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How to choose a private high school

Why do parents choose a particular school? What information do they consider in making that choice? Do they prioritize high standardized test scores, rigorous college preparation, moral or religious instruction, or something else?

This morning, the Friedman Foundation released a new study, “More Than Scores: An Analysis of How and Why Parents Choose Private Schools,” that sheds light on these questions. The study surveyed 754 low- and middle-income parents whose children received scholarships from Georgia GOAL, a scholarship organization operating under Georgia’s scholarship tax credit law.

The study’s findings provide analysts and advocates across the education policy spectrum with much to consider.

Consistent with previous research, the study found extremely high levels of parental satisfaction with 98.6 percent of respondents answering that they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their chosen school relative to their previous experience at a government school. Opponents of school choice argue that we should focus our efforts on improving district schools, but we should not expect that any one school will be able to meet the needs of all students living in a given geographic area. This study and prior research clearly demonstrate that the district schools are failing to meet the needs of a significant portion of the population.

Moreover, contrary to those school choice opponents who argue that low-income and especially black families “don’t know how to make good choices for their children,” the study found that “low-income parents, single parents, African-American parents, and parents with less than a college education are willing and able to be informed and active education consumers on behalf of their children.” For example, a bout 93 percent of parents indicated that they would be “willing to take three or more time- consuming steps to obtain the desired information” about their children’s potential schools (e.g. – taking a tour, consulting with friends, or attending an informational meeting). The authors note that the studies findings cannot be generalized to the population at large since the survey sample was limited to parents who already completed the application process and received scholarships. That said, even the poorest people in the poorest nations on the planet have proven willing and able to select a quality education for their children.

But the study’s most interesting findings should give pause to supporters of school choice who seek to mandate standardized testing and other top-down reforms like Common Core.

The survey asked parents to identify the top five reasons they chose their child’s particular school using a list of 21 options plus “other.”

The top five reasons why parents chose a private school for their children are all related to school climate and classroom management, including “better student discipline” (50.9 percent), “better learning environment” (50.8 percent), “smaller class sizes” (48.9 percent), “improved student safety” (46.8 percent), and “more individual attention for my child” (39.3 percent).

By contrast, standardized testing ranked very low on the list of parental priorities:

Student performance on standardized test scores is one of the least important pieces of information upon which parents base their decision regarding the private school to which they send their children. Only 10.2 percent of the parents who completed the survey listed higher standardized test scores as one of their top five reasons why they chose a particular private school for their child.

These findings provide another reason why school choice programs should not require testing. Parents value different aspects of education very differently. Standardized testing creates a powerful incentive toward conformity, which diminishes the diversity of educational options available. Moreover, the findings indicate, at the very least, that parents recognize the limitations of standardized testing as useful measurement of learning and perhaps indicate a strong demand for schools that are not part of the standardized testing regime.

To determine what sort of information parents seek when making their decision, the survey asked them to rank 22 pieces of information as important or not. The top three “important” pieces of information were the average class size (80.2 percent), whether the school is accredited, (70.2 percent), and the curriculum and course descriptions (69.9 percent). Standardized test scores came in sixth place with barely more than half of respondents (52.8 percent) ranking it as “important.” As the authors note, that is ” a somewhat low ranking relative to the disproportionate emphasis that many educators, politicians, policymakers, business leaders, and the media are placing on national standards and standardized testing. ” Likewise, when asked to identify the most important information, only 5.4 percent of parents selected standardized test scores.

Whereas most “accountability” reformers emphasize testing, the study demonstrates that parents hold schools directly accountable and punish lack of performance or transparency by voting with their feet. As the study’s authors conclude:

Because they risk losing students to other K–12 schools in the educational marketplace, private schools have an incentive to voluntarily provide the information desired by parents. Based on the survey results, the failure of a private school to provide information would (79 percent) or might (20 percent) negatively impact a parent’s decision on whether to send his or her children there.

In other words, to the extent that some parents find standardized testing to be a useful tool, the market creates an incentive for schools to test their students and report the results. But whereas the some education reformers would mandate testing for all students, a market allows parents who distrust or dislike testing to choose to avoid it while still empowering them to find the information they need to make an informed decision about their child’s education.

Why parents choose an independent education for their kids

To teach their children the necessary skills for an ever-changing world, many parents are choosing private school education. With options ranging from boarding schools to alternative schools to preschools, there is almost certainly a school to suit each and every child. Here are the reasons why parents are choosing to give their children the unique experience of private school and why it’s worth the financial investment.

