Why choose an independent school?

Each year, around 50% of Year 7 pupils join Pangbourne College from state primary schools; so why do some parents choose a fee-paying school for their child’s senior education?

Help with the juggle

To begin with, there are many practical benefits for busy working families who are juggling school runs with meal times before taxiing their children to the next music lesson/sports club/DofE session. Independent schools generally offer a longer day which is filled with a range of co-curricular activities, alongside academic learning. Boarding schools with day pupils will offer even longer days with the option of having all meals provided, and the opportunity to stay overnight on an occasional basis.

Broadening minds

It’s generally acknowledged that independent schools can offer a far greater range of non-academic activities than state secondary schools. At Pangbourne there are countless opportunities to try things such as rowing, horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and yoga to name a few. There are also opportunities to visit lots of interesting places from the V&A Museum in London to the Nabugabo Learning Centre in Uganda. 

Nurturing talent

If a child has a particular interest in areas such as sport, music, drama or art, it can be challenging for state schools to find the staff or resources needed to nurture their talents. In these circumstances it’s often down to the parents to find support from outside of the school. Independent schools are more likely to have specialist teachers and facilities to ensure that children can both discover and develop their creative talents.

Support and stretch

Most importantly for some parents, an independent education is more likely to lead to better academic results than their child would achieve in a state school environment. Class sizes are usually much smaller, which means that teachers can spend more time with individual pupils. For those children who have the potential to achieve top grades, they are more likely to receive the stretch they need in an independent school. For others who find that academic achievement does not come so easily, an independent school is more likely to identify where they need support and have the resources available to ensure that they achieve their full potential.

Life beyond school

With a combination of academic results and opportunities to pursue lots of different interests, independently educated children are better able to develop the ‘soft skills’ such as confidence, resilience, adaptability, teamwork and leadership, which will put them in good stead for life after school.

In addition, independent schools tend to have a strong alumni network which they can call upon to offer support and guidance for pupils making career choices and deciding on their next steps. There are greater opportunities to build up networks and connections which can be invaluable when building up a career.


Another key benefit of an independent education is the opportunity to get to know other families and to become part of a school community. Strong social ties are built up over the 5-7 years that your child is at school, and these are valued by parents and teachers alike. At Pangbourne, our parents’ association organises a number of social events such as dog walks, an annual Ball and the Christmas Market, and our boarding house structure offers more opportunities for families to come together at dinners, BBQs and at our College Sundays.

At the end of the day, an independent education is a significant investment into your child’s future. The key is to identify the school which is the right fit for your child and your family. If you can find a school which offers all of these benefits, it will be a very good investment indeed.

Discover a community where your child can flourish

Learn about the Pangbourne College community and what makes it so unique. 

A very welcoming and friendly community.

Helen Loveday

Coming to a new school is not easy, especially when you do not know anybody, and I did not know a single person at Pangbourne! I was quite insecure when I joined, but Pangbourne really helped me get over that insecurity with their kindness and acceptance. From the first day I was feeling that I’m at home.

Danica, Ex-overseas student

Over the last two years, our son has had a fantastic time in Pangbourne College. He met many great teachers and also made a lot of good friends. He felt the warmth like his second home, thanks to the care and support given to him by everyone. Even during the pandemic, with the strong support of the school, the mental health of all students was well protected.

Mr Ding and Ms Zou

Whilst we had been driven by academic performance, we've realised that if our son's in an environment where he feels happy and safe to be himself, he will thrive, and that's what we all want.

Donna Croucher, Partner, Global Search Firm


Tap to interact with tour
Left arrow Hand Right arrow
Swipe to look around