‘I was impressed by the snack selection in the vending machine’ was the response to the question, ‘Why did you choose our boarding house?’. Revealing that some children at age 12 are easily influenced and might make choices based on fairly superficial grounds.
That said, how does a child choose what sort of education they will get, or, more usually, how do parents make the best-informed choice?
My advice to parents has always been to try and look beyond the gloss, the facilities, the marketing, the prospectus etc. and to visit the school when it is busiest and to try and assess the quality of relationship that you observe between students of the same age, between older and younger students and between staff and students. If a school is a real community then these interactions will reveal how well students are known, for their interests, for their strengths and their weaknesses and for their idiosyncracies.
Outstanding schools manage to balance supporting and stretching student development, treating children as individuals, with a sense that we all have things that we can and should offer to others and our whole community. Clearly if this is to work, schools need to be neither too small, lest the opportunities and activity programme be limited, nor too large, otherwise some children will inevitably get lost in adolescence.
Prior Park is just the right size to be able to offer a wealth of activities and enrichment both within and beyond the classroom, whilst having few enough students to be able to nurture each one as an individual, in their academic work, in their passions and in how they grow towards adulthood.
We believe in educating the whole child and that whilst examination results are important, so too is our work in supporting parents in developing personal qualities like compassion, kindness, humility, resilience and leadership in our students. We want our older students to lead others by example and to be ready to leave school as responsible, articulate and flexible young adults, ambitious and excited by the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.