Enriched academic opportunities

One of the accepted benefits of private schools is that they provide exceptional and challenging educational experiences through extracurricular activities, Advanced Placement courses, the International Baccalaureate programme (and the IB diploma program), and gifted programs, just to name a few. “The IB programme focuses on school work and on developing you as a whole person,” explains Myriam Choma, a Grade 12 student at Ashbury College, in Ottawa, Ontario, “I didn’t find that in any of my other schools.” Private school students constantly score top marks on standardized tests and college entrance exams, and many schools have close to a 100% rate of students attending their university of choice.

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Smaller classes

A comprehensive study on class size made by educational researchers Bruce Biddler and David Berliner in 2002 showed that the smaller the class size, the better the average student performs on academic achievement tests. Eric Vosko reflects on his experience as a student at The Rosedale Day School, in Toronto, Ontario. “It was weird for me because the school was so small. It was the right decision for sure, it has been a great school.” And the gains from smaller class sizes are stronger the longer a child is exposed to them. Private schools vary greatly in size, but depending on their teaching style, almost all focus on the importance of small class sizes to individually help students’ weak areas and advance their strengths.

Parental involvement

Private schools are built around open communication between parents and administration, and they make it a priority to involve parents in the community. From frequent parent-teacher meetings, social events such as parent breakfasts and family camping weekends, and the participation of parent committees in fundraising initiatives, families become an integral part of the child’s education. This common ground also helps strengthen parent-child relationships.

Dedicated teachers

In a study completed by the Fraser Institute in 2007, 91% of parents surveyed said the dedication of the teachers was their main reason for choosing private school. Instructors are both qualified and passionate about their subjects, often holding advanced degrees in their field. Within the tight-knit school community, students have close relationships with their teachers who commonly act as role models. “That involves most of my life,” says Blake Gage about teaching, coaching basketball and being a house parent to 50 boarders at Brentwood College School, in Mill Bay, British Columbia. In addition, small class sizes make staff members more readily available for extra help or to further challenge individual students.

A safe environment

Private schools have reputations for maintaining high standards for discipline and respect. Lower staff-to-student ratios allow for more effective observation and control of school grounds. The strong sense of community found in private schools also discourages dangerous behaviour. In the Fraser Institute study, around 72% of parents surveyed with children in the private school system strongly agreed that their school was safe, which greatly improves the quality of the child’s educational experience and achievement. The discipline they learn also improves their rates for success in post-secondary education, when they are in control of their class attendance and achievement.

Community environment

According to a Fraser Institute survey, 62% of parents with children in the private school system believe their school’s environment is motivating, supportive and nurturing. Taranvir Sandhu, a Grade 10 student at MPS Etobicoke, says “I made friends right away,” he says. “I really like how it’s a big family here.” Former students repeatedly report that the friendships they formed in private school have lasted post-graduation. A strong sense of pride is often instilled in private school alumni, creating rich networking opportunities upon entering the workforce. This is sometimes especially true at faith-based schools, such as Christian, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic schools.

Ample resources

At private schools, you’ll find incredible resources to support student learning in the classroom, sports field, art studio, and beyond. Quality resources and extracurriculars provide students with the opportunity to fully explore their interests and talents.

Extracurricular activities

While academics remain the priority for most private schools, many also place a strong focus on a well-rounded education and encourage participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports, music, arts, or clubs. This involvement helps stimulate students in their studies, as noted in a study at Stanford University that found that students involved in the arts are more motivated to learn and are three times more likely to win a school attendance award. Grant MacDonald, whose two daughters attend Newbridge Academy, in South Surrey, BC, says that sport “has become part of their daily life. It has made them more focused. They’re both doing very well academically.” Extracurricular activities can provide a much-needed break from the stresses of academics, while developing skills and engaging in valuable social situations.

Shared educational philosophy

There are innumerable approaches to education, and finding a school or preschool that matches one’s own perspective can create a positive, productive academic experience for your child. Whether you prefer the student-directed learning method of Montessori, or the arts-based curriculum of a Waldorf or Reggio Emilia-inspired school, choosing the right private school will not only allow students to thrive in a supportive environment and build independence, but also gain unique skills that fit their learning style. Parent Erin Craig states of her experience, “Montessori seems to be able to individualize the focus so it pulls out of them what it needs too.”

Development for today’s and tomorrow’s world

Private schools go beyond offering the mandatory subjects required by provincial curriculum; they can offer students a wide range of specializations including arts programs, athletics, math, science. Private schools are responsible for producing many leaders in politics, business and society, with a history of adapting quickly to changes in technology and culture. And today, they are also sought by parents of kids with special needs such as behaviour (including troubled teen behaviour), learning, developmental, or physical disabilities.

How to choose a private high school

  • Fulford Academy
  • January 11, 2019

How to Research Private Schools for your Child? When researching the best private school for your child, one of the most important aspects to consider should be finding out about a school’s teaching approach.

