Should you choose a private school that specialises in music or sport, or takes a broad approach to learning

Should you choose a private school that specialises in music or sport, or takes a broad approach to learning?

As a parent looking for the best private school for your child, you’ll know there are hundreds of options available. You’ll also know that the private school you choose will influence not just the next few years of your child’s education, but their career opportunities and the rest of their life.

In other words, finding the right private school for your child is a huge responsibility. And with so much variety on offer, it’s no small task.

Since independent schools have freedom from the national curriculum, every private school in the UK is a unique place with something different to offer its students. Funded through school fees, independent schools have tonnes of extra resources on offer compared with their state school counterparts. For some schools, this means raising standards evenly across the board, whereas others focus attention on a core specialism like music, sport or performing arts.

Those schools that place a strong emphasis on a particular area, like elite sports, concert-standard music or professional-level performing arts, tend to have state-of-the-art facilities to match. Others spread their resources across a wide range of subjects, offering excellence in general, rather than in specific areas.

So, how should you choose a school for your child? Is it better to apply to an independent school that specialises, or one that takes a broader approach? What would help your child achieve their potential?

Don‘t worry if you’re feeling conflicted. In this article, we’ll help you decide whether you should choose a public school that has a strong specialism, or go for a school that’s a great all-rounder.

Let’s narrow down the options as you look for the independent school where your child will flourish. Here are some key questions to help you find the perfect private school setting:

Does your child have a particular strength or talent?

One of the best questions to ask when you’re considering schools that promote their prowess in areas like performing arts, music or sport, is whether your child already enjoys one of these subjects.

Most private schools that specialise are for children of 11 and above. By this age, it’s likely that your child will already have been involved in these activities.

Do they show a preference? Where does your child excel? What do they love doing?

If your son or daughter loves nothing better than getting muddy on the playing field, if they’re on all the school teams or compete at county level, you’ll know that sport’s important to them.

Does your child pick up an instrument at every available moment, getting involved in orchestras and ensembles? If yes, you’ll already have a strong clue that their passion’s in music.

Is your child always ready to step into the limelight, or can they draw the attention of any room? Then performance could be where they shine.

If your child shows a natural talent or sheer love for a particular specialism, if they pursue their interest with dedication, then choosing a school to help them nurture their talents could be an excellent choice.

Students in a drama class.

Does your child dream of pursuing a particular career?

For many children, their love of a particular subject might not necessarily lead to the job of their dreams. If your child has ambitions to enter a highly competitive world such as acting or elite sports, they’ll be better placed to achieve their goals if they’ve had access to pro-level training.

Maybe your child’s dream career has a specific niche, like conducting, stage management or directing? They’re far more likely to gain relevant experience if they’re at a school that specialises in music or drama than at a school with a more general approach.

If their career ideas aren’t fully formed yet, a specialist school is a great place for them to find out just what’s available. It’ll scratch the itch of their curiosity around a subject, and lead on to even more exciting discoveries about possible careers in the field they love most.

In any of these circumstances, a school with a strong focus that aligns with your child’s interests could be the right choice for your family.

Is your child keen to experience everything?

Perhaps your child has the kind of energy and enthusiasm that has them taking part in all kinds of activities. Maybe they love a week that’s filled with sports fixtures, music lessons and performance rehearsals?

If your child’s boundless energy and enthusiasm has them taking part in all kinds of activities, you might consider a private school with more than one focus.

For children who can’t get enough of everything school life has to offer, it’s worth getting them to think about the kind of education that would really excite them.

Maybe there’s an area they’d like to explore in more depth. Or perhaps they’re searching for something different that they haven’t yet found.

It could be that your child couldn’t possibly choose between sports, music, outdoor pursuits and academic studies – they just want to do it all. If so, looking at schools without a wider approach is a good place to start.

School pupils writing on an interactive whiteboard

Finding a private school that’s right for your child

Starting a discussion about the options for private education will help you find a school to celebrate and encourage your child’s passions.

Whatever conclusions you come to on paper, the most important thing when choosing an independent school is that the setting feels right to you and your child.

Make sure your child is fully involved in researching potential schools so they can help build a shortlist. But keep in mind that a website or a prospectus can only get you so far – a visit is one of the most crucial and informative steps in the process of choosing a private school.

Getting a feel for a school in real life is often the deciding factor. A visit will give you and your child the confidence that you’ve made the right choice for their education and their future.

As you whittle down the list of potential private schools, remember – a school’s particular focus towards sport, music or performing arts doesn’t mean your child’s broader education will be neglected. Independent schools offer top-class facilities and teaching across all areas, and your child will benefit from opportunities that just don’t exist in the state sector.

And don’t forget – those top teaching standards come at a cost, so you’ll need to be sure the school fees are affordable for your family. Eden School Fees Planning specialises in helping parents like you maximise the potential of their money so school fees don’t become an issue. Contact us to help your child start their adventure in education.