Features and opinion for independent school parents

Latest Features


Episode 10: Boarding

Joining Matthew this week is Tim Hands of Winchester College and James Priory of Tonbridge School. We discuss how boarding has had to adapt due to the pandemic and some of the positive effects these changes have brought to school communities.


Reassuring values from the past

The new normal is bringing myriad challenges for schools and pupils – especially those at boarding schools. Tim Hands of Winchester College explores what our future educational provision might learn from the past.


Episode 9: Pre-testing

Joining Matthew this week is David Griffiths of Old Buckenham Hall and Henry Price of Oakham. We discuss pre-testing – a process to help senior schools find the right candidates but something which is often stressful for parents and pupils.


Episode 8: Virtual Open Days

Joining Matthew this week is Kate Reynolds of The Royal High School, Bath and Olivera Raraty of Malvern St James. With in-person Open Days not an option, we explore how the virtual admissions process has provided some surprising benefits.



Hitting the ground running

Transitions test us and the challenge of starting at a new school should never be underestimated. Tim Hands offers some advice on how to get secondary schooling off to the best possible start.


Singing the praises

Knowing when to praise, and how much, is a delicate art explains Dominic Floyd of Mount Kelly. The motivating power of praise cannot be underestimated but it needs to be appropriate and proportional.


Making transitions easier

Transitions are significant for all of us, whatever our age. Vivienne Durham of GSA explores the wide range of factors which help determine stress-free transitions for school or on to university.


Encouraging happiness

You cannot expect your child to always be happy but, as Beth Kerr of Cognita explains, there are vital things you can do as a parent which help encourage healthy patterns of sleep, diet and exercise.


The rise of Sindependence

Too many parents think that throwing money at a problem will solve it. Tim Hands of Winchester College shares his concern about parents who view anything other than Oxbridge as second best.


Cheering from the sidelines

Schools rely on parents being aspirational for their children but this can sometimes go too far. James Priory explores the line between parental encouragement and unhealthy vicarious ambition.



Learning about our brains

An understanding of how our brains function reveals the need to approach learning in the right way. James Barnes of the PSB explains why strong 'executive function skills' can make all the difference.


Don't overlook the library

Children have vivid imaginations and there is nothing like reading and becoming aware of other people, worlds and circumstances. Vivienne Durham explains why the school library should be at the heart of every good school.


The risks of tutoring

There is a significant risk attached to tutoring which any parent considering the options would be wise to remember. Christopher King looks at the pros and cons of employing a tutor for your child.


The super-curriculum

As pupils progress, the tendency to specialise should always be balanced with ensuring breadth of study. James Priory, Headmaster of Tonbridge, examines how 'super-curriculums' can help.


Going beyond exams

We live in challenging times which have inevitably had an impact on education. No longer is examination success the passport to a successful and fulfilling life – it's more complex than that, as James Barnes explains.


What is English?

English belongs to everyone. English is everything and nothing. Tim Hands explains it is not just a language, with a magnificent literature written in it, but an evolving construct which draws the globe together.



Oxbridge blues?

The landscape of Oxbridge admissions is changing but what does this mean for pupils applying to colleges from independent schools? James Dahl of Wellington College looks at the background.


The value of partnerships

Independent schools are doing increasing amounts to support the state sector but, as Christopher King explains, it is often pupils who are the biggest beneficiaries of partnerships, rather than schools.


The value of money

Society is becoming ever more polarised and parents can find themselves criticised for choosing a private school for their child. Matthew Smith looks at why independent education is seen as buying 'privilege'.


Views from Edinburgh

Ten Edinburgh independent schools commissioned a report showing the contribution they make to the local economy. John Edward, Director of SCIS, discusses the findings.


Mind the funding gap

For most parents, teachers' pensions are unlikely to be something to which you would have given much thought. Julie Robinson looks at the significant issue of the teacher pensions shortfall and its impact on schools.


Strength in numbers

Parents who have opted for an independent school have no doubt found themselves challenged to justify the decision in an awkward social situation. Julie Robinson highlights the findings of a report on the value of independent schools.



Rethinking education

Our education system is skewed too much towards assessment. John Attwater of King's Ely outlines how it could shift to place a far greater emphasis on equipping pupils with the right skills for the future.


Women are not small men

Gendered stereotyping is all around us and its impact is far from benign, explains Jane Gandee of St Swithun's. From an early age, it can affect the choices our children make and their future careers.


The truly beautiful game

The traditional image of chess is wrong says Richard Cairns, Head Master of Brighton College. Chess offers pupils an opportunity to grow in confidence and learn new skills.


Good future citizens

All schools have rules. Sometimes it seems that the older the school, the more rules it is likely to have accumulated. Tim Hands examines the ethos and wisdom underlying the rules at prep schools.


A voice in society

Pupils have long sought to express their views through a school council but as Sue Hincks, Head of Bolton School Girls' Division discovers, the debates today are firmly focussed on big global issues.


Valuing friendships

The importance of friendship has often been overlooked by education professionals. Charlotte de la Peña looks at a fresh approach to the difficult issue of trying to solve pupil friendship problems.