Different schools have varying degrees of teaching style, and for the best match, ask the right questions to ensure it is the right fit for your child’s learning goals.
What is Differentiated Instruction and Assessment?
For some time now, this has been a popular phrase within the realm of education. This phrase expresses an approach to teaching and learning that accommodates different learners and when it comes to choosing the right school for your child, how the school differentiates for its students is something that should not be overlooked.

Classrooms are full of students who have different learning styles, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, and overall learning experiences.

Differentiation
Ask yourself what is your child’s learning style! When researching schools, ensure that each school offers differentiation, and has the ability to deliver a learning experience that your child will need, to meet their specific learning style and goals. Ideally, you want a school which offers a variety of different ways to deliver information that ensures that each student is learning and developing successfully.
How to choose a private high school

Flexible Teachers
Teachers who incorporate an array of technology, collaboration, independent work, video, and even traditional lectures are providing their students with different opportunities to contextualize their learning and make sense of it.

Differentiation doesn’t end with instruction, it should be embedded in schools assessment practices as well. This means providing choice for students when it comes to demonstrating what they have learned, and how they apply what they have learned.

Differentiated assessment
One learning expectation can be satisfied in a multitude of ways. For example, a ‘presentation’ assignment can be delivered orally, digitally, or even though a musical or dramatic performance. Instead of writing a 200-word paragraph, the student can write a poem, or a blog, or perhaps a series of tweets.

Why should a student who absolutely dreads public speaking have to stand up in front of their classmates when they can just as easily meet the learning expectation by creating a digital animation? When teachers allow for choice, they, in turn, allow students to take control of their own learning and play to their strengths. Yes, there is still value in the conventional test and essay, but when it comes to meeting the particular needs of all students, differentiated instruction and assessment is pivotal for student success.

Article By: Steve Joudoin, Admissions Officer, Fulford Academy

12 Questions to Ask Prospective Schools

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How to choose a private high school

How to choose a private high school

  • M.A., Education, Claremont Graduate University
  • B.A., English, Brigham Young University

Choosing an online high school is a challenge. Parents need to find a virtual program that offers an accredited diploma and provides academic support for students, all without breaking the bank. Asking the right questions will help you find the online high school that best meets your needs. Here are twelve of the most important questions to consider:

  1. What type of online high school is this? There are four types of online high schools: private schools, public schools, charter schools, and university-sponsored schools. Being familiar with these school types will help you sort through your options.
  2. Who accredits this school? An online high school that is regionally accredited will have the widest acceptance. Diplomas and credits from regionally accredited schools are generally accepted by colleges and secondary schools. Some colleges and high schools may also accept national accreditation. Keep an eye out for unaccredited and diploma mill schools – these programs will take your money, leaving you with an inferior education and a worthless diploma.
  3. What curriculum is used? Your online high school should have a time-tested curriculum that meets your child’s academic needs (remedial, gifted, etc). Ask about additional programs such as special education, college prep, or advanced placement.
  4. What training and qualifications do the teachers have? Be wary of online high schools that hire teachers without a college diploma or teaching experience. Teachers should be credentialed, know how to work with teenagers, and be comfortable with computers.
  5. How long has this online school existed?Online schools come and go. Choosing a school that has been around for longer can help you avoid the trouble of trying to transfer schools at a later date.
  6. What percent of students graduate? You can learn a lot by an online high school’s graduation track record. If a large percentage of students drop out, you may want to reconsider. Be aware that certain types of schools (such as academic recovery programs) will always have a smaller number of graduates.
  7. How many students go on to college? If college is important to you, choose an online high school that sends a lot of its graduates to college. Be sure to ask about services such as college counseling, SAT preparation, and admissions essay assistance.
  8. What expenses can be expected? Most private schools charge tuition by the semester. Public programs may provide classes free of charge, but require parents to pay for expenses such as computers, software, and internet connections. Ask about additional charges for curriculum, technology fees, graduation fees, and all other expenses. Also, ask about discounts, scholarships, and payment programs.
  9. How many students does each teacher work with? If a teacher is assigned too many students, he may not have time for one-on-one help. Find out what the student-teacher ratio is for most classes and ask if there is a better ratio for essential subject such as math and English.
  10. What additional help is available for struggling students? If your child is struggling, you need to know that help is available. Ask about tutoring and individual assistance. Is there any extra charge for additional help?
  11. What distance learning format is used? Some online high schools require students to work independently and turn in assignments by email. Other programs have virtual “classrooms” that allow students to interact with teachers and peers.
  12. Are any extracurricular activities offered? Find out if there are any clubs or social events available to students. Some schools offer extracurricular virtual programs that engage students and look good on a resume.

