An independent mainstream school is a school that is independent in its finances and governance; it is not dependent upon national or local government for financing its operations nor reliant on taxpayers’ contributions and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, gifts, and in some cases the investment yield of an endowment. It is governed by a board of directors or trustees, or it is proprietor owned. By virtue of being independent, these schools offer a high quality of education within a framework where the focus is on the development and care of the individual. Pupils are encouraged to develop to their full potential, to participate in a wide range of activities within the school and to contribute to service in the wider community. Many of the mainstream independent schools in Wales educate children through all the age groups, often from 3 to 18, while others cater for one or two educational phases, eg primary or secondary. Admission to these schools may be through assessments and entrance examinations. Parents are invited to book visits, either through scheduled open days or through individual appointments. Taster days for potential pupils are usually offered and are a popular way of finding a good fit.
Independent special schools offer education for pupils from ages 3-18 who have a wide range of additional learning needs, for example those including autistic spectrum conditions, as well as social, emotional and mental health needs. Many of these schools are small and pupils often live in the children’s homes either attached to the schools or in separate residential homes. Nearly all placements at independent special schools are funded by local authorities in Wales and England.
The Welsh Government is responsible for the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003. These provide the standards against which Estyn regularly inspects all independent schools in Wales.
Choosing a Mainstream Independent School
Difficult decisions deserve to be given time and thought. It is crucial for parents to find a school that can offer opportunities and motivation – a place where inspirational professionals will show each child their true potential.
It is a big task and knowing the decision is the right one leaves many parents facing a dilemma. This website offers links to all the WISC member schools in Wales (see Finding a School)
Parents are often surprised about the choices open to them. There are a wide range of independent schools – each one works hard to offer something extra special for your child. Day schools to boarding, single-sex to co-educational, each can boast particular advantages. Many independent schools across England and Wales and have histories of academic and sporting excellence. There are other clear benefits which help to justify financial implications. Classes have smaller pupil numbers, sports facilities are often excellent and traditional values such as hard work and good manners are promoted.
It used to be that only rich and privately-educated people sent their children to independent schools. This is certainly not true today. More than half the children entering independent schools have parents who were educated in the state system. The children come from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. What they all have in common is an opportunity to achieve their full potential at school.