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Articles > School November, 23, 2020

From state school to private school

Lauren Stanton
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Hands up who’s from state school? Hands up who’s from private school?

I’m from both!  *raises both hands* Having spent most of my life at state school, I decided to apply for a private school for sixth form. Now, before you question why I didn’t go to private school all along… my parents couldn’t (and still can’t) afford it! I am extremely lucky and grateful to have received a fully funded bursary to a private school to study A levels – and am one of very few! In this article I hope that I will be able to raise awareness of the funds and scholarships available to state school children from private schools and the amazing opportunities they have to offer.

Moving to private school was a big shock to the system.

Most of the people I met had been at the school for their entire lifetime (from nursery to sixth form), so friendship groups were already established. Rolling up in my Dad’s 10-year-old car amongst the Teslas, BMWs and Audis felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. What was most striking about making the move was the quality of teachers and the genuine care they express towards their students. Instead of having a whole day of newly qualified supply teachers who couldn’t control the classroom, I was engaging in lessons with experienced Doctors in their subjects. I felt that if a teacher asked me what I wanted to do as a career and I replied ‘an astronaut’, they would respond: ‘Oh that’s amazing, a recent student of ours went to study Aerospace Engineering, would you like me to get you in touch with them?’. The number of contacts and opportunities is immense. Not only was I impressed by the teachers, but also the facilities available to me: a swimming pool, study rooms, a massive library, a student café and much more.

My perception of private school changed massively.

Posh kids? No (well, some). Hockey and Lacrosse? Yes (but not obligatory!). Easy ride through life? No way – the challenges that face students at state school and private school are extremely different, but all exist. Another thing that struck me was the down-to-earth nature of all the students and teachers. Sure, some people say “garaaage” instead of “garidge”, but either way they were welcoming and weren’t concerned about what kind of house I live in or how much my parents earn. The occasional mention of au pairs, owning horses, expensive cars and 3D printers still amuses me, but I do not feel at a disadvantage or “lower level” than any of my peers.

You come across a tree that has fallen in the woods.

You must use the resources available to you, climb over it and faces hurdles on the other side. Private school provides you with the resources to succeed, it is up to YOU to take advantage of them. When I joined private school, I signed every form and said yes to everything, to the point where I felt I was living at school! At state school, I felt exasperated by the lack of opportunities and motivation of my peers and felt unprepared for the real world. I still enjoyed state school – having met some amazing people and teachers that I will remember for my life, I am still extremely grateful of the experience I had there.

Moving from state school to private school was an enormous challenge.

Although the step up was like entering a world of money and opportunity, there is one thing all schools have in common: intelligent, kind, caring students who want to succeed. I urge you, state school, home schooled or private schooled student to reconsider your perspective on the education system.

State school students: it is wonderful if you want to stay at state school! You will succeed!

Other state school students: wanting more opportunities? Look into bursaries/scholarships at your local private school!

Private school students: recognise that not all people can afford to pay for their education, and that you are extremely lucky to be studying surrounded by like-minded people who want you to succeed.


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