In addition to these twelve basic questions, be sure to ask about any further concerns you may have. If your child has special needs or an unusual schedule, ask how the school will be able to accommodate these issues. Taking the time to interview online high schools can be a hassle. But, enrolling your child in the best possible program is always worth it.

A Look Beyond the Basic Reasons for Choosing a Private School

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How to choose a private high school

  • B.A., Classics, McGill University

Some of the popular reasons why parents look at private school as an education option for their children include smaller classes and superb facilities. However, there are other important reasons why families choose to send their children to private school.

Individual Attention

Most parents want their children to have as much personal attention as possible. After all, you spent enormous amounts of time nurturing them when they were infants. If you can make it happen, you want them to receive as much individual attention as possible in school as well.

If you send your child to a private school, it is most likely that she will be in a small class. Independent schools often have class sizes that range from 10 to 15 students, depending on grade. Parochial schools have slightly larger class sizes typically in the 20 to 25 student range. With a lower student to teacher ratio, teachers are able to give each student more individual attention.

Another important aspect of increased individual attention is that discipline problems tend to be less frequent. There are two primary reasons why: most students are in private school because they have a strong desire to learn and, secondly, many private schools have more consistent enforcement of codes of conduct. In other words, if a student misbehaves or breaks the rules, there will be consequences, and those may include expulsion.

Parental Involvement

Private schools expect parents to be actively involved in their child’s education. The concept of a three-way partnership is an important part of the way most private schools work. Naturally, the degree of participation and involvement will probably be greater if you have a child in preschool or elementary grades than if you are the parent of a high school student or a child away at boarding school.

What kind of parental involvement are we talking about? That depends on you and the amount of time which you can devote to helping out. It also depends on your talents and experience. The best thing to do is to observe and see where you can fit in. If the school needs a gifted organizer to run the annual auction, then help out as a committee member for a year or two before offering to take on the lead role. If your daughter’s teacher asks you to help chaperone a field trip, that’s an opportunity to show what a great team player you are.

Academic Differences

Most private schools do not have to teach to a test. As a result, they can focus on teaching your child how to think, as opposed to teaching her what to think. That’s an important concept to understand. In many public schools, poor test scores can mean less money for the school, negative publicity, and even the possibility that a teacher could be reviewed unfavorably.

Private schools don’t have those pressures of public accountability. They must meet or exceed state curriculum and minimum graduation requirements, but they are accountable only to their clientele. If the school does not achieve the desired results, parents will find a school which does.

Because private school classes are small, your child cannot hide in the back of the class. If she does not understand a math concept, the teacher will probably discover that pretty quickly and can address the learning issue on the spot, rather than waiting weeks or months to fix it.

Many schools use a teacher-guided approach to learning so that students discover that learning is exciting and full of possibilities. Since private schools offer all kinds of educational methods and approaches ranging from very traditional to very progressive, it is up to you to choose a school whose approach and philosophy meshes best with your own aims and objectives.

A Balanced Program

Ideally, you want your child to have a balanced program in school. A balanced program can be defined as equal parts academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. In private school, most students take part in sports as schools try to achieve that kind of balanced program. At some private schools, Wednesdays are a half-day of formal classes and a half-day of sports. In boarding schools, there may be classes on Saturday mornings, after which students participate in team sports.

Sports programs and facilities vary greatly from school to school. Some of the more established boarding schools have sports programs and facilities which are finer than those at many colleges and universities. Regardless of the scope of a school’s sports program, what is really important is that every child is required to participate in some athletic activity.

Extracurricular activities are the third component of a balanced program. Like compulsory sports, students must participate in an extracurricular activity. Many private schools have extensive music, art, and drama programs, so there are many extracurricular activities to choose from.

As you begin to explore school websites, review the sports and extracurricular activities as carefully as you review the academic curriculum. Make sure that your child’s interests and needs are properly met. You should also note that intramural sports and most extracurricular activities are coached or supervised by faculty members. Seeing your math teacher coaching the soccer team and sharing your passion for the sport makes a huge impression on a young mind. In a private school, teachers have the opportunity to be exemplars in many things.

Religious Teaching

Public schools are required to keep religion out of the classroom. Private schools can teach religion or not, depending on the mission and philosophy of the particular school. If you are a devout Lutheran, there are hundreds of Lutheran owned and operated schools in which your beliefs and practices will not only be respected but taught on a daily basis. The same is true of all the other religious denominations.

