Independent schools are not required to teach the National Curriculum and have their own admissions systems and individual school policies. The policy on special educational needs and bullying may be of most concern to the parent of a child who stammers. All these schools have to be regularly monitored for standards either by OFSTED or the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
A number of schools admit children into their pre-preparatory department at the pre-school age. Provision in the pre-prep schools ends at the age of 7 years. The next stage is called the preparatory school that leads up to secondary education beginning at 11 or 13 years of age, depending on the organisation of the school. Most schools are day schools but some also offer boarding facilities on a day or termly basis for the older child. While many are mixed, some are single sex. Some schools will have an affiliation to a religious faith.
The range of facilities and fees payable are variable according to the school selected. Fees of £1,000 per term are typical of the pre-prep schools, going up to £2-3,000 per term for preparatory schools in different areas while those regarded as outstanding are likely to be more expensive. Criteria for admission will vary according to the popularity of the school but are likely to include at least an interview and some basic tests, and these may be quite formal in the most prestigious schools. Parents have described some of these tests as very demanding and many parents have provided tutors for their child to practise on entry papers beforehand. When your child stammers, it is important to consider how demands on him may affect his speech and general levels of anxiety. If you are considering this option, it may be helpful to talk to the therapist.
If you choose a private school you will find that practice in supporting children with speech, language and communication needs will vary between schools. It is very important to consider what support your selected school can provide for your child who stammers and to what degree a speech and language therapist can be involved in this. Staff need to demonstrate empathy with your child's needs and be prepared to use the classroom strategies available from BSA:Education and from this resource: Information about Stammering.
Parents living in areas where the state primary school of their choice is likely to be over-subscribed sometimes opt to apply for an independent school place at the same time as making one for the state school. As independent schools themselves may be over-subscribed it is advisable to apply for more than one. This may involve your child in a number of entry tests.
However, when you child stammers it is important to make the whole process as stress-free as possible and your therapist may be able to advise on this. The BSA:Helpline can offer information and support.
Where can I find out more about independent education?
Independent Schools Directory UK & Independent Schools Council (provide information about independent schools and give useful links to follow up).
Schoolsfinder (provides profiles for all schools in England).
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