Many parents worry about technology. Whilst we urge our offspring to spend less time on screens and limit their access to Facebook, we joke about relying on our children to solve our tech problems.
Whatever our own attitude to technology, we cannot ignore the fact that the ability to write code, understand the digital world and programming will be essential for our offspring. Technology is moving on at such a pace that we cannot allow our children to be left behind. Most will have their own websites and perhaps also run their own businesses. They are likely to have many careers in their lifetimes, perhaps running concurrently, and they will need the technological skills and flexibility to manage these effectively.
In response to lobbying, the UK Government launched a new computing curriculum in 2014. This requires that by age seven, pupils understand what algorithms are and that by age eleven, pupils are able to write simple programmes. This is an important step forward.
Many independent schools, whilst not following the national curriculum, are ensuring that their pupils are well- versed in computing. Coding Club is a popular option at Abingdon Prep in Oxfordshire. The basics concepts of programming are taught in the Reception class and then integrated into teaching as pupil’s progress through the school. Westwood Hay prep in Hertfordshire has a state of the art computer suite and enthusiastic IT teachers who make computing enjoyable. At Francis Holland, Sloane Square, Headmistress Lucy Elphinstone is a fan of computer coding, acknowledging the need for girls to have this skill in their future careers.
Contrary to the popular perception of stuffy, boring IT lessons, coding can be really fun and creative. Learning how to code enables children to design apps and games. It also encourages problem- solving.
So next time you have a tech problem – your iPad won’t work, or your website is down, you may breathe a sigh of relief when your children come to the rescue. And you will be grateful that they were taught computer programming at school.
Many parents ask themselves this question. Will my child have access to better opportunities? Will he or she thrive and be happy? And crucially, factoring in the cost of living in London and future university fees, can I afford it?
There has been a lot in the press recently about private (independent) schools and the pros and cons of educating your child independently.
Do the privately educated still dominate the British elite?
The Sutton Trust’s report “Leading People 2016” (1) found that professions like law, politics, journalism and medicine were still dominated by privately educated Oxbridge graduates. It is not just the traditional academic professions that are dominated by the product of independent schools either: many leading British actors and actresses were independently educated including Eddie Redmayne (Eton), Benedict Cumberbatch (Harrow) and Kate Winslett who attended an independent theatre training school.
But according to Fraser Nelson in the Spectator this week (2), this report omits to mention that “these leading establishment figures went to schools at least 20 years ago” and there is “more excellence in the state sector than the private.” This is an interesting observation and we will see whether the current generation of young people have equal success to their counterparts who attended independent schools
London’s state schools
In London, we have some excellent examples of both state and independent schools.
In the state sector, Tiffin Girls in Kingston and the London Oratory in Fulham are prime examples of free selective schools. Both boast outstanding results academically with the London Oratory being particularly brilliant for music. Both of these, and other London state schools, such as Greycoat Hospital School in Westminster where the Prime Minister, David Cameron, sent his daughter – are popular and heavily over-subscribed.
London independent schools
In the independent sector, St Paul’s, St Paul’s Girls and Westminster are among several internationally renowned schools where parents seek to gain places for their children.
As with the outstanding state schools, competition for places is tough, with many families disappointed every year.
How do I know whether state or independent is best for my child?
As a parent, choosing a school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The real question is not whether state or independent is best, but finding a school where your child will thrive and be happy. Your know your own child better than anyone. It is important to trust your intuition and choose a school which you feel will benefit your son or daughter both academically and pastorally. And to remember that your decision is not set in stone. This simple fact takes the pressure off. If your child is unhappy in your chosen school, you have the power to change this.
If you do not find a school which you feel would benefit your child, or the school you have chosen is over-subscribed, you may wish to consider home-schooling for a period. There has been rise in UK families home-schooling. Families we have helped recently cited many reasons for doing so. These included sensitive children, who prefer the home environment and individual attention that home-schooling can offer, children retaking A levels and international families who have relocated to London for a short period, and after a busy move, prefer to have children educated at home to avoid additional stressors. Emma Thompson’s daughter recently chose to leave Highgate School and be educated at home.
For advice on London schools and home-schooling programmes, please get in touch with our team of education professionals at Lumos Education at info@lumoseducation or on 0207 6927448.