Decide for yourself: Why do you want to send your child to a private high school? You can, on the basis of the database make a list of schools that you think are most suitable for your child. Do this:

  1. . Talk to the child: What does he want? The most important moment will be the independent decision of the child of their fate. If he thinks about a career and believes that a private high school will help him – he will study successfully. Because he decided himself! Everything that is solved without his participation and choice is perceived with hostility! You only lose money and time! Do not think that your child can not solve anything himself! He is yours! So he’s smart too! Give him respect by giving a choice, and you will achieve more than expected.
  2. The solution of the second question will help you very much with the achievement of the highest results, a current like him: What kind of school do you want? Does your daughter like riding lessons? Does your son like to play hockey? The school must be close to home? What do you think about the issue of placing a child in a non-stop boarding school? Or maybe you need a therapeutic school? A lot of questions that need to be discussed and resolved. Be prepared, have a table with all the questions at hand until a school is found, against whose name you put down all the crosses.
  3. It is necessary to collect information about school/schools. Almost all schools are represented on the Internet. Look at their sites, virtual tours, order brochures, call administrative offices with questions. The information collected will help to make a list of 10 – 15 schools.
  4. This part of the preparatory school selection process is one of the most important. You need to reduce the list of schools to 3-5 from 10-15, which you have to visit and study thoroughly. If you have a consultant, then meet him. Explain your school and child requirements to the counselor. Display a list of 10-15 pre-selected schools. Receive from the consultant the answer to this question: Which of the schools is the most guaranteed, that is, there is every chance of enrolling in it. This does not mean that only this school will remain on your list, since (usually) it will turn out to be some kind of privileged school, with a big name and a small number of students.Your list should be reduced to 3-5 schools. And no less. Now: Which school should I attend first? Do this: 1. Who has the cost of training suits you the most? 2. Reception conditions are not particularly difficult. 3 Not so far from home. Again: do everything with the child so that he chooses the school. This is the main “key” to success in its achievements, without which there can be no talk about the university.
  5. Visit schools with your child. Since all the further fate of the child will be associated with its formation in the elected school, then you understand: it is required to devote time, without saving, for each visit. A visit during the school year is recommended, as you lead classes, you will have an idea of the culture prevailing in the school. The child himself will say: I want to study at THIS school. And then you will not have a problem: A test for minimal knowledge for entering the school. The child chose the school – he will prepare himself!
  6. The standard test is included in the admission rules for all private schools. SSAT and ISEE are most accepted in private and independent schools, COOP, HSPT, and TACHS are held in Catholic schools. A lot of practical training always helps, especially the practice of already conducted tests, which can be freely found on the Internet.
  7. One last thing: filling out an application for admission. Do not think that it is so simple. Especially filling out questions for parents and a letter from the candidate asking for admission. The school in practice wants to know everything that you think about your child, what potentialities he has, character, weaknesses, behavior and much more. You can not just give short answers – they will refuse you. Write detailed answers, on separate sheets of paper, AND, PUT THEIR TO THEIR, for 2-3 days.When you return to them, you will know exactly what to write, and what is not. The letter of the candidate with a request for enrollment – in practice: an essay on the topic: Why he wants to study in IT SCHOOL. The essay is attached and the answers to the questionnaire. Teachers in mathematics and English, from the school where your child is studying at the moment, will have to give their recommendations on the achievements of the student.
    Recommendations are sent directly to a private school and you will never know their content. You will receive from the private school all the necessary forms for teacher recommendations. Tip: Give them to the teachers along with a mailing envelope in which you already wrote the address and pasted stamps. Personally pass. Do not ask for anything. 99% guarantee that the recommendations will be good!

Most schools require submission of applications for admission before February and report on the results in March. The entire process of attending schools and completing admission documents MUST be made for all schools from your shortlist of 3-5 schools. Do not even think that your money decides anything.

All the parents pay the same price, and schools choose only the best. If any school refuses you, another school will provide a place. And also: there is no place to complain about private schools about the process of admission and refusal! The only thing: forget and move forward! You MUST warn your child about the possibility of failure! Let him understand the importance of entrance tests.

By Kelly Hunter | Submitted On February 13, 2010

There are many people who send their sons and daughters to private school and there are many more who send their children to public schools. The important thing to note is that a lot of people in the US don’t know about the advantages of top private schools over public schools. If you have been thinking of enrolling your child in one of the top private schools in the US then it is a great decision but how do you find out if the school really offers what your child needs.

You need to consider several aspects of a school before reaching a decision. Let us look at some of the important aspects that will help in decision making.

