primary and 72% of secondary schools managed to provide live-stream lessons during the first lockdown, compared to just 31% of state schools.
The widely perceived failure of the education system to provide adequate support during the crucial GCSE and A-level exam years has led many aspirational parents to consider transferring their children from the state sector to independent schools. Factors driving this include the consistently higher exam results achieved by independent schools, as well as their reputation for academic quality and attainment.
An independent education is a considerable investment, and only 6.5% of British children currently attend an independent school. However, independent school fees are not necessarily an obstacle to families sending their children to independent schools, because financial planning support is widely available. Many parents, for instance, are able to take advantage of remortgaging properties, or drawdowns from pension funds, to cover their child’s fees.
Furthermore, the costs of independent education should be weighed against the considerable benefits for children, both during their school career and throughout their lives. Independent schools generally attain better exam results and university progression rates than the state sector.
There are also the benefits of extracurricular activities, better facilities, higher quality teaching, post-graduate networking, and greater resources to commit to one-to-one tuition and pupil support.
Many schools also offer means-tested discounts, scholarships, bursaries, and hardship waivers for parents on reduced incomes. In addition, full-cost secondary scholarships are common for pupils who display exceptional academic excellence and potential.
If you are considering independent education for your child and would like to discuss how we can help you manage school fees with one of our specialist advisers, please give us a call today.
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