Education Choices Pt 2b: Independent School

Independent Schools are privately owned and run. Since they are not state funded they are primarily funded by fees paid by parents.

Educational approaches:

The independent sector covers a range of different approaches, including some unavailable within the state sector. Each school will have different priorities, different values and use different methods.

Many Independent schools follow formal, single-age, class-based, and curriculum driven approach, where learning is primarily adult-led. It is focused on assessment and passing tests, as in State schools and may be based on the National Curriculum.

Prep schools are primary schools which prepare children for academically selective secondary schools, which have school entrance exams like the Common Entrance paper.

Other independent schools may follow very different philosophies.

Although more commonly found as nurseries for the under 5s, the Montessori approach is also used in schools for older children with multi-age groups, where children select their own activities Steiner Waldorf schools focus on play-based Kindergarten until formal, theme-based education starts at 7, with a focus on practical, artistic and intellectual skills, and continuity of care with class teacher for eight years

Finding a school:

Independent schools are listed at the Independent Schools Council or the Independent Schools Directory, or on

Finding out more about schools:

  • read the schools’ most recent Ofsted or Independent Schools Inspectorate report.
  • School achievement and attainment tables include independent schools (performance tables) and league tables
  • Read the schools’ prospectuses
  • Independent Schools Directories
  • Talk to other parents. ISC may have a Parental Satisfaction Report for some schools
  • Visit the schools


Each school will deal will set its own admissions criteria and applications. Contact schools direct for more information.

<< Back to: Pt 2a: State school

On to: Pt 2c: Home Education >>