Your needs: First and foremost is identifying your needs or your child’s requirements. It is extremely important that you start to look within your family and start working out the various needs of your child before thinking about applying to one of the top schools. If you are wondering why then the answer is that most top schools look the same from the outside. Each school has their own strength but it is not necessary that the private school you choose will be able to satisfy the need of your child. Every child has varied requirements and hence you need to focus on finding a school depending on your child’s need. While identifying your child’s requirements, you need to segregate them on the basis of their desire, extra curricular activities they prefer, and their practical ability. The following pointers will help you to segregate your requirements:

Practical requirements: These requirements have to be met so that your child can have a better future. When you are looking through top private schools, you will come across some great schools that offer just about everything but they might not be able to meet your practical requirements. At that point you will have to rule out that particular school as a possibility. When we say practical requirements, then it suggests the following:

– How far is the school from your home?
– Will your child require transportation or will the school provide the same?
– Does your child require a before-school or after-school care?
– Does your child have any kind of linguistic, emotional, physical, or any other learning need that would demand special attention?
– How much is the education and enrollment fee in top private schools? What is your budget?
– Are you looking for a private boarding school or a day school?

Desired requirements: This includes the various options and criteria’s that you will most likely focus on while looking at top private schools. Some of the questions that you need to ask here are:

– What type of curriculum are you looking at? Some parents opt for science while others opt for art or commerce.
– Are you looking for modern facilities at the private school?
– What type of school environment will you prefer for your child – small or large?
– Are you looking for top private schools with multiple grade levels like K-12?
– Are you looking for a private school where parent teacher involvement is stressed upon?
– How is a particular school communicating with parents?

These questions will help you in filtering out schools and help you in choosing the top private schools for your child.

As part of Telegraph Education’s weeklong focus on private schools, Virginia Matthews explains how schools are going a long way to attract parents.

Constrained budgets may be putting the dampers on shiny new arts centres and state-of-the-art sports facilities, but when it comes to improving their overall offering to parents, independent schools are coming up trumps.

Whether it’s additional languages, earlier morning drop-offs or comprehensive online parent portals, the sector’s reputation for choice is holding up well, says Janette Wallis, senior editor of the Good Schools Guide. “Many parents have told their schools they would rather see fewer fee increases than a brand-new performing arts centre and heads have taken that on board,” she says. “The emphasis is increasingly on ad hoc and flexible boarding facilities for the children of working parents, and a more wide-ranging approach to before- and after-school care. Both are making a huge difference to families at a time when the pressure is on.”

While glossy brochures are a good way of getting across a school’s unique selling points, canny parents look beyond glitzy marketing to the curriculum, facilities, teaching staff and core values. Pastoral care and discipline are vital areas to quiz a school about, and its bullying policy will often give an insight into how it views its responsibility to pupils.

“Analysing the last three years’ exam results will give you valuable academic information, but softer issues regarding school life are vital for making children feel settled,” confirms Wallis. “If you are considering boarding, ask current boarders what the food is like and find out what they do at weekends.”

In terms of curriculum, language provision is improving all the time. Even the smallest prep school now offers more than just French. “Spanish is a favourite,” says Wallis, “and while many senior schools already teach Mandarin or another Asian language, others will offer it during a lunchtime session or after-school club.”

Roger Clark, head of Battle Abbey School, East Sussex, believes a school’s website is a far more important source of information than a brochure and urges parents to pay particular attention to the weekly newsletter, which tends to be more truthful about what’s going on at the school.

He advises them to “ensure that all subjects have equal status” and to know what they’re looking for in a school. “We don’t want to be too prescriptive when it comes to subject choice, nor do we want to freeze creativity out of the curriculum. If it’s an academic hothouse you’re after, we may not be the right fit for your child,” he says.

Socially speaking, Clark prides himself on offering a diverse student mix, pointing out that it’s more valuable to sit next to someone whose summers are spent on the Black Sea rather than the South Coast. “Whether they come from Vladivostok or Virginia Water, we encourage our pupils to broaden their horizons,” he says.

Stephen Crump, headmaster of Hethersett Old Hall School, Norfolk, says it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to boarding. “We offer reasonably priced flexi-boarding and many families find it very useful. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever need it, the option is there,” he says.

He advises parents choosing a school to listen to their heart as well as their head. “Note whether the building smells of disinfectant or something more appetising. Are faces glum or happy and relaxed? Trust your instincts: remember, if you feel unwelcome, so will your child.”

An independent education doesn’t come cheap and Crump advises parents to find out exactly how much a place will cost once extras are taken into account. “Lots of parents are shivering in this economic climate and we’re doing all we can to help with fee remission, deferred payment and emergency bursaries.”

The advice of Gill Dixon, head of Trent College in Nottingham, is to look for heads “with ambition and direction” and find out exactly what their priorities are when it comes to future plans for the school.” She also advises meeting current sixth-formers and imagining your own child as one of them. “Sixth-formers who leave our care are free-range, not battery hens, and, although confident individuals, they don’t have the pomp and swagger that so many well-established independent schools appear to favour.”

