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When considering whether or not to send your child to an independent school, you might have a general idea about what they are – but you might also want to know exactly what is an independent school!  

From what independent schools do, to the benefits they yield for your child’s education, we tell you everything that you need to know about what an independent school is in this blog… 

What do independent schools do? 

First off - the majority of independent schools are registered charities that create public benefit and do not operate for profit.   
As you may know, independent schools charge fees to attend rather than being funded by the government, and as a result offer many benefits, including the freedom to define their own curriculum (we list more of these benefits below). 
Developing communities is very important to our SCIS member schools. From providing means-tested fee assistance to enable more children to benefit from an independent school education, to offering the use of facilities to community groups and local schools for free or for a small fee 

Often, schools will set up fun and educational activities for the wider community, like hosting events such as science festivals, sporting competitions and foreign language workshops.  
You can find out more about how SCIS schools serve their communities here. 

Benefits of an independent school education 

  • Curriculum freedom 

Independent schools have more flexibility in what they teach and are able to offer a much wider range of subjects and qualifications. This allows you to choose the perfect school, based on your child’s interests and natural abilities. So, whether your child aspires to be the next tech entrepreneur, or sporting gold medallist – subjects will allow them to explore and find their niche. 
Whilst covering the core subjects of English, Maths, Science and Humanities is of great importance - independent schools also offer an array of other subjects for your child to choose from such as Mandarin, Environmental Science, History of Art, Latin, and Economics. 
Most independent schools also provide the option to take a mix of qualifications including SQAs, A-Levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB). You can find out more about the pros and cons of each qualification and what you can expect from the exams in our blog. 

  • Attentive learning experience 

Independent schools benefit from smaller class sizes, which means there is a lower teacher to pupil ratio and so your child will have more support and guidance with their learning. 
As a result, teachers have the opportunity to get to know every child on an individual level and provide pastoral care and support alongside teaching. Often teachers are involved in extracurricular activities like sports or art clubs and so they end up building strong relationships with your child throughout their school years. 
Read our blog to find out how independent school teachers go the extra mile. 

  • Endless extracurricular activities 

As well as having intellectual and physical health benefits - co-curricular activities also help to build children’s resilience and self-esteem in this digital age, where young people are feeling increasing pressure. 
It is the soft skills learned whilst taking part in extracurricular activities that will really help your child to thrive in everyday life beyond school. Sports for example, can boost your child’s confidence and leadership skills by getting them to interact and build relationships with their teammates and opponents. Taking part in the arts will encourage them to create and stretch their imagination, whilst voluntary work will help them to recognise the importance of humility and being a part of a community. 

From Canoeing and Football, to Pipe band and Musicals or Young Enterprise and Duke of Edinburgh – there is something for everyone. 

Find a list of co-curricular activities here 

  • Outstanding locations  

Whether you are looking for a school that is local, hoping to relocate, or if you are interested in sending your child to boarding school - independent schools are situated in a range of stunning city and rural locations. Use our Find a School tool to explore the full list. 
Each school may be different but all are equally full of character. Clifton Hall for example, is a beautiful mansion built in the Scottish baronial style of architecture in 1857 and lies on a sprawling estate on the south bank of the River Almond. On the other hand, Albyn School is located in the west end of Aberdeen city, in buildings that are a beautiful blend of traditional 19th century granite villas and contemporary architecture. 
From the level of education to location, independent schools have so much to offer your child. 


If you are considering registering your child at a Scottish independent school, SCIS can help - use ourfind a schooltool or get in touchwith us today.