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The Differences Between Private Education in The UK And The US

Private education has experienced a waxing and waning popularity over the years as it has fallen in and out of favour with the general public. The reasons put forward favouring a private rather than public education are numerous and complex and are subject to change with the prevailing sentiment and changes to both forms of the education system. The United Kingdom and the United States have very different education systems and this is true of both the private and public sector.

Term Time

In the United States, most schools allow their students and staff a three-month long break for summer. By contrast, schools in the UK teach from early September until the end of June. There is a vast body of research supporting the implementation of the so-called ‘continuous curriculum’, which UK schools have adopted. Studies carried out in the US consistently show that during the three-month summer break, pupils lose around two months’ worth of learning from the term before. Pupils who take a standardised test before the end of the term will score worse on the same test if it is given again when school returns. As the evidence mounts, so does the pressure on US schools and an increasing number are adopting the continuous term times that have taken hold in the UK.


In UK schools, each student is assigned a form tutor and has regular meetings with the rest of their tutor group. These meetings are usually to distribute or clarify important documents from the school, as well as offering a point of contact between the students and the university administration. Tutors can also monitor progress and review any concerns or comments from individual teachers with the student.

Form tutors are considered valuable assets in higher education in the UK and for secondary school-aged children and older, the form tutor is usually the teacher they build a relationship with the most. While teachers for other subjects will change every year, a tutor is usually assigned for the duration of a student’s enrollment. By contrast, in the US, the concept of a form tutor is completely alien and no equivalent exists for higher educational establishments across the country.

International Students

Both the UK and the US are multicultural societies with a long history of immigration and both nations are proud to have infused their national fabric with other cultures and ideas from around the world. The UK hosts four of the top six universities in the world; Imperial College, Cambridge Uni, Oxford Uni, and University College. The other two on the list are located in the United States; MIT and Harvard.

Private schools in the UK have put a great deal of effort into recruiting students from around the globe have seen the success state schools have had after opening their doors. Private education in the UK is much more likely to expose your child to a broader range of cultures and ideas than their US counterparts. London is the most diverse area of the UK and this is reflected in the demographics of its student population. Independent secondary schools in Bridgend, such as St Clare’s School, for example, are more diverse than state schools.

A private or independent school can offer your child a lot and not being bound by district or national curriculums mean that independent schools are able, if they so desire, to teach children things they otherwise might not encounter until much later in life, if at all.

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