Dixon adds that the assessment process is a two-way street. “There is a tendency for newly-moneyed parents to think that paying large fees means their children will automatically get A* grades and top university places without having to put in any effort. Occasionally, we have to suggest they look elsewhere.”

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph ‘Independent Schools’ supplement on Saturday 16 March.

Nine Reasons for Private School

How to choose a private high school

Every year, parents make a decision to send their kids to public school, or to apply for private school. Here are nine reasons why you should strongly consider sending your kids to private school.

1. Smaller class sizes

In public schools, it can be common for one teacher to teach twenty-five or more students in a class. With a teacher’s time divided among so many students, public school does not offer as much individual attention for each student. Class sizes are typically smaller in private schools, meaning students can receive more personal attention from teachers.

At Brightmont Academy, we instruct using a one-to-one model. This means one teacher for every student. This way, your child will get the optimal amount of attention and guidance from their instructor. With one-to-one instruction, your child is not an anonymous student in a large class. They will be the sole focus of the teacher during class.

2. Dedicated teachers

Private school teachers are typically extremely very dedicated and well qualified. While both public and private school teachers hold advanced degrees in their field, in an environment with smaller class sizes, private school teachers can focus their talents to help individual students succeed. In a study of private school parents, 91 percent reported that having dedicated teachers was the number one reason they sent their students to private school. Parents value dedicated teachers because they want their children to receive the best possible education from their school. With access to proper curriculum and an environment to support all learning styles, highly devoted teachers provide greater opportunities to help students succeed. Private school teachers can be the catalyst to an optimal education for your child.

3. Safety

Safety is another top priority for most parents when it comes to schools. This is especially true considering the rise of cyber bullying and the many types of criminal behavior that can occur on school grounds. Private schools are more than twice as safe as public schools. Increased safety at private schools is largely a result of more security and a lower teacher-student ratio.

When there are more adults on campus relative to the number of students, it is easier for the student body to be supervised. Suspicious behavior can be reported more quickly, incidents can be responder to faster, and there are more adults ready to step in to decelerate any tensions that may be building. Private schools can provide the safe environment you value for your child.

4. Parental involvement

Many private schools make a strong effort to involve parents, and some require parent participation. These relationships between the school and the family allow parents an enhanced opportunity to understand the full education experience. On the contrary, public schools may provide as few as one or two parent-teacher conferences per year.

In private schools, parents and teachers can meet and communicate much more frequently. It is also common for private schools to host family events. If you want to be more involved in your child’s schooling, then private schools often offer many opportunities.

5. Community feel

Many private schools make a dedicated effort to create a community environment. When school feels more like a community, students can feel safer, more comfortable, and more passionate about learning. Public schools offer a broader array of activities, but these may be less accessible because of the quantity of students competing to participate or students may hesitate to join an activity when they are unfamiliar with the other students. Some schools struggle to create ways for students to come together in non-academic settings and build meaningful bonds with peers and staff.

Private schools are mission driven, and often offer school components that prioritize a particular field of study or community. When these offerings match the family’s values, the benefits of the academic program are multiplied. Other students need a particular type of instruction and can search for a private school with that specific focus. Schools that are able to address a specific need of the student or their family are invaluable.

6. Resources

Because private schools usually charge tuition and may also have endowments, there may be more resources available to improve the student experience. This can include everything from state of the art learning tools and technology to teachers with specialized depth of knowledge.

Having ample resources doesn’t just apply to financial resources; the strong community support, active involvement of parents and staff, and a united value system also contribute to the overall quality of a school and are factors to consider when determining the right fit for your child.

7. Extremely high graduation rates

The graduation rate for private high school students across America is just under 100 percent. Comparatively, the graduation rate is just 80 percent for public high school students in the nation. Your child will have a significant advantage of graduating from high school if they attend a private school, and will be surrounded by peers who also aspire to graduate.

8. Networking opportunities

Many private school students go on to become quite accomplished in their field, and stay loyal and connected to their school. If your child attends a private school, he or she will become a part of the alumni network for this school, which can potentially lead to career opportunities down the line.

9. Expectation of Success

Many private schools represent the highest quality education options that are available. The mission of the private school attracts students with similar interests, talents, and aspirations. Each student starts the school year with well-defined goals for academic achievement. An investment in private education enables the family to prioritize their child’s development and customize their education experience to be successful.

Final thoughts

Private schools create an environment where your child can develop intellectually, emotionally and socially. Parents who value small class sizes, increased safety, a connected community and dedicated teachers find that private schools are a good fit for their child and provide an optimal education experience.

To set your child up for academic success, consider enrolling in private school. Brightmont Academy offers a quality private school education with one-to-one instruction customized for every student.

Send a message to a Brightmont Academy campus director or call us at (888) 521-0887. We are happy to answer your questions, and we look forward to speaking with you. To learn more about our accredited private school, schedule a visit for a campus tour.

Private schools are both elective and selective. They are elective in that all students must choose to attend, but they are selective in that only those who can afford to pay are able to attend. Often the elective process narrows student candidates to those who have a particular affinity for an institution, religious denomination, community, or future goal.

As such, many private school students have at least some shared interest. The student body is also made up of children whose families have the awareness and wherewithal to provide for a private school experience. Thus, they can be perceived as being economically advantaged.

That is not necessarily the case, however; many private schools are dependent upon student recruitment and have a variety of programs to assist families. Private-school administrators often encourage families to inquire even if they don’t believe the school is affordable. There is often financial aid or other assistance available for motivated families.

Some private schools are highly creative in their development of curriculum while others utilize curriculum developed for the general market, or “third-party” curriculum. Teacher credentials vary widely as they are not bound by state standards. Essentially, private schools are more beholden to the marketplace, not external standards.

In this sense, it is important to investigate the voluntary accountability oversight schools submit themselves to. Look for accrediting bodies and regional organizations such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, or private accrediting bodies such as the Association of Christian Schools International. These associations require member schools to meet minimum standards in terms of academic achievement, testing, teacher credentials, curriculum, and facilities.

One of the main advantages of private schools is their freedom to include religious instruction as part of their elective and required curriculum. Many private schools have behavioral standards to which students must ascribe. Others require a statement of faith or other sign of allegiance to a particular set of beliefs. Many private Christian schools place a special emphasis on community service, mission trips, and calling from God, and even have as a goal to raise up future Christian leaders. Even so, it is important to remember that enrolling children in a private school is no substitute for parent involvement and diligence.

The term “private school” may conjure images of expensive, high-class, college preparatory boarding schools, and such institutions do exist. Most private schools in the United States, however, are small, modest operations with limited facilities. While there are secular private schools, the overwhelming majority are affiliated with religious institutions. Some private schools are part of a large, well-organized structure such as Catholic or Lutheran schools; others are small, independent operations tied only to a local church. Typically, schools associated with denominational structures (for example, Catholic schools) are more predictable than independent schools, whose curriculum, accreditation, and academic oversight may vary widely.

Private schools are governed by their own set of rules. These rules may be established by a local board or may be imposed from the national organization or denomination. It is sometimes difficult to tell which set of operational rules — national or local — hold the advantage. On one hand, local control means nimble response to the community need; on the other hand, association with strong national organizations ensures that the school is meeting standards set for it by the national body.

Things to Look for in Private Schools

  1. Associations and accreditations. Unless the administration is exceptionally skilled, it is usually important for a private school to have applied for and been accepted into a governing set of standards and achieved some sort of accreditation. That is the seal of approval that says the school meets certain standards of financial accountability, academic rigor, rules of ethics, and so on.
  2. Curriculum. Some schools employ teachers who are trained and skilled educators. They are able to create and deploy effective curriculum and tie that curriculum to state or governing association standards. Other schools simply adopt a curriculum created by third-party curriculum providers and implement them in their system.
  3. Academic accountability. Public schools are required to use standardized tests to demonstrate student competence in core subjects. Many private schools choose to use the same tests in order to compare their program to public schools, while others select an independent testing norm that measures student achievement but is difficult to compare to state standards. Still others choose to not use standardized tests at all. When evaluating a school that does not use standardized tests, get data on SAT or ACT scores and compare them with surrounding public schools. College placement statistics are also good indicators of academic suitability.
  4. Denomination or religious affiliation. You’ll want to ensure that the religious viewpoint of the school is consistent with your personal beliefs.

Pros of Private Schools

  • Participation is by choice. Parents should have a high degree of commitment to the school and this factor significantly contributes to creating a good academic and social environment.
  • Private schools can legally provide religious instruction.
  • Private schools aren’t dependent on the state for money, and therefore may have better control over their long-term budgeting process than charter or magnet schools.
  • Private schools have to compete with free public schools. Ideally, their accountability to parents should be high.
  • Private schools may tend to attract like-minded families, making social interaction with others easier.

Cons of Private Schools

  • Private schools require parents to pay tuition for their children to attend.
  • Teachers may not be required to have state certification.
  • Because private schools charge tuition and therefore may not be an option for lower-income families, the student population may not be as diverse as in a public-school setting.
  • There is not accountability to state standards unless it is self-imposed.
  • Often there is no bus service.
  • Sports, music and other special-interest activities may not be offered.
  • Sometimes there is a long waiting period to get your child enrolled.

Adapted from Handbook on Choosing Your Child’s Education, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2007, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.