Was it worth it?

PUBLISHED: 06:49 20 October 2014

Graduate Daisy Wilson back at Norwich School. Photo: Bill Smith

Graduate Daisy Wilson back at Norwich School. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

Sending your child to an independent Norfolk school can easily add up to more than £150,000 by the time they leave. Jo Malone asks former public school pupils what they feel they gained.

Former public school pupil Charlotte Clarke back at Hethersett Old Hall School. Photo by Simon Finlay.Former public school pupil Charlotte Clarke back at Hethersett Old Hall School. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Skilled for the future

Daisy Wilson spent all her school life at independent schools in Norfolk, until heading to the University of Sheffield where she graduated this summer with a 2.1 psychology degree.

After Norwich High School to age 16, she went to Norwich School for sixth form.

“I had a really positive experience,” she says, with particularly fond memories and good friends from Norwich School sixth form. She studied French, geography, English and biology, but feels school was more than academic lessons.

“I had a brilliant time with a really good bunch of people and very supportive teachers,” she says.

Daisy feels her extra curricular involvement, in music and choir performances in particular, gave her confidence and she’s since recorded some of her own music. “Norwich School had many talented musicians and it was an inspiring environment and community to be part of!”

Daisy points out she cannot say if she would have had such a good time, or have developed the same, if she had not been public school educated.

“Overall I would say school provided me with many important transferable skills, a support system which remains open to old pupils, brilliant and inspiring teachers, a great bunch of friends and prepared me for my university experience and future education. Having been given that healthy push and pressure to achieve your full potential, I definitely feel it set me off on the right foot for university and independent studies where self-motivation is very important.”

Nurturing environment

Charlotte Clarke finished her A-Levels last term as deputy head girl at Hethersett Old Hall School. She arrived, age 11, from a Norfolk state primary which she had joined in Year Five when the family moved to Norfolk.

“I didn’t like the primary school. Everyone was in cliques and they were not that welcoming. I got bullied a lot and nothing got done about it. But as soon as I got to Hethersett Old Hall I felt straight away that I fitted in. The family atmosphere there suited me, everyone knows each other and knows what you are doing. I felt at my primary you just got on with it and no-one noticed, there the ones who were naturally academic or really struggling got all the attention but the ones in the middle were left to themselves. At Hethersett everyone was encouraged, it’s a small school and you couldn’t not work hard.

“Hethersett taught me to get on with everybody; you may not like everyone but you have to be able to work with them. I feel it also taught me not to judge people, that going to that school doesn’t mean you are posh and rich,” adds Charlotte.

She felt the school set her up for future responsibilities too: “We had to look out for each other, for younger pupils, and always be polite and welcoming. Being deputy head girl made me a lot more confident and outgoing.” Her duties involved greeting visitors, co-organising a ball and public speaking.

Charlotte, who studied Spanish, French and English literature A-Levels, has been planning a gap year before a career in PR and communications.

“School made me look hard at what I wanted to achieve and to be true to myself,” she says.

Charlotte’s mother, Tracey Clarke feels supporting Charlotte through independent school was worth it. She says: “I like how Charlotte has been encouraged to grow as an individual, watching her become a confident young woman in her own right and a much valued and respected student of the school.”

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