Posted on 23/05/2014

What being a non-fee paying independent school will enable us to achieve

You may have read the comments by Richard Walden, private school headmaster and chairman of the Independent Schools Association, that state schools are creating an amoral generation because staff are too busy chasing exam results to teach children right from wrong. He also suggests that privately-educated children’s success is attributable to their ‘value-rich’ education.

I agree with Mr Walden that too many schools are obsessed with preparing children for exams, and that under such pressure some teachers certainly don’t feel they have the time to teach right from wrong. I think he is right to be concerned about the dangers of an amoral generation and heartily agree that success should in no way be linked to a privileged background. However, I strongly and passionately challenge his view that fee-paying schools are better attuned to inspiring success and producing better citizens than their non-fee paying counterparts.

At FBS we are determined to show what a non-fee paying independent school can achieve – not least in producing highly successful young men with great character. FBS is far more than just a school and we have no interest in being some kind of ‘exam factory’. Education is about preparing young people for life. This is why FBS is geared to developing the whole boy – physical, spiritual and moral. This is why I place huge emphasis on high standards, firm discipline and pastoral care, alongside academic rigour, enjoyment of the arts, sporting excellence and the development of enterprise skills. And this is why FBS boys will learn to understand the importance of what they are (their character) before what they do (their achievements and successes).

While other schools – private and state – may voice similar aspirations, I think FBS is uniquely placed to deliver this ethos. As a Free school we have had the freedom to design a boy-friendly curriculum – one that will excite, engage and enthuse our boys whilst preparing them for the demands of GCSEs, A Levels and Oxbridge/Russell Group Universities. As a new school, we have appointed inspirational, committed and caring teachers and have put together a wide range of co-curricular activities. And as a non-fee paying school, we are able to draw in a far wider cross section of boys than private schools. When it comes to preparing boys for life, this gives FBS boys a huge advantage. Our boys will learn valuable lessons from mixing with each other, crossing socio-economic divides, and learning from each other’s’ perspectives rather than falling back on ‘group think’. No boy will be allowed to use his upbringing or background as an excuse for not meeting our high standards, or as a barrier to achievement. FBS has been set up to provide for all Fulham boys, not for a particular type of Fulham boy. Our objective is to inspire them all to esteem truthfulness, hard work, politeness, unselfishness, fairness, kindness, self-control, forgiveness, patience, having the courage to stand up for justice and putting the needs of others before their own.

Far from being a generation of amoral boys chasing down exam results, Fulham boys will look out for each other, make their families proud and be assets to their community.

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