What Makes an Independent School Education Different?

Oct 09 2017


If you’re considering enrolling your child in an independent school, then you’ve probably put a lot of thought to figuring out just what makes an independent school education different than a public school education.

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It’s true that independent schools usually ofer quite a number of benefits over a public school education, from smaller class sizes to more personalized curriculum to a wider breadth of extracurricular activities, and much more.

These are all incredibly important considerations. But what really sets an independent school apart from their public school counterparts is a commitment to their own unique educational philosophies and organizational missions.

When it comes to how and what they teach, public schools are limited. They are limited by bureaucracy, by a lack of resources, and often by the law, which dictates the material that teachers must cover from year to year (and which establishes proficiency levels that students are measured against).

Independent schools, on the other hand, are much freer to pursue educational practices that better align with their core missions, philosophies, and values, which very often aim to not only educate their pupils, but transform them into creative, civically-minded leaders.

Below, as an example of this in action, we explore four educational principles, each of which supports Friends' Central's mission, To Cultivate the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical promise of our students. 

Four Principles of a Friends' Central Education

Joining the Friends' Central community is more than simply enrolling in a school. At Friends' Central, we cultivate the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical promise of our students. This shared mission serves our greater vision, which is to awaken courage and intellect—and peacefully transform the world.

We pursue our mission and vision every day by integrating these four principles into every aspect of life at Friends' Central:

  • We are guided by our Quaker Values
  • We educate for excellence
  • We inspire tomorrow's leaders
  • We honor the individual

Guided by Quaker Values

Our Quaker commitment to truth seeking and belief in the idea of Continuing Revelation drive an intense commitment to an education that is intellectual, thoughtful, and diverse. This includes our dedication to building a globally engaged community of students and faculty from different racial, religious, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds and an educational philosophy that is grounded in reflection, integrity, and a willingness to accept responsibility. Meeting for Worship and community service are at the very center of teaching these core values.

Educating for Excellence

Challenging, intellectual, and engaging, Friends' Central's curriculum builds foundational skills within an education that is innovative, thoughtful, and dynamic. At every level, our students are encouraged to ask questions and to seek answers that push beyond their impressive accumulation of facts. Never satisfied by “what”, our students are always asking “why” “how” and, perhaps most importantly, “why not?"

Friends’ Central students distinguish themselves while at FCS, in college where they are known for their exceptional preparation, and in the world where their contributions are extraordinary.

Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders

From nursery to grade 12, our curriculum requires students to amass knowledge and skills as individuals as they learn and collaborate in teams. With creativity fueling their progress, our students learn to adapt to new situations and ideas and to work hard to achieve their goals. Throughout their transformation from playful, eager children to skilled, self-possessed, socially conscious teenagers, they remain intellectually curious, independent, and engaged thinkers.

Friends' Central students gain both the academic skills and the personal qualities they draw upon to succeed in a rapidly changing, global world.

Honoring the Individual

At the heart of everything we do is the belief that each individual is valued and that each voice is important. Our students thrive because we approach every child as an individual and encourage his/her social and emotional development as well as academic growth. With a confidence that grows out of a community built on respect and individual value, our students find the courage to express their convictions and the empathy to listen respectfully to divergent viewpoints.

Building a Stronger Foundation for Personal Success

Public schools do the best they can to ensure success for their students, but they are limited in ways that independent schools just aren’t. Whereas bureaucracy and law dictate not only what a public school teaches, but how they teach it, independent schools are allowed more freedom, which ultimately leads to a stronger foundation for a student’s lifelong success.

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