Even in times of economic recession, independent schools in Edinburgh remain very popular and places can be at a premium. Often parents may assume that there will be plenty of spaces as and when they wish to enquire but find that they can be disappointed.
This highlights why it is so important you need to start to think about it now, especially if your child has just entered Primary 7, or you are considering a change of school for next August.
Here in Edinburgh we have a great choice of independent and state schools. But whether you are planning an independent education for your child or not, the most important thing for any parent is to make sure that you pick the right school for your child.
Every school has a very individual personality, and it is the ‘feeling’ that you get when you are in a school which is likely to make you choose one over another. Increasingly, children are making the choice – a very sensible move, as every parent wants their child to be happy.
Financial considerations obviously have a bearing on these decisions, but many people who have no experience of private education do not realise that around 20% of the pupils at independent schools are receiving some financial assistance from the school they attend – including payment of all school fees and additional financial support for uniform and books in some instances. This means that it is a possibility for all.
However, again time is of the essence, as applications received after the application date (usually November / December) may not be able to be considered for financial assistance as the funds available will already have been allocated.
Another view commonly held is that independent schools “only take the bright kids”, when the reality is that there are pupils of all abilities. The testing of pupils, which takes place as part of the entrance procedure, ensures that pupils are placed in the correct classes to assist their learning.
Make sure that you visit schools to gain as much information as possible. September and October is when most independent schools hold Open Mornings, where you and your child can see the school, speak to teachers and to pupils, and find out about both academic choice and extra-curricular activities. What does your child like to do, and can they do it at the school?
The right school for your child is here in Edinburgh – you just have to find it.
Fiona MacFarlane, Director of Communications at George